Food & Drink

The Best Restaurants in College Station

While Big Texas (read: Houston, Austin, and Dallas) usually gets all of the culinary attention, there’s a little ol’ town in the heart of Brazos Valley that’s worthy of some accolades, too. Yep, we’re talking about College Station: home to Texas A&M University, the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum, and more than a few damn-good restaurants. Whether you’re visiting for a big game or are a full-time dweller with a spirit can ne'er be told, here’s where to find the best places to eat in all of Aggieland (and beyond). Gig ‘em!

Dixie Chicken

Local institution offering cheap burgers, cold beers and tradition
An Aggieland stalwart since 1974, this no-frills burger and beer bar is a place to which the locals flock, so much so that it once snagged itself a spot on our list of the 33 best college bars in America. Order a pitcher off the tap list and dunk your college ring in it for good luck (tradition being tradition, and all); then take down the Chicken’s beloved burgers and Tijuana fries, which are basically cheese fries with a side of ranch, but points for creativity.

Fuego Tortilla Grill

Where you’ll find scratch-made tacos and breakfast, all day and night
Craving an omelette in the middle of the night? No problem: this A&M hotspot serves all-day breakfast, and is open nearly 24/7 (the place is closed on Mondays, but that’s the weakest weekday anyway). Head here for badass chicken & waffles and hot-off-the-grill tortillas stuffed with bacon, potatoes, carne guisada, and eggs; or eschew breakfast altogether and dive headfirst into monster tacos and top-notch queso with roasted poblanos.

MAD Taco

Modern taqueria revolutionizing the taco meal
The self-proclaimed “Ferrari of tacos” skyrockets its eats to the next level by making everything from scratch, including the house-made tamale bread that provides the base of your tacos, and the roasted and smoked jalapeño syrup that you should most definitely make a part of your margarita experience. Head to either of its two locations to get the noteworthy numbers stuffed with fun stuff like chili oil and braised pork, blackened grouper and remoulade, and jerk chicken with pineapple pico.

Garpez Authentic Mexican Food

A taste of Mexican nostalgia, from the inside a gas station
Don’t be fooled by its appearance; this teeny kitchen inside a Shell station serves up real deal Mexican tacos in their most delicious form. Go for chorizo and egg, carne guisada, and shredded & spiced barbacoa stuffed inside fat handmade tortillas, just as it should be.

Layne's Chicken Fingers

Serving crazy-good chicken fingers that are “soon to be famous”
Now with three locations, this zero-frills spot has been feeding Aggies since 1994 (which we’re guessing is way before you arrived on the scene). Celebrate the icon by spending your hard-earned cash on its chicken finger, tangy secret dipping sauce, and Texas toast combo, which somehow continues to stay budget-friendly despite the fact that you’ll likely end up eating a box every single day of the week.

Veritas Wine & Bistro

Classy French-American-Asian bistro with sex appeal
A night out at this moody, sexy bistro will totally impress whoever it is you’re trying really, really hard to impress -- just make sure you’re ready to shell out a bit of cash. You won’t mind parting with those dollars for a crack at its tasty new American plates, from a crispy seafood roll and miso-brushed sea bass to truffled mac & cheese and a seriously beautiful, marbled Wagyu.

Grub Burger Bar

Coast to coast burgers from a former Aggie
This Aggieland staple is so damn good it even managed to gain fans outside the college town, with outposts in places like Dallas, Houston, California, and Florida. Head to the original location to bond (or responsibly disagree) with the football-loving crowd over craft pints and flavorful burgers. Here, the beef bombs are made with a fresh ground blend of chuck and brisket, then served on fresh buns along with toppings like mac & cheese and pulled teriyaki pork. Finish it up with a hand-spun boozy shake, because those are never not a good idea.

Fargo’s Pit BBQ

Texas ‘que where the crusty bark is as big as its bite
This unassuming BBQ joint is just outside the city in Bryan, and earned itself a coveted place in Texas Monthly’s “50 Best Barbecue Joints in the World” a few years back. That’s no small feat, but it was well-deserved thanks to pitmaster Alan Caldwell’s magical barbecue with a side of soul. Crack through the crusty bark on the brisket to reach the exceedingly tender smoked meat hidden beneath -- you’ll want it moist, not lean -- and caveman the hell out of some unctuous spare ribs while you’re at it.

The Republic Steakhouse

Aggieland’s finest steakhouse experience
Now in its newer, shinier building, College Station’s most excellent steakhouse boasts a handsome interior and extensive selection of wines and whiskies, as any excellent steakhouse should. That being said, it’s the perfect place to dine when someone else is footing the bill. Sit in one of the leather-backed Hollywood booths and start with oysters (served on-the-half-shell or chicken-fried, because this is Texas) before going ham on some beef, with sea salt and cracked pepper seasoned cuts that melt in your mouth alongside house-smoked mashed potatoes and maple-bacon sprouts. There’s even chicken-fried filet mignon... because again, this is Texas.

Harvey Washbangers

Where you can eat, drink, and do laundry
Make mom proud as you show off your multitasking skills at this fun and funky laundromat- gastropub hybrid. The menu is simple, with sloppy burgers, sandwiches, and “dawgs” loaded with things like chorizo, root beer pulled pork, and Frito pie. Come to think of it, you may want to do your laundry after you drip the Frito pie all over your shirt.

Hullabaloo Diner

Triple D-approved joint with cakes and pies sent from the heavens above
Sure, Guy Fieri has already christened the place, but we won’t hold that against it. You shouldn’t either, because if you did you’d be missing out on some grade-A greasy spoon classics. Hit the diner to fill up on everything from biscuits & gravy and green chili burgers to the house favorite Train Wreck Fries, smothered in blue cheese, buffalo ranch, chives, and bacon. Oh, and the pies. THE PIES.

Porters Dining and Butcher

New American steakhouse where smoke and fire meet fine meats
Located at Century Square, this steakhouse makes good use of oak, mesquite, and hickory woods. You’ll see that (or taste it, rather) as you dive into its Prime ribeyes, filets, and NY strips. Pair those with wood-grilled broccolini, crispy fries, and good-ass mac’ and cheese; or try out specialties like the Gulf Redfish almondine or balsamic-braised 44 Farm Short Rib with bone marrow stuffed agnolotti.

Madden’s Casual Gourmet

Next-level casual fare in downtown Bryan
Proudly owned and operated by Aggies (and since 2016, that includes Chef Tai Lee of Veritas), this come-as-you-are spot hosts a lineup of wine dinners, beer events, and chef collaborations, plus a familiar menu of everyday classics with a twist. Go for Wagyu burgers smashed with brie, blackberry, and jalapeño, braised short rib enchiladas with black bean risotto, and fried macaroni and cheese.

Amico Nave

Italian eats just like your Nonna makes (if your Nonna is a good cook)
You’ll want to save room for dessert at this Bryan Italian spot, because it comes in the form of dreamy tiramisu, lemon basil panna cotta, and Sicilian-style cannoli with chocolate chip cream. Before that, though, you’ll have yourself an Italiano feast stacked with fried calamari, wine-soaked mussels, bucatini bolognese, veal marsala, and a pizza made with vodka sauce. Hope you’re hungry.

MESS Waffles

Cult-favorite waffle truck gone brick-and-mortar
Over in Century Square, this homegrown spot is bringing its wafflest A-game. The former food truck dishes out a beautiful mess of all-day waffles, plus overloaded toasts and mac & cheeses. Dig into twice-breaded fried chicken & waffles with spicy honey and maple aioli, Nutella-smothered French toast, and oh-so-ooey and gooey bbq brisket mac and cheese.

Christopher’s World Grille

High-end dining destination worth saving your pennies for
Broke student or not, you’ll want to make it to this Bryan institution at least once while you’re in town. Set in a beautiful, century-old Texas ranch house (and with an uber-relaxing patio to boot), Christopher’s delivers Lone Star charm by the forkful. Take the Texas Spoon Drop Crab Cake, for instance, finished with grilled shrimp and cayenne butter; or the Mission District Chicken, queso, spinach, and chorizo-stuffed in a guajillo chile sauce.

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Brooke Viggiano is a Houston-based writer who wouldn’t mind getting lost in Aggieland for a while. Gig her @BrookeViggiano or on IG @brookiefafa