Burgers, BBQ, pasta: 10 restaurant profiles in The Woodlands area in 2020

Avanti Italian Kitchen and Wine Bar serves dishes inspired by a variety of cuisines at Creekside Forest Drive. (Photos courtesy Avanti Italian Kitchen and Wine Bar)
Avanti Italian Kitchen and Wine Bar serves dishes inspired by a variety of cuisines at Creekside Forest Drive. (Photos courtesy Avanti Italian Kitchen and Wine Bar)

Avanti Italian Kitchen and Wine Bar serves dishes inspired by a variety of cuisines at Creekside Forest Drive. (Photos courtesy Avanti Italian Kitchen and Wine Bar)

Community Impact Newspaper features interviews with local restaurants every month and offers a look at some of their menu items. Here is a look back at the restaurants that we talked to in 2020. Due to COVID-19-related closures, dining profiles did not run in April or May of 2020. Click on the restaurant name to read our full feature on each business with photos and location information.

1. World's Burgers

World’s Burgers was founded in Montgomery in 2011 and launched its second location at the Marcel Town Center, serving The Woodlands and southern Conroe, in December 2018. Owner and founder Eva Alonso said she first created the restaurant concept to draw local diners looking for new burger options and customers seeking a taste of home.

2. Hummingbird Tea Room and Bakery

In mid-2019, Nasim Bell moved the tea house to a larger location at FM 2978 and Woodlands Parkway to offer an expanded menu that features scratch-made breads, pizzas and breakfast options, most of which incorporate tea leaves in some way.

3. Citizens Grill

Jim Hallers, co-founder of Citizens Grill restaurant and bar, located off FM 1488, launched the eatery last spring after a decade of working in the dining business in The Woodlands. Hallers said his new American-inspired concept was designed as a community-friendly follow-up to the Tailgators Pub and Grill franchise he started in 2009.

4. Vegan Wisdom Bakery

After switching to a plant-based diet and noticing benefits to her health, Oricha Plavsic, the owner of Wisdom Vegan Bakery and Cafe, said she wanted to provide vegan options—which exclude all meat and dairy products—to the area through catering. Plavsic initially launched her catering business in 2016 and expanded the business to the brick-and-mortar location on Rayford Road in February 2019.

5. Avanti Italian Kitchen and Wine Bar

After opening Dec. 31, 2019, Avanti Italian Kitchen and Wine Bar was up and running for just over two months before being forced to close due to the coronavirus shutdown in March. Owner Enrique Orioli, who also operates Via Emilia on Kuykendahl Road, said in July things were beginning to look up for the wine bar as more customers are beginning to return since key features, such as brunch and live music, were available again.

6. Sugar Britches

Sugar Britches Cafe owners John Irwin and Carlie Saranthus said they opened their new eatery and coffee bar north of The Woodlands this year to share their take on traditional breakfast fare and Southern-style cooking. Irwin and Saranthus said they bring decades of experience in the restaurant industry to their newest venture, a modern, farmhouse-style cafe located at 2400 FM 1488, Ste. 100, Conroe. The pair said Sugar Britches’ Southern focus and mix of creative dishes is aimed at providing both comforting and intriguing options for diners.

7. Lovebeans Coffeehouse

When she opened Lovebeans Coffeehouse in October 2019, owner Beth Ferester said she wanted to find a way to give back to the community that has hosted her real estate business for the past 39 years. Since opening, Ferester said she has learned a lot and has been focusing on expanding the coffeehouse’s menu to include a variety of baked goods, wraps, sandwiches and drinks. Among the more popular items are Lovebeans’ chocolate chunk and oatmeal cookies, Ferester said.

8. 3rd Coast BBQ & Catering

Since its March launch, 3rd Coast has continued providing catering options for small groups to 400- to 500-person events, in addition to in-person service. Owner Troy Mulligan said his experience with barbecue cooking and competition helped shape the restaurant’s menu. The smoked meats and side dishes are prepared in 3rd Coast’s full-size commercial kitchen and wood-fired barbecue pit.

9. Burger and Bordeaux

When he saw the property in Marcel Town Center off FM 1488 for what is now his restaurant, Burger and Bordeaux, Charlie Watkins said, he fell in love with the location. He chose the site and opened the restaurant July 2, 2019. Despite facing challenges during COVID-19 closures, he said, the restaurant continues to offer a break from stressful environments. Watkins said while burgers are prominent on the menu, Burger and Bordeaux puts more emphasis on being a casual steakhouse with an extensive wine bar.

10. RC's NYC Pizza & Pasta

RC Gallegos said a commitment to authentic New York pizza sets him apart from other restaurants and has earned not only the support of New York transplants, but also recognition in various competitions and expositions across the globe—including as a member of the United States Pizza Team.
By Vanessa Holt
A resident of the Houston area since 2011, Vanessa began working in community journalism in her home state of New Jersey in 1996. She joined Community Impact Newspaper in 2016 as a reporter for the Spring/Klein edition and became editor of that paper in March 2017 and editor of The Woodlands edition in January 2019.