Are you looking for the best Mexican food or Tex-Mex in the Woodlands? We’ve assembled a guide to the restaurants that serve the best we’ve found in the Woodlands area.

Our criteria is simple: Who makes the most delicious food? Our guide is based around the Woodlands, but we’ll venture outside the immediate area if the food is worth the drive… and we found some that is.

In each section, restaurants are listed in alphabetical order; they are not ranked within the section.

Originally published in 2017.)


The Best

Cali-Mex Cuisine in a festive spot on Waterway Square

Baja Cantina

🌟 — Notable in the Woodlands area.

🥇 Best Mexican
Baja is the region of Mexico south of California, and Baja Cantina brings California’s spin on Mexican food to the Woodlands. A talented team has come together to bring this lighter take on Mexican cuisine to the business types who congregate at lunch, families at dinner, and the millennial party crowd on weekends. We think all groups will enjoy such specialities as the spectacular tuna soft taco, the huge nacho tower, and the unique pork belly and mint salad. Cocktail program looks promising; their margarita was smooth and flavorful, with unique herbal accents that aren’t usually found ’round these parts. House made aqua frescas will keep the designated driver delighted.  Just don’t come looking for Tex-Mex; Baja Cantina is a whole different state of Mexican food.

$$ | Brunch and Mexican
Full Bar, Happy Hour, Outdoor Dining, and Scenic View

24 Waterway Ave Suite 160 | The Woodlands 77380
Waterway Square
832-432-2252
| Map
Full Info | Website | Menu

Authentic Mexican and outstanding Tex-Mex in a sleek, sophisticated setting

Baja Sur Fresh Mex

🌟🌟 — Among the best restaurants in the Woodlands area.

🥇 Best Mexican

Tex-Mex restaurants are in no short supply in the Woodlands, we’re happy to report that Baja Sur brings something different. Chef Coco (who is also the restaurant’s General Manager) reaches beyond typical Tex-Mex, and brings a sophisticated palate and an eye for detail to the kitchen. We were impressed with the results. From the soulfully spicy table salsa (complimentary, of course) to the excellent Aguachile Ceviche to the outstanding Mexican Flag Enchiladas, our expectations were easily exceeded by Chef Coco’s talented kitchen. Both the Mexican and Tex-Mex dishes impressed. Bar service didn’t disappoint; this is a true craft cocktail bar, with plenty of comfortable indoor and outdoor seating in a sleek, sophisticated setting. A very polished concept, locally owned and operated.

Read our full review >

$$ and $$$ | Mexican
Full Bar, Happy Hour, HRW2021, Outdoor Dining, Private Room, and Upscale

26435 Kuykendahl Rd. Suite #900 | Tomball 77375
832-761-5199
| Map | Review
Full Info | Website | Menu

Quality Tex-Mex and outstanding margaritas

Casa Medina

🌟 — Notable in the Woodlands area.

🥇 Best Mexican

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
Full Bar and Happy Hour

28777 I-45 | Spring 77381
281-298-9866
| Map
Full Info | Website

Creative Mexican food and Tex-Mex favorites

Julio’s Mexican Grill – Magnolia

🌟 — Notable in the Woodlands area.

🥇 Best Mexican

The original location of this growing restaurant empire (Julio’s Sawdust, Red Flame) is still packing ’em in. They’re drawn in by the impressive Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisine, which goes beyond the typical fajitas (although Julio’s are outstanding) to superb creations like the El Sabroso (lightly breaded chicken breast covered in a shrimp/poblano cream sauce). The menu is strong from top to bottom – street tacos are a don’t miss, and their al pastor may be the best on Houston’s north side. Service is friendly and professional.

$$ | Mexican
Full Bar, Happy Hour, and Outdoor Dining

33418 Egypt Ln #2759 | Magnolia 77354
281-259-4522
| Map
Full Info | Website

Creative Mexican food and Tex-Mex favorites

Julio’s Mexican Grill – Sawdust

🌟 — Notable in the Woodlands area.

🥇 Best Mexican

The best Mexican restaurant in Magnolia has opened a second location on Sawdust road, and savvy locals are already converging. They’re drawn in by the impressive Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisine, which goes beyond the typical fajitas (although Julio’s are outstanding) to superb creations like the El Sabroso (lightly breaded chicken breast covered in a shrimp/poblano cream sauce). The menu is strong from top to bottom – street tacos are a don’t miss, and their al pastor may be the best on Houston’s north side. Service is friendly and professional.

$$ | Mexican
Full Bar, Good Desserts, and Happy Hour

544 Sawdust Road | The Woodlands 77380
(by PetCo)
281-419-5441
| Map
Full Info | Website | Order Online

Upscale Tex-Mex from the popular Houston chain

Pappasito’s Cantina

🌟 — Notable in the Woodlands area.

🥇 Best Mexican

Houstonians love Pappas restaurants, and Pappasitos is perhaps their most popular brand. Huge margaritas, well executed Tex-Mex classics, large portions, and great service are hallmarks of this busy local chain. Prices can be a bit surprising to those who frequent small Tex-Mex joints, but regulars say that the quality, quantity, and experience make it well worth it. Insiders know about half-price fajita Wednesday, a great bargain.

$$$ | Mexican
Full Bar, Happy Hour, and Upscale

18101 I-45 South | Shenandoah 77385
936-271-9777
| Map
Full Info | Website

Superb Tex-Mex in an unassuming strip center

Rita’s Cantina

🌟🌟 — Among the best restaurants in the Woodlands area.

🥇 Best Mexican

When WAF member Bob Frasier dines at the same restaurant several times a week, it’s worth investigating. And we’re glad we did. Rita’s Cantina, located in a nondescript strip center off Hwy 249, is a restaurant we’d have driven by without noticing. But now we’re in on the secret.

Inside Rita’s is some of the best Mexican food in the Houston area. From beautifully composed combination plates to the sizzling fajitas, Rita’s food is several steps above the typical Mexican restaurant in the area. Both flavors and presentation are superb; chef Javier Gonzalez is one of the most talented in the city. His wife Judy oversees the comfortable dining room, filled with regulars who are in the know.

Read our full review >

$$ | Mexican
Full Bar and Happy Hour

32015 TX-249 | Pinehurst 77362
(About 10 minutes from Woodlands Pkwy and 2978)
346-248-5097
| Map | Review
Full Info | Website


Recommended

🥈 Recommended Mexican

Tex-Mex with a strong Texas accent is on the menu at Alicia’s, the Houston-based group’s Mexican concept. Our go-to is the Cowboy Steak; certified angus outside skirt toped with chipotle shrimp and served with two cheese enchiladas. Grilled meats and seafood are a strength, and moderate prices combined with a comfortable environment provide a very good value to hungry families. Happy hour is hopping; the bar turns out memorable margaritas.

Info and Photos >>

$$ | Mexican
Full Bar, Happy Hour, and Private Room

20920 Kuykendahl Rd | Spring 77379
281-350-8383
| Map
Website

Upscale Tex-Mex from the iconic Houston family

Goode Co Kitchen & Cantina

🌟 — Notable in the Woodlands area.

🥈 Recommended Mexican

Top notch fajitas and seafood, solid margaritas, and cold beer are the draws at this Houston-area transplant. The food is more Tex-Mex than Mexican, but big plates and well executed food rarely disappoint. Beautiful upscale setting, great service, and a professional staff draw the regulars back for more, eye-opening prices can surprise newcomers.

Info and Photos >>

$$$ | Mexican
Happy Hour and Outdoor Dining

8865 Six Pines Dr Ste 150 | Shenandoah 77380
281-826-5150
| Map
Website

Consistently well prepared Tex-Mex in a family-friendly environment

Gringo’s Woodlands

🥈 Recommended Mexican

Families flock to Gringo’s to enjoy well prepared, well-priced Tex-Mex cuisine in a comfortable, family-friendly environment. Tex-Mex standards are solid choices; we’re fans of their crispy tacos and their cheese enchiladas. This local restaurant group has grown from a single location to 13 based on a simple formula: Good food, good service, and good value. We think it hits the sweet spot; not as pricey as the high end places (I’m lookin’ at you, Pappasito’s and El Tiempo) while still providing the food and service that makes picky patrons happy.

Info and Photos >>

$$ | Mexican

30420 FM 2978 Rd | The Woodlands 77354
281-789-4543
| Map
Website | Order Online

Family favorite for upscale Tex-Mex

Guadalajara Hacienda

🥈 Recommended Mexican

The Woodlands has no shortage of Mexican food, but Guadalajara Hacienda has been an area favorite for decades, thanks to its great service and a dependable kitchen. Seafood dishes stand out; the seafood enchiladas are unusual and lush. Ceviche is another standout, and looking around the dining room, you’ll see no shortage of the well-crafted margaritas. Stylish, upscale setting, ample parking.

Info and Photos >>

$$ and $$$ | Mexican
Full Bar, Happy Hour, Outdoor Dining, and Upscale

27885 I-45 | The Woodlands 77380
281-362-0774
| Map
Website

Great Tacos and Mexican dishes from a hidden gem

La Cocina de Roberto

🌟 — Notable in the Woodlands area.

🥈 Recommended Mexican

A hidden gem at the far west end of Sawdust (and now with a second location on I-45 just south of Woodlands Parkway), 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.

Info and Photos >>

$ and $$ | Mexican
Catering

26817 Interstate 45 N | The Woodlands 77380
832-813-8030
| Map
Website

Affordable Tex-Mex from a local chain

Mama Juanita’s

🥈 Recommended Mexican

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.

Info and Photos >>

$ and $$ | Mexican
Happy Hour

8000 Hwy 242 #110 | The Woodlands 77385
(just east of I-45)
936-273-3220
| Map
Website


Restaurant Listings

Alicia’s Mexican Grille $$ Mexican   Outside the Bubble: Spring
☎ CALL     🚘 MAP

Baja Cantina $$ Brunch and Mexican   Waterway
☎ CALL     🚘 MAP

Baja Sur Fresh Mex $$ and $$$ Mexican   Creekside Forest West
☎ CALL     🚘 MAP

Belly of the Beast - closed $$ Mexican   Outside the Bubble: Spring
☎ CALL     🚘 MAP

Caffe Di Fiore $$ and $$$ Mexican   Woodlands Parkway West
☎ CALL     🚘 MAP     💻 ORDER

Casa Medina $$ Mexican   I-45 Corridor
☎ CALL     🚘 MAP

Chuy’s $$ Mexican   I-45 Corridor
☎ CALL     🚘 MAP     💻 ORDER

Cyclone Anaya’s $$ and $$$ Brunch and Mexican   Waterway
☎ CALL     🚘 MAP

El Chaparro $$ Mexican   Outside the Bubble: Tomball
☎ CALL     🚘 MAP

El Tiempo Cocina $$$ and $$$$ Mexican   Indian Springs
☎ CALL     🚘 MAP

Escalante’s $$ and $$$ Mexican   Hughes Landing
☎ CALL     🚘 MAP     💻 ORDER

Goode Co Kitchen & Cantina $$$ Mexican   Research East
☎ CALL     🚘 MAP

Gringo’s Woodlands $$ Mexican   Woodlands Parkway West
☎ CALL     🚘 MAP     💻 ORDER

Guadalajara Hacienda $$ and $$$ Mexican   I-45 Corridor
☎ CALL     🚘 MAP

Julio’s Mexican Grill – Magnolia $$ Mexican   1488 West
☎ CALL     🚘 MAP

Julio’s Mexican Grill – Sawdust $$ Mexican   Sawdust
☎ CALL     🚘 MAP     💻 ORDER

La Cocina de Roberto $ and $$ Mexican   I-45 Corridor and Sawdust
☎ CALL     🚘 MAP

Los Cucos $$ Mexican   Panther Creek
☎ CALL     🚘 MAP     💻 ORDER

Lupe Tortilla $$$ Brunch and Mexican   I-45 Corridor
☎ CALL     🚘 MAP

Mama Juanita’s $ and $$ Mexican   I-45 Corridor
☎ CALL     🚘 MAP

Mi Rancho Shenandoah $$ Mexican   I-45 Corridor
☎ CALL     🚘 MAP

Natalia’s #2 $$ Mexican   Sawdust
☎ CALL     🚘 MAP     💻 ORDER

Pappasito’s Cantina $$$ Mexican   I-45 Corridor
☎ CALL     🚘 MAP

Rita’s Cantina $$ Mexican   Outside the Bubble: Pinehurst
☎ CALL     🚘 MAP

Torchy’s Tacos $ and $$ Mexican   Panther Creek, Research East, and Woodlands Mall
☎ CALL     🚘 MAP

Uli’s Kitchen $$$ Mexican   Research West
☎ CALL     🚘 MAP