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The Best Woodlands Waterway Restaurants in The Woodlands, TX (2024)

Aerial view of the Woodlands Waterway in The Woodlands Texas

Last Updated on February 20, 2024

Drive about thirty miles north of Houston proper and you enter The Woodlands, a beautiful and upscale township that is highly sought after.

Sure, The Woodlands comes complete with great housing, event venues, shopping plazas, and 200 miles of trails for walking, but arguably one of the best things about The Woodlands is the beautiful and well-kept Woodlands Waterway that runs right through town.

And right along the Woodlands Waterway, you’ll find some of the best restaurants and bars in the Woodlands area that come complete with views of the waterway.

The Woodlands Waterway, Texas with people walking at sunset
The Woodlands Waterway at sunset. Photo by Wayfare With Pierre

Over the years, many ambitious restaurateurs and top chefs have been striving for a Woodlands Waterway location to bring amazing new concepts and refreshing takes on the traditional dining experience.

As a recent part-time resident of The Woodlands (I travel a lot), I’ve had the absolute pleasure of trying the many restaurants near the Woodlands Waterway. And let’s just say I haven’t visited a Woodlands Waterway restaurant I don’t like.

Whether you’re a Woodlands local looking for the new Woodlands Waterway restaurants to try, or a visitor hoping to try out the best of the best in the area, here are the best Woodlands Waterway restaurants to try!

Heads up: #7 is easily my favorite of all restaurants in The Woodlands (so far).

Best Restaurants on The Woodlands Waterway

1. Del Frisco’s Grille

Area: Hughes Landing
Address: 1900 Hughes Landing Blvd, Suite 500, The Woodlands, TX 77380
Website: Del Frisco’s Grille

Del Frisco’s Grille is a modern American restaurant that really redefines the dining experience. This elegant but cozy eatery offers the perfect blend of upscale dining ambiance and comfort, complete with views of Lake Woodlands and from the expansive patio, making it one of the best restaurants in the Woodlands Waterway area for a fun happy hour hangout with friends or a romantic evening.

The innovative menu is made from the freshest ingredients and features a fusion of traditional American classics (like Braised Short Rib or Roasted Chicken) with contemporary flavors. Whether you’re in the mood for a juicy steak, fresh seafood, juicy burgers, or something on the lighter side, Del Frisco’s Grille is always a surefire bet for great food.

The drinks are great too, with a full wine bar and creative cocktails like the Smoked Winter Manhattan or the Blood Orange Sidecar. During your visit, do yourself a favor and order the Sticky Garlic Ribs. Easily one of the best appetizers I’ve ever tried in Texas, let alone anywhere.

2. Sorriso Modern Italian Kitchen

Front door entrance to Sorriso Modern Italian Kitchen in The Woodlands Texas
Entrance to Sorriso The Woodlands. Photo by Wayfare With Pierre

Area: Waterway Square
Address: 2 Waterway Sq Pl, The Woodlands, Texas 77380
Website: Sorriso

If authentic Italian is what you’re after, then Sorriso Modern Italian Kitchen is easily one of the best restaurant choices in the Woodlands area. The regional Italian cuisine is always prepared with only the freshest ingredients, and the flavors are seriously out of this world.

On the menu, you’ll find uniquely modern Italian dishes like the delicious Black Spaghetti, which is cooked with a melody of seafood ingredients and blackened with octopus ink, or the 30 Layer Lasagna, which honestly doesn’t even need an explanation for how good it is.

However, the unsung hero of Sorriso’s menu is the pizza. Trust me: this isn’t just any regular ‘ole pizza you’d get from a chain. All of the pizza options on the menu are creative takes on authentic Italian recipes. To save you some time, I highly recommend trying the Guanciale and Fig. It’s a surprisingly delicious mix of fresh figs, spinach, and white sauce.

To top it all off, the restaurant also has an extensive wine bar, amazing service, and a great location right near the Woodlands Waterway.

It’s a 10/10 in my book and a wonderful experience through and through. As with most Waterway Square restaurants, it’d be best to make a reservation online to secure a table ahead of time.

3. Landry’s Seafood House

Area: Near the Woodlands Mall
Address: 1212 Lake Robbins Dr, The Woodlands, TX 77380
Website: Landry’s Seafood House

Amazing seafood, great drinks, and succulent steak cuts. When you couple that with Landry’s perfect location right near the Woodlands Waterway, honestly, what else could you ask for?

Sure, Landry’s is somewhat of a chain with a few locations (mostly in Southeast USA), but the location in the Woodlands is unique in that it has amazing views of the Waterway– right from the outdoor seating area.

It’s also conveniently located within striking distance of The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, The Woodlands Mall, Market Street, and the Woodlands Waterway Marriott Hotel & Convention Center.

With a seafood-focused menu, you’ll find great seafood dishes like the IPA Fish + Chips, Crab Cakes, and Cedar Planked Salmon. They also have great salads, steaks, burgers, and beyond to eat your way.

The bar and large collection of wines and specialty drinks match the food menu, making Landry’s the perfect spot for dinner (or lunch, brunch, you name it) with family or with your sig fig for a romantic date night in the Woodlands.

They even have seasonal live music that you can enjoy from the outdoor seating. Again, what else could you ask for?

4. Cyclone Anaya’s Mexican Kitchen

Front entrance sign of Cyclone Anaya's in The Woodlands, Texas
Cyclone Anaya’s in The Woodlands Waterway Square. Photo by Wayfare With Pierre

Area: Waterway Square
Address: 20 Waterway Ave, Ste. 120, The Woodlands, TX 77380
Website: Cyclone Anaya’s

For Tex-Mex in The Woodlands, go here. Case and point. With a great location (and outdoor seating) along the vibrant Waterway, Cyclone Anaya’s Mexican Kitchen is like a local portal to a world of authentic Mexican cuisine and new flavors.

Something that makes Cyclone Anaya truly special is the sense of tradition and family that you feel here. Sure they offer Tex-Mex plates, but most of the food on the menu sticks to the original Anaya family recipes that have been passed down through generations. Everything on the menu is great (trust me, I’ve tried just about everything), but the Pollo Anaya and the Tacos Al Carbon are crowd favorites. They’re legendary.

As one of the closest restaurants near the Woodlands Waterway, can walk your meal off along the Waterway or through the streets of the beautiful area. Whether you’re a hungry local or just visiting the area and craving authentic Mexican cuisine, you know where to go.

5. Churrascos

Area: Waterway Square
Address: 21 Waterway Ave, The Woodlands, TX 77380
Website: Churrascos

Another Waterway Ave gem, Churrascos is a Latin American restaurant that brings bold flavors and an energetic atmosphere to the Woodlands.

Since 1988, this local chain (with four locations at the time of writing this) has been serving up great Latin American food plates such as the Copacabana Ceviche, Lomo Saltado (Peruvian beef stir fry), or the golden and flaky Empanadas.

The bar features an expensive drink menu that includes a nice collection of wines, with many wines originating from South America. All in all, this is a surefire spot for brunch, lunch, or dinner, with friends or the family (that includes kids). There’s even private dining for large groups or events if needed.

Pair all that with the Waterway location, and you’re well on your way to a great time. Another super busy spot, be sure to reserve a table ahead of time, especially if you’re planning to visit at night.

6. Grimaldi’s Pizzeria

Front door entrance to Grimaldi's Pizza in The Woodlands Texas
Grimaldi’s Pizza in The Woodlands Waterway Square. Photo by Wayfare With Pierre

Area: Waterway Square
Address: 20 Waterway Ave Ste 100, The Woodlands, TX 77380
Website: Grimaldi’s

When it comes to New York-style pizza, Grimaldi’s is a hard-to-beat choice in the Woodlands/Spring area. Even better, the restaurant is located right along the Woodlands Waterway.

As a Brooklyn original, Grimaldi’s brings the authentic taste of NY-style coal-fired brick oven pizza (say that five times fast) to the Woodlands.

The pizza joint boasts 2 floors for dining, complete with covered patios and a balcony for great outdoor seating that looks over the Waterway. They serve up traditional pies we’ve all come to love like pepperoni and cheese, but they also have some creative options like the Pepperoni & Hot Honey or the Quattro Formaggi.

After grubbing, you can easily access the paved Waterway trail to walk it all off. Heads up: This place is almost always packed, especially on weekdays and at night after 5 pm. Try to show up early or call ahead to reserve a spot.


Front door entrance of TRIS The Woodlands Texas
TRIS in The Woodlands. My favorite restaurant! Photo by Wayfare With Pierre.

Area: Waterway Square
Address: 24 Waterway Ave, Ste #125, The Woodlands, TX 77380
Website: TRIS Woodlands

TRIS was the first restaurant I tried when I first moved to the Woodlands, and I’m so glad I did. Of all the restaurants near the Woodlands Waterway, TRIS has a special place in my heart and is easily one of the best restaurants in The Woodlands. I love this place and I’d go back again and again if my budget allowed.

While most other restaurants in or near the Woodlands are inspired by a specific type of cuisine (Mexican, contemporary Indian, etc.), TRIS takes a step away from the norm as a chef-driven restaurant. And does it well.

The food at TRIS is all carefully curated by award-winning Chef Austin Simmons and includes a wide range of innovative food options from wagyu steak to pot pie.

The best way to experience TRIS is as a full-course meal. For starters, Korean Butter Poached Crab and the Truffle Grilled Cheese are otherworldly. From there, the Beet Salad makes for a great intermission. Follow that up with the Gyulais Wagyu & Lobster plate or a juicy Gyulais Wagyu Ribeye steak and you’re set. The steak is all butchered and cut by TRIS, so you know quality is not lost on them.

The cocktails are equally delicious and unique, with drinks like the Brown Butter Old Fashioned, the Brulee’d Grapefruit Martini, and the Feelin’ Smokey Margarita.

To match the premium quality experience of everything else at TRIS, my waiter was phenomenal and attentive, catering to every need. All other guests around me looked to be having similar experiences as well. While TRIS isn’t technically on the Woodlands Waterway, it’s very close by (about 0.1 miles if I had to guess) and is easily one of the best restaurants near the Woodlands Waterway and in all of Houston.

Pro tip: Plan your dining at TRIS for Tuesday through Saturday anywhere between 4 pm and 6:30 pm to catch happy hour in the outdoor seating area or inside.

Also, this is one of those places where making a table reservation in advance is your best bet. The dining room isn’t the biggest, so seating is limited.

8. Baja Cantina The Woodlands

Area: Waterway Square
Address: 24 Waterway Ave, Ste. 160, The Woodlands, TX 77380
Website: Baja Cantina

Quick geography lesson: Baja California is that region of Mexico that’s located directly south of California, and that is exactly the map region where Baja Cantina gets its inspiration.

Baja Cantina is a very popular spot in The Woodlands for all types of crowds looking for Mexican cuisine. Drive by on any given day or night and you’ll see for yourself.

The outdoor seating area is usually packed with business professionals, families, and friends, all enjoying the live music and fun dining experience. The lively vibe here makes Baja Cantina a hotspot with the Millenial crowd looking for a happy hour, Sunday Funday brunch, and good food and drinks in the area.

Baja Cantina serves up amazing dishes, with great specialties like the Birria Quesadilla, the Fiesta Trio chips, or the Baja Fried Fish Tacos. They have the usual fan favorites like salads, guacamole, salsa, and burritos.

The cocktail program is a hit, with drinks ranging from flavorful margaritas to mimosas to Coronitas. Their drinks are especially popular with the Sunday Funday brunch crowd looking for a great happy hour.

Brunch at Baja is on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 am to 3 pm, and they also serve up great brunch food bits in this time window. No matter when or what you’re visiting Baja for, be sure to make reservations in advance to secure your spot.

Added Bonus: Best restaurants near the Woodlands, TX Waterway

While these restaurants aren’t exactly on the Waterway itself, they still are close enough and offer great food, friendly staff, a comfortable setting, and sometimes even live entertainment. Here are a few other restaurants near the Waterway to check out:

  • State Fare
  • Bosscat Kitchen
  • Zanti Trattoria
  • Xalisko
  • Amrina
  • The Republic Grille
  • Local Pour
  • Terra Vino Italian Kitchen
  • The Audrey Restaurant & Bar
  • and more!

Here are 19 of the best restaurants in the Woodlands to check out.

Closing Thoughts: The Best Woodlands Waterway Restaurants

People walking along The Woodlands Waterway in Texas at sunset
The Woodlands Waterway at night. Photo by Wayfare With Pierre

From cozy chef-inspired spots like TRIS or a bar and grill joint like the Del Frisco’s, The Woodlands Waterway puts The Woodlands on the map as one of the best culinary treats in the area.

Especially for people looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of lively Houston, these best restaurants Woodlands TX has to offer are the perfect place to relax, grab a drink at the bar, order a few burgers or otherwise, and enjoy the peaceful ambiance of the Waterway from your table.

With this local-vetted guide to the best Woodlands Waterway restaurants, you’ll be on your way to having a great night, whether you’re in the mood for something lively or a romantic night out with your loved one. Enjoy!

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