Inside the loop may seem like the inner circle for Houston’s most sizzling restaurants. But, the dining-out scene isn’t just limited to the core of the city. The suburbs hold their own, believe it or not, with a number of delicious neighborhood gems.
Color outside the lines of the loop, and you’ll discover there are plenty of downright amazing places in the ’burbs — from charming brasseries and bakeries to classic burgers and barbecue, decadent steak and seafood, and even innovative, culinary-forward foodie adventures.
Time to give your taste buds a bite of suburbia with these Houston-ish hotspots.
Brasserie 1895 // Friendswood
Where: 607 S. Friendswood Dr.
With a menu inspired by Chef Kris Jakob’s European training, there’s a strong French and Belgian influence uniquely mixed with a Southern bent and hints of Asian inspiration. The core of the kitchen relies on a wood-burning oven for everything from pastries and breads, to pizzas and casseroles, and slow-roasted meat. The menu changes seasonally, but comfort food classics like smoked prime brisket and chicken fried steak with foie gras gravy always make the grade. This neighborhood spot’s only open Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, so you might want to set up a reservation in advance.
Perry & Sons Market & Grille // Friendswood
Where: 614 S. Friendswood Dr.
Since 1979, Perry & Sons has been making the cut on the best steaks, chicken, seafood, and sides. Now, it’s practically a meat empire. And, the pork chop is nothing short of legendary. There’s also a Market & Grille location off of Scarsdale Boulevard in Houston proper. But, it’s highly likely you also know a thing or two about their Perry’s Steakhouse franchise that’s swept through the city.
Levure Bakery & Patisserie // The Woodlands
Where: 9595 Six Pines Dr., Ste. 670
You know those places that say “homemade,” but take extreme liberties with the true definition of that word? Yeah, that’s not this place. The artisan bread, pastries, petit fours, and more are really made from scratch — no mixes or pre-prepared ingredients. You’ll want to eat breakfast here and then come back for lunch — like every day. The croque madame and pain au chocolat are pretty much the perfect meal of your French dreams.
Robard's Steakhouse // The Woodlands
Where: 2301 N. Millbend Dr.
Redefining the classic American steakhouse, Robard’s feels like a gourmet getaway at The Woodlands Resort. The place is named after Howard (Robard) Hughes Jr. and inspired by the business magnate and record-setting pilot’s sense of adventure, discovery, timelessness, and pioneering spirit. That's a good way to describe executive chef David Morris' menu with “dock to door in 24” seafood, sophisticated cuts of dry-aged Texas wagyu, creative desserts, and handcrafted garden-to-glass cocktails. There’s also an in-house butchery, dry-aging room, and smokehouse on site.
Local Pour // The Woodlands
Where: 1900 Hughes Landing Blvd.
With an upscale American tavern vibe, Local Pour brought its industrial-cool digs to the ’burbs, with a second location in The Woodlands. The menu’s focused on gastropub fare with a local flourish. But, the real kicker is the large variety of craft beer, classic cocktails, and well-rounded wine selection from around the world, along with weekly live entertainment. The patio’s worth the trip alone, though.
Tin Roof BBQ // Humble
Where: 18918 Town Center Blvd.
This barbecue destination has it all. With Big Daddy burgers, dinner plates with all the ‘cue, and a World Famous Texas Cheesesteak Sandwich (as seen on The Cooking Channel’s Road Trip with G. Garvin), many would say that Tin Roof combines the best of all worlds — and that’s precisely what owners Ronnie and Nancy Webber want. The place was established in 2001, as the couple’s next big adventure after retiring from the Houston Police Department. Now, it has expanded to include live music every weekend to go with all that grub. Lucky for us.
Guru Burgers & Crepes // Sugar Land
Where: 2268 Texas Drive
That is not a typo. Guru serves up both burgers and crepes, and yes, you should order both — with a side of beet chips and loaded Buddha fries. What we love is how creative they get between the buns; the Fig Newton is grass-fed Texas Akaushi beef, homemade fig spread, goat cheese, hickory bacon, and arugula. The Astrodome piles Fritos, homemade chili, and cheddar on top of that beef. While they have sweet and savory crepes, we’d go for a sugar rush a la the Oompa Loompa with berries, Yin & Yang (Nutella is involved), and/or the Huggy Bear with chocolate and torched marshmallows.
Japaneiro’s // Sugar Land
Where: 2168 Texas Drive
Your suburban sushi fix, this place is a sister restaurant to Guru Burgers & Crepes. It boasts a seemingly never-ending menu of sashimi, ceviche, rolls, tempura, nigiri, and a surprising amount of cooked and vegetarian options, too.
Jupiter Pizza & Waffles Co. // Sugar Land
Where: 16135 City Walk
You better believe that fried chicken and Belgian waffles are on this menu — with sweet potato waffle fries, to boot. The waffles come in both sweet and savory varieties on the tongue-in-cheek menu that has stone-baked sourdough-y pizza, too, natch. Where else can you order up an Austin Powers, with a Gold Member, and a Kream Kong with a Supernova and a Moon Pie? Oh, and they have a pretty legit three-course lunch special for $12 during the week. Jupiter also belongs to the same restaurant family as Guru and Japaneiro’s, just FYI.
T-Bone Tom’s // Kemah
Where: 707 TX-146
A local fave for more than 35 years, this home-style hangout in the Bay area is a meat market-turned-restaurant that makes everything from scratch — from dry seasonings, to sauces, to the sides, and smoked sausage. It also got its time in the limelight on Food Network’s Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. There’s live music every night except Mondays, and a late-night menu goes until the wee hours, a.k.a. 1:30 a.m.
Marais // Dickinson
Where: 2015 FM 517 East
This Cajun-fusion spot is right on Dickinson Bayou — which is apropos given “marais” means “swamp” or “bayou” — and there’s a brilliant, peaceful patio with swings and chandeliers out back. The restaurant itself is almost as beautiful as its menu, both inspired by old-school NOLA and the French Quarter vibe. Bacon candy, crab cakes on fried green tomatoes, oysters on the half shell, etouffee, Cajun grits and blackened shrimp are all up for grabs; there's even a whole cocktail section dedicated to absinthe drinks.
Opus Ocean Grille // Clear Lake Shores
Where: 1510 Marina Bay Dr.
A seafood lover's dreamboat, this eatery at the Watergate Yachting Club sends out the freshest oysters galore, every preparation possible of shrimp, lobster Thermidor, sea bass, salmon, and more. With the waterfront locale, it’s a lovely brunch spot, too.
Chez nous // Humble
Where: 217 S. Avenue G
You’d never know Humble would be home to one of the city’s most delicious French restaurants. Parisian standbys done perfectly include onion soup, seared foie gras, escargot, chateaubriand, coq au vin, and soufflé from French-trained chef Stacey Crowe-Simonson. It’s the right mix of relaxed formality, too, in a charming farmhouse. No stuffiness here.
Peli Peli // Katy
Where: 23501 Cinco Ranch
Touted as Texas’ only South African fusion restaurant, this authentic, vividly spiced destination features a signature espetada that's a must; the tower of skewered filet is a showpiece — and it tastes amazing, too. The schnitzel and deep fried waffles are what’s what for weekend brunch.
Morton’s Grille // The Woodlands
Where: 25 Waterway Ave.
If you know Morton’s The Steakhouse, you’ll recognize some of the same steakhouse faves here, but with an innovative, casually modern twist.
Fielding’s Local Kitchen & Bar // The Woodlands
Where: 26400 Kuykendahl
Want flammkuchen? You should. It’s an open-flamed pizza with house bacon, crème fraîche, onions, and leek fondue. And, it’s at this neighborhood restaurant that also sends out house-cured charcuterie and 44 Farms steaks. Many ingredients are locally sourced here, as the name would suggest. The Watering Hole Bar packs a punch with craft beer, hand-crafted cocktails, a 130-bottle wine collection, and more than 200 spirits.
Cureight // The Woodlands
Where: 24 Waterway Ave.
Consider this the culinary playground of Chef Austin Simmons, also of The Kitchen. Cureight is imaginative and intimate with a new menu every week, hand-picked by the chef himself. Expect multiple tasting plates — eight courses to be exact — all served at the 25-seat chef’s table, so it’s a bit frou-frou with small portions and chic presentations. But, that’s the whole point.
Tobiuo Sushi & Bar // Katy
Where: 23501 Cinco Ranch Blvd.
Sushi chef Mike Lim is the real deal — he even apprenticed under Iron Chef Morimoto. “Tobiuo” is the Japanese name for flying fish, and the artfully crafted sashimi, nigiri, and omakase dinners pass with flying colors. It’s all almost too pretty to eat — almost.
The Kitchen // The Woodlands
Where: 4526 Research Forest Dr.
It’s literally everything but the kitchen sink at this go-to spot featuring Chef Austin Simmon’s modern-comfort cuisine that’s heavy on brunch faves, hot and cold sandwiches, live-oak wood-grilled meats, mouth-watering burgers, and farm-fresh veggies. Salad lovers rejoice: A 65-item salad bar is at your disposal. The retail shop has wine including many hard-to-find, small-batch labels, and craft beer.
Eculent // Kemah
Where: 709 Harris Ave.
If you like your dinner with a side of drama, then chef David Skinner’s imaginative menu is made for you. He calls it modern farm-to-table, and it really pushes the dining boundaries with mysterious offerings. The culinary journey ranges from nine to 16 courses and relies on taste, technology, and emotion for a 360-degree sensory experience. Whimsical, wonderful creations like the Tree of Life, Out of the Forest, What a Potato Dreams Of, and Stuck in a Cloud are all part of the foodie fantasy. Who knew the ’burbs could be so progressive.
Mezzanotte Ristorante // Cypress
Where: 13215 Grant Road
Italian classics get the best treatment at this family-run restaurant that serves everything from pappardelle to penne, pesto to picatta, and beyond. The Italian Tapas Madness Menu on Wednesdays is super-fun. After all, who doesn’t want a little bit of everything?
Corkscrew BBQ // Spring
Where: 26608 Keith St.
Yeah, it’s a little bit outside city limits. That’s a small sacrifice, though, for the big, bold smoked flavors that Corkscrew fires up on Tuesdays through Saturdays. A word to the wise: They’re generally sold out by 4 p.m. each day — sometimes much earlier. In addition to brisket, Duroc pulled pork, turkey, and homemade sausage, they have tacos, sandwiches, and all the sides and fixins’ you could hope for.
Avenida Brazil // The Woodlands
Where: 1400 Research Forest Dr.
The never-ending salad bar is as large and in charge as the Brazilian-style meat and seafood (15 varieties in total), carved tableside, in the spirit of the authentic churrascaria. Hope you’re hungry — because, there’s dessert, too.
Costa Brava Bistro // Bellaire
Where: 5115 Bellaire Blvd.
The best of Spanish and French cuisine unite at Costa Brava, where owner Angeles Dueñas’ signature paella comes packed with shrimp, calamari, mussels, chicken, pork and beef options.
Killen’s Barbecue // Pearland
Where: 3613 Broadway St.
The beautiful thing about Killen’s is that you really can have it all. We’d advise starting with chef-owner Ronnie Killen's pork belly burnt ends and fried mac & cheese. The brisket is legit — and gets put with anything, from tacos to tamales, quesadillas, and enchiladas. There’s also a chicken fried ribeye that will tempt your taste buds, and a carrot cake like you’ve never tasted (or seen) before.
Killen’s Burgers // Pearland
Where: 2804 S. Main St.
With a retro diner look, Killen’s delivers on both kitsch and killer burgers — oh, and crispy onion rings and a mean milkshake. Must. Get. It. All.
Killen’s Steakhouse // Pearland
Where: 6425 Broadway St.
For something a bit more formal than barbecue, Ronnie Killen has the answer in the highest quality steak and Gulf Coast seafood. The steakhouse was actually the first in his Killen’s food empire in his Pearland hometown, and it’s known as a “must visit” for beef lovers with everything from wet-aged to dry-aged preparations and local Marble Ranch wagyu to Japanese, and Cabassi Australian varieties.
Churrascos // Sugar Land
Where: 1520 Lake Point Parkway
Transport your taste buds to South America any night of the week with empanadas, plaintain chips, ceviche, grilled meat with chimichurri sauce, and tres leches, of course, all paired with distinct wines. There’s also a location in The Woodlands as well as several in central Houston.