J&J Seafood Market
Jeff Balke
J & J is ostensibly a seafood market, with fresh flounder, red snapper, bass, shrimp and scallops on ice. More so, it bustles with eager customers lined up for the exceptional Gulf Coast-style fried fish, shrimp, and oyster dinners and combos. You get a choice of trout, drum, red, catfish or tilapia, and a large piece of it with three shrimp and french fries will cost $6.69. It doesn't stop there, with a menu of egg rolls, shrimp fried rice, gumbo, boudin balls and deep-fried everything else. You can watch the fresh fish being cleaned while you wait, and if you want to cook it yourself, there's a huge selection of any seafood seasoning that Texas and Louisiana have to offer. Reminds you why you live here.
Giacomo's Cibo e Vino
Everything about Giacomo's whispers romance, but not in that cheesy Harlequin sense. It's effortlessly and casually romantic, just as you'd want your date to be. Fairy lights twinkle in the canopy of the sweet little patio; the wine bar is dimly lit and well-stocked with Italian classics; the dining room is low-slung and moddish; and the small plates of elegant (and surprisingly inexpensive) food are meant to be shared, leading to plenty of Lady and the Tramp-style moments along the way as you both go for that last little chard-filled raviolo and lock eyes.
The Tel-Wink Grill
Dawn McGee
Mel's Country Cafe is a family-run establishment off the beaten path in Tomball that delivers on all the name implies. Diner tables fill the ranch house and add to the comfort factor when you step in. A 16-ounce chicken-fried steak anchors a menu that offers home-style victuals like greens, fried okra and catfish. The servers operate with a relaxed ease about them that you'd expect to find in the Tomball area. What could be homier than that?
Cafe Mawal
Photo by Troy Fields
Dining at Café Mawal, you can pretend you're in the ancient country. Not only does it serve authentically Jordanian food — think grilled beef and chicken kebabs and light salads like fattoush — it also offers a unique dining experience inside its traditional Bedouin tent, made of goat hide and draped with traditional textiles. Take your meal and hookah into the tent, relaxing on the ground, and you just might think you're in Amman for the evening.

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