Updated August 2021. Originally published in 2021.)


A broad array of modern comfort food in a sleek setting

Black Walnut Cafe

🌟 — Notable in the Woodlands area.

🥇 Best American
🥇 Best Brunch
🥈 Recommended Burger
🥈 Recommended Happy Hour
🥈 Recommended Italian
🥈 Recommended Sandwiches
Update (July 2021): The secret is out: The Masked Chef who’s been making over the menu at Black Walnut is none other than Chef Austin Simmons, mastermind behind the award-winning Tris, Cureight, and the Kitchen. The result: Black Walnut has been seriously upping their culinary game. New menu items are appearing regularly, and they show a new viewpoint and a very skillful touch. We’ve been very pleased to see an established brand elevate their offerings like this, and can’t wait to see what’s next. —- Black Walnut is perhaps the biggest success story for restaurants originating in the Woodlands. Founded by serial restaurateur George Pallotta, the organization has spread statewide under the Black Forest Ventures umbrella. Why? Big portions of chef-created comfort food, served in an upscale, fast-casual setting. Sandwiches are a big deal here, and the broad menu offers something for everyone. We’re especially fond of the terrific pasta dishes; some proven recipes that have been popular for years, and some brand new ones. These rival pasta dishes at dedicated Italian restaurants; they’re that good. Don’t skip brunch; it’s very popular. And save room for dessert.

$$ | American, Burgers, and Sandwiches
Brunch, Full Bar, Good Desserts, Happy Hour, Outdoor Dining, and Private Room

9000 New Trails Drive | The Woodlands 77381
281-362-1678
| Map
Full Info | Website | Menu | Order Online

Burgers and American favorites, chef-driven and scratch made

Fielding’s Wood Grill

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

🥇 Best American
🥇 Best Brunch
🥇 Best Burger
🥇 Best Happy Hour

Gourmet burgers cooked over a wood grill are the centerpiece at Fielding’s Wood Grill, the original member of the Fielding’s family of restaurants. Founder Cary Attar sweats the details, and believes in making everything in-house, from the custom grind of 44 Ranch Beef to the house cured bacon. Culinary Director Edel Goncalves takes these ingredients and creates unique burgers and an evolving menu of appetizers and entrees that keep the regulars coming back for more. The appeal of Fielding’s extends past the burgers; a very popular weekend brunch features creative spins on brunch classics, and the bartenders pull mugs from a great selection of locally brewed beers when they’re not slinging craft cocktails. Service is brisk and efficient.

Read our full review >

$$ and $$$ | American, Brunch, and Burgers
Brunch, Full Bar, Happy Hour, HRW2020, HRW2021, and Upscale

1699 Research Forest Dr | Shenandoah 77380
832-616-3275
| Map | Review
Full Info | Website | Menu | Order Online

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.

$$$ | Mexican
Happy Hour and Outdoor Dining

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

Eclectic burgers with a variety of creative toppings

Grub Burger Bar

🥈 Recommended Burger

Towering custom burgers are on the menu at Grub Burger Bar, the Texas-based chain that foodies have grown very fond of. Skip your basic cheeseburger and go with one of the gourmet creations; the monthly specials are also often well worth trying. Save room for a milkshake; both the PG-rated and the boozy versions are very good. Fast casual service, but your food is delivered to the table, and you probably won’t see your server after that.

$$ | Burgers, Salads, and Sandwiches
Outdoor Dining

2417 Research Forest Dr | The Woodlands 77381
281-907-9001
| Map
Full Info | Website

Serious Steaks from a Master Chef

Killen’s Steakhouse

🌟🌟🌟 — Notable on a statewide level.

🥇 Best Seafood
🥇 Best Steak

When Ronnie Killen announced he was coming to the Woodlands, locals stood up and took notice. Why? Because this Cordon Bleu trained chef has developed a reputation for serving some of the best beef in Texas – wet aged and dry aged, and sourced from the US, Australia, and Japan.

Classic steakhouse vibe packs in hungry carnivores. Service is polished and professional, but approachable. Ronnie Killen’s reputation brings foodies in the door, and the expertly prepared steaks and seafood bring ’em back for more.

$$$ and $$$$ | Steaks
Full Bar, Happy Hour, Private Room, Romantic, and Upscale

1700 Research Forest Dr | Shenandoah 77381
281-323-4004
| Map
Full Info | Website

Chef Ronnie Killen's BBQ is now in the Woodlands

Killen’s Texas Barbecue

🌟 — Notable in the Woodlands area.

🥇 Best BBQ

JJ Watt’s favorite barbecue is now available in the Woodlands. Chef Ronnie Killen has expanded his footprint in the Woodlands to include his incredibly popular craft BBQ spot, located at Six Pines and Research Forest. Craft is the key; Chef Ronnie is Cordon Bleu trained, and it shows in his approach to BBQ. Superb prime briskets, with savory, complex bark and expertly rendered fat. Ginormous beef ribs, sublimely tender and beefy. Picture-perfect pork ribs, well balanced between sweet and savory. And don’t miss the sides; Killen’s creamed corn has become a Houston legend, and for good reason. The expertise goes beyond traditional ‘Q joint favorites: Killen’s also serves the best chicken-fried steak we’ve found around these parts. The chef’s attention to detail is evident; even the pickles are housemade sweet and sour, and are expertly paired to the flavors of the rich, moist meats. As with all craft BBQ places, they sell out when they sell out, so get there early.

$$ | BBQ
Catering and Outdoor Dining

8800 Six Pines Dr | Shenandoah 77380
| Map
Full Info | Website | Order Online

Lama Mediterranean Cuisine

Lovers of Mediterranean cuisine have been frequenting this family run cafe, now in its second, larger location. A broad menu stretches from Greece to Lebanon, with favorites from both cultures well represented. We’re particularly fond of the rich, lush lamb stew, the flavorful schwarma (similar to a gyro), delicious housemade hummus and the bright, tasty tabouli. If you’re in the mood for something out of the ordinary, Lama is a great option.

$$ | Greek and Lebanese
Good for Vegetarians and Outdoor Dining

1644 Research Forest Dr #100 | Shenandoah 77381
281-292-5262
| Map
Full Info | Website | Order Online

Elevated Americanized Chinese Food

Shanghai Bistro

🥇 Best Chinese
🥈 Recommended Asian

Suburban Chinese restaurants can be mind-numbingly predictable, but Shanghai Bistro brings its Manhattan sensibility to the Woodlands. No surprise, because the chef hails from New York City. His relocation brings a decidedly upscale approach to Americanized Chinese cuisine. Dishes that are often mundane are elevated by a savvy choice of better ingredients, and the housemade sauces are a welcome departure. Clean, airy setting in a strip center on Research near Gosling.

$$ | Chinese

4223 Research Forest Dr #300 | The Woodlands 77381
281-298-9998
| Map
Full Info | Menu

Serious chef-driven comfort food in a fast casual setting

The Kitchen

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

🥇 Best American
🥇 Best Brunch
🥇 Best Sandwiches
🥈 Recommended Burger

Fast casual meets upscale cuisine at The Kitchen, the laid-back cousin of the award-winning Tris. Don’t let the counter service fool you; Chef Austin Simmons has created a serious menu full of creative dishes. We’re especially fond of the Greek Chicken and the new Steak Salad. Burgerphiles love the Kitchen as well; Chef Austin knows his burgers. Wine drinkers rejoice… the Kitchen sells wine at retail prices (not restaurant prices) so you can get a great bottle for as little as $10. Carefully curated craft beer selection. Service surprises for fast casual, GM Austen Goodwin and his team are raising the bar in this segment.

(Formerly Hubbell & Hudson Kitchen)

Read our full review >

$$ | American, Brunch, Burgers, Salads, and Sandwiches
Brunch, Good Desserts, Happy Hour, and Outdoor Dining

4526 Research Forest Dr | The Woodlands 77381
281-203-5650
| Map | Review
Full Info | Website | Menu | Order Online

Authentic Mexican cuisine in a cozy Alden Bridge corner

Uli’s Kitchen

Uli’s Kitchen brings authentic Mexican cuisine to the residents of Alden Bridge. This cozy neighborhood spot features an interesting menu that offers both upscale versions of Mexican tacos, as well as pricier plated entrees. Menu looks promising, but the tacos we ordered were a mixed bag; Birria Tacos were beautifully presented but flavor was very mild; the signature Uli’s Tacos were bursting with medium rare ribeye, chicharron and veggies. We’ll give ’em another try soon. Friendly service, comfortable neighborhood setting. Full bar.

$$$ | Mexican
Full Bar and On the Radar

8021 Research Forest Dr suite a | The Woodlands 77382
281-323-4853
| Map
Full Info

Modern Italian in a chic, upscale setting

Zanti Cucina Italiana

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

🥇 Best Italian
🥇 Best Pizza

Upscale Italian cuisine comes to the Northwest Woodlands with the opening of Zanti Cucina Italiana, the brainchild of three brothers who bring extensive food & beverage background to this new endeavor. Outstanding housemade pastas, Neapolitan pizzas, and strict attention to detail are the draws here. You don’t have to drive downtown for a great Italian meal anymore… or even to the front of the Woodlands.

Read our full review >

$$ and $$$ | Italian and Pizza
Full Bar, Happy Hour, Live Music, Private Room, and Upscale

10000 Research Forest Drive | The Woodlands 77354
281-259-1300
| Map | Review
Full Info | Website


Restaurant Listings

Avanti Italian Kitchen $$$ Italian   Creekside Forest West and Research East
☎ CALL     🚘 MAP

Bellagreen $$ American   Research East
☎ CALL     🚘 MAP

Black Walnut Cafe $$ American, Burgers, and Sandwiches   Outside the Bubble: Conroe and Research East
☎ CALL     🚘 MAP     💻 ORDER

Fielding’s Wood Grill $$ and $$$ American, Brunch, and Burgers   Research East
☎ CALL     🚘 MAP     💻 ORDER

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

Grub Burger Bar $$ Burgers, Salads, and Sandwiches   Research East
☎ CALL     🚘 MAP

Huti’s 5 Free-Fire Grill - closed $$ Latin American   Research East
☎ CALL     🚘 MAP

Killen’s Steakhouse $$$ and $$$$ Steaks   Research East
☎ CALL     🚘 MAP

Killen’s Texas Barbecue $$ BBQ   Research East
☎ CALL     🚘 MAP     💻 ORDER

Lama Mediterranean Cuisine $$ Greek and Lebanese   Research East
☎ CALL     🚘 MAP     💻 ORDER

Radunare - closed $$   Research East
☎ CALL     🚘 MAP

Rico’s - closed $$ and $$$   Research West
☎ CALL     🚘 MAP     💻 ORDER

Sakekawa $$ and $$$ Japanese   Research East
☎ CALL     🚘 MAP

Shanghai Bistro $$ Chinese   Research East
☎ CALL     🚘 MAP

The Kitchen $$ American, Brunch, Burgers, Salads, and Sandwiches   Research East
☎ CALL     🚘 MAP     💻 ORDER

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

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

Zanti Cucina Italiana $$ and $$$ Italian and Pizza   Research West
☎ CALL     🚘 MAP