Aggieland Eats

17 Oct

This post isn’t so much a travelogue as a list of recommended restaurants in the Bryan/College Station area.  The past weekend’s trip back to the alma mater motivated me to compile a list of notable and nonchain restaurants in the BCS area.  Most people dismiss Bryan/College Station as a wasteland for good food (and for the most part this is true, as mega-chains dominate and create unbelievably long waits on football weekends and parents’ weekend).  From the 4 years of attending school in the area (eating both the good and bad), I can recommend the following places:

Antonio’s Pizza by the Slice – Antonio’s is technically a mini chain, with locations at University of Masachussetts, Brown University, and of course in Aggieland.  This is the best (if not only) New York style pizza to be found in the BCS area.  They always have a good selection of pizza by the slice (and the always changing daily special) and are open late (for those 2:00am cravings while out on Northgate).  104 College Main, College Station.

Blue Baker – Aggieland’s own nonchain Panera Bread (but cheaper!).  Blue Baker bakes their own artisan breads daily.  You can purchase bread by the loaves or enjoy it on their sandwiches.  They also serve soups, salads, and excellent wood fire pizzas.  All of their baked goods (cookies, brownies, muffins) are also excellent.  My favorite item here is the tomato basil bisque in a sourdough bread bowl.  I think the soup is better than La Madeleine’s version, add in the freshly baked sourdough, and I’m in heaven.  201 Dominik Dr, College Station.

Cafe Eccell – new American/fusion cuisine.  Cafe Eccell is the perfect date restaurant.  The decor is simple and classy, but atmosphere is not too stiff.  Decent wine list and excellent desserts.  Do not miss the strawberry tart if you come here!  Fresh strawberries drizzled with Belgian chocolate on whipped cream and an almond lace cookie shell, yum!  101 Church Ave, College Station.

Cenare – You don’t have to eat at Olive Garden just because you’re craving Italian.  Try Cenare and you’ll have your choice of all the traditional as well as more creative Italian dishes.  Best sit-down Italian in BCS, favorites here include the gnocchi and the lobster ravioli.  404 E. University, College Station.

Chicken Oil Co. – brother restaurant to the College Station landmark Dixie Chicken.  The atmosphere is unique (it used to be a gas station a long time ago) and it’s the kind of place you’d expect to find in College Station.  Great burgers and chicken tenders.  Very greasy but very yummy.  3600 S. College Ave, Bryan.

Christopher’s World Grille – Aggieland’s prime destination for fine dining under direction of executive chef Christopher Lampo.  The restaurant is a little out of the way but is located in a beautifully restored 100-year-old ranch home.  The menu changes seasonally but any kind of steak is always excellent here.  Christopher’s has special chef’s dinners and fixed menus for special occasions like Valentine’s Day.  They also feature a Sunday jazz brunch.  5001 Booneville Rd, Bryan.

Fargo’s Pit BBQ – this is the best BBQ in BCS.  Sauce lovers love Rudy’s and most of Aggieland are infatuated with C&J.  But in my opinion, the smokey and tender brick pit BBQ ribs here ranks among some of Texas’ best (almost as good as Smitty’s in Lockhart), no sauce needed.  What really sets Fargo’s apart from other BBQ joints are the homemade sides, great BBQ beans, potato salad, and pound cake to die for!  Fargo’s is a take-out only small family operation, so the downside is that their hours are erratic.  When they cater (as they do often on weekends), their store location is closed.  So make sure you call ahead of time before making the drive out to Bryan.  1220 N. Texas Ave, Bryan.

Fritella Italian Restaurant – casual Italian fare, counter service.  When you think about going to Fazoli’s, I urge you to try Fritella first.  The owners are extremely friendly and the menu is full of traditional Italian items.  The house specialty is the fritella, a piping hot calzone-like pocket stuffed with your choice of meats/cheeses.  The pocket is deep fried and has the texture of funnel cake.  Fritella has a beautiful open patio (somewhat climate controlled with fans and outdoor space heaters).  I rented out the whole patio for an organizational event once and the atomsphere was perfect on a mild weather day.  3901 S. Texas Ave, Bryan.

Jin’s Chinese Restaurant – the College Station Chinese food scene is all about the low cost super buffets, with the exception of the Jin’s restaurants (there are three, with one Pan-Asian, but this original is my favorite).  I wouldn’t call the food authentic (there are no authentic Chinese places in BCS unless you can read Chinese, then you can order off of the special menu written in Chinese at Imperial Chinese, otherwise the place is just another super buffet), but it is always fresh with quality ingredients.  My favorite is the Mongolian beef.  Jin’s offers great value with their lunch specials.  317 Church Ave, College Station.

Los Cucos – the chowhound part of me screams “don’t recommend this place!”  It’s a mini chain (dozen locations throughout Texas) and it’s your typical greasy cheesy mess of Tex-Mex.  But I always come back if Tex-Mex is what I’m craving.  I won’t lie, the food is greasy and there are too many fried items (deep fried stuffed avocado, yum!)  This is more of a guilty pleasure than a true gem of a find.  But I come back again and again for the green sauce dip, homemade tortillas, greasy quesadillas, and cheap margaritas.  1521-A Texas Ave (in Culpepper Plaza), College Station.

Los Nortenos – more Mex-Mex than Tex-Mex.  Located in historic downtown Bryan, the place claims to be the oldest Mexican restaurant in Bryan.  I love coming to Los Nortenos on a football weekend or parents weekend when all the other restaurants have 2 hour waits, this place is just tucked away enough to have a short wait.  Their salsa is served warm with big chunks of onion and tomato, and the picadillo plate is my favorite here.  Breakfast tacos are also outstanding.  BYOB.  205 S. Main, Bryan.

Square One – small intimate bistro in downtown Bryan (and guaranteed to be less crowded than Cafe Eccell).   Another date favorite.  Favorites here include chipotle beef pasta and the shrimp in red curry cream sauce.  Square one recently got a mention in the New York Times if that counts for anything (but they also recommended Mi Cocina, which IMO is just average Tex-Mex). 211 Wm. Joel Bryan Pkwy, Bryan.

Tuscany’s – gelato/coffee shop.  It’s the only place in College Station that serves gelato, do you need another reason?  607 E University Suite 102, College Station.


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