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Dec 10, 2013 04:17 PM

Looking for inexpensive non-seafood in Katy

I've been a non-registered lurker for awhile now, so I'll apologize about my lack of Chow-cred. I moved here a little over a year ago from Tampa to Sugar Land, and now on to Katy, and with the big chains in Sugar Land I haven't had a chance to try out much.

I don't mind driving too much, but by the time I get back to Katy it's around 8pm, so it puts a damper on that a bit. I don't mind chains overall (if they're good they're good), but most of them we have in FL, and I like supporting local small business.
I don't eat seafood, but that's about it, and I'm looking for places that keep entrees round about $10-15 (give or take a dollar or two). I appreciate splurges, but I'm hoping to find some good everyday places.

The saddest part about moving from Sugar Land was being too far away from Thai Siam to make takeout great.

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  1. Alicia's for Tex Mex, Hasta La Pasta for Italian gets good reports, just ignore the silly name. I really like Chang's Chinese, they deliver within a range, and are right on I-10. Thai Cottage opened a branch there not long ago, and it is a family owned chain that does a good job (there is one in SL on Sweetwater).

    1. We like Dekkars when we have a little extra time. There is a new Italian restaurant down 1093 (in strip mall by La Finca). Suppose to be great, have heard from several people. Marini's Empanadas on Mason.

      1. Katy has an up and coming food scene - I don't think you should be too disappointed.

        It's not my part of town - Jaymes is our resident expert on Katy and she has posted many times on this board and will undoubtedly weigh in here.

        Katy is nicknamed Katyzuela for it's sizable population of Venezuelan expats but there are only a couple of eateries - Deli's Cafe, in a Shell station on S. Mason @ Cinco Ranch, and Budare Arepa Express on 99 (far west side). There is also a Venezuelan food truck, one of the units of Sabor Venezolano, that I've seen on Fry, north of I-10. I've eaten at the first two and at another location of the food truck.

        Pollo Bravo on S. Mason is Peruvian/Mexican, a local mini-chain, best rotisserie chicken ever. Highly recommended (I've never eaten at that location).

        Udipi Cafe, also on S. Mason, is part of a local small chain of vegetarian Indian eateries. There's one in Sugar Land and one in the Mahatma Gandhi district. Not the absolute best Indian food in town but not bad.

        And yes, yes, yes to Marini's Empanadas, S. Mason @ Westheimer Parkway, Argentinian empanadas and sandwiches.

        10 Replies
        1. re: brucesw

          Well, not sure I'm an "expert" at much of anything, except perhaps making the best of a new location, as I've moved over 50 times in my life. Often it's a challenge to find and focus on the good things, especially in remote locations (Clovis NM I'm talking to you. Even Fairbanks AK had more to offer), but finding good food in Katy turned out to be pretty easy, especially when compared with some places where I've lived.

          I'll try to get to many of the places we've discovered but, as there are so many, it's going to take more than one post.

          First, I do want to tell you that I agree with you about Thai Siam. That's really really a wonderful restaurant. We do have Thai Cottage here, and it's quite good, but not equal to Thai Siam. Depending upon where in Katy you are, it's only about a 15-20 minute drive down to Thai Siam, so that's a run I make every few weeks to pick up to-go items that freeze well. However, Thai Cottage is definitely a perfectly fine alternative. I've had all of their curries and enjoyed them. The green papaya salad is a favorite and reliably good, as is the sate. Not a fan of the tom kah gai because, although the taste is good, for some reason they insist upon cutting up the lemon grass. It never softens, so I have to pick out all those little pieces. That's the first time I've ever seen those little bitty pieces in the soup. Usually there are only a few large pieces, which are easy to remove. Just so odd to me. But still, Thai Cottage is serviceable food, convenient, affordable, and I'm glad to have them.

          Also up there on the I-10 access road is Orleans Kitchen. It's Louisiana Cajun/Creole food so the emphasis is definitely on fish and seafood, but they also have terrific fried chicken, boudin balls, etc., and I think their hush puppies are to die for. It's very affordable and, on Sundays, they give 10% off if you bring in a church program.

          Speaking of fried chicken, for Southern Soul Food, you cannot beat Cornbread & Collins Greens on S. Fry. This is a small, family-run restaurant, and we absolutely love it. The kids are usually waiting on the tables, so service can be a little spotty, but that only adds to the charm, in my view. It's like eating at somebody's house, and the mama keeps saying to the kids, "You jump up and go get Miss Chrissie some more ice tea, y'hear? And she can use some more napkins while you're at it." Everything we've had here has been terrific and many things are downright heavenly.

          Since we're talking about affordable, I'll mention Domino's Pizza Rolls. I have to confess that I don't like pizza, and like pizza rolls even less. But my daughter and her husband have four kids and, when they want something quick and cheap, and it just happens to be Tuesday night, it's Domino's Pizza rolls for them - not sure exactly how cheap they are, but it must be a huge bargain. There are several Domino's in Katy, none of which I've ever visited, but, as you mentioned affordable, thought I'd tell you about the Tuesday night specials, just in case you're not familiar with them.

          On a less "corporate" note, let's chat TexMex. Our little family goes out almost every Friday night for TexMex. We've tried them all in Katy, but our favorite is definitely Tony's on Mason. There's another Tony's up on the I-10 access road, but it's not "connected" with the one we like on Mason. Seems like it used to be, but it's run by another family member, with whom there's been some sort of a major falling out. Tried the Tony's on I-10 before I knew all this, and sure enough, it's not as good. One note of caution: we love this Tony's, but so does most of Katy. If you go on a Friday night, be prepared to wait. We always start with two orders of Nachos Sabrosos. Don't know where you're from or your experience with nachos, but these are not the big pile of cold corn chips with a bunch of gloppy junk dumped over. These are hot, individually prepared, with refried beans and cheese. They come a dozen to an order and our children polish off one order all by themselves. Can't recommend these strongly enough. As for mains, everything we've tried, and I think we've tried everything, is great. Should add that Lambowner recommended Alicia's. That's one of very few that we haven't tried. Clearly, we need to rectify that as soon as possible.

          If you like Middle Eastern food, you're in luck. Katy has quite a few and they're all good. My favorite is Naranj, on Mason. But there's also Cedar's (where I buy Bulgarian feta), Ephesus,, and the Red Oak Grill Every one of these restaurants offers really tasty food at great prices.

          Pho Saigon is a small Houston chain, and there's a Katy location on Mason. It's excellent. The pho is great, as you would expect, but we often get the grilled pork dinner, which comes with either noodles or rice, and some of those crispy Vietnamese rolls that you wrap in cold, crunchy lettuce, and then dip into fish sauce. Cannot be beat for taste and price.

          I'm sure I've tried every Chinese restaurant out here and, if I've missed one, it isn't because I haven't tried. My favorite is definitely Hong Kong's Café, also on Mason, next door to the Spec's. Hong Kong's Café also delivers. I really love this place. And, while I wouldn't say that the food is as good as it is in the actual Hong Kong (where I lived for a while), it's still darn good:

          And maybe this will get you started. Got to go collect the kiddos at Spanish Schoolhouse, which is in the same parking lot as Deli's Café, where you MUST order the Cachapas!

          1. re: Jaymes

            Thanks everyone for the replies. Also, very glad we just had a potluck so I'm not hungry reading this, lots of stuff to try out. For clarification, as I did forget that, I'm around Westreen and Kingston, and I still work in Sugar Land (59 and Dairy Ashford) so I can hit Thai Siam easy enough still. ;) but good to have a local alternative!
            I've had take-out from Red Oak in Sugarlaand once, the chicken shwarema and I don't know if they buy or make it but I could have eaten a tray of their baklava.

            Jaymes I read your post on traditional nachos vs kitchen sink nachos. I was a little sad at myself because sometimes I just like a pile of mess, but I'm looking forward to nachos sabrosos at Tony's, though I hope they can do a cheese relleno (something about just cheese and chiles... well because it's cheese and chile's), and I'm full but I still drooled when I looked at the picture/description of the cachapas.

            Lambowner, I'm ok with silly names, my favorite restaurant in Tampa was Datz, and they took over the bakery next door, it's named Dough, and my favorite mexican place is called Taco Bus because... well they cooked and served out of a old bus.

            motomom thanks for the recc for Dekkar's, I enjoy bbq and italian every now and again, especially when I drive past Rudy's on my way home every day and catch a wiff!

            1. re: Afura

              There's also decent BBQ to be had at Red River BBQ and Grill on Mason.

              (It was probably Jaymes who originally recommended it on here).

              1. re: FarleyFlavors

                Yes, I did. Red River is not the be-all and end-all of BBQ. For just picking up a little sliced brisket to go, we like Dozier's in Fulshear better. But for the whole family going out for BBQ, we very much enjoy Red River. Also, I travel with a mob of little kids and Red River has a nice sandbox.

                There are several BBQ options out here. These are the ones with which I am familiar:

                These three are all independently owned, "hole in the wall" type joints.

                There are also several larger "restaurant-style" places -
                Red River Grill
                Spring Creek:

                Of the smaller joints, we prefer Dozier's.
                Of the larger restaurants, we prefer Red River Grill.

                But, barbecue preference is such an individual thing. Honestly, if anyone really loves barbecue, my advice would be to try them all and then decide which suits you and your family best.

                1. re: Jaymes

                  Want to add that on Thursdays, Nonmacher's has lima beans and ham. It's tasty and the price is right and a good option to pick up and take home.

                  1. re: Jaymes

                    I would add Swinging Door if you are leaving Katy for nearby environs. I prefer it to Dozier's but BBQ is like TexMex, a personal preference. A sibling who resides in Fort Bend Co. also swears by Dozier's. And out in Fulshear also is Ray's Grill, not inexpensive but a nice option for special occasions.

                    Limited hours:


                    1. re: Lambowner

                      RE: Swinging Door -

                      So much of which barbecue restaurant one likes best depends upon what particular sort of meat one orders. I'm just a brisket gal, basically. Do also like sausage, ribs, chicken, turkey, etc., when it's good, but nothing else is ever at the very top of my list up there with brisket. That's just how I roll. You know, roll out the door after I'm stuffed.

                      My son married a local gal. She comes from a big family, four daughters, all of whom have married and have children, so when they all get together, it's a big group. A few years back, they all had a birthday party for my DIL, and it was at the Swinging Door, a place they've been going for decades. So we're all sitting at the tables and around comes the waitress and I order brisket, as I always do. The brisket arrives and I thought it was pretty bad. Couldn't even finish it. I knew that all the rest of them loved this place, and now I was deeply puzzled. Did they all like this brisket and was there something wrong with me?

                      So I began studying everyone else's plates. Out of some 20-something partiers, I was the only one that ordered brisket. The only one. Everybody else had turkey, or chicken.

                      I haven't had occasion to return but made up my mind that, when I do, I'm definitely going for the turkey.

                      Other than the fact that I thought the brisket was not good, the place itself is a lot of fun. The atmosphere is great, the sides were very good, and it would have been a wonderful experience...had I ordered turkey.

                      And this brings to mind something else when folks start talking "barbecue." Unless you know exactly what they're ordering when they get there, it's really hard to decide just from someone's else's recommendation whether or not you're going to like it.

                      So, after that experience, I now always try to ask, after someone recommends a place, "What's good there?"

                      If the first thing they say is the turkey, or the bread and pecan pie (hello Goode Co), or the beans and potato salad and creamed corn, or anything other than brisket, I know not to get my hopes up. And, rather, to just settle back and enjoy whatever it is that they do well.

                      And leave the brisket for another time.

                      Like when I go to Dozier's. Dozier's atmosphere is nonexistent, and Swinging Door beats them in many ways.

                      But if you're in it for the brisket, as I am, it's no contest.

                      1. re: Jaymes

                        I always order the brisket at Swinging Door, and have never been disappointed (since 1977), moist and flavorful. It is Dozier's brisket I didn't finish at my sibs last picnic, dry and flavorless. Back to the theory, it's personal tastes, or perhaps a bad moment in time for both of us. In any event, to the OP, I would say, try them all and make your own mind up.

                        1. re: Lambowner

                          You definitely make me want to try the brisket at Swinging Door again. I might just have been there on an "off" night. Or gotten an "off" cut. After all, brisket can be terrific or bad at any given time.

                          Swinging Door is a really nice, fun place. So next time, I'll try the brisket again.

                          And the turkey, too, just in case.

                          The two-meat platter, you know?

                          Gotta hedge your bets.

              2. re: Jaymes

                Jaymes, I finally got to Thai Cottage and I have to agree with your assessment. Their spicy levels are honestly spot on, I should have gone with the gut and ordered 3 not 2, my fault, but I had the pinapple curry (my 'standard' for Thai) and it was good, nothing crazy over the top. And there was a lot of sauce, which I enjoy. I also had the curry puffs and that was a let down. They had flavor, but no shawow, nothing stood out, and it was a bit heavy on the pastry, or at least it covered the taste. Also for $4.25 they only brought out 2, which was disappointing. They didn't offer me desert (aww man :( ) just gave me my check, which if they don't, I won't ask.
                Instead I went to Ooh La La Bakery (the original in Katy near Cinco Ranch, since the Park Row location was already closed). It was magical. Magical. I had a chocolate cake with chocolate and vanilla mousse (4 layers), and it was a good size piece too, no chintzing on portions here. I also got a Party in a Cup (Cinnamon Hot Chocolate with vanilla whipped cream and the flat colored sprinkles. The waitress gave me lots of sprinkles - see photo). I couldn't finish it all after dinner but.. ok alright I went back through their drive thru on Saturday and got another Party in a Cup and it was still magical.

                And I almost forgot, I went to Tacos La Bala on Saturday (in for a penny..), and I had the barbacoa taco, which was tasty and moist, and the huevos rancheros which was good but not spot on (maybe I just wasn't really in the mood). I did like their green salsa with avacado in it, a nice contrast in flavors. I think I'd definitely stick with the tacos next time and try out their different kind.

            2. So, a little more on Mexican...

              There are way too many Mexican restaurants in Katy for me to even know about all of them, much less make a definitive list. But this is what I do know:

              As I said, we like Tony's best for TexMex. But Lupe Tortilla is a very popular Houston chain and there's one out here. However, that place is so popular that there's always a huge line, and we just somehow prefer Tony's, so don't go to Lupe Tortilla very often. Also, Lupe Tortilla has a playground, which certainly figures into our choices, however, whomever designed that restaurant unfortunately put the playground on the west side of the building, which means that, as the sun sets, you're staring directly into it. Unpleasant at any time, but downright insufferable on hot summer evenings. So, when the playground factor kicks in, and we're not at Tony's (which doesn't have a playground), we'll be at El Jarrito. This place is also really good, excellent service, friendly atmosphere. We like La Finca, too, and they have mariachis on Friday nights, which is great fun. The La Finca folks also operate Hacienda Guanajuato on Mason, and menu/food is the same. Not so crowded, but not much atmosphere, either.

              I'd put Las Mananitas http://lasmananitasmexicanrestaurant.... on the same list as Tony's, El Jarrito, La Finca, Lupe Tortilla. Perfectly good food; fine choice.

              For upscale "Mexico City" Mexican, there's Las Alamedas. It doesn't fit your "affordable" criterion as well as some others, but the atmosphere is lovely, and you can sit on the patio, and after dinner, take a stroll through La Centerra.

              And then there are the authentic Mexican options.

              I don't know how authentically Mexican you like your Mexican to be, but there are quite a few places out here where white faces are definitely in the minority. My first favorite among these choices is Taqueria Arandas, in the Fiesta parking lot.

              And for tacos, you cannot beat Tacos la Bala, also in the Fiesta parking lot. This is where we always pick up our breakfast tacos on weekend mornings.

              In another thread, Lambowner mentioned Alicia's. Although I've certainly driven past it numerous times, never stopped in. So I did that Wed night. Very pretty building, in the typical Mexican colonial fashion that is popular with Mexican restaurants. I got there early - about 5pm - and there was almost nobody else there, so had a choice of tables, and a nice waiter that seemed eager to chat. And God knows I'm a chatter, so we got on very well.

              I started with the Queso Flameado, which I love. If you're not aware of it, it's the authentic Mexican dish upon which our TexMex fave 'chile con queso' is based. I ordered it with peppers, onions, chorizo, mushrooms. It was very good, and would certainly order it again. Then had the Enchiladas Suizas, which were also excellent. Also would eagerly order again.

              But, most of all, want to tell you about a conversation I had with my waiter; a conversation that is the lead-in for what I consider to be the best (or at least in the top five) insider "foodie" tip for Katy.

              The waiter asked me if I had been to Alicia's before and, when I said I had not, asked which Mexican restaurants in Katy I do patronize.

              I gave him a list that mirrors the one I've mentioned here.

              And then I said, "but my very favorite Mexican dish in Katy is the barbacoa at La Michoacana." His eyes literally lighted up. "You mean the market on Saums?" "Oh yes, I'm in there all the time. Get the panes dulces, and tubs of that barbacoa. You know it?"

              And then he told me that the management of Alicia's brings in tubs of La Michoacana barbacoa every Sunday morning as a treat for their staff.

              Isn't that nice?

              And what that should tell you is that, if the management of Alicia's Mexican restaurant is bringing it in for their staff, it must be darn good. And it sure is.

              La Michoacana is a Mexican grocery store and meat market on the northwest corner of Westgreen and Franz/Saums. It has a small lunch counter that offers Mexican snacks, meals, etc. Their barbacoa is so so very wonderful. You can buy a barbacoa taco, or a meal, or buy it by the pound to go.

              Again, don't know how much you know about how that works in those Mexican markets, but the lunch counter ladies don't handle money, so you have to decide what you want, and then get into the main grocery store checkout line, pay for your lunch counter meal there, and then take your paid receipt back to show the ladies you've paid.

              Barbacoa is so dang good. In my view, there's a reason why it's featured on the current cover of Texas Monthly's "food edition."

              2 Replies
              1. re: Jaymes

                When talking barbacoa need to caution it isn't barbecue. It is made from the cheek meat of ???? Not sure if it's pork or beef, but it is delicious.

                Also a lady comes to sell tamales in front of Michoacana every Saturday morning - around 7 until gone.

                Better get there early for those.

                Jaymes have you or others tried Tacos Grandes in the little strip center on Katyland in old town? Claims to have Salvadoran food, but I haven't tried yet.

                1. re: Geeber98

                  I haven't. Driven by it and noticed it and thought that I needed to stop in. But thus far, have not.

                  Clearly, I need to do that post haste.

              2. I agree about Pho Saigon, Pollo Bravo, Tony's on mason, Marini's, and Red Oak Grill.

                I'd add, PIzza Bella on Pin Oak just of Kingsland west of Katy Mills mall. Get the spicy pizza sauce. I like Rocco's Italian on Fry also just a little south of Kingland. Not Babbo but a nice neighborhood Italian place. D'Amico's in La Centera is nice and has very reasonable lunch prices. For cheap take out Chinese Uncle Lee's II @Mason and Westheimer Pkwy is all takeout, cheap and not bad and has a limited delivery area. For Thai, Thai Spice on Mason. For fried chicken the Chicken Express on Fry @Westheimer pkwy does good conventional fried chicken. And of course the great bargain of Friday Lunch the Pork Chop at Perry's.

                On your way home and nowdays a little over your target an old favorite of mine Pasta Lamonte's on Grigsby se corner of I-10 and hwy 6.