Top 10 Restaurants in The Woodlands

Categories: Top 10

thewoodlands.jpg
thcsp
The Woodlands is such a beautiful city at night.
After living in The Woodlands since I was seven years old, I have eaten at many restaurants, seen many open and quickly close. Over the last ten years, The Woodlands has grown exponentially, adding new shopping centers, a renovated concert pavilion and more community areas.

With all of this expansion and development, The Woodlands has received a multitude of new restaurants, many of which have made this list.

10. Mi Cocina

Mi Cocina recently took the place of Rockfish Grille in The Woodlands Waterway plaza and has proven to be a wonderful addition to this shopping center. Whether you're dining there for lunch or dinner, you're in for a delicious authentic Mexican meal. Start out with their complimentary thick and crispy chips and their classic "Mi Cocina" margarita. Choose from a variety of tacos and enchiladas filled with everything from rib-eye beef to pork. Make sure to order the Tacos "De Brisket" for delicious overnight roasted shredded brisket topped with queso blanco and avocado slices stuffed in corn or flour tortillas. They're mouthwatering and scrumptious.

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Photo courtesy of Hubbell & Hudson
The black truffle risotto is an exceptional appetizer.
9. Hubbell & Hudson Bistro

Attached to the specialty market, Hubbell & Hudson's Bistro offers a menu filled with items made from the products sold in the market. Every item on the menu features such a multitude of interesting and intriguing ingredients that it is hard to choose what to order. Of course, you can't go wrong with a black truffle risotto to start your meal, followed by one of their dry aged steaks with your choice of rub, sauce and two sides. Even though the restaurant is sophisticated and modern, choosing one of their sandwiches for dinner is perfectly fine. The wagyu burger with smoked gouda, baby arugula and prosciutto di parma on a toasted English muffin is to die for. With a market next door, you've also got an endless supply of wines and beers from around the world.

8. Via Emilia

Via Emilia was originally on FM 1960 in Spring near my high school. I remember going after basketball or soccer games with my family and ordering a big plate of pasta, and always leaving satisfied. After graduating, I haven't been able to visit the Spring area too often, but Via Emilia recently moved to The Woodlands with an expanded dining room. My mom swears by the datteri ripieni, otherwise known as dates stuffed with goat and Mascarpone cheese, wrapped in smoked bacon, as an appetizer, or the osso buco with veal. Their pasta tastes fresh each time I have visited and all of their meat, chicken or seafood dishes have always satisfied my appetite. It's a typical Northern Italian menu with all of the classic dishes you love.

7. Ace Chinese Restaurant

My family and I found our go-to Chinese restaurant in The Woodlands and have stuck with it since 1999. Ace Chinese is a little hole-in-the-wall restaurant serving up delicious classic Chinese cuisine. Every time we visit or order it to go, we always get egg rolls, wonton or hot and sour soup, General Tso's chicken and sweet and sour chicken, all served with white rice and lots of soy sauce. Ace Chinese always gets the classics right and that's what we love about it.

6. Grimaldi's Pizzeria

One of the newest additions to the Waterway Town Center is Grimaldi's Pizzeria where pizzas are made in a coal brick oven. Rather than using wood or gas, Grimaldi's uses coal to give the pizza a unique taste that resembles the pizza you'd find on the streets in New York City. Choose from either a 12-inch personal pizza or a 16 or 18-inch pizza with either red sauce, white sauce or pesto. Then, choose your toppings -- everything from fresh garlic and jalapenos to meatballs and extra basil. Grimaldi's is truly in a convenient area of The Woodlands. Grab a quick bite to eat before going to see a movie, or stop by after a long day of shopping in the mall.

Location Info

Hubbell & Hudson Bistro

24 Waterway Ave., The Woodlands, TX

Category: Restaurant

Ace Chinese Restaurant - CLOSED

4775 W. Panther Creek Drive, Spring, TX

Category: Restaurant

Grimaldi's Coal Brick Oven Pizzeria

20 Waterway Ave., Spring, TX

Category: Restaurant

Black Walnut Cafe

2520 Research Forest Drive, Spring, TX

Category: Restaurant

Jasper's

9595 Six Pines Drive, Spring, TX

Category: Restaurant

Kirby's Steakhouse

1111 Timberloch Place, Spring, TX

Category: Music

Perry's Steakhouse and Grille

6700 Woodlands Parkway, Spring, TX

Category: Restaurant

Amerigo's Grille

25250 Grogan's Park Drive, Spring, TX

Category: Restaurant

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39 comments
ShaunGerardS
ShaunGerardS

Thanks for the great article, I would love to try some of these places in the future.. If you didnt already know about it this may help your readers, you can search for chinese food places near your address www.ChineseFoodNearMe.com

SoftShellCrabJunkie
SoftShellCrabJunkie

LOL! Katherine, any idea how much it would cost to try all ten of these recommendations?!? Having dined at a few of them, I know it would cost a pretty penny. Amerigo's? I was WHOLLY unimpressed, and it is WAY too expensive to give them another shot.

ruckum
ruckum

Ace Chinese Restuarant? That should not only NOT be in the top 10, it should be in the bottom 3 worst restaurants in the Woodlands. That place is HORRIBLE. Masa's Sushi is way better! Seems like you haven't been to the Woodlands in about 10 years because there are many better restaurants than the ones you listed.

gossamersixteen
gossamersixteen topcommenter

Wow suburbanites are opinionated, who knew with all those chain restaurants that prevail..

ShitThrowingMonkey
ShitThrowingMonkey

Only been there once for lunch, but I was more than impressed with La Lupita.

Sandy Kreps
Sandy Kreps

Those are good, but I think you forgot Asian food. Try Masa's Sushi & Robata Bar or Ploy Thai Cuisine.

Mary Beth Elderton
Mary Beth Elderton

I think that Ryan H. Cope's assessment is pretty accurate. Amerigo's and Ace Chinese may deserve spots in the top,but the rest are kind of late-coming pricey fads geared to tourists or Woodland's pretensions.

Albert Nurick
Albert Nurick

Marlo, I have to disagree. Luca & Leonardo and La Lupita may be unique, but they're not particularly good.

Ryan Cope
Ryan Cope

You missed a lot. This is a list of restaurants for the local elitists and the well funded. Just because the food costs a fortune doesn't necessarily make it good. There have been a lot of what I consider massive failures of restaurants who's only true value is the remarkable placement of their location. Outside of that I've been wholly unimpressed with many of the places on the waterway… Again epicurean doesn't necessarily make something good. Want to great hamburger? Go and get a Honeybee ham hamburger. What a great Mexican cuisine? Go to El Bosque over by Sams. The food is extremely affordable, there's a lot of it, and the service is among the best and easily the fastest I've ever had. Pietown is also really good, and if you would take the time to just step into a couple of "mom and pops" types of places around here you would be wildly impressed. This article seems like an editorial and elongated ad to keep the money clientele coming to the money businesses. I mean, think about it, when you watch the Travel Channel or the food network what's the ratio of how often you see them going to a town raving on about the local expensive restaurant versus them covering the local obsession over the quirky "mom and pop's" places that marry very good with very unique menu items and manage to couple those with a very homie atmosphere that is a far more practical and economic choice for a wider, more diverse array of clientele. And the food just tastes better!

john1914
john1914

This post reads like it was lifted out of one of those Where magazines you'd find in a hotel room, where forgettable chain joints are give breathless praise no matter how much they suck. If you want me to drive to the Woodlands, don't give me a list of places I can find a location closer to home or a better dining experience in my own neighborhood. Unless you're trying to say there's nothing to eat in The Woodlands, this is a big list of fail.

Marlo Saucedo
Marlo Saucedo

You missed Americas (only RO & TW, & the RO venue is very different), Goose's Acre, Luca & Leonardo, 1252, & La Lupita. 1252 began in TW & then spread to Houston. Goose's Acre, Luca & Leonardo and La Lupita are all TW originals and really should have been included. Everyone's Top Ten is different, but I wouldn't have put Perry's near the top: You can visit a Perry's in two other Houston locations; it's not uniquely TW's.

HTownChowDown
HTownChowDown

I live in the Woodlands as well, and I was rather surprised by several of the choices.  If I'd not known the source of this list, I'd think it was written by a retired couple that's lived in the Woodlands forever, who has a very conservative palate, doesn't care much about value, and who's reluctant to try new or less fancy spots.

I realize that every palate is different, of course - you like what you like.  But I think that most Press readers would be dissatisfied with many of your selections.

Some specific comments and suggestions:

10.  Mi Cocina.  Yikes.  This Dallas import is known as a see-and-be-seen place, with food that's mediocre at best.  I've been once, and was unimpressed by the food, especially at the elevated prices.  This isn't Dallas - you don't have to pay these kinds of prices for good Tex-Mex, much less mediocre Tex-Mex.  Better choices:  Chuy's, Alicia's, El Bosque, and a half-dozen more.

9.  Hubbell & Hudson Bistro.  Excellent choice.  Chef Austin Simmons is turning out some impressive work.  I think it's the best restaurant in the Woodlands, and holds its own with the best in Houston.

8.  Via Emilia.  Generic old-school Italian.  Not terrible, but unexceptional - could be in a strip center anywhere.  Better choices:  Pallotta's, Eden Cafe, Grotto.

7.  Ace Chinese.  Ancient, terrible Americanized Chinese.  It's not 1999 anymore; you've got actually good Chinese food in the Woodlands now.  Better choices:  Chef Chan's, China Bridge, Lucky Cafe

6.  Grimaldi's.  Safe choice.  They can be very good, but they are uneven.  And they're hardly a new addition to the Waterway, unless you've not been there in a few years.

5.  Black Walnut.  Great choice, but you need to venture beyond the breakfast menu.  They have some unique pastas and sandwiches.  Quirky menu has been refined since Hubbell & Hudson bought them a few years back.

4.  Jaspers.  Beautiful setting, very good take on upscale home cooking.  But they've lost a step in the past few years - some of my old favorites aren't as deftly prepared as they were before.

3.  Kirby's.  Generic upscale steakhouse that's not as good as the big-name chains.  High prices, unexceptional food.  Sadly, this is the type of restaurant that thrives in the Woodlands, offering a slew of expected choices in a pretty setting for too much money.  Better choices:  Hubbell & Hudson, Jasper's, Perry's, Fleming's

2.  Perry's.  Much better steaks that Kirby's, and the epic pork chop.  Good choice.

1.  Amerigo's.  Really?  This was the best restaurant out here back in prehistoric days, but they've been far surpassed by more modern establishments.  Prices way out of line for what they're serving.  ($35-43 for seafood pastas?!?)  They used to be the only "fine dining" game in town, but now there are many better choices, like Hubbell & Hudson Bistro, America's, Jaspers, etc.

What's missing?  The most obvious ones:

Capri, which the Press has called the best Italian restaurant in all of Houston.  Authentic Italian cuisine - unsurprising, since the proprietor immigrated from Italy.

Pallotta's, a more Americanized Italian place that prepares excellent takes on the classics plus some unique dishes that I've not seen elsewhere.  Our go-to Italian spot.

Corkscrew BBQ.  Some of the best 'Q in the entire Houston area.  No place else in the Woodlands is even close.

Crust Pizza.  Great pizzas made with fresh ingredients, including some very clever non-traditional choices

Eden Cafe.  Lovely small family restaurant offering an eclectic menu that's very well prepared.

Masa's Sushi - Expertly prepared sushi cut generously from impeccably fresh fish

Kan's Sushi - Tiny, jewel-like location tucked away in Alden Bridge.  Talented chef turns out impeccable sushi.

Chef Chan's - Much better than average strip center Chinese spot.  Light years ahead of Ace.

Jax Burgers - Locally owned burger micro-chain that turns out mouth-watering half-pound burgers and addictive garlic fries.

Rae Mi
Rae Mi

Yes you did. For starters how about Dosey Doe Music Cafe / Dosey Doe, Inc.? You should really do an article on them...

Anon
Anon

What about Brothers or Crust Pizza? So many chains (not that I'm surprised).

Discgolfer22
Discgolfer22

Happy to see that Via Emilia didn't go out of business. Now I know where to find them. I drove by the 1960 location the other day for the first time in a while and saw they were gone.  Guess I'm heading to the Woodlands. Love their food!!!

sarahandthecity
sarahandthecity

You know what the Woodlands has that I would like near my house? Brothers Pizza. Seriously solid Brooklyn-style pizza delivery.

Kylejack
Kylejack topcommenter

Ah Jasper's, where they upcharged me because I didn't want ice in my Scotch.

Alexander_Bites
Alexander_Bites

All great restaurants and I have dined in all 10 with the exception ofVia Emilia. But it's not a very well rounded list in my opinion. With the exception of Ace, Black Walnut and Grimaldi's, it's not a very family friendly list. Perfect for date night and empty nesters, though. For those who will be tempted to venture into our fair section of the world, it should also be noted that the list is heavy with the more expensive dining options here.

TA

del.martinis
del.martinis topcommenter

Yea...but they're in the Woodlands!  :( 

happywheneatingcrabs
happywheneatingcrabs

@SoftShellCrabJunkie where is your favorite place for soft shell crabs? i love papadeaux's blackened soft shell crabs, but i need other choices.  i didn't care for fukuda's soft shell crab, but their sushi was to die for.

john1914
john1914

@Marlo Saucedo Goose's Acre isn't a Woodlands original. It has common ownership with Brian O'Neil's (and also shares its lackluster service, menu, and running club).

little_bit
little_bit

fwiw, i agree, the original entry is a big ball of wrong. thanks for taking the time to point out alternatives for those who do not live here. maybe the original listing was generated out of sentiment for go-to comfort meals and happy memories. 

what i like about the secondary list is the varied price points. not everyone who lives here can afford meals at kirbys, perrys, jaspers and amerigos. i know i can't.

conebaby
conebaby

@HTownChowDown I haven't dined much out that way, and went to Capri where I had a flat-out fabulous meal. The friend I brought along also loved the place. Several weeks later he reported that he had taken a few work friends for lunch and had an entirely different--and terrible--experience. I was shocked at his report, but it wouldn't dissuade me from returning as I thought my dinner quite wonderful and thought his experience was probably a fluke.

Grimaldi's was good. Solid. I wouldn't drive out specifically for the pie, but I'd have another go if I were already there.

kshilcutt
kshilcutt moderator editor

@HTownChowDown I'd add Aldo's to your list, too - although it's technically in Shenandoah. I've been interested in checking out Eden Cafe. Glad to hear more about it.

gossamersixteen
gossamersixteen topcommenter

@Discgolfer22 I liked the 1960 location, the marsala and fresh pasta were always ace, but that strip center has always been a death sentence. That location used to be Hunan Joy, and it was fabulous too, and under appreciated. And I still swear by the fact the old bar on the corner had the best chicken fried steak in the state, but it's also long gone.

HTownChowDown
HTownChowDown

@conebaby As with many small restaurants, Capri is at its best when the owner (Barbara) is in the house.  I always make sure she's there before I head over.

HTownChowDown
HTownChowDown

@kshilcutt Aldo is a talented chef, but his Woodlands store hasn't seemed to quite come together.  Very uneven.

Discgolfer22
Discgolfer22

I don't blame them for moving. 1960 area is not what it used to be, I know because I grew up there and have been back since 1993. Mathias' used to be in that strip center. My Mom worked for a real estate company that was next door also that has closed. The food at Via Emilia has always been great. Very fresh and authentic tasting. Guess I know where I am heading this weekend.

conebaby
conebaby

@HTownChowDown  On my single visit we were seated 15 minutes before closing (we thought service ended at 10, not 9) and though we offered to dine elsewhere, we were graciously seated and served. I was highly impressed by that alone. The food was outstanding.

gossamersixteen
gossamersixteen topcommenter

@Discgolfer22 Totally agree! I grew in Spring and Klein, and it's a fraction as nice as it once was. Matthias's- where I had my first beer (legally) illegally acadia across the street haha. Their chicken fried steak lunch special was legendary, watched the Rockets win their second championship there too. I worked in the 4 story building behind that from 1994-2002. As far as the area going downhill I blame the inverse of the gentrification, I moved downtown, and those displaced moved to the suburbs and brought their crime with them...

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