Behind the curtain at V Bistro Noodle & Grill, the Vo and Huynh families join forces to bring the time-honored tastes of Vietnam to the Lone Star state. A big part of the collaboration revolves around creating the perfect pho—a staple of Vietnamese cuisine for more than a century, and a dish the families have been tweaking for three generations. Traditional recipes, seasonings, and cooking methods have been passed from one generation to the next, like a family crest or a great, great grandparent’s lucky powdered wig.
V Bistro’s diners reap the benefits of that relay when they dive into one of the restaurant’s pho dishes, which range from strictly veggies to a meat lover’s medley of steak, brisket, tripe, and tendon. Diners can also excavate rice plates loaded with pork, chicken, beef, or shrimp, and wash it all down with homemade lemonade or Thai iced tea.
Decades before opening the doors on his own sub shop, Len Moore was cutting his teeth on the lower rungs of the restaurant ladder. But, while he was running between busy tables as a busboy and fighting for a promotion to dishwasher, Len kept his eyes and ears open, slowly piecing together bits of kitchen wisdom that would eventually find their way into the sandwiches he makes today. At Lenny’s, freshness comes first; sub rolls rise in the oven each morning, and the sandwich crew carves deli meats and cheeses for each order. The menu lists gargantuan favorites—large subs weigh in with a full pound of meat—including philly cheesesteaks, half-pound hot dogs, deluxe club sandwiches, and classic ham and capicola. Each sandwich is also willing to join up with combo standbys including drinks, chips, and cookies baked by each franchise owner's grandmother.
Pho Nga 2's spread of rich pho noodle soups, stir fry and vermicelli dishes, and hearty banh mi sandwiches introduces diners to the diverse, delicious flavors of Vietnamese cuisine. Thin rice noodles mingle with charbroiled shrimp and pork, while morsels of tender chicken and ladles of curry sauce rest on beds of steamed rice. Like a sculpture made of melted hard candies, each bowl of piping hot pho is a blend of intense tastes and textures and bright colors, with rare steak, chewy noodles, and savory broth mingling with fresh vegetables and sprigs of cilantro.
Hula Mamas presents a buffet of Hawaiian favorites alongside an authentic Polynesian show that treats eyes to hula routines, live music, and fire knife dancing. As shell leis drape each visitor who enters the island-themed show, the tinkling of shell against shell creates a soothing tropical sound that notifies nearby hermit crabs of open apartment space. A live island band plucks at heartstrings as the buffet line opens to an overflowing smorgasbord of dishes such as pulled pork, mahi-mahi, and other succulent favorites.
RC’s Pizza satisfies patrons with a palate-pleasing menu of sumptuous New York–style pizza, pasta, subs, and salads. The restaurant's staple, an 18-inch NY Giant pizza ($13.50 plus $1.75 for each topping) treats tongue buds to a taste of the Big Apple without the hassle of licking Times Square. All disk-shaped digestibles are forged from the kitchen's fresh-made pizza dough, such as the pepperoni- and italian-sausage-laden Sluggo pie ($18.75 for 18") or the white pie ($17 for 18"), which substitutes RC's house-made sauce with a blissful blend of ricotta, mozzarella, and soft mood lighting. RC's lasagna ($8.95) and jumbo meat or cheese ravioli ($8.95) hoist the banner for pillowy pastas, and the meaty, 8-inch Italiano sub silences gossiping bellies with genoa salami, provolone cheese, and a side of chips ($7.50). Greens lovers may graze upon a spicy antipasto, greek, caesar, or chef salad ($5.79 for a full order) drizzled with one of RC's four house-made dressings and Mother Nature's happy tears.
Seven years ago Rico's Mexican Grill brought their brand of Tex-Mex to The Woodlands. Today they boast five locations throughout the region as well as a family of 400 employees. Together, the staff adheres to the original restaurant's high standards for fine Mexican cuisine with a local twist. In their family-oriented eateries adorned in classic Texas decor, such as Matthew McConaughey's searing gaze, they serve a menu of enchiladas, tacos, and sizzling fajitas. The fajitas are especially a source of pride. They marinate the meat in a secret sauce for 24 hours and serve the grilled morsels with homemade tortillas. Aside from traditional Tex-Mex entrees, they grill enticing fare such as quail and red snapper. To compliment their dishes, they mix mean margaritas and cocktails and fill glasses with imported and domestic beers and wines amid frequent live entertainment.
The Veranda's owners cultivate an intimate ambience punctuated with both upscale dishes influenced by American and European flavors and live musical entertainment. The extensive menu puts a unique spin on fine-dining starters, such as roast duck with mango chutney ($10) and seafood cheesecake, a savory shellfish filling embraced by a pretzel crust and parmesan-horseradish cream sauce ($10). Electrify appetites with an ancho-marinated tilapia accompanied by cilantro cream ($18) or satisfy succulence cravings with seafood-stuffed quail that, like an apple on the clearance shelf, is semi-boneless ($23). The lunch menu, available Wednesday through Friday (reservation required), features a Herculean selection of paninis (starting at $10.95) and salads.