Best Restaurants in Sugar Land — By a Longtime Resident

Cilantro Chicken Vindaloo at Nirmanz Food Boutique in Sugar Land

Growing up on Houston’s southwest side in the 1980s, my driver’s ed group went to Highway 6 and 59 to learn to drive over 50 mph because there was so little traffic out there at the time. That same intersection would become Sugar Land’s main destination for dining in 2003 when Town Square was developed. During my driving-lesson days, only 15,000 people lived in Sugar Land. Now, the population is over 118,000, making it the 31st largest city in Texas

My husband and I moved to Sugar Land in the mid-1990s, and I’ve had a front row seat to watch it grow. Initially, it was primarily filled with big chains and an array of fast food joints, and it only had one legitimate bar. But as the Fort Bend County community grew, it became one of the most diverse in the state. That growth and diversity brought new and unique restaurants. Many of these eateries have become community favorites. Although the city borders several neighboring towns that also have worthy restaurants, this list focuses only on those with Sugar Land addresses. Some have been pillars of the city’s dining scene for years, while others are relatively new. 

The Sweet Corn Soup at Aling’s. Photo by Sandra Crittenden.

Aling’s, 6542 US Alt 90: This one-of-a-kind establishment gives diners the opportunity to discover the blend of Chinese and Indian flavors that make up Hakka cuisine. If you are feeling up to embracing the heat, some of its spicier options include Manchurian-style beef, shrimp or chicken. You can cool off with a specialty mocktail like the Lava Flow, a refreshing mix of strawberry, lime and mint or with a Tsingtao Chinese beer. Those wary of too much spice can try milder dishes such as Sweet Corn Soup, available with chicken or vegetarian, or chicken in a garlic-black bean sauce. Aling’s main dining room features color-changing ceiling lights for a hip feel. Plus, they have a large patio and do excellent curbside service. 

Shrimp Pepperonata at Corelli’s. Photo by Sandra Crittenden.

Corelli’s, 3229 Highway 6: Outside, a protective brick wall surrounds the grotto-style patio providing an escape from the surrounding neighborhood traffic. Inside, diners will find large, cozy booths and tables and an open kitchen. This Italian café has been a Sugar Land mainstay for over 20 years, serving up housemade, crunchy Parmesan-dusted breadsticks as free complements to the classic cuisine. With a menu featuring salads, pizza, pecan-crusted salmon and plenty of pasta options — including Shrimp Peperonata and rich, ricotta- and meat sauce-stuffed lasagna, this family-friendly restaurant has something for all tastes. The wine list features over 20 wines by the glass which, along with beer, are 25% off at happy hour on Monday through Friday from 4 to 7 p.m. in the bar and on the patio only, with selected appetizers for half off, as well.

Fernando’s motto is to keep the menu simple and the steaks juicy. Photo by Sandra Crittenden.

Fernando’s, 14135 Southwest Freeway: Owner Fernando Echeverria opened this steakhouse near Sugar Creek in 2005 and ever since has consistently offered well-regarded, Latin American-inspired dishes. Classics such as ceviche and Steak Empanadas, filled with beef, queso fresco, black beans and more, are popular appetizers, while the Corvina (an Ecuadorian white fish delicately battered in egg wash and lightly fried), paella, and beef filet center with chimichurri are favorite entrées.

Fernando’s also serves seafood soup, a lobster consommé bisque with crab, crawfish and vegetables, and a selection of salads and pastas. First-time guests may be surprised by both the size and the luxe interiors, which were maintained from its original incarnation as a Ruth Chris, making it a spacious, more formal option for private events.

Burgers, fries, onion rings and beer at Guru Burger in Sugar Land
Burgers, fries, onion rings and beer at Guru Burger in Sugar Land. Photo by Sandra Crittenden

Guru Enlightened Burgers and Bowls, 2268 Texas Drive: Located in Town Square, this small shop is a one-of-a-kind Sugar Land exclusive that has long offered Angus beef burgers in both regular and slider size in a variety of flavor combos such as the Royale With Cheese — the classic cheddar, lettuce, tomato and pickle combo — and the Pancho, with jalapeño bacon, pepper jack cheese, roasted jalapeño, guacamole and more. Those looking for non-beef options can opt for plant-based burgers and a variety of chicken, turkey and fish sandwiches.

Additionally, there’s an assortment of nibblers, salads and mac & cheese options. Last summer, the eatery added a full poke bowl menu as well as a build-your-own option. The menu pairs well with the broad selection of local craft beer. This restaurant also has a fully shaded front patio.

Dining at the bar at Japaneiro’s. Photo by Sandra Crittenden.

Japaneiro’s, 2168 Texas: This Town Square mainstay, which is part of the same restaurant group that owns Guru, has been serving a unique blend of Japanese and Latin cuisine for over seventeen years. The main menu offers appetizer options such as shrimp dumplings, seafood or beef empanadas and Mashed Garlic Potato Tempura Balls. For main courses, there is a full array of sushi rolls and sashimi alongside dishes like a South American-style churrasco steak and blackened Chilean sea bass. The lunch special is one of the best deals in town with three courses offered for $12.99 Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. In addition, there are daily happy hour specials from 3 to 6 p.m. The bar is best known for their Japanese whiskey and flavored Mojitos.

The King Salmon rolled with snow crab and topped with truffle oil, black tobiko and garlic chips at Keeper’s Japanese Restaurant and Bar. Photo by Sandra Crittenden.

Keeper’s Japanese Restaurant and Bar, 4654 Highway 6: This Sugar Land establishment has been serving the city for over a decade. The menu has an assortment of classic nigiri and sashimi, as well as premium cold appetizers like king salmon rolled with snow crab and topped with truffle oil, black tobiko and garlic chips.  The signature sushi rolls include the Lexington Roll, filled with Alaskan king crab, avocado and cucumber, then topped with four kinds of tobiko and a creamy mayo — perfect for light dining in the summer.

There is also a full menu of classic hot dishes such as teriyaki, yaki soba and seafood or vegetable tempura. Keeper’s has a full bar with a large selection of sake and runs happy hour food specials all day, every day. The covered side patio is shaded in the evening and has fans to keep it cool.

The Live Oak Skillet is on the brunch menu at Live Oak Grill. Photo by Sandra Crittenden.

Live Oak Grill, 12935 Dairy Ashford: The Texas flag painted on the roof of this family-owned, casual eatery hints at the cuisine inside, where diners will find a menu featuring tacos, fried shrimp and chicken fried steak, alongside healthier options such as salads with fajita meat or Pecan-Crusted Chicken. Live Oak Grill has been serving southern-style food for over a decade and offers several evening specials: Tuesday is Steak Night, Wednesday is Build Your Own Pasta Night and Thursday is Tex-Mex Delight, featuring a changing menu. Live Oak Grill also serves brunch on the weekends, and happy hour specials are offered Monday through Wednesday from 2 to 6 p.m. and all day on Thursday, with $7 frozen Margaritas and beer for $3. Live Oak has ample indoor seating along with multiple outdoor tables located along the front, side and back.

Samosas are always a good way to start at Nirmanz. Photo by Sandra Crittenden.

Nirmanz Food Boutique, 16338 Kensington: The extensive menu of both beloved classic Indian dishes and harder-to-find ones is just one of the reasons why this is an essential Sugar Land restaurant. Chef and owner Nirman Shah decorated the venue with an extensive art collection, including parts of cars transported from India and turned into art pieces. (There’s one in particular outfitted with working headlights and a bench, which makes it the perfect setting for that must-have Instagram selfie.) The menu includes a variety of naan, flaky samosas, numerous classic vegetarian dishes, like paneer tikka masala, and meatier choices such as butter chicken, lamb korma and shrimp vindaloo. There is also a Bombay Wok menu with several Hakka offerings. 

The jalapeño-laced Chevelle Paloma with one pork and one PCT Taco at Pacific Coast Tacos. Photo by Sandra Crittenden.

Pacific Coast Tacos, 1525 Lake Pointe: Houston just got its own location of this Sugar Land original for Baja tacos, but locals have been enjoying the fresh mix of Mexican and Asian flavors on housemade tortillas while sipping margaritas creekside for years. This casual, family friendly eatery features a full bar with a focus on Mexican-inspired cocktails and a wide selection of Mexican beer. Breakfast tacos start the day with the full menu beginning at 11 a.m. The afternoon and evening taco menu features simple staples like the PCT Beef with chopped onion, cilantro and oaxaca cheese or an Asian Pacific-inspired Thai Chili Chicken Taco. There is also a Sunday brunch offering benedicts, chilaquiles and breakfast sandwiches.

The Wednesday Night Special at Spice Lane is Smoked Steak with potatoes and a side salad for $20. Photo by Sandra Crittenden.

Spice Lane Kitchen & Bar, 3355 Highway 6: With large windows, dark wood tables and a bar dominating the back wall, this is a different kind of restaurant space for this part of First Colony. Spice Lane opened shortly before last year’s shutdown, bringing traditional Gulf Coast comfort food with a touch of Asian influence and a full bar to the neighborhood. Try the fried brussel sprouts with miso caramel and the K-Poppers, Korean garlic bread with sweet cream cheese. Freshly shucked oysters, served both raw and Rockefeller style, blackened and fried fish, whole garlic shrimp on rice, sandwiches and fried chicken wings are also on the menu.

The bar offers whiskey flights, custom cocktails, over 10 wines by the glass, frozen cocktails and sangria towers for groups. Spice Lane also serves brunch on Saturday and Sunday and smokes ribeyes for its Wednesday steak night.

Happy Hour Specials at State Fare in Town Square. Photo by Sandra Crittenden.

State Fare, 15930 City Walk: The second location of this Memorial-area favorite opened in Town Square last summer and offers slightly altered menus for lunch, dinner and weekend brunch, along with a weekday happy hour menu. Salads, such as the Southwest Caesar, and the tuna tartare make it easy to eat light while the half-pound burgers, H-town Hot Fried Chicken or the fried seafood platter will more than satisfy the hungry. Add an egg to the avocado and street corn toast for a healthy brunch and don’t miss the Smoked Ribs, Brisket Firecrackers and Texas Caviar at happy hour served alongside a specially priced drink menu.

The Romano crusted chicken Anchetta at Veritas. Photo by Sandra Crittenden.

Veritas, 6560 Greatwood Parkway: Originally located at Lake Pointe, this local mainstay moved to the Greatwood area pre-pandemic. The new space is a smaller version of the original, with an oyster shucker near the doorway tempting guests as they enter. The bar space is also more compact but still equally friendly; seats tend to fill quickly. Top picks include Marina’s Cucumber Salad, the Romano Crusted Chicken Anchetta and John’s Bone-in Pork Chop Milanese. Reservations are recommended. Call (281) 937-7868.

Vino & Vinyl in Sugar Land
Sidewalk sipping at Vino & Vinyl in Sugar Land Town Square. Photo by Sandra Crittenden.

Vino & Vinyl, 15977 City Walk: This Town Square wine destination features a full dinner menu with several charcuterie boards, mini meatballs, octopus tacos, lamb chops and more. To pair with dinner — or just to enjoy — there is a large bottle list and 20 by-the-glass choices to sip while grooving as classic tunes play. In addition to the inside seating, there are a small number of patio and outside bar seats. Reservations are recommended and can be made on OpenTable.

V Lotus Bistro, 4821 LJ Parkway: This family-owned restaurant serves freshly made Vietnamese cuisine in a beautifully finished, airy space tucked away in an unassuming strip center in the Riverstone neighborhood. The eatery features an array of phở and vermicelli bowls, as well as specialties such as Lobster Curry and roasted duck. There’s a small selection of wine and beer to go alongside. Caffeine lovers should not miss out on the decadent Vietnamese coffee.

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