Best Restaurants in Sugar Land for 2023

Interior of Izakaya Ten

Dining and drinking options in Sugar Land continue to get better and more diverse. It’s no longer just chains and fast food. In recent years, Sugar Land has become a worthy destination for just about every type of cuisine. For example, fellow writer Cindy Wang recently told us about a new place for Taiwanese rice rolls, Tao Rice Roll, while Mario Sebastian-Berry let us in on a hidden gem, Imperial Wine SLTX, for natural wines and lake views.

There are many terrific restaurants in the area, and this growing food scene is mostly under-discovered by non-residents. Here are some of the options that will have you driving out to the “sweet” suburbs.

Grilled whole squid with teriyaki and jalapeno and garlic soy.
Grilled whole squid with teriyaki and jalapeno and garlic soy from Izakaya Ten in Sugar Land. Photo by Minh Truong.

Izakaya Ten, 3355 Hwy 6: This new, casual Japanese restaurant debuted in the former Spice Lane space, but still has the same owners — the group behind Fat Bao and Ka Sushi.  Inspired by Japanese pub culture, Izakaya Ten offers sushi, Japanese tapas, craft cocktails and sake. The space has been transformed, thanks to a sushi bar with a beautiful Japanese mural and a wall of lucky cats. The menu consists of small appetizer plates, kushiyaki (skewered and grilled meat and vegetables), agemono (deep-fried dishes) and larger crudos and hot dishes, as well as a selection of nigiri, sashimi and specialty maki. The hot dishes are some of my favorite items on the menu. The tonkatsu ramen has a thick, hearty broth with good pork flavor, and generous portions of chashu (pork roll). The ika (whole grilled squid) is dressed with a sweet glaze, is tender and has a good bite without being chewy. 

The creative cocktail list includes potent potables made with vodka, gin, and bourbon. The Pica Pica, made with The Botanist Gin, Chinola passion fruit liqueur, pineapple and lime juice, was a favorite. While Spice Lane will be missed, Izakaya Ten is a welcome replacement.

Beef bahari boti and naan.
Beef bahari boti and a side of garlic naan at Karahi Boys in Sugar Land. Photo by Minh Truong.

Karahi Boys, 16535 Lexington: This Canadian chain offering traditional halal Pakistani cuisine opened its first location in the United States in mid- February, and selected Sugar Land for its national debut. It took over the space that was once Skeeter’s Mesquite Grill. Karahi is a Pakistani dish, named after the thick, circular, deep dish (a vessel similar to a wok) that it’s served in. The sauce for karahi is typically a tomato-based curry, and the dish can be vegetarian or include your choice of chicken, beef or goat. 

Karahi Boys’ extensive menu also features grilled meats, such as seekh kabobs (kabobs of minced meat and spices) and boti kabobs (cubed meats marinated in a yogurt and spice mixture), paratha rolls (a wrap made with a flaky flatbread), and Pakistani charcoal-grilled chicken that has been marinated with spices overnight. The fresh-out-of-the-tandoor naan alone is worth the trip. Choose from plain, garlic, butter or till wala (with butter and sesame seeds) or get the family naan, a large-sized, plain naan that diners can pull pieces from thanks to it being presented on a stand. While most dishes do pack some heat, these are not as much overwhelmingly spicy as rich in flavor. Order a mango lassi or a Pakola (a unique Pakistani cream soda that has floral and citrus notes) to cool down your taste buds.

B.B. Italia Bistro & Bar, 16250 City Walk: Berg Hospitality (which operates B&B Butchers & Restaurant, B.B. Lemon, Turner’s, Trattoria Sofia and others) opened this Italian restaurant in Sugar Land Town Square in late 2022, and it has already made a mark with residents looking for something a little more upscale in the area

The menu consists of over 60 Italian dishes both classic and innovative. For appetizers, there are calamari, arancini and bacon parmigiana; thick-cut bacon smothered in pomodoro and mozzarella. There are also several shareable options, including a hot antipasto tower and salumi and formaggi boards. There are also housemade soups, including lobster bisque and classic minestrone, and salads, including caprese and chopped salad. Pastas and pizza dough are made in-house daily. The entrées include seafood, beef, chicken, lamb and veal. Don’t miss the gelato or the cocktails curated by James Beard Award-winner Alba Huerta of Julep.

Curry Laksa and Hainan Chicken at Mamak Malaysian Restaurant.
Curry laksa and a side of Hainan chicken at Mamak Malaysian Restaurant in Sugar Land. Photo by Minh Truong.

Jusgo Supermarket, 3412 Highway 6: You could spend the whole day at Jusgo Supermarket, not just browsing the aisles of the stocked Asian market but also eating at the restaurants in the front plaza of the building. Below are the must-try eateries. 

  • Joy Dim Sum: This is a great place for breakfast or brunch. The small restaurant does mostly to go, but there are a few tables where diners can enjoy dim sum standards such as shu mai (pork and shrimp dumpling), har gow (shrimp dumpling), char siu bao (steamed pork buns), beef or shrimp wrapped in rice noodles, fried taro dumplings and steamed chicken feet. The dim sum comes out fast and hot. 
  • For lunch, grab Malaysian food at Mamak Malaysian Restaurant, which relocated from its Bellaire location to Sugar Land last year. Start with the roti canai; fluffy, buttery pan-fried flatbread served with curry sauce. The menu also includes satay (skewered-and-grilled meat served with a spicy peanut sauce), nasi lemak, a coconut rice plate with fried peanut, fried anchovies, boiled egg, cucumber, and sambal sauce, and kway teow (stir-fried noodle with eggs). While all of those are good options, laksa, a spicy noodle soup, is a must. An order of Hainan chicken and curry laksa comes with the coconut curry noodle soup, garnished with bean sprout, eggplant and tofu balls, and a side Hainan chicken. The coconut milk base is creamy, rich and fragrant with lemongrass, galangal, turmeric and chili peppers. The poached chicken meat is tender and sweet and works well alongside the aromatic soup. 
  • After lunch, stop by Mia’s Goodies for a  sweet treat of cream puffs, mochi and sweet sago (small tapioca pearl) drinks. The cream puffs come in flavors such as matcha, strawberry and chocolate ganache. The choux, a flaky, French-style pastry, is light and airy, while the cream inside has smooth consistency and not overly sweet. The mochi has a soft, chewy, stretchy exterior, and filling options include black sesame, ube (purple), and brown sugar peanut.  Special flavors are also featured weekly. 
  • For dinner, head to Courtyard Cuisine for Northern Chinese dishes, particularly the Peking duck. Get a half or a whole order that is served with duck sauce, green onions, cucumbers and crepe-like pancakesto wrap all the ingredients in. The duck also comes with a bowl of soup made from the bones. The skin on the roasted duck is thin and crispy, and the fat has been rendered until the meat is moist and tender.

Other restaurants in the plaza include Xing’s Kitchen, serving Chinese cuisine such as Shanxi oil noodles (thick, chewy, wheat noodles), Mama Wu’s which serves Taiwanese rice dishes and bento boxes and the Sugar Land location of Mala Sichuan, known for its tongue-tingling, Sichuan favorites like the spicy, crispy chicken.

Tofu soup and banchan.
Tofu soup and banchan at Jang Guem Tofu and BBQ in Sugar Land. Photo by Minh Truong.

Jang Guem Korean BBQ & Tofu, 3528 Hwy 6: Just across from the parking lot from Jusgo,  you’ll find a no-frills Korean barbecue restaurant. It is one of three locations; the others are in Bellaire and in Katy. Unlike cook-it-yourself Korean restaurants, here the work is already done,  and sizzling platters of galbi (short ribs), bulgogi (thin sliced, marinated meat), samgyeopsal (pork belly) and other barbecue options, come to your table ready to eat, along with unlimited banchan that includes, kimchi, bean sprouts, fish cake and gamja (Korean potato salad).  Jang Guem offers a combination meal of a barbecued meat and a kimchi soup, which arrives bubbling in a searing-hot dolsot (stone bowl). You’ll also find a variety of noodles, bibimbap (mixed rice dish), dumplings and Korean fried chicken wings. Service is quick and friendly, and K-pop music videos play on the TV screens, making for a fun vibe. Also, pay with cash and get a 5% discount on the tab. 

Madai crudo at Umami Sushi. Courtesy photo.

Umami, 18921 University: There are several sushi restaurants in Sugar Land, but owners of Umami, Jennifer and Jessica Park (no relation), are bringing high quality sushi to the area. The owners are proud of importing the freshest fish, including bluefin tuna from Spain, shima-aji (striped jack), ji-kinmedai (golden eye snapper), kanpachi (amberjack) from Japan, uni from Santa Barbara or Hokkaido (whichever they deem to be of best quality at that time) and hirame (flounder) from Jeju Island. Some of these cuts are offered in crudo and carpaccio dishes, such as the kanpachi with soursop, cherry tomatoes and Asian pear, and the madai (sea bream) with tangerine, passion fruit and olive oil. 

Umami also serves a large selection of specialty rolls, or what they call “Extraordinary Rolls”, including the LJ Pkwy roll (the name a fun nod to where they are located) with spicy salmon, serrano, cucumber, masago, ono and avocado, all accented with spicy garlic-ponzu sauce. The hot food menu features a small selection of robata and “Creations,” which include miso black cod and braised Wagyu short rib. A happy hour menu that runs daily from 11 a.m. through 6 p.m. was recently added and offers 20% off sake, beer and wine, discounted appetizers, nigiri, crudos and half off many of the signature rolls. 

Naseeb Indian Restaurant, 3559 Hwy 6 South, Naseeb is an unassuming, family-run restaurant located in a strip center. It serves authentic, halal, North Indian cuisine. For appetizers, there are pakoras (crispy chickpea battered fried fritter) and samosas (fried or baked pastry with a spicy potato filling). Choose from a variety of curry options, such as tikka masala (tomato-based, butter cream sauce), korma (rich almond and cashew cream sauce) or vindaloo (a Portuguese-inspired fiery curry). 

For lunch, Naseeb offers a thali, a platter of several different small dishes in both vegetarian and non-vegetarian options. The thalis come with salad, rice, naan, your choice of two different curries and a small dessert of the day. The spice level for any dish can be adjusted to taste — mild, medium or spicy. When ordering spicy, the server makes sure to warn diners that spicy is, in fact, spicy

Fernando’s, 14135 Southwest Freeway: It is hard to miss the standalone, Colonial-style building that houses this longrunning steakhouse, and or the big marquee out front that often displays messages congratulating regular customers on birthdays, anniversaries and other happy occasions.  Owner and chef Fernando Echeverria opened his establishment in 2005, and it has been a Sugar Land mainstay ever since, conjuring up nostalgic days of fine dining with white tablecloths and “white gloved” service. The restaurant serves Latin American-inspired dishes. There are classic appetizers such as ceviche and Steak Empanadas, filled with beef, queso fresco, black beans and tomato. 

Entree offerings include Corvina (an Ecuadorian white fish) delicately battered in egg wash, lightly fried and topped with lemon butter and white wine sauce, and El Jefe, a beef filet center with chimichurri. For the patient, the menu asks those ordering paella to allow 25 minutes for the yellow saffron rice mixed with clams, mussels, scallops, shrimp, fish, crawfish, squid, chicken and chorizo to be cooked to order.

Fernando’s also serves seafood soup, a lobster consommé bisque with crab, crawfish and vegetables, and a selection of salads and pastas.

Vino & Vinyl, 15977 City Walk: This Town Square wine destination has evolved from its early days as a wine bar and record shop in Missouri City. It is now a full-service, chef-driven restaurant serving charcuterie boards, flatbreads, pasta and entrées such as braised short rib with red wine demi and grilled octopus with chimichurri. The wine list concentrates mainly on small-production and artisan wines from California, but also includeswines from regions all over the world, including Argentina and Italy. The happy hour is not to be missed thanks to $6 wines by the glass and $6 bistro fare such as the pork belly bites with bourbon glaze, fried risotto balls and mini meatballs topped with pomodoro sauce. Along with the wine and food, enjoy music ranging from Justin Timberlake to Al Green as you sip and nosh. 

Sushi roll at Keeper's in Sugar Land
The Nemo roll at Keeper’s in Sugar Land. Photo by Sandra Crittenden

Keeper’s Japanese Restaurant and Bar, 4654 Highway 6: Ask any Sugar Land resident for a dinner recommendation, and you’ll likely hear “Keeper’s”. This Sugar Land sushi bar has been open for over a decade and serves an assortment of classic nigiri and sashimi, and signature sushi rolls, including the Lexington Roll filled with Alaskan king crab, avocado and cucumber, then topped with four kinds of tobiko and a creamy mayo and the Nemo Roll with spicy tuna and topped with salmon and scallions. 

There are cold appetizers such as king salmon rolled with snow crab and topped with truffle oil, black tobiko and garlic chips, and beef tataki, thinly sliced rib eye steak that is served with ponzu sauce. The hot appetizers include items such as lightly battered and fried shitake mushrooms stuffed with shrimp, squid and onion, and the asari sakamushi — steamed live clams with sake, fresh ginger and scallion.

Keeper’s also has a full bar with a large selection of sake and specialty cocktails. Happy hour specials that run everyday from open to close keep this spot buzzing.

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