Updated July 2021. Originally published in 2021.)

Notable craft BBQ in a cozy backyard spot near the Woodlands

3rd Coast BBQ & Catering

There’s a new rising star on the north side craft BBQ scene, and their name is 3rd Coast BBQ. Pitmaster Troy Mulligan is a Houston native, and has mastered his art after driving around Texas and sampling ‘Q from dozens of the state’s top pits. His dedication and research is paying dividends: The centerpiece is superb brisket; remarkably moist, beautifully rendered, and with a cravable bark created by his top secret rub. Other proteins aren’t shortchanged; the pork ribs are savory masterpieces, with a plucky texture and effortless pull from the bone. Sausage should’t be overlooked; Troy makes an outstanding boudin, with perhaps the best meat/rice balance that we’ve come across. For those eating lighter, turkey is beautifully smoky and tender. Attention to detail shows in the sides (all made in-house, don’t miss the gently spicy street corn or the excellent buns and breads (all Slow Dough, the local baking wizards.) Open Thursday through Sunday, and they’re typically sold out by 4pm.

$$ | BBQ
Outdoor Dining

25219 Oakhurst Dr | Spring 77386
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Quality Tex-Mex and outstanding margaritas

Casa Medina

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
Happy Hour

28777 I-45 | Spring 77381
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Elevated Vietnamese Cuisine

EAD Vietnamese Restaurant

This hidden gem is an offshoot of Huynh, one of the best Vietnamese restaurants in Houston, so we were excited to hear of its opening. Upon visiting, our high expectations were exceeded.

Soups are superb; the pho is rich and flavorful, and the chicken wonton is light years ahead of what you’ll find at a typical Chinese spot. But don’t miss the plated entrees; they are created with an eye to bold flavors and careful attention to detail.

The space is large, bright, and airy, with a sleek modern design. It’s quickly become our preferred Vietnamese destination in the Woodlands area.

$$ | Vietnamese

17947 Interstate 45 S | Shenandoah 77385
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Family favorite for upscale Tex-Mex

Guadalajara Hacienda

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.

$$ and $$$ | Mexican
Happy Hour and Outdoor Dining

27885 I-45 | The Woodlands 77380
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Steaks and Italian in a surprisingly fashionable hideaway

Johnny’s Italian Steak House

We never expected to find good food in the Holiday Inn off Research east of I-45. So we were pleasantly surprised by Johnny’s Italian Steak House, a mid-priced steakhouse that also features some very good Italian dishes. We’re particularly fond of their happy hour offerings – well priced appetizers perfect for sharing.

Service is attentive without being intrusive and the room is beautiful and cozy, making it perfect for a getaway with that special someone. Johnny’s demonstrates that you don’t have to pay a lot to enjoy a quality steak in a beautiful setting.

Read our full review >

$$ and $$$ | Italian and Steaks
Happy Hour, Outdoor Dining, and Private Room

19333 David Memorial Dr. | Shenandoah 77385
(Inside the Crown Plaza Shenandoah)
| Map | Review
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Authentic Local Ramen Bar

Koji Ramen Bar

Ramen lovers rejoice – The Woodlands now has a legitimate spot to relax with a soulful bowl of ramen. The talented chef hails from Japan, as does the savvy manager, and they bring their expertise in this surprisingly intricate cuisine to The Woodlands area.

The tightly edited menu features several varieties of ramen; we recommend starting with the traditional tonkatsu and working your way through the well curated options. Service is friendly and professional, and the small room is beautifully adorned with custom artwork commissioned locally by the owners.

$$ | Japanese

25403 Interstate 45 | Spring 77380
| Map
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Affordable Tex-Mex from a local chain

Mama Juanita’s

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.

$ and $$ | Mexican
Happy Hour

8000 Hwy 242 #110 | The Woodlands 77385
(just east of I-45)
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Upscale Tex-Mex from the popular Houston chain

Pappasito’s Cantina

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
Happy Hour

18101 I-45 South | Shenandoah 77385
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Dallas-based chain specializing in upscale comfort food and whiskey

Whiskey Cake

Whiskey Cake packs ’em in with locally-sourced comfort food in a trendy, upscale setting. The big room fills with families and groups enjoying upscale spins on classic dishes. Whiskey selection is impressive, and the signature Whiskey Cake dessert should not be missed.

$$ and $$$ | American, Brunch, and Burgers
Brunch, Happy Hour, Outdoor Dining, and Private Room

27800 N Fwy Service Rd | Oak Ridge North 77385
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Restaurant Listings

3rd Coast BBQ & Catering $$ BBQ   I-45 Corridor and Rayford Road
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Babin’s Seafood House $$ and $$$ Seafood   I-45 Corridor
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BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse $$ American, Burgers, and Pizza   I-45 Corridor
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Casa Medina $$ Mexican   I-45 Corridor
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Chuy’s $$ Mexican   I-45 Corridor
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EAD Vietnamese Restaurant $$ Vietnamese   I-45 Corridor
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Gino’s East - closed $$ Pizza   I-45 Corridor
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Guadalajara Hacienda $$ and $$$ Mexican   I-45 Corridor
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Johnny’s Italian Steak House $$ and $$$ Italian and Steaks   I-45 Corridor
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Kirby’s Steakhouse $$$ and $$$$ American and Steaks   I-45 Corridor
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Koji Ramen Bar $$ Japanese   I-45 Corridor
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Lupe Tortilla $$$ Mexican   I-45 Corridor
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Mama Juanita’s $ and $$ Mexican   I-45 Corridor
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Mi Rancho Shenandoah $$ Mexican   I-45 Corridor
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Mia’s Table $$ American and Burgers   I-45 Corridor
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Pallotta’s Italian Grill $$ Italian   I-45 Corridor
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Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen $$$ Cajun/Creole and Seafood   I-45 Corridor
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Pappas Bar-B-Q $$ BBQ and Burgers   I-45 Corridor
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Pappasito’s Cantina $$$ Mexican   I-45 Corridor
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Spring Creek Barbeque $$ BBQ   I-45 Corridor
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Whiskey Cake $$ and $$$ American, Brunch, and Burgers   I-45 Corridor
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