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Street view on Simonton of TX Vintage Bar & Grill

Featured Article

Stroll Historic Downtown Conroe's Restaurants

Find entertainment, music and a meal all within walking distance

If the only time you wander into downtown Conroe is for Jury duty, you need to make a plan to come to this Historic area for some art, music, shopping, games, drinks, and good food. All of which can be found within walking distance of each other.

Besides attending live theatre performances at The Crighton and The Owen Theatres, downtown Conroe has become a hotspot for live music, karaoke, and delicious, diverse food in the past few years. Many independently-owned restaurants with music venues are also popping up as Conroe has earned the distinction of being a Texas music-friendly community. In addition, some eateries host trivia and board game events, an annual Spelling Bee, and weekly open mic nights. 

Most of Conroe's restaurants survived the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic or are brand new, born because of the pandemic. Now they are facing a new challenge, food costs are up 24 percent, and labor costs are up 13-23 percent compared to pre-pandemic levels, according to the Texas Restaurant Association. So restaurants need to maximize their sales to survive today's economic climate, and local communities need to support these independently-owned eateries.

"The restaurant industry took a massive beating during the COVID-19 pandemic. It was touch-and-go on a daily basis," said Debbie Glenn-Cross, owner of The Red Brick Tavern. "We relied on our relationships with vendors, The Texas Restaurant Association, local government officials, and customers to navigate the pandemic. We are grateful for the Texas Restaurant Association, and we also thank our devoted customers who ordered to-go meals that kept us in business."   

The longest-running, independently-owned downtown restaurant, celebrating 11 years in September, is Red Brick Tavern, which began with the mission of helping to revitalize the downtown area with a "foodie restaurant" and live music, said Glenn-Cross. Besides being a mother of four, owning a restaurant, a commercial real estate and insurance business, Glenn-Cross is a songwriter and the lead singer of the band "Southern Disposition."

The Red Brick Tavern offers music three to six times per week, showcasing singer/songwriters and the "story behind the song." For the past eight years, country singer Jim Sloan has hosted a Southern Gospel Brunch every Sunday.

"Some of our best-selling dishes are barbecue meatloaf, pistachio-crusted chicken, filet mignon pizza, craft-beer queso, the H-Town Burger, Hatch-Chile pulled pork enchiladas and gourmet deviled eggs," said Glenn-Cross.

In recent months, the restaurant rolled out the RBT Breakfast, starting every day at 7 a.m. with freshly ground roasted coffee, breakfast tacos, French toast, and traditional breakfast dishes.

Most Conroe residents who have worked or lived downtown are familiar with Jose's Villa Italia Restaurant, where, for 17 years, Norma Coronelli served authentic Italian food to many of the judges and attorneys surrounding the courthouse. After she died in 2011, her family sold the restaurant, menu, and recipes to her long-time chef, Jose Grimaldo, and his wife, Yolanda.

Grimaldo moved the restaurant to the historic Cochran home, built in 1918, on the corner at 603 N. Thompson, across the street from the Sadler Commissioner Court Building.

For years, while Alan "Barb" Sadler was Montgomery County judge, Sadler enjoyed eating at Villa Italia. Jose's even has a dining room named in honor of him: the Judge Sadler dining room, a round table with six executive chairs in a small private room. Jose said many of the downtown attorneys and business people also like having lunch meetings in the room.

For a quiet and slower-paced lunch, perfect for one-on-one conversations and lunch meetings, Villa Italia offers lunch specials during the weekdays. Tables feature real china, glass, and silver with white linen tablecloths and napkins. A single, long-stemmed rose adds a beautiful touch to each table, something you rarely find.

Grimaldo prepares delicious lunch specials like fresh salmon, veal, shrimp, and a variety of pastas. All dishes are fresh and homemade, including his desserts of Tiramisu, Cannoli, and cheesecake.

Jose's Villa Italia is open for lunch and dinner Monday through Friday, dinner only on Saturday, and closed on Sundays. "We have specials starting at $10.95 to $12.95 and they are different every day," Grimaldo said. "Everything is homemade."

The long-standing house has various rooms for parties, meetings, and special events, all decorated with a homey Italian feel. For reservations or to-go orders, call 936-539-5599.

Pacific Yard House co-owner Teak Daniele has years of restaurant experience and said good customer service and consistency is the key to a restaurant's success. Great food, great employees, and a great experience, as long as it is consistent.

"Employees are the backbone of the restaurant business," Daniele said.

"Customers are here to escape from reality for a couple of hours," he said. "We are trying to create an atmosphere here. Hopefully, you will feel comfortable sitting here for two hours eating and listening to music."

Each week, Pacific Yard House offers live music, trivia night, and story-telling' Tuesdays, among other events, with food and drink specials every day.

Their extensive appetizer menu will fulfill anyone's dreams, from Kimchi Loaded Fries to Boudin Balls to Keto Nachos and smoked and fried Chicken Wings. The entrees include a 12 oz. ribeye, fried chicken, shrimp and grits, fried catfish, and smoked barbecue ribs.

202 Main was developed by owners Keath and Alison Krueger with their business partner, Adam Isbell. The Krueger's also own The Branding Iron and Switch Hair Studio on Main Street, bringing a lot of value to downtown.

202 Main is a one-of-a-kind venue with a restaurant, two bars, a stage, and an ample patio space located in the back to host karaoke on Wednesdays and an open mic on Sundays, among a number of other live music artists.

The menu is comfort food, a mix of gourmet eats, and handcrafted signature cocktails. "We combine old recipes with new techniques to bring you delicious meals at a fair price," he said.

Customers can choose dishes like Mississippi Mama Egg Rolls, Wisconsin Cheese Curds, Tuscan Flatbread, Miracle City Hot Chicken sandwiches, burgers, and various types of tacos, salads, and wraps.

The Kruegers plan to continue to grow and serve the community. They are open for lunch Tuesday-Sunday and serve brunch on Sundays.

The all-new TX-Vintage Bar & Grill, at 219 Simonton Street, opened in July, adding the first-ever Middle Eastern dishes to the downtown restaurant collective. Under Eastern Flames on the menu, dishes like Chicken and Beef Kabob, Chicken and Beef Boti, Chicken Shawarma, and Gyro Wraps add to the otherwise Texan menu of burgers, sandwiches, fajitas, and ribeye steaks.

"Our Middle Eastern dishes are unique to the area, and we always recommend stepping out and trying something new. You never know if you like it until you try it," said owner Mani Haider. "The Holy Fries has had raving reviews and continues to be a top seller. Another item on the menu that is unmatched in flavor and presentation would be our Fettuccine Alfredo, served with chicken or shrimp. We also offer beef and chicken kabobs grilled to perfection and Chicken Shawarma, which is a dish that is cooked rotisserie-style and cut into thin slices," he said. "Our brisket menu represents our Texas roots with brisket nachos, tacos, quesadillas, and sandwiches."

"First and foremost, customer service is something we instill in our employees, including ourselves," said General Manager Ahad Farooki. "We like to ensure that everyone has a great time, served great food and drinks and our customers enjoy their experience and spread the word."

"The City of Conroe is such a vibrant community, and we look forward to not only bringing a bit of diversity to the food scene and giving our patrons a relaxing atmosphere to gather with friends for music, dancing, or hosting events but working alongside our fellow residents to improve our city through community outreach," Haider said. Facebook TX-Vintage Bar & Grill.

  • Entrance to 202 Main
  • Have a cocktail at TX Vintage Bar & Grill
  • Jose and Yolanda of Jose's Villa Italia
  • Jose outside his venue, Jose's Italia Villa,
  • The Red Brick Tavern
  • Meet the owners of TX Vintage Bar & Grill
  • Street view on Simonton of TX Vintage Bar & Grill
  • Debbie Glenn, owner of The Red Brick Tavern

“The City of Conroe is such a vibrant community and we look forward to not only bringing a bit of diversity to the food scene and giving our patrons a relaxing atmosphere to gather with friends for music, dancing, or hosting events but working alongside our fellow residents to improve our city through community outreach". (TX Vintage Bar & Grill)

Businesses featured in this article