(Originally published in 2021.)


A broad array of modern comfort food in a sleek setting

Black Walnut Cafe

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

🥇 Best American (New)
🥇 Best American (Traditional)
🥇 Best Brunch
🥇 Best Burger
🥈 Recommended Happy Hour
🥈 Recommended Sandwiches
🥈 Recommended Tacos
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. Tacos are another surprise; the expanding menu of tacos (including some impressive new birria tacos) is also worth exploring. Don’t skip brunch; it’s very popular. And save room for dessert.

$$ | American (New), American (Traditional), Burgers, Sandwiches, and Tacos
Brunch, Full Bar, Good Desserts, Happy Hour, HRW2022, Outdoor Dining, and Private Room

9000 New Trails Drive | The Woodlands 77381
Also at the Conroe Airport
281-362-1678
| Map
Full Info | Website | Menu | Order Online

Boardough Vino

🥈 Recommended Happy Hour
🥈 Recommended Pizza

Research Forest gets a new, tucked-away wine bar offering a peaceful hideaway from the day’s stresses. Boardough Vino offers a curated wine list along with well priced bites ranging from pizza and sandwiches to charcuterie. We were pleasantly surprised by the reasonably priced 18″ pizzas featuring cracker crusts, high quality toppings, and nicely balanced sauces; they’re one of the best thin crusts pizzas in the Woodlands. Expansive bar, comfortable seating, and a cozy patio make for a great happy hour spot or romantic getaway with that special someone. Casual atmosphere, friendly staff.

$$ | Charcuterie and Pizza
Full Bar, Happy Hour, On the Radar, Outdoor Dining, and Romantic

4223 Research Forest Dr Suite #100 | The Woodlands 77381
281-719-8938
| Map
Full Info

Burgers and American favorites, chef-driven and scratch made

Fielding’s Wood Grill

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

🥇 Best American (New)
🥇 Best American (Traditional)
🥇 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 (New), American (Traditional), Brunch, and Burgers
Brunch, Catering, Family-Run Small Business, 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

Well-executed Gulf Coast seafood in an upscale, casual setting

Goode Co Fish Camp

🌟 — Notable in the Woodlands area.

🥇 Best Seafood

Levi Goode has brought his outstanding take on Gulf Coast seafood to the Woodlands with his new Goode Co Fish Camp concept. Diners can expect expertly crafted seafood dishes (do not miss the iconic campechana) served in a casual but classy room that pays homage to the Texas Gulf Coast. Polished service, friendly staff.

Read our full review >

$$ and $$$ | Seafood
Catering, Full Bar, Good Desserts, Happy Hour, On the Radar, Outdoor Dining, and Upscale

8865 Six Pines Dr Suite 100 | Shenandoah 77380
281-947-9120
| Map | Review
Full Info | Website

Upscale Tex-Mex from the iconic Houston family

Goode Co Kitchen & Cantina

🌟 — Notable in the Woodlands area.

🥇 Best 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

Burgers and sandwiches from a small-family-run spot

Honey Bee Ham & Deli

🥈 Recommended Burger

Burgers and sandwiches are the draw at this tidy strip-center shop. Family run, they’ve been delighting locals since 1994.

$$ | Burgers and Sandwiches
Family-Run Small Business

4747 Research Forest Dr #495 | The Woodlands 77381
281-364-9200
| Map
Full Info | Website

Gourmet burgers from the Austin-based group

Hopdoddy Burger Bar

🥇 Best Burger

Hopdoddy, the wildly successful Austin-based burger group, has opened its long-awaited Woodlands location. Diners flock to manageably-sized signature burgers, with a variety of chef-designed toppings. Beef is a custom grind, buns are made in house, and toppings and sauces are created by their executive chef. Vegetarians and the gluten sensitive aren’t left out – specific options exist for both. Fries are cut in house and very good; they sweat the details and use the correct two-step cooking process that’s necessary for fresh cut fries. Comfortable location with a large patio, ample parking.

$ and $$ | Burgers
Full Bar, Good for Kids, Good for Vegetarians, On the Radar, and Outdoor Dining

2417 Research Forest Drive Suite A | The Woodlands 77381
281-907-9001
| Map
Full Info | Website | Menu | Order Online

Serious Steaks from a Master Chef

Killen’s Steakhouse

🌟🌟🌟 — Notable on a statewide level.

🥇 Best Burger
🥇 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. Burger lovers should not skip the outstanding Killen’s Burger; it may be the best steakhouse burger around.

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.

$$$ and $$$$ | Burgers, Seafood, 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
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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
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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
Delivery by Restaurant and Family-Run Small Business

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 (New)
🥇 Best American (Traditional)
🥇 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 (New), American (Traditional), 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

🌟 — Notable in the Woodlands area.

🥇 Best Mexican
🥈 Recommended Tacos

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 and Tacos
Family-Run Small Business and Full Bar

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

Modern, multicultural tacos in a hip, energetic environment

Velvet Taco

🥇 Best Tacos

This successful chain of hip, multicultural taco joints has pulled into the Woodlands, and locals are buzzing about all the different taco options. Influences range from India to England to Lebanon, with lots of sources of inspiration in between. Unlike some other hip taco joints, food and sauces are created in-house, and hungry customers can taste the difference. Open late, a rarity ’round these parts. Friendly, energetic staff.

$$ | Tacos
Catering, Late Night, On the Radar, and Outdoor Dining

9120 Gosling Rd | The Woodlands 77381
346-386-6424
| Map
Full Info | Website

Creative pizzas featuring high-spec ingredients and a fanatical focus on quality

Zalat Pizza

🥇 Best Pizza

This Dallas-based chain rolls into the Woodlands offering their version of hand-tossed pizza. Beef-based pepperoni is a calling card, as are unique pizzas that stretch from the expected to the unexpected. Refreshing corporate culture (employees have stock options!) and fanatical dedication to quality (staff makes, tastes, and judges pizzas every week) makes this a pizza place to check out. As predicted, Zalat’s strong offering has been consistently delivered and has earned them a coveted spot on our “Best” list.

Read our full review >

$ and $$ | Pizza
On the Radar

1620 Research Forest Dr Ste 200 | Shenandoah 77381
832-621-0420
| Map | Review
Full Info | Website | Order Online

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 $$$ Italian   Creekside Forest West and Research East
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Avenida Brazil $$$ Steaks   Research East
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Bellagreen $$ American (Traditional)   Research East
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Black Walnut Cafe $$ American (New), American (Traditional), Burgers, Sandwiches, and Tacos   Outside the Bubble: Conroe and Research East
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Boardough Vino $$ Charcuterie and Pizza   Research East
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Fielding’s Wood Grill $$ and $$$ American (New), American (Traditional), Brunch, and Burgers   Research East
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Goode Co Fish Camp $$ and $$$ Seafood   Research East
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Goode Co Kitchen & Cantina $$$ Mexican   Research East
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Honey Bee Ham & Deli $$ Burgers and Sandwiches   Research East
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Hopdoddy Burger Bar $ and $$ Burgers   Research East
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Huti’s 5 Free-Fire Grill - closed $$ Latin American   Research East
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Killen’s Steakhouse $$$ and $$$$ Burgers, Seafood, and Steaks   Research East
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Killen’s Texas Barbecue $$ BBQ   Research East
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Lama Mediterranean Cuisine $$ Greek and Lebanese   Research East
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Radunare - closed $$   Research East
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Rico’s - closed $$ and $$$   Research West
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Sakekawa $$ and $$$ Japanese   Research East
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Shanghai Bistro $$ Chinese   Research East
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The Kitchen $$ American (New), American (Traditional), Brunch, Burgers, Salads, and Sandwiches   Research East
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Torchy’s Tacos $ and $$ Mexican   Panther Creek, Research East, and Woodlands Mall
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Uli’s Kitchen $$$ Mexican and Tacos   Research West
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Velvet Taco $$ Tacos   Research East
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Zalat Pizza $ and $$ Pizza   Research East
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Zanti Cucina Italiana $$ and $$$ Italian and Pizza   Research West
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