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Jan 25, 2010 09:32 AM

Non-Chain Options in The Woodlands


I am traveling to the Woodlands for four nights and am looking for non-national chain restaurants to eat at during my stay. Unfortunately, I will not be able to get into Houston. I did a quick search but did not see too many recent reviews for the Woodlands.

Do you have any recommendations of where I should check out? I understand that I should try America's one night. There are no cuisine restrictions as long as there are non-pork/shellfish options available on the menu. Local chains or chains that are Texas-based are okay.

Thank you!

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  1. Tesar's - he left the Mansion at Turtle Creek in Dallas to open his own restaurant.

    1. Jasper's -- its cool, uptownish, in the Market Street section, where you can park nearby and window shop before or after dinner. It is part of the Kent Rathburn "chain" I've eaten there MANY times, take all my Woodlands clients there, and never had a disappointing meal.

      1. A hidden gem is Lucky's in Panther Creek on Glen Loch, East of Panther Creek and South of Woodlands Pkwy. {Vietnamese}
        Good, healthy, inexpensive. Off the beaten path and not a "see & be seen" type of place... just good food.

        1 Reply
        1. re: frisbeeguy

          I'll have to try Lucky's, I've never been and am always on the look out for good asian restaurants!

        2. The original comment has been removed
          1. Hopefully, you haven't made your trip yet....I've lived here in The Woods for my whole life, 10 years ago, you could find a good restaurant here, but things are changing fast and furiously, thank god! So here's my take on dining in The Woodlands.
            I defnitely 2nd that recommendation for Tesar's. Like I said, I've lived here for years and just NOW, since Tesar's has been here, will I bypass a trip downtown for dinner. It is one of my favorite restaurants anywhere. It's probably one of the only Chef-run restaurants in The Woodlands. Try the braised short ribs and you will not be dissapointed. The foie gras and the octopus appetizers are also to die for. I haven't lunched there but have heard wonderful things about their lunch menu as well as "best burger in Houston" rumblings. The Bistro at Hubbel and Hudson is also a great choice. The risotto there is pretty killer and the brunch on Sundays is AMAZING! Although I now hear that Tesar's is also doing brunch but I have yet to try. If you are staying at the Waterway Marriot BOTH of these places are within a very short 3 minute walk.

            The Woodlands is full of Steakhouses... In my opinion, Fleming's is the best if you are going to try one of those, Second choice would be Perry's, and unfortunately Jasper's has been nixed from our regular dining schedule because it's been too hit or miss. We've had several good experiences there but unfortunately as of late, they have been more dissapointing.
            UNI sushi is my favorite sushi in the Houston area. Also try Amerigo's if you are interested in some good italian, try the Snapper Del Amore there and you will be in heaven!
            Most of the places I mentioned are more higher-end places, but for some more regular dining options, try out Shanghai Bistro for chinese, The Black Walnut for italian and american fare that's excellent. It's my favorite lunch spot, but be prepared, it's packed pretty much everyday from 11:30-1:00. For some good pub food, try Goose's Acre on the waterway. The chicken pot pie is the best I've ever had and my husband loves their wood fired pizzas.
            Hope this helps and if you have any questions, feel free to ask!

            9 Replies
            1. re: lindsey381

              Forgot to add Grimaldi's for pizza, it's apparently a famous chain from NYC though... I love their pizza! Fresh house made mozzarella, YUM!

              1. re: lindsey381

                Grimaldi's opened up a location in the Woodlands? They are one of the better options for pizza even if they are a chain. I prefer them to Russo's.

              2. re: lindsey381

                I'm staying at the Waterway Marriott so that you for those recs; I jotted them down. Are there excellent Tex-Mex places nearby? A long-time Houstonian suggested Papa Sita's so that's our plan altho I can't find anything about it or where it is.

                1. re: Niblet

                  Pappasito's is part of the Houston-based Pappas group of restaurants, a very large operation with some restaurants in other cities and states. For a chain, it's pretty good but whether it's the best in the Woodlands I'll have to leave to others more familiar with that area. However, there actually isn't one in Woodlands.


                  1. re: Niblet

                    If possible, make the drive into downtown Houston and visit the original Ninfa's on Navigation or El Tiempo Cafe (3 locations, the one on Washington Ave would be the closest if coming from the the Woodlands). Pappasito's is good but you can do better. If distance was not a factor in the Houston area and this is quite a stretch (Houston area can be deemed ridiculously large), out in Rosenberg, Texas about 30 miles SOUTH of downtown Houston is a mom and pop joint called Bob's Taco Station. Great family-run tex-mex cafe that serves breakfast and lunch only seven days a week. It was recently featured on the Food Network show "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives."

                    1. re: rayliam

                      Thank you both for the replies. I wish I'd thought to post sooner. We ended up at Guadalahara's b/c it was nearby, and I thought it was magnificent. The flavor of the poblano in the chili rellenos was like nothing we're able to get delivered up north. I had ceviche and it was absolutely delicious, although it could've used some heat. All I can say is, if it gets even better than that, you guys are living amongst riches and I'm envious.

                      1. re: Niblet

                        That was a good choice, not my favorite, but good Tex Mex. I didn't really think about it until your post, but there are so many different Tex Mex places, from the heavyweights like El Tiempo, my favorite, to hundreds of small places, taco trucks, and other ethnic Latin eateries such as Salvadoran. Everyone has their favorite hole in the wall joints, some of mine are El Jardin and Los Molcajetes on the east side, and Casa Dominguez in Bellaire.

                        1. re: Niblet

                          can't go wrong with Guadalajara.... It's not the best, but it's good and close by. Did you get to any other restaurants???

                          1. re: lindsey381

                            We went to Amerigo's one night and I enjoyed it, but I would've rathered more regional. Especially when I learn about the existence of hole-in-the-wall places; it doesn't get any better than that. I'm keeping a copy of your responses for next trip.