You can dine affordably in the Woodlands. We show you where.
The Woodlands isn’t known as an inexpensive area. However, a savvy foodie can find great places to eat without breaking the bank. Here are our favorites for an enjoyable meal on a budget.
Do you like your barbecue with a little kick? Then BBQ Godfather has you covered. Award-winning competition pitmaster Tony Faour brought his South Texas style ‘Q to Deacon Baldy’s food truck park, and the locals have been lining up ever since. Each meat gets a unique rub, and the perfect sauce is available for those who prefer it. From the delicious pork ribs to spicy brisket, BBQ Godfather offers unique versions of all the Texas BBQ classics. Sides are top notch as well; don’t miss the sweet potato casserole or the mac & cheese burnt ends. Sandwiches come on a crusty Italian loaf… just don’t call it French bread, or you risk the ire of the Godfather himself.
BBQ | 1488 West
Foodies in search of the best hot dogs around make the hike up to Highway 105 to drop in at Buldogies. Inside they’ll find handcrafted versions of the food that’s found at a state fair… but prepared far better. Huge hot dogs made from quality ingredients and assembled with attention to detail are the centerpiece, but the excellent sandwiches, carnival favorites, and indulgent desserts delight kids and adults alike. Foodies jump right to the City Crafted Dogs or the Outlaws, each of which is a well-balanced dish with expertly layered flavors. This isn’t James Coney Island; you don’t need to order three, although you may want to try them all.
American and Sandwiches | Outside the Bubble: Hwy 105
Solid Tex-Mex entrees and big margaritas are the main attraction at this family-owned Tex-Mex spot. Owner Adan Medina and his family differentiate their place with delicious flavored margaritas; we’re partial to the Avocado Margarita, which is smooth and delicious. Service is prompt and professional in both the big dining room and the cozy bar.
Mexican | I-45 Corridor
Wine lovers flock to this Heights import for the great selection of well priced wines, including some rare options by the glass. Crisp’s Enomatic machine keeps them fresh, and allows patrons to serve themselves. Food isn’t an afterthought; from clever gourmet pizzas to upscale entrees, and an outstanding weekend brunch (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) Crisp keeps us coming back for more.
Lunch at Crisp can be a fantastic bargain. A nicely curated list of $10 lunch specials includes chicken D’Angelo, which just may be the best spin on chicken parmigiana in the area. It’s a steal (and only available) at lunch.
American, Italian, and Pizza | Research East
Happy Hour and Outdoor Dining
Families, friends, and sports teams flock to Fuddruckers for their big burgers (ranging from large 1/3 lb to humongous 2/3 lb) served on fresh baked buns. An expansive interior allows kids room to roam, but unlike many kid-friendly places, adults aren’t penalized by substandard food. Fudd’s has been serving great burgers to the Woodlands for decades, and there’s a reason they’ve stuck around so long.
Burgers and Sandwiches | Grogan's Mill
Huti’s 5 Free-Fire Grill
Fast Casual meets Latin America at Huti’s 5, a very original concept that has taken root on Research Forest. Patrons travel down the service line and build bowls of uniquely flavored ingredients, inspired by native dishes south of the equator. Grilled meats, fish, or a delicious Brazilian stew are combined with veggies, grains and a variety of sauces (we go with the excellent chimichurri) to create your custom creation. It feels healthy, and it tastes delicious. Intriguing extras like gluten-free cheese bread puffs found out the offerings. We never knew eating healthy could taste so good.
Latin American | Research East
Jax Burgers, Fries & Shakes
Looking for a big, well-prepared burger without breaking the bank? Jax has you covered. This locally-owned restaurant chain specializes in half-pound burgers cooked the traditional way on a flat griddle. Execution is very good; the thick, juicy burgers are consistent and flavorful. Other options include third-pound burgers and an exceptional crispy chicken sandwich.
Jax has expanded from one location to several, and the quality has been maintained. Families and little league teams flock to Jax for a great burger at a great price, and it’s become a part of our regular burger rotation.
Burgers and Sandwiches | College Park
La Cocina de Roberto
A hidden gem at the far west end of Sawdust, La Cocina de Roberto began as a cozy little taqueria, serving the Timber Ridge neighborhood. But the savvy owners have added more full-fledged entrees to the menu, making it one of our favorite Mexican restaurants in the Woodlands. Tacos are still delicious: Carne asada and camerón are the standouts. Don’t miss the bargain faijta / shrimp combo, or the excellent chicken enchiladas.
Alcohol is BYOB – bring your own liquor, and Roberto will provide setups. You can’t beat a bargain margarita made with premium tequila.
Mexican | Sawdust
Mama Juanita’s is a Conroe-based chain of Tex-Mex restaurants that offers some of the best values in town. From the wide variety of enchiladas to the plentiful seafood options to the traditional combo plates, there’s something here to please anyone. Happy hour offers great drink specials; service is friendly. The space is simply decorated and clean, and filled with patrons enjoying the very good food with family and friends.
Mexican | I-45 Corridor
This Seattle-based pizza chain brings a new approach to making pizza. All the thin crust artisan pies are personal (either small or medium). The hungry pizzaphile travels down the assembly line, selecting sauces, cheeses, and toppings. Pick all you want; the price doesn’t change.
The result can be inches thick, and goes right into Mod’s custom pizza oven. In a few minutes, the pizza you designed is ready to devour. Those of you who’ve given up on pizza chains could be pleasantly surprised by Mod; its a solid choice, especially if everyone wants something different.
Pizza and Salads | Indian Springs
RC’s NYC Pizza & Pasta
The Woodlands has no shortage of great pizza places. But one name comes up over and over when asked for recommendations. RC’s NYC Pizza & Pasta serves honest-to-Vito New York street pizza, either traditional (cheese only) or with your choice of toppings. They’re serious about pizza: RC himself travels around the nation competing against the best pizza makers in the country, and has repeatedly brought home the hardware.
RC’s goes beyond pizza, with outstanding wings, delicious calzones, and great plated entrees. This isn’t your average pizza spot, which is why it earned a spot on our list.
Italian and Pizza | Sawdust
The Omega Grill
Modern versions of American classics are the order of the day at the Omega Grill, the sister restaurant of the popular Olive Oil, located a few doors down. The warm, friendly staff serves up big portions to hungry locals, who rave about the chicken-fried steak, pork chops, big burgers, sandwiches, and salads. Their “Twisted Texas” entrees are among our favorites, with Omega’s unique versions of these classic southern favorites. Kids menu brings in the families.
American, Burgers, Salads, and Sandwiches | Sawdust
Tony’s Italian Deli
According to Yelp, the best restaurant in the nation is Tony’s Italian Deli, on Highway 105 outside of Montgomery. While we haven’t tried all the nation’s restaurants to verify this, we can confirm that the sandwiches at Tony’s Deli are simply the best Italian subs we’ve ever tasted. Chef Hootie Trant constructs huge po-boys stacked with high quality Italian meats and cheeses, with just the right spreads and seasonings to perfect the flavor. His bride Mary is the smiling face at the counter, greeting the guest and keeping the line moving. Expect a wait at peak lunch hours.
Choosing from the wall of options is tough. New visitors should resist the urge to build their own and delve into one of Hootie’s recommended creations; our favorites are the J. Gandolfini (cold) and the Lucky Luciano (hot). Expect a filling meal, and another one at home with the half you couldn’t eat in the store.
Italian and Sandwiches | Outside the Bubble: Hwy 105