The Woodlands is one of the best places I have ever had the privilege to live. Situated on the north side of Houston, the Woodlands is a beautiful oasis of restaurants and homes surrounded by plants and trees. Restaurants in The Woodlands range from Italian to New Orleans, and you can even find hipster hangouts with live music events and some surprisingly impressive sushi!
The Woodlands is approximately 40 minutes north of Houston, straight up Interstate 45, and it’s home to a plethora of charming little old and new restaurants. I’ve often remarked that the Woodlands is like the island in the Pirates of the Caribbean which “can only be found by those who already know where it is,” because it can be difficult to find things in the Woodlands. However, it makes the entire area like a well-kept secret. So, here are my top ten best-kept Woodlands secrets.
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11 Best Restaurants in The Woodlands, Texas
9595 Six Pines Dr #860 // +1 281-298-7177
Not only is Uni Sushi one of the ten best restaurants in the Woodlands, but being directly next to a movie theater makes it the perfect place for dinner and a movie.
Uni is a modern, chic restaurant with a stocked full bar, perfect for happy hour and always hoppin’ on the weekends. While containing traditional Japanese sushi bar favorites, it’s the culinary twists that make Uni unique.
I suggest starting with fresh seafood ceviche or baked avocado. Then choose two items from their list of “modern makimonos” and you won’t be disappointed. My favorites are “watch your butt” with tuna, salmon, cream cheese, and jalapeno or “Armando” with crab, salmon, avocado, jalapeno, and cream cheese. You won’t be disappointed in this Woodland’s fine dining restaurant.
4775 W Panther Creek Dr #490 // +1 281-719-5895
The Republic Grille is a Southern Texas-style restaurant tucked behind a veil of trees at Woodlands Parkway and Gosling Road. The Republic Grill specializes in home cooking, with dishes like chicken fried chicken with mashed potatoes. It’s one of the only restaurants in the Woodlands or anywhere that I can honestly say “everything is good.”
My personal favorite is the TRG salad, a bed of lettuce with grilled chicken, strawberries, red grapes, goat cheese, cranberries, and pecans. Enjoy seasonal outdoor seating on the deck. But just remember when dining in The Woodlands, seasonal outdoor seating does not necessarily include July and August!
9595 Six Pines Dr Ste. 1120 // +1 281-419-4242
Voted “Best Restaurant in The Woodlands” almost every year, Schilleci’s might actually be the best. Schilleci’s authentic New Orleans-style food is the best to experience outside of New Orleans. It’s a small restaurant, however, so it’s best to make reservations on the weekends.
Schilleci’s is more expensive than average, but it’s great for special occasions. The best dishes include but are not limited to crab bisque, etouffee, and barramundi risotto.
However, my favorites are the crab & artichoke dip and the Cajun fettuccine alfredo with crawfish. Anything of the pan-seared fish plates is also delicious and I particularly like the pan-seared fish with crab meat or stuffed shrimp. Jambalaya is available and tasty for those who don’t eat seafood. For a taste of New Orleans in Houston, visit this Woodlands restaurant.
373 Sawdust Rd. // +1 281-367-0114
Just off Interstate 45 on the entry into the Woodlands is a small family-owned Greek restaurant that could easily be overlooked. It occupies a small spot in a strip mall, and although it doesn’t look like much, it’s wonderful.
The Olive Oil Restaurant was voted “Number One for Gyros” but I prefer their more authentic Greek dishes like moussaka, pastitsio (baked layers of Greek pasta), or the leg of lamb.
For those looking for a less authentic experience, they also serve excellent pork chops and chicken parmigiana. However, my personal favorite is the grilled snapper. The Olive Oil Restaurant is also very reasonably priced with most dishes costing between $10 and $16 dollars, making it one of the best bargains of all the restaurants in the Woodlands.
1900 Hughes Landing Blvd #350 // +1 281-419-7687
Local Pour is the best place for happy hour and it fills up with businessmen on weekdays at about 5:30 pm due to its location on restaurant row.
While it’s a great place for after-work drinks with friends, it also has excellent food. The appetizers are standard bar food with a twist and include items such as “turmeric deviled eggs” and bacon-wrapped shrimp.
However, these are not the main attractions. Their ahi tuna sandwich is the best I’ve ever had and the spinach berry salad is simply sensational. The best dishes are by far the southern comfort food. Try the southern chicken fried chicken, shrimp & grits, or the local catch and you won’t regret it. Also, they have exceptional service. So, If you are headed to the busy concert venue there, or just stopping for a quick drink, this is where to eat in the Woodlands.
9000 New Trails Dr. // +1 281-362-1678
Fresh food and hipster grooves thy name is Black Walnut Café. If you’re looking for vegan tacos, vegetarian burgers, or a place to charge your electric vehicle, this is the place.
Better ingredients make better food, and Black Walnut Café is the proof. It’s healthy and delicious. I personally think brunch is the best, but it’s hard to say because everything is so good. If you go on the weekend, the line is to the door, so either come early or avoid prime time.
I highly recommend the eggs benedict or the build-your-own omelet for brunch. And yes, they have egg and avocado toast. If you go for lunch, you have to try the Salmon Risotto. Black Walnut Café also offers a gluten-sensitive menu. If you want a trendy, quality restaurant in the Woodlands, this is it!
1212 Lake Robbins Dr. // +1 281-362-9696
Being gifted with the scenic Woodlands Waterway view, Landry’s Seafood House is a beautiful romantic spot for an anniversary dinner or special occasion. It’s also conveniently located near the movie theater, Cynthia Mitchell Pavilion, and The Woodlands Mall, making it the perfect place for a date night.
It’s a little more expensive than average, but the food is well worth it and they have great service. If you like oysters, it’s a great way to start off and if not, try the New Orleans crawfish bread or shrimp en brochette. After that, you really can’t go wrong.
The chef recommendations of stuffed redfish and snapper Hemingway are to die for and are both locally sourced. Today’s catch offers all the different types of fish cooked any way you want them. If you don’t like seafood, Landry’s chicken fettuccine is one of my favorites. It’s not often you can find an “on the water” restaurant this far from the Gulf, but Landry’s is definitely one of the best local restaurants in the Woodlands.
1201 Lake Woodlands Dr. // +1 281-465-8993
Brio’s Tuscan Grille was always my favorite place for celebrating my birthday. It’s less expensive than a fine dining restaurant but with the same flair.
From all my favorite restaurants in the Woodlands, Brio’s Tuscan Grille is the best Italian spot. The shrimp & lobster fettuccine is exquisite and the spaghetti pesto is divine, but my favorite is the pasta al la vodka. I love the ricotta-filled pasta with a spicy cream sauce. While all kinds of pasta are usually the same, it’s the sauces that set Brio apart.
If you like to start with an appetizer, I suggest the lobster ravioli or the spicy shrimp and eggplant. They are both delicious. While in town, take your special someone to Brio’s and you won’t be disappointed. There is also a gluten-free menu for those who desire one. Best Woodlands Italian restaurant? Brio.
20 Waterway Ave #120 // +1 281-419-5771
Any list of Texas favorites wouldn’t be complete without a Mexican restaurant and Cyclone Anaya’s is the best. Though it’s called a Tex-Mex restaurant, it’s not a typical Tex-Mex place. It’s a gourmet Mexican restaurant.
Let your eyes glaze over the Tex-Mex combinations and set your sights on the house specials. My personal favorite is the “enchiladas de espinaca,” white cheese and spinach-filled enchiladas topped with a Chardonnay cream sauce and pine nuts. However, all of the house specials are delicious and I think they make homemade flour tortillas.
Cyclone Anaya’s is a little pricier than your average Mexican spot, but it’s worth every penny. For a revealing look at Mexican cuisine, Cyclone Anaya’s is one of the best places to dine in The Woodlands.
6777 Woodlands Pkwy. // +1 281-419-5988
I know it probably seems strange to have two sushi restaurants on a top ten list, and I honestly struggled with the decision. I’m sorry to those of you who don’t eat seafood, but these two restaurants were both just too good not to include. As a testament, I must confess, that while living in the Woodlands I ate at Sakekawa every week. It is that good.
My favorite roll was the scorpion roll; it’s shrimp tempura with jalapeño and cream cheese, topped with avocado and crab with a spicy mayo and eel sauce on top. I never liked sushi until I tried this roll. Go there and I know you’ll find something you love. It would be difficult to pick the “best of” the best restaurants in The Woodlands, but for sushi, this one is where to eat.
Which of these restaurants in The Woodlands, TX do you most want to try? Let me know in the comments section below!
A wide choice of handmade pasta, well-cooked meat, seafood specialties and many Italian wines are available at the “Via Emilia Italian Restaurant” in The Woodlands, TX.
There is a separate lunch and dinner menu, a dessert menu and a wine list.
With live piano and a well-spaced floor, the ambiance feels really expensive, but the prices are entirely reasonable for the portions you get.
Pomegranate Martini and Lemon drops are excellent starters. The calamari could use a little more seasoning, but when combined with the marinara sauce is just right.
Make sure you try The Chelan Sea Bass with rosemary potatoes. It will become your new favorite eat!
On the menu, you can find parmesan risotto, pasta carbonara, the classic Caesar salad, meatballs, Italian sausage and many more. There is something for everyone’s taste, even if you are a picky eater.
There are plenty of imported Italian wines, limoncello, cocktails, beers and other beverages on the wine list. The limoncello martini, shaken, not stirred, is excellent as always too.
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Travel writer and owner of the blog. My work has been featured on Fodors, Eater.com, International Living, and Great Escape Publishing, among many others. My story? Nearly six years ago, I left my job at an Oklahoma City law firm and embarked on a journey around the world. At the time, I thought I would only be gone for 6 months, but the more I traveled, the longer my bucket list became. Flashpacker describes how I travel. Rather than traveling as the normal world wise backpacker and staying in hostel dorms, I prefer a more comfortable experience, and typically stay in private rooms, take Ubers instead of taxis, and now use a suitcase instead of a backpack. Foodie, on the other hand, describes one of the key reasons why I travel. I love to pick a central “base camp” and then explore the surrounding area, really immersing myself in the culture and interacting with the people, and enjoying and exploring the food of an area is an essential part of this experience.