The ahi tuna burger at Fielding’s

Image: Todd Spoth

Hubbell & Hudson Bistro

24 Waterway Ave., 281-203-5600, hubbellandhudson.com

The bistro is a cozy, comfortably upscale dining room tucked alongside Waterway Avenue and helmed by chef Austin Simmons. Simmons’s ever-changing menus showcase both his significant talent and access to ingredients sourced from around the world, and the results are stunning. His charred octopus appetizer is an enticing blend of sea, citrus, and smoke. Genuine Japanese Kobe beef is the ultimate choice for the steak lover. Creative seafood entrées and pastas round out the menu, and the superlative burgers (among the best in Houstonia) shouldn't be missed.

Fielding’s Wood Grill

1699 Research Forest Dr., 832-616-3275, fieldings.com

This ambitious new burger-oriented venture from Hubbell & Hudson founder Cary Attar is a temple to the house-made concept. Here, meats are butchered and ground, bacon is smoked, bread is baked, ice cream is churned. The result is a slew of clever burgers, ranging from the traditional (44 Farms Black Angus beef) to the more unusual (bison, goat, ahi tuna, and more). Ever craved a shrimp burger? Fielding's makes it work. Wood-grilled fish, hand-cut steaks, entrée salads, and sandwiches are options for those not in need of a burger fix. Pair any of these entrees with an intriguing slate of milkshakes both alcoholic and G-rated.

Schilleci’s New Orleans Kitchen

9595 Six Pines Dr., Ste. 1120, 281-419-4242, schillecis.com

Schilleci’s New Orleans Kitchen focuses on regional Creole cuisine with a bit of Cajun thrown in to spice things up. The seafood gumbo is some of the best from here to Baton Rouge, neither too bland nor too hot. Other tastes of NOLA include the superb shrimp Creole, traditional red beans and rice, and the better-not-miss-it bread pudding. The Schilleci family migrated to The Woodlands from New Orleans, and it shows: this joint reverberates with the spirit of the Big Easy.

Pallotta’s Italian Grill

27606 I-45 North, 281-364-9555, pallottasitaliangrill.com

Pallotta’s Italian Grill’s street cred has been packing them in for 20 years. Owner Phil Nicosia, who hails from New York City, offers all the Italian-American classics, but we’re especially into the unique entrees, such as Number 84 (bacon, olive oil, garlic, steamed veggies, basil pesto, and sundried tomatoes over rigatoni) and the 18th Amendment (cheese tortellini with sweet bourbon sauce, chicken, sundried tomatoes, and walnuts). Uncle Mario might not recognize these favorites, but he’ll be sopping up every bit of sauce with Pallotta’s excellent garlic bread.

Tandoory Taco

407 Sawdust Rd., 281-203-5020, tandoorytaco.com

Born from the analytical mind of chemical engineer–turned–restaurateur Alex Nagal, Tandoory Taco fuses the recipes of his homeland with the Texas tradition of wrapping food in a flour tortilla. The result is called Indo-Mex, and it works. Give credit to Nagal’s excellent sauces, especially his bright, fresh, creamy agra tikka tomato sauce made with freshly ground spices. Choose one sauce and combine that with oven-roasted meats and fresh veggies, then wrap it all up in a tortilla.

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