Killen’s Steakhouse is a fantastic addition to The Woodlands. To have the pedigree of Ronnie Killen as a chef and restauranteur here is a great asset to our area. He graduated from the Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Institute in London first in his class and with the Honor of Distinction. This is the same institute that trained Julia Child. And this chef knows his way around fine dining as well as barbecue, burgers, and tacos. Killen’s Steakhouse has a variety of USDA Prime beef, Japanese Wagyu and Gulf Coast seafood. One of the most popular options is the Texas Wagyu. They have wet aged and dry aged steaks to choose from. They even have a sirloin flight with four different pedigrees of meat. I always order a filet and it is fantastic here. It is one of the best I’ve ever had. My husband loves the dry aged ribeye. They have quality beef and prepare it expertly. Actually, the very best thing on their menu is the macaroni and cheese. I’m a bit of a nut about mac n cheese and theirs is fantastic. No matter which of his restaurants I go to, I always order it. Comfort food at its best, It’s like the best hug from your best grandmother, in a bowl. The brussels sprouts are also amazing, causing people who don’t even normally like them to fight over the last few. My favorite appetizers are the smoked crab cocktail with homemade potato chips and the Korean BBQ wagyu skewers. The Gulf snapper is a great non steak entree as well as the beautifully prepared fried shrimp. Their wine list will please all budgets and levels of wine expertise and enthusiasm. Rounding out the menu are some very worthy desserts such as the Creme Brûlée bread pudding and a decadent chocolate truffle cheesecake. The after dinner cocktail menu is divine if that is where the night takes you.
For journalistic integrity, I ate five pieces of pie from House of Pies. Five pieces represents about 10% of the number of desserts they sell. So really, to be thorough, I should go eat a few more pieces of pie! House of Pies has been the most talked about and anticipated restaurant opening in The Woodlands in years. It has been packed since it opened and there is often a short wait at lunch during the week and at breakfast and lunch on weekends. Everyone loves pie, and I especially love the apple pie and the fresh strawberry pie here. They are full of fruit and perfectly sweet. I also love the chocolate meringue. One of the best sellers is the Bayou Goo — pecans, cream cheese, a chocolate/vanilla pie layer, topped with whipped cream. The strawberry rhubarb is also a crowd favorite. House of Pies is not just about pie. They serve breakfast all day and have lots of options for those wanting lunch or dinner. The Hangover Omelet is my favorite breakfast meal. It has everything in the omelet needed to cure a hangover or fill you up, and is served with a bread choice and a side/potato choice. The hash browns are crispy and the O’Brien potatoes are a crowd favorite. The bread choices include toast, biscuits, muffins, and English muffins. Other omelets are also great. I’ve had the Denver omelet and the chili cheese omelet and they were both huge and tasty. For the lunch and dinner options, anything with chicken is a winner. They cut and marinate the chicken themselves. The chicken fried chicken has a nice heat to it from the spices and is perfectly fried so that it is very crispy and then covered in gravy. It is served with the vegetable of the day and a side of your choice along with a salad or soup. Chili on top of a baked potato is another good choice. The Monterey Chicken Breast sandwich is smothered in jack cheese and grilled mushrooms and also served with a side. The mound of fries I got was huge. The food is great. The service is fast and efficient. The pie is delicious. I think House of Pies is going to be a well-loved place in The Woodlands.
The Butler House is a beautiful restaurant just south of The Woodlands on Gosling that is quickly becoming one of my favorites. Whether you are in the mood for a dress up dinner on Saturday night, Sunday brunch, or sitting outside on the patio watching football or the Wednesday night family movie, it works for your mood. Yes, this is the restaurant with the ginormous TV/movie/football screen in the parking lot. The restaurant is an old historic home that has been lovingly restored into a restaurant. Rooms have beautiful fireplaces and are cozy and romantic. The outside patio is large and perfect for casual dining. The food is really the star here. The steaks are amazing and can hold their own with any fine steak house. The filet is especially perfect. The lamb is amazing and pairs perfectly with the sweet potato puree. The caprese salad is one of the best I’ve had. It has beautiful fresh creamy mozzarella with greens, tomatoes, and avocado drizzled with a balsamic reduction. The beet salad with blood orange vinaigrette is beautiful and tasty. The short rib dinner with creamy cheesy polenta is also a stand-out. I also loved the chicken friend steak with bacon cream gravy. They have a fantastic bar and a creative wine list with some outstanding bargains. One night they had Silver Oak by the glass which was amazing. The deserts are also not to be missed. They have a flourless chocolate cake that is rich and decadent and perfectly sweet. I order it every time. My first experience at The Butler House was Sunday brunch and it was perfect. The biscuits were some of the best I’ve ever had. The mimosas were flowing and the service was perfect too. The crab cake benedict was amazing with its creole hollandaise. The Butler House is a great addition to The Woodlands dining scene.
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.
Image Source: http://ritascantinamxkitchen.com/
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!