In my opinion, TRIS is the best restaurant in The Woodlands or surrounding area. It can easily hold its own with the best Houston has to offer. It has amazing food, great service and is a beautiful space. I love that it does all three of those things beautifully — food, service, ambience. The food is amazing. Chef Austin Simmons sources from the best farms and ranches in Texas, and it shows in every bite. They have a crab appetizer that is incredible. The crab is cooked in brown butter and served on a kimchi pancake. I order it every time and would pay twice what they charge. It is that good. The hamachi tostado is also an amazing appetizer. It is shredded cabbage, Peanuts, Shaved Onion, Serrano, and Thai Vinaigrette mixed with hamachi and served on a crispy thin tostada. My husbands favorite is the Tom Yum shrimp soup. I think every entree on the menu is amazing too. The Patagonian Toothfish is fantastic. The fish is always cooked perfectly. The surf and turf is a dish to write home about. It is a filet and lobster thermidor. Beautifully plated, either dish would stand alone as an amazing meal, but together they are a party on a plate. I’ve recently had the duck and the venison entrees and both were perfectly paired with side dishes that brilliantly enhanced the protein. It is rare that a restaurant has amazing appetizers, entrees AND dessert. But TRIS has some of the best desserts around. My favorite is the pecan pie. I grew up in the south and this is perfection. The chocolate cake is also great. The deconstructed banana pudding is probably the most surprising. It looks fancy, but tastes like Grandma’s. The bread pudding is amazing, and that is saying something for this Louisiana born girl. There aren’t enough superlatives for this place. Besides dinner, TRIS has an amazing happy hour and lunch. They’ve put some real thought and playful experimentation into their cocktails. The green monster is so flavorful. There is a Chef’s burger on the happy hour menu that is superb. I might be addicted to their french fries too. Lunch is priced right and still has the caliber of food you expect at night. The space is elegant yet never stuffy. The artwork is playful and sophisticated. It is a place that I absolutely love.
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I love Tex Mex and Rita’s Cantina on Hwy 249 is my favorite in the area. It’s barely in the area. It is only a 15 minute drive from the back of the Woodlands, but it seems like it is in another place altogether. Its address is Pinehurst and is on Hwy 249 just south of Hardin Simmons Rd. It is better than all the others in The Woodlands and worth the short drive every time. This is an old school family owned restaurant and the owner is likely to wait on you. The food is amazing. You have to order the dirty queso. It’s not on the menu, so remember this tip. The dirty queso is white queso filled with ground beef and topped with guacamole. Chopped tomatoes and jalapeños are served on the side. The other thing that is amazing on the menu is the beef fajitas. Always cooked to perfection, they are tender and beautiful. You can get homemade flour or cornmeal tortillas with them. They are the best around. I also like the seafood enchiladas. They are a weight watchers nightmare, but so worth it! For dessert, they are famous for their quattro leches cake. Trust me. Order it. They serve three meals a day and the last time I had lunch there, the table next to us was ordering breakfast and it looked amazing. So you know where I will be the next time I go out for breakfast. My mouth is already watering!
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Breakfast is one of my favorite meals to eat out. I do it often and I know all the breakfast places in The Woodlands and just outside. 105 Cafe is in Conroe, but is part of my regular rotation because of the amazing bacon. It is really a very short trip just north of the Woodlands. Did I mention bacon? You can order it three ways and I always go with crispy. It is perfect every time. 105 Cafe has a ton of breakfast options as well as some great lunch salads, sandwiches, and soups. The buttermilk pancakes are huge and wonderful. I love them. The omelets and skillets have some excellent healthy options like the Mediterranean omelet and the organic spinach and feta omelet. One of my favorites is the smoked chicken with avocado and salsa and the Philly Cheesesteak omelet. I also love the Rancher skillet with smoked chicken, broccoli, tomatoes and hollandaise sauce. Heaven on a plate. This is a place that your healthy organic eating friend can eat while you have some biscuits and gravy! At lunch, the Reuben and the fish tacos are excellent choices as are the huge Angus beef burgers. The service is always very friendly and makes me want to go back the next day. It is totally worth the drive to Conroe.
Image Source: http://www.landrysseafood.com/location-the-woodlands.asp
While Landry’s is a chain, our local one in The Woodlands is exceptionally good. I’m always surprised by how great it is. The service and food have both improved in the last few years and is now on my regular rotation. One of my pet peeves is when fish is over cooked. At Landry’s, they get it right every time. It is always moist and perfectly cooked. There are many many kinds of fish to choose from. On a recent visit, there were nine different kinds of fish to choose from. And there are many different ways to prepare them, from fried, broiled, blackened, pan-seared, or grilled. Once you decide what kind of fish and how prepared, you can select from many delicious sauces. My favorite is the crawfish etoufee. It is rich and decadent and pairs well with a moist broiled fish. I also love the firecracker shrimp with its spicy sweet bite. The Melissa topping has shrimp, scallops, crab, and mushrooms. Entrees are served with a generous helping of salad that is fresh and plentiful. There are many other items besides fish to order. They have cold water and gulf oysters. Their gumbo is excellent. They have shrimp and grits, po-boys, all manner of shellfish, salads, and pastas. The crawfish bread appetizer is totally addictive and a must order. Landry’s also has an excellent bar and Happy Hour. I love the happy hour drink and food specials. The firecracker shrimp and the fried zucchini are always my favorite. The fish tacos are a close second. For any seafood you desire, Landry’s is a great place to get your fix.
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Several months ago, the lady who works at the British Depot store near the Tamina Farmers Market just west of the Woodlands, told me about a new fish and chips shop opening in the area. I have been anticipating this opening ever since. And boy, The Chipper lives up to all my waiting and wondering and anticipating. I had high expectations. This is authentic, outstanding fish and chips. They sell haddock and cod and the haddock is crazy good. The chips (or fries to us Yanks) are the best I’ve ever had. They are historic, and I can’t stop eating them. My favorite thing they sell is the mushy peas. I love mushy peas. If you’ve never had them, you have to try them. They have a nutty flavor that goes perfectly with the fish and chips. They also sell a dill flavored tartar sauce and a curry sauce. Their traditional English pies (different meat pies) are excellent too. If you are adventurous, they sell haggis. This is a small shop with about four tables, typical of fish and chip shops in England. Because of the small size, I usually get mine to go. Currently, they are open Wednesday through Saturday noon to 8pm. Go enjoy our little spot of England in Texas.