The Woodlands international food scene is bursting with options. One does not have to travel afar to experience the myriad flavor combinations and tastes of regional cuisines. We’ve rounded up six local restaurants with global cuisine characteristics unique to their respective country regions and cultures. The plethora of global cuisine dining options is solid, and our lineup of restaurants boasts rave reviews and annual awards; no passport is needed on the local dining scene.
Amrina's inception revolved around delivering an unparalleled dining journey that breaks free from the conventional boundaries of upscale Indian cuisine. Their mission involves crafting dishes with boundless creativity, catering to diverse palates. Beyond their reputation for exceptional cuisine, Amrina's distinction extends to their cocktails, spirits, and wine list that has earned the esteemed Wine Spectator Best of Award of Excellence since 2022.
Located on The Waterway, Amrina differentiates itself through an impressive selection, ranging from juicy customizable steaks and exceptional seafood to delightful vegetarian creations. To add a touch of extravagance, guests can elevate their experience with different caviar options. Every culinary journey at Amrina is unique and carefully composed by their skilled team led by the guiding hand of Head Chef Jassi Bindra.
Recognize the name? Chef Jassi appeared on a recent Food Network's Chopped episode, where he was the overall winner, a prestigious honor among competitors and chefs in the industry with his personal approach to Indian cuisine.
"My decision to embrace the world of "Chopped" was rooted in its power to challenge my culinary skills," says Chef Jassi. "The show's dynamic grappling with unknown ingredients and rapid cooking decisions not only provided me with an exhilarating and demanding experience but also created an opportunity to present my culinary craftsmanship in a refreshingly distinct light."
Chefs have established themselves as masters of time management, and his application of these skills within the Chopped competition played a definitive role in his winning, he explained. "The innovative techniques I used throughout each round, coupled with the fusion of flavors in my dishes, undoubtedly contributed as well," says Chef Jassi. "Looking back, the entire experience was incredibly enriching, and I look forward to the opportunity of being part of many other shows in the future so I can continue to let my cuisine shine."
At the heart of Amrina, it's about culinary conversions weaving together taste, aroma, visual appearance, and an unwavering dedication to authenticity at every step of the meal. From the evocative fragrances of smoke to the symphony of spices and intricate embellishments, each element converges to craft a theatrical experience for the senses. Blending traditional Indian recipes with modern presentation and ingredients takes center stage in their cuisine and craftsmanship, resulting in an exceptional experience for all.
Chef Jassi says that Amrina's cuisine is a perfect example of how the star ingredient of the dishes can be married with the different elements to create a composed dish. He ensures that the dish's core reflects its Indian heritage, but his diverse culinary training equips him to incorporate exhilarating new flavors. He says his most popular dishes are the chaat, rara lamb chops, and cardamom chocolate mousse, octopus, Chilean sea bass, and steaks.
Amrina's dishes are crafted using ingredients sourced from local farms, sustainable seafood options, and natural, free-range poultry and meats, whenever available. "If I can't find the quality I am looking for locally, I seek out the best alternative," Chef Jassi says. "My focus is to find the best, most sustainable options as I believe every ingredient carries a unique story. I have a great relationship with vendors and farmers to ensure Amrina has the finest ingredients."
Since May 2021, Uli’s Kitchen has become a staple for authentic Mexican food in The Woodlands. Chef Ulises Alcaraz and his spouse and co-owner Bonnie Alcaraz feature their cultural heritage on the colorful murals and photos that reflect cities and meaningful tributes.
Their menu features recipes handed down from Chef Uli’s grandmother, and their hand-selected ingredients make Uli’s Kitchen a time-honored favorite. “We try to buy ingredients as locally as possible,” says Chef Ulises Alcaraz. “Two notable exceptions to that are our molé, which I have made especially for us by a small business in Oaxaca, and our tortillas, which are handmade and brought in raw from Monterrey.”
“First-timers gravitate to our Enchiladas de Molé,” shares Bonnie. “I feel like most of us here in Texas are close enough to Mexican culture and cuisine to have at least a basic understanding of molé, so it’s something safe for people venturing a little outside of their usual Tex-Mex. And for those who’ve grown up eating molé, whose grandmothers spent all day Sunday making molé for family dinner, the Enchiladas de Molé is kind of their ‘litmus test’ for our food,” says Bonnie.
Chef Uli defines their culture as modern with lots of pre-Hispanic roots. “One of my favorite things about Mexican culture is how we are always innovating, always evolving, but always paying homage to our most ancient traditions,” he says. “The most obvious example of this is, of course, the taco. People worldwide continue to find new, interesting, and artistic ways to serve tacos. Still, at the end of the day, the foundation of the taco is the ancient and virtually unchanged tortilla.”
Whether it’s classic carnitas or something more modern like the birria taco, you enjoy ancient and traditional food with a creative and contemporary twist.
“Of course, where there’s food, there’s family, and that’s another cornerstone of Mexican culture,” says Chef Uli. “The way we come together after mass for dinner, usually several generations, you know? Abuela is making her mole - and every family has their secret recipe, right? Family, food, and heritage all go hand in hand with my culture, which I love.”
Blōōfin, a Japanese establishment located within the walkable destination at Hughes Landing overlooking Lake Woodlands, is a must-try for sushi connoisseurs. Their fresh sushi, directly imported from the Toyosu market of Tokyo, makes their high-quality cuisine a favorite dining spot for locals. Their Edomae-inspired sushi restaurant’s soul of authentic Japanese food shines through in Bloofin’s menu offerings. According to the owner, Laurence Ho, Edomae is the traditional Tokyo method of preparing sushi with local fresh fish. ‘Edo’ means the old name for Tokyo, and ‘Mae’ means front, as the fish are fresh caught in the area.
Their higher-end Japanese whisky, sake, and craft cocktails pair well with the menu offerings boasting seasonal ingredients and vegetables. While their large variety of fresh sashimi, nigiri, and maki are sought-after, the 72-hour slow-cooked Wagyu skewer is a menu standout.
The 5,000-square-foot space is set to open in late October as they put the finishing touches on the space at Hughes Landing.
Looking for authentic traditional Italian-American dishes? Chef Arturo "Art" Huerta’s handmade pastas and classic sauces, all made in house are scratch-made family recipes passed down generations from Italy. Art says he locally sources his seasonal veggies, eggplants, and micro greens from the Woodlands Farmer’s Market. Of course, his Italian cheeses, cured meats, and more come from Little Italy’s own Arthur Avenue in the Bronx.
Papa Amadeos is the quintessential romantic night out, especially Singing Saturdays when Maurizio Panciera, their piano player from Venice, sets the ambiance for your meal. Once a month, a five-to-six-piece jazz band sets the vibe for this upscale casual romantic eatery.
“Our most popular menu items include their thin sliced beef Milanesa stuffed with prosciutto, spinach, and mozzarella, or the homemade pappardelle pasta with egg, served with a hearty Bolognese sauce,” says Art. “Our vegan options are wildly popular, like the panko-crusted eggplant rollatini, rolled up with spinach and mozzarella, baked and served over linguini.”
Art’s passion is passed down from his family, his grandfather, now 92, was one of the first bakers to work at the Woodlands Country Club. Art has worked for many prestigious restaurants in Texas and carries on the family traditions well in our Woodlands community, serving the freshest, unique Italian fare.
Lights, cameras, action – where the food at the American bistro is the star, shining bright under its gold and crystal chandeliers amidst the deep jewel tones. Channel a Breakfast at Tiffany’s experience with their weekend brunch. The Audrey Restaurant & Bar is inspired by Audrey Hepburn, with décor resembling the golden age of Hollywood. Fresh pasta, seafood, and steaks, all unique to the restaurant, come together to provide a truly unique experience. Fresh produce and herbs are locally sourced, along with species of fish like Ora King Salmon from the waters of New Zealand.
The Audrey Restaurant & Bar brings an exquisite touch to Market Street with popular dishes by Chef Justin Yoakum, such as Audrey Hepburn’s favorite Spaghetti al Pomodoro made with fresh pasta, Fresh Tuna, and Avocado Martini with Truffled Taro Chips. Save room for dessert and coffee. The popular coconut and white chocolate Tom Cruise cake is the most sought-after dessert.
Latin roots run deep at Costa Fina, according to Co-owner Enrique Orioli. Their family is a beautiful mix of Italian and Latin heritage. “My grandmother (Nonna Elda) and my grandfather, Domenico, were born and raised in Italy but met and married in South America after World War II. Our Italian restaurant concepts successfully operate with the recipes my Nonna Elda brought from Italy,” shared Orioli. “Now, we are excited to share our Latin roots with the vibrant flavors of the Pan-American stretch.”
“The flavors stretch across Argentina to Brazil, where we want to showcase hearty churrascos. Peru will get highlighted with bright Peruvian ceviche and Pisco cocktails to complement,” says Orioli. “From Peru, we take you on a journey across Venezuela and finally land you in Mexico. As for Mexico, our chef makes a superb traditional Mexican dish called Arroz a la tumbada, a traditional Mexican dish originating from Veracruz. This delicious dish combines fluffy white rice cooked in a mildly spiced tomato-based sauce with a savory selection of fresh seafood.”
Their crudos and ceviches will be showstoppers on the menu. They are working with boutique importers to source specialty ingredients. For example, the aji amarillo and rocoto peppers used in Peruvian cuisine aren’t found in stores or with large wholesale food distribution companies. They use ingredients indigenous to the region to keep the cuisine true to its roots. The preservation of food is essential to make guests feel connected to every dish.
In a city like the Woodlands, opportunities abound to sample flavors from around the globe. Our local restaurants, chefs, owners, and investors proudly showcase their international specialties. From food, beverages, and desserts to music, ambiance, and decor that reflects each venue's respective culture, each restaurant exceeds its ambitious caliber to serve its best fare. Start exploring new seasonal menu features for fall and make your reservation because it's no secret the locals know where to eat, including a few new hotspots opening soon. Bon appetite!