Though Puffabellys' menu clearly states it opened in 1995, the restaurant carries an ambiance and a history evocative of a much older establishment. Initially housed in an old train depot that was relocated from Lovelady, the eatery burned completely to the ground five years after opening. The original structure was completely unsalvageable, but reclaimed materials were collected so that the new structure would echo the personality of its ancestor.
Today, aged tin signs for train lines and ice cream bedeck a dining room where weathered tin cans brimming with peanuts sit on each table. Diners crack the nuts' salty shells as they await plates of fried catfish or the eatery's popular fried green tomatoes. A selection of 10 open-faced burgers exposes steamy layers of shredded cheese with bacon or jalapeños, effectively forcing sandwich picks into early retirement. On Wednesday nights, live music plays during the Songwriter Showcase.
The seasoned chefs at Dimassi's Mediterranean Buffet whip up unlimited portions of authentic Middle Eastern cuisine seven days a week. Partnered patrons survey the robust buffet to plot their takeover of fresh, house-made bread sauced with hummus or baba ghanouj, a roasted and seasoned eggplant purée. Endless supplies of savory entrees silence even the chattiest tummies with chicken kebabs and baked-fish-shaped pacifiers. Diners not on speaking terms with salt may opt for Dimassi’s spinach baked with chickpeas, onions, garlic, and cilantro, and herbivores can nosh on an assortment of seasoned veggies or a greek salad with feta, olive oil, and aged balsamic vinegar. Dining duos toast to the possibility of falafel shot put becoming a common party game with unlimited glasses of iced tea or soft drinks. Fistfuls of jam cookies or ladyfingers with walnuts, sugar, and rose and orange water give meals a delicately sweet sendoff.
For the past 15 years, Smoothie Factory has grown countrywide as a trusted supplier of puréed produce and nutritional supplements. Made with all real fruit, Smoothie Factory's flavorful creations ($3.99 for a 20-oz.; $5.78 for a 32-oz.; $6.48 for a 44-oz.) make a fine component for both mouths and abandoned food pyramids. Concoct a blended beverage from numerous taste-bud stimuli such as strawberry, açai, and pomegranate, which can be infused with flavorings including honey or peanut butter as well as nutritional boosts such as a body-balancing multivitamin or amino-acid-rich bee pollen formula. Fans of un-slurpable sustenance can opt to abandon straws in favor of cups piled high with swirls of green tea or original flavored frozen yogurt ($2.95+). Already ripe with calcium, protein, and potassium, the healthful helpings are further enhanced by the addition of toppings ($1 for one topping; $1.50 for wo toppings; $2 for three toppings), including fresh fruit, nuts, sprinkles, candies, and spoons.
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.
Papa Murphy's Take 'n' Bake Pizza was born out of the owner's frustration with bad pizza from chains, which often tasted as if every ingredient was canned or frozen. Deciding to change the industry, Papa Murphy's tosses every ingredient, all of which are never frozen, onto the crust in front of the customer's eyes and sends them home to bake in a home oven. This dedication to fresh flavor earned Papa Murphy's the top spot on Zagat's National Chain survey.
Visitors can create their own take on the pizza pie or chomp into one of their signature pizzas, which range from meat-filled stuffed crust to calorie-conscious lite varieties covered in vegetables. Their appetizers and desserts follow the same pattern. Customers order raw cookie dough or cheesy bread ripe for the baking, resulting in every course being fresh from the oven.
Amid the brightly colored walls and chopping sounds at Zoom Zoom Catering, chefs cut and sauté fresh, local produce that’s acquired at farmers’ markets whenever possible. With that green, mostly organic bounty, they whip up catering trays of salads and sandwiches designed to feed groups of up to 700. The chefs also work with clients to create custom menus for weddings or authentic Middle Earth–themed luncheons. Groups of children or adults are also invited to join chefs in the kitchen for cooking classes—ranging from pasta making to barbecuing—that include practical guidance on the economics and nutrition of buying fresh produce. A small café abuts the bustling kitchen, tempting palates with à la carte delectations including breakfast pot pies and muffins.