Updated July 2021. Originally published in 2021.)
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.
$$ | Mexican
Full Bar, Happy Hour, and Private Room
World-class Mexican cuisine in a cozy setting
Belly of the Beast - closed
To say we were impressed by Belly of the Beast is an understatement. Chef Thomas Bille has brought his Los Angeles and Downtown Houston sensibilities (Ritz Carlton, Otium, Xochi) to a small family restaurant in Old Town Spring, and the results are exceptional. From the first bite of the sharp, blindingly fresh housemade ceviche to the rich, nuanced, layered flavors of the Mexican Hummus and the Yellowfin Tuna Tostada, BotB surprises and delights.
The breadth and complexity of the tacos is simply astounding. From the vegetarian Calabacitas (summer squash, yellow corn, poblano cremata, burrata) to the lush Carne Asada (citrus marinated flank steak, grilled onions, guacsalsa), to the surprising K-Town (smoked Berkshire shoulder, Korean glaze, miso yogurt, scallion kimchi), to the phenomenal Birra (Prime beef, queso chihuahua, onions, cilantro, salsa roja) Chef Thomas delivers bites that are nothing short of a revelation. Cozy, comfortable setting; gets busy on weekends… but it’s well worth the wait.
$$ | Mexican
Scratchmade salads and salad-stuffed sandwiches that exceed expectations🥇 Best Sandwiches
CityPlace has a hot new spot for picking up a quick, satisfying lunch or convenient dinner. Called Bread Zeppelin, the concept tosses high-quality, fresh ingredients with a plethora of homemade dressings to create a satisfying salad. But that’s just the start: The staff then (optionally) stuffs the made-to-order salad into a cored-out BreadMan Baking French baguette. The result is surprisingly delicious; the crunch of the baguette, just enough of the soft, pillowy bread, and a cool, fresh flavorful salad all in one bite. It’s the best of a salad combined with the best of a sandwich, all in one. We sampled several of their signature creations, and were particularly impressed by the NOLA (Fried Shrimp, tomato, red onion, pickles, provolone, iceberg, remoulade) and the Plymouth Rock (roasted turkey, cranberries, beets, blue cheese, caramelized pecans, spring mix, cranberry poppyseed dressing).
$ and $$ | Salads and Sandwiches
Catering, Good for Vegetarians, and Outdoor Dining
Superlative Thai cuisine in a jewel-like strip-center setting
🌟 — Notable in the Woodlands area.🥇 Best Asian
🥇 Best Thai
A wide variety of expertly crafted Thai dishes is on the menu at Charm Thai Bistro, and we were impressed with every single one we sampled. From the cool, tangy, refreshing Som Tum (papaya salad) to the delightfully complex Tom Kha (coconut soup) to the soulfully rich Panang Curry, we were blown away by the obvious care that went into every dish. Even the de rigueur Pad Thai was the best we’ve found ’round these parts. Chef Adam Gorelick is not a native of Thailand, but you’d never know by the food that flows from his talented kitchen. Modern, comfortable setting, featuring artifacts imported from Thailand, and a huge mural of a Thai lion overseeing the dining room. Service is warm, friendly and professional.
$$ | Thai
Good for Vegetarians and HRW2021
Boutique bakery and cozy café in a chic, urban setting
🥈 Recommended American
🥈 Recommended Burger
This popular Houston bakery has ventured north to Springwoods Village, and has expanded from their roots of award-winning pastries, breads, and bistro cuisine. Now sporting a full bar, Common Bond is a happy hour destination as well as a great spot for breakfast, lunch, or brunch. Our sneak peek at the new menu was filled with pleasant surprises, like the spicy Nashville Hot Fried Shrimp and the savory Charcuterie Baguette. Beautiful small cakes perfect for special events; call ahead or pick up one that’s already ready.
$$ | American, Bakery, Breakfast, Brunch, and Burgers
Happy Hour, HRW2020, HRW2021, and Outdoor Dining
Iconic Craft BBQ
🌟🌟🌟 — Notable on a statewide level.🥇 Best BBQ
When Will Buckman quit his job with the phone company to focus on barbecue, some thought he was crazy. Our first taste of Will’s brisket, served from a trailer on Budde road, convinced us he was crazy like a fox. Along with wife Nichole, Buckman has built Corkscrew BBQ into one of the best BBQ joints in the world – Texas Monthly named them to their prestigious Top 10 list in 2017. From the superlative brisket to the gargantuan beef ribs (Saturday only) Corkscrew’s meats do not disappoint. But don’t skip the sides, or Nichole’s remarkable cobblers. And get there early. Corkscrew routinely sells out by mid-afternoon, and the line starts an hour or more before opening.
$$ | BBQ
Enticing Asian fusion in a cozy, family-run nook.
🌟🌟 — Among the best restaurants in the Woodlands area.🥇 Best Asian
🥇 Best Vietnamese
Delightfully quirky family-run Asian fusion spot with an enticing slate of unique and memorable dishes. These family recipes surprise and delight; highlights are the deep, rich pho, surprising noodle dishes, superb curry, and a slate of tasty and clever appetizers. Don’t skip the beverages; Café Su Da and Thai Milk Tea are both among the best we’ve sampled.
Calling the staff friendly does them a disservice; Paul and his team are incredibly personable and charming. Service is professional, with a delightfully personal touch. The setting is cozy, comfortable and spotless.
$ and $$ | Vietnamese
Good for Vegetarians
Family-run Italian in a tidy strip center location
Fettucine alfredo is a dish found on almost every Italian restaurant’s menu. Few make it as well as Italian Cafe; this one standout dish demonstrates the care that goes into preparing every dish at this cozy Spring cafe. All the dishes show a distinct New York inspiration, from the excellent pastas to the veal, chicken, and seafood entrees.
Service is warm and friendly at this family-run operation. They’ve been hard at work since 1989. You’re likely to see owner Leo Coronel and his wife Zoly checking on tables and greeting guests. Check ’em out.
$$ | Italian
Elevated pizza in a hidden strip center location🥇 Best Pizza
Pizza lovers in the know rave about Jackpot Pizza. This unassuming strip center location turns out well conceived gourmet pizzas made from a variety of top quality ingredients. Their standard pizzas are very good, but the creativity of the kitchen shines in their gourmet pizzas. Jackpot owner Mary Ann Ledesma sweats the details; her team shreds blocks of cheese daily rather than using a preshredded product, and you can taste the difference. Gluten free and cauliflower crust available; those avoiding gluten, or on a keto diet can rejoice; it’s a far better pizza than you find in overpriced “gluten free eateries”.
$$ | Pizza
Big classic burgers in a modern malt shop setting🥈 Recommended Burger
Looking for a big, well-prepared burger without breaking the bank? Jax has you covered. This locally-owned restaurant chain specializes in half-pound burgers cooked the traditional way on a flat griddle. Execution is very good; the thick, juicy burgers are consistent and flavorful. Other options include third-pound burgers and an exceptional crispy chicken sandwich.
Jax has expanded from one location to several, and the quality has been maintained. Families and little league teams flock to Jax for a great burger at a great price, and it’s become a part of our regular burger rotation.
$ | Burgers and Sandwiches
Donuts, kolaches and breakfast egg rolls
A variety of breakfast creations are the draw at Robin Nouu’s Snowflake Donuts n’ Cafe, located in a strip center on Louetta. Unique creations like Breakfast Egg Rolls, well crafted kolaches (actually klobásníky) and a wonderful assortment of donuts are the draw; somehow this small shop manages to delight both Krispy Kreme and Shipley’s fans. We’re huge fans of the savory Brisket Kolaches (made with brisket from local favorite 3rd Coast Barbecue), the supremely southern Biscuits & Gravy Kolache, and Robin’s incomparable Apple Fritter. They close at noon, so get there early.
$ | Breakfast and Donuts
Historic Texas cafe reborn under new ownership
One of Old Town Spring’s historic cafes, Wunsche Bros., has been reborn under new ownership. Known for their Texas cuisine (chicken fried steaks, chicken, inch-thick burgers) the cafe opened over 100 years ago and is a landmark known to Texans young and old.
$$ and $$$ | Burgers
Live Music, On the Radar, and Private Room