Fine DiningAll of these restaurants are exceptional and do one thing or another better than the others. They are listed in no particular order. I don't typically blog fine dining because the light levels at the restaurants make it difficult to photograph the food without disturbing the other diners.
Veritas Wine and Bistro. Every time I've ordered duck here it has been amazing. The tasting menu is an event in and of itself.
Madden's Casual Gourmet. A reasonably priced fabulous lunch is available during the week and the dinner menu changes regularly based on ingredient availability. I've never been disappointed with the food here.
Christopher's World Grille. Perfectly cooked steaks, knowledgeable sommelier, and sometimes they have game meats available. I've never had a bad meal here.
The Republic 1836 Steakhouse. Lovely oyster starters. Perfect steaks. Fabulous desserts. Make reservations or eat at the bar.
Cocoamoda. Located in Calvert, during the day Cocoamoda is an exceptional chocolate boutique. On the weekend evenings they serve fine French food. Visit their facebook page as the menu changes every weekend. Call to make reservations. Bring your own alcohol.
BBQ1. Kruez Market. Sorry, everyone else. They're that good.
2. Lew's BBQ food truck. They are at this place on the list for 2 items that I absolutely adore: pepper pork tenderloin and smoked pineapple. Add in the coleslaw and you've got a delicious meal.
3. Martin's Place in Bryan. They've been at it forever in the same location and building and it's still consistently good. I'm amazed at the number of people who have lived here for decades who have never tried Martin's. It's worth the trip.
4. (tie) Rudy's BBQ. A Texas chain that makes the meat and sandwiches well. The green chili stew is also good. Great breakfast tacos. Their catering is a wee bit expensive.
4. (tie) C&J's BBQ (warning: website autoplays music - why????). A Bryan and College Station chain that is pretty good with the meats but also has good sides. Their catering is great.
5. Fargo's Pit BBQ. Yes, I know Food Network has been there and they're on everybody's best of Texas list. I find them inconsistent and seem to mostly visit them on bad days.
Bryan and College Station is shaping up to be its own BBQ destination. And this is an awesome thing for the residents.
SteakSteak gets its own category because the entire State of Texas is a destination for steak.
1. The Republic 1836 Steakhouse. Far and away the best steak in town. Also one of the most expensive.
2. Christopher's World Grille. A very close second. Also quite expensive.
3. Sodalak's Beefmaster's Restaurant. No frills, just very well prepared steak. The Snook location has chicken fried bacon.
4. Longhorn Steakhouse. Also, no frills, just well-made steak. Not part of the national chain of the same name.
5. Texas Roadhouse. National chain restaurant that has surprisingly well-made and consistently good steak. Also has great bread rolls and side salads.
Mexican, Tex-Mex, Burritos, and Tacos1. Torchy's Tacos. A Texas chain from Austin. My favorite lunch or dinner tacos in town.
2. La Familia Taqueria. A family-owned restaurant located in a gas station at Barron Road and the south-bound Highway 6 feeder road. Best lunch and breakfast tacos in town. There's stiff competition for such claims as well.
3. Polly's Cocina. All-around lovely family-owned Tex Mex restaurant located in a gas station at Rock Prairie and Wellborn Road. I adore their guac and salsa, as well as the super thin tortilla chips.
4. Ninfa's. Texas chain that is pretty consistent. Well-known for the Ninfarita drink.
5. Casa Rodriguez. Comparable to Ninfa's but located in downtown Bryan.
There are many, many other Mexican and Tex-Mex places in town. I've barely scratched the surface.
Freebirds World Burrito. The original Texas location is still operating at Northgate. Consistently good and fast.
Italian and Pizza
2. Cenare Italian Restaurant. Consistent, although overly garlicy at times. Before someone says Italian = garlic, remember this is only true for Italian food in the US. Because of this I rarely eat Italian food in the US.
3. Cafe Capri. Good pasta but I have a hard time eating here because of the garlic.
4. Olive Garden. National chain, but the College Station location is consistent and descent.
5. Johnny Carinos. National chain, but the catering is surprisingly good.
1. Antonio's Pizza on Northgate. I love, love, love the buffalo chicken pizza. Inexpensive and delicious.
2. Blue Baker. Made to order pizza with fresh made dough.
3. Cafe Eccell. Comparable to Blue Baker but far more expensive. Still good pizza.
4. Napa Flats. New American fusion restaurant at Harvey Road and Texas Avenue. The pizza is good and fresh made to order. The other entrees are also good. The gelato flavors are unusual.
5. Mario's Pizza on Graham Road in South College Station. Great delivery. The dough is the best part.
6. Hungry Howie's. In some parts of town they're the only delivery and they tend to take a long time. However their Hawaiian pizza is actually quite good. They offer a number of crust toppings that people really like.
7. Double Dave's. Everyone raves about them but I don't get the hype. They're OK.
Chinese Food, Sushi, and PhoChinese Food:
There's much debate about which Chinese restaurants are the best. The following is my opinion.
1. T. Jin's China Diner. I'm told their food is very Americanized but it's consistently good. Options for a wide variety of palates from mild to super spicy.
2. Chef Cao's. The Bryan location has Thai-style curries and all locations have a loyal following among Bryan and College Station locals.
3. Jin's World Cafe. This restaurant has a loyal following among TAMU students, faculty, and staff. I have difficulty with the garlic levels so have not been able to successfully eat here.
1. Atami Steak and Sushi. I'm not a huge fan of hibachi or teppanyaki so I go here for the sushi and it's consistently good. They do signature rolls better than anything else.
2. Naked Fish Sushi. Consistent sushi and good prices. I really like the "Tokyo taco" lettuce bowl. They have a good beef plate that The Lovely Spouse loves.
3. 40 Tempura. Consistently good, however their location makes them easy to overlook. Prices are a little high but not unreasonable.
4. Aji Sushi. Friends will probably very vocally disagree with me but I think this place is terribly overpriced for the sushi. The quality was just OK and the service was good.
Rosie's Pho. There used to be 2 pho places in town. Now there's one. Rosie's is your place for bubble tea and pho in College Station.
International CuisineListed in no particular order, each of these restaurants has their own strengths and weaknesses.
Taz Indian Cuisine. Consistent, friendly, inexpensive, and excellent food. They have a buffet at lunchtime so you can try many different things if Indian food is unfamiliar to you.
Ohana Korean Grill. My favorite bibimbap in town. The Lovely Spouse loves the bulgolgi. Friendly, family-owned establishment.
Mong Chon Korean Take Out. A family owned and operated establishment offering delicious traditional style Korean food. Eat in or take out. They have a small Korean food market.
Shiraz Shish Kebob. Delicious Mediterranean food in a family-owned and operated establishment. Great lamb kebobs and lovely sides.
Centro Americano Pupusaria. Traditional style pupusas and a small Central American market.
Lanna Thai. Delicious Thai-style curries and satay. If you wish for native Thai levels of heat, be sure to ask for it.
Babylon Cafe. Located in Bryan, the Mediterranean food is actually pretty darned good. Portions are large.
BurgersWhere do I go when I'm hankering for a good, juicy burger?
1. Harvey Washbangers. My favorite burgers, chicken sandwiches, soup specials, and, of course, their awesome craft beer on draft and in bottles. A great place for growler fills and to do laundry. Really!
2. Blackwater Draw. A brewpub so they make beer on-site. You can also get growler fills of theirs and other beers. Delicious sliders and a wonderful brunch.
3. Grub Burger Bar. Tasty, tasty burger creations and awesome adult milkshakes.
4. Cafe Eccell. Eclectic menu but the burgers and sandwiches are good.
5. Flip and Peel. Located in the mall, tasty burgers and sumptuous fries. Also really nice people.
6. Mickey's Sliders. Previously had been higher rated, but on subsequent visits they raised their prices. $12.50 for 2 sliders, a fountain drink, and fries is a bit much. The quality is still alright, but the price hurts them.
7. Koppe Bridge Bar and Grill. A local favorite with no-frill, no-nonsense burgers, fries, and what is usually considered "Texas fare".
Breweries, Distilleries, Brew Pubs, and Growler-Filling EstablishmentsTexas law requires separation of places that make alcohol from places that sell it. Except for a long list of exceptions. I have no plans on listing bars. College Station is full of them, but only a few places fill growlers.
Craft Brewery: New Republic Brewing Company.
Distillery: Rio Brazos Distillery.
Brew Pub: Blackwater Draw.
1. Harvey Washbangers.
2. Blackwater Draw.
Diners and Home-Cooking-Style RestaurantsPatranellas.
Sandwiches1. Blue Baker. [blog post to follow in the next month or so]
2. Cafe Eccell.
3. Village Cafe.
4. Revolution Cafe and Bar.
Food TrucksI can't really rank the food trucks against each other. They all do their own thing and, for the most part, do it very well. Location for most changes daily and their schedules may be found online.
Big Daddy Z's. Asian-California fusion. My favorite are the rice bowls, however I've heard their wraps and spring rolls are also delightful. I have difficulty finding them but am happy when I do.
Chef Tai's Mobile Bistro. Owned and sometimes operated by the head chef of Veritas Wine and Bistro and voted America's Best Food Truck for a reason. Offers Korean-American fusion. Everything is good. I normally don't like brussel sprouts but love the one's from Chef Tai's.
Lew's BBQ. Good, consistent BBQ. My favorite is the peppered pork loin and smoked pineapple.
Wafology. Nutella waffles. Nuf said.
Sugba. I don't know what constitutes good or not Filipino food, but I have liked everything I've tried off Sugba's menu. During the week they can usually be found at the Filipiniana Asian Emporium in Bryan, but they are regulars at the New Republic Brewery on weekends. Their lumpia is addictive - you have been warned.
Raspas El Payasito. Traditional Mexican tacos. If you're lucky they'll also have duros or chicharones. Family run food trucks often found at construction sites, but they also frequent the brewery.
Cupcake Junkie. Sadly I rarely see them using the food truck anymore. Their cupcakes are delicious.
Mickey's Sliders. A smaller menu than the restaurant, but the sliders and fries are the same.
Bakeries and ChocolatiersBakeries:
Listed in no particular order. Each does their own thing well.
Gallery of Chocolate
1. Cocoamoda. Not in Bryan or College Station, but a short drive away in Calvert. Worth the drive.
2. Truman's Chocolates. Melt in your mouth goodness at an Aggie owned and operated establishment.
3. Gallery of Chocolate. Exceptional gelato.
Outside of Bryan and College StationAustin
Odd Duck. A farm to table concept food truck all grown up into it's own thriving restaurant. Seasonal, frequently changing menu features menu items that celebrate the ingredients and their sources. Great beer and cocktail selection. Make reservations, especially on weekends.
Russian House NaZdorovye. I was unable to blog here because the light levels were not conducive to photography. A unique blend of bar and Russian restaurant. The restaurant portion is designed to feel like Babushka's living room. Good quality and variety of Russian food and a very large selection of in-house-made infused vodkas. Many of the diners and all of the front of the house staff the evening we went were speaking Russian.
Manuel's Mexican Restaurant. Traditional style Mexican food of the style you don't usually find outside of Mexico. Far more refined than what you'll find at Ninfa's or Chuy's and unexpected if you think of Tex Mex when you think of Mexican food. I recommend the chile rellenos. They're roasted, not fried. The mole is also exceptional.
Mai Thai. Located across the street from the convention center, it's an inexpensive and welcome alternative to convention center food. I recommend the Tom Yum followed by the Panang curry. There's enough for 2 meals.
Max's Wine Dive. Also located across the street from the convention center, it features a lovely brunch. No matter when you go the menu is eclectic and the food is always interesting, in a delicious way.
For additional recommendations, I suggest checking out MisoHungry's blog. She's located in Austin and has a local foodie's appreciation for the food scene there. And she has excellent taste.
Blue Bell Creamery. The place where they make Blue Bell ice cream. There's a scoop shop on premises where you can try new flavors before they hit the market and purchase Blue Bell swag.
Brazos Valley Brewing. They have a small patio tasting room that's worth the visit. Their beers can now be found at Spec's.
Must Be Heaven. No-nonsense sandwiches and excellent pies. A great place for family friendly casual food in downtown Brenham. They have other locations in Bryan and College Station.
Southern Flyer Diner. A 50s-themed diner complete with jukebox and poodle skirts located in the Brenham Municipal Airport. I tend to be an airsick flyer if small planes are involved so I drive here to meet friends who are pilots. The menu (lunch only) features diner staples such as meatloaf, chili, and burgers, as well as shakes and malts. As far as airport fly-in food goes, this is one of the best in the region. Might get busy if the weather is nice for flying.
The Inn at Dos Brisas. The only Forbes 5 star restaurant in Texas features farm to table fine dining. We haven't eaten here yet but have heard from people we trust regarding food that dinner, brunch, or special events here are fantastic.
Eatcetera. A lovely little bistro within walking distance to The Strand. Great, freshly-made sandwiches, soups, and desserts. The price is also very reasonable.
Mosquito Cafe. They serve sandwiches and casual food, but it's remarkable for the large portions and high quality. Save room for their fantastic desserts. Located close to UTMB.
Brews Brothers. [blog post coming soon]
Mediterranean Chef. Very good Mediterranean food located right on The Strand. The combo plates are fun to share with a group of friends.
Big Daddy's Gumbo Bar. They serve gumbo one style and in multiple sizes. And it's good (in my opinion). They also have poboys and other New Orleans-style foods. Very reasonable prices. Located walking distance to The Strand.
Sky Bar and Grille. Definitely not inexpensive, but good quality sushi creations and interesting adult beverages. Located next door to Big Daddy's.
Saltwater Grille. Higher end seafood restaurant that features a fantastic seafood risotto. Definitely not inexpensive, but worth it if it fits in your budget. Located within walking distance to The Strand.
Niko Niko's. Lovely Greek food in a casual setting with great prices. There's a limited amount of parking at the Montrose location.
Revival Market. Not really a restaurant, but they do have excellent sandwiches, pastries, and coffee. Best place for in-house-made charcuterie in town. The honey is so local it comes from the neighborhood where Revival is located.
Saint Arnold Brewery. A really nice, fun lunch with all Saint Arnold beers. Food is also available for purchase during tours.
The Hay Merchant. Gastro pub featuring an impressive beer list and really good sandwiches located near the Menil Collection. Awesome specials during sporting events and happy hour.
Churrascos Westchase. Exceptional Latin American food. Very large portions and so many sides. It's a bit pricey but you can easily make 2 meals out of each entree. Save room for dessert. A restaurant weeks favorite of mine.
E-Tao. Asian (mixed) restaurant in the Galleria that features dim sum-style small dishes. My favorite is the soup dumplings. It's a very small restaurant so there may be a wait to get in during popular times.
Ra Sushi. What Ra lacks in authenticity it makes up for in a hip location and creative rolls and dishes. They have a fun happy hour with some creative and delicious adult beverages. The food is easily accessible for people who are frightened of trying sushi.
Kim Son. Actually located in the Sugarland area, but worth the drive for weekend dim sum. Traditional style Chinese and Vietnamese small dishes brought to your table on carts. Inexpensive (brunch for 3 adults for around $30) and worth the long wait to get in.