10 Reasons to Drive to Tomball

By Ellie Sharp  |  February 27, 2017
Credit: Ellie Sharp

At first glance, Tomball may seem yet another Houston suburb filled with chain stores and sprawling neighborhoods. But look closer, and the charm of small-town living is evident, particularly in Old Town Tomball. Spend a day perusing antique shops and boutiques, then explore a surprisingly diverse culinary landscape, which includes these hot spots — for quick bites to leisurely fine dining.

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    Jane & John Dough Bakery
    Head to this funky nook, grab a seat at the communal table or on a cushy couch and nosh on a rotating selection of scratch-made sweet and savory baked goods like naturally leavened breads, apple walnut sticky buns and stuffed pretzel kolaches. Midday fair includes daily sandwiches and salads, as well as cake parfaits. Co-owner Jane Wild sources Stumptown coffee from her native Portland and complements drinks with seasonal syrups like ginger and vanilla caramel.

    208 N. Elm St., Tomball; 832-314-4443

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    The Wheel Kitchen
    Local farms and producers supply ingredients for nearly every dish on the menu at this casual cafe — down to the butter in baked goods, eggs in breakfasts and meats and produce in lunch fare (or choose your own items at the weekly farmer's market held on the same property). Visit for morning yoga or relax on the large deck, but be warned: There’s no Wi-Fi. The seasonal food offerings change regularly, but it’s hard to beat an always available iced coffee roasted exclusively for The Wheel Kitchen by Lola Savannah.

    25510 Zion Lutheran Cemetery Rd., Tomball; 346-225-0996

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    Wholly Crepe Cafe
    Russia-native Mila Hendrix and husband Bill began selling crêpes at the local farmer's market before setting up shop in a converted house on Main Street. Find a selection of sweet and savory crêpes alongside Russian specialties like borscht, cabbage rolls and family-recipe Siberian-style beef stroganoff, plus handmade vareniki (Russian pierogi). Glass cases display a large selection of Lomonosov porcelain from St. Petersburg available for sale.

    413 W. Main St., Tomball; 832-993-9791

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    Tejas Chocolate Craftory
    Discover "rustic chocolate and urban barbecue" at this relaxed locale (inside a house from 1907, Tomball’s oldest) where handcrafted truffles and single-origin chocolate bars meet central Texas–style ribs, sausage, pulled pork and beef barbacoa (the latter available Friday and Saturday only). Sides and sauces get attention here too, like family-recipe potato salad, 29-ingredient mole barbecue sauce and "verdecue" green sauce. Order signature brisket smoked over post oak for 12–16 hours, and add a side of sweet, decadent carrot soufflé that nearly passes for dessert.

    200 N. Elm St., Tomball; 281-892-1700

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    The Whistle Stop Tea Room
    Dip into this cheerful lunch hideaway in The Relics by the Railroad Center in Old Town Tomball for light fare like salads and quiche or hearty sandwiches that can be customized with a range of breads and fillings such as signature jalapeño pimento cheese. Save room for something from the expansive dessert case filled with housemade sweets like local favorite Yum Yum pie layered with cream cheese, whipped cream and milk chocolate mousse, and check out the large selection of hot and iced teas available by the cup or pot.

    107 Commerce St., Tomball; 281-255-2455

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    Gianna Italian Kitchen
    Despite its spacious footprint, this destination for Italian staples is inviting and intimate thanks to warm woods and pastoral art. Rich sauces and fresh produce headline the offerings, which include pomodori con mozzarella, escargot sautéed with green onion, tomatoes and herbs, and heavier favorites such as chicken, veal and housemade pasta. Find room for a rich slice of tiramisu featuring lady fingers soaked in cognac and amaretto then layered with sweet mascarpone cheese, coffee and chocolate.

    28301 TX-249 #100, Tomball; 281-290-6676

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    BonFire Grill
    Open for just over a month, this intimate space already attracts lunch and dinner crowds for creative New American fare inspired by cuisines of Texas, South America, New Mexico and Louisiana. Find meaty nirvana with mesquite, hickory and apple wood–smoked pork shoulder, brisket, boudin and pork belly, and ask for BonFire Sauce, a take on barbecue sauce prepared with warm spices like cinnamon and chiles from Mexico. The diverse menu also includes burgers, jambalaya and fish tacos, and there’s a full bar.

    425 W. Main St., Tomball; 281-290-9664

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    Mel’s Country Cafe
    This family-owned mainstay has grown from a one-room fried chicken hangout in the 1970s to a sprawling space ideal for Southern family meals. Red-and-white checkered tablecloths and photos of local youth sports teams highlight the laid-back country atmosphere. Regulars return weekly for chicken-fried steak, sandwiches and seafood entrees like catfish and shrimp. Finish the Mega Mel burger — made from a pound and a half of ground beef, a pound of bacon and a quarter pound of cheese — and get your photo on the wall of fame, or stick to comparatively smaller hand-cut colossal onion rings.

    24814 Stanolind Rd., Tomball; 281-255-6357

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    Fill up on bowls of hearty pho at this family-owned restaurant popular for its extensive selection of Vietnamese dishes and housemade French bakery treats. Snag banh mi sandwiches, vermicelli noodle bowls and Asian-fusion dishes, accompanied by bubble tea or boba smoothies. Start your meal with grilled pork spring rolls stuffed with a smoky crunchy combo of grilled pork, vermicelli and cucumber served with a sweet and spicy dipping sauce.

    28301 Tomball Pkwy., Tomball; 281-255-3556

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    Bearded Fox Brewing
    Officially brewing since 2015, this relative newcomer brings craft brews to thirsty locals in a tucked-away taproom, which opened to the public in mid February. The family-friendly warehouse space has indoor seating, and there’s room to spread out in the parking lot (wooden tables are provided, and visitors are encouraged to bring their own tables and chairs too). Four core offerings include the Aunt Rose - The Rosa Lee Red Lager, G.O.A.T. - The Greatest of All Time (imperial IPA), Stone Cold Fox Oatmeal Molasses Stout and No. 48 Porter (chocolate coffee). Keep an eye on the website for tasting room hours and special events, including food truck collaborations.

    11729 Spring Cypress Rd., Tomball; 832-761-7928