We are often asked how I find the fantastic restaurants we write about. Google or friends, that’s it. No magic skill, no insider information, just searching online or hearing about them from a friend or someone I come in contact with during my day.
Sometimes my searches result in places that aren’t blog-worthy, and others, like The Frio Hill Country Grill, are like striking gold. A bonus is that it’s located relatively close to where we live in Cypress, which means we don’t have to fight the crazy Houston traffic.
The Frio Hill Country Grill is more than a restaurant. It’s a destination. From the minute you drive up, you know that you are somewhere that is going to be a fun dining experience. It’s a laid back, casual place that doesn’t take itself too seriously but the food, well that’s a whole different story. The restaurant is a renovated 1907 ranch house that still holds a lot of the charm of the original building, which makes it even more special.
From the quirky decor to the cornhole games and outdoor picnic tables, Frio Grill has something for everyone. If you’re a fan of vintage auto memorabilia, you’ll love Frio Grill. It starts with the old gas pumps outside and spills over to the inside, where there are vintage car hoods mounted to the walls and light fixtures made from antique oil cans. Everywhere you look, there is something new to discover.
The staff at Frio made us feel right at home with more than a warm greeting. They are so upbeat and look like they are genuinely having a great time at work, something that makes the experience even more fun.
We were lucky enough to have visited before the crazy cold weather hit our area, so they opened up the restaurant like a beach house. This made it feel like we were eating outside without actually being outside, a treat for sure.
The menu is both fun and diverse with choices ranging from West Texas Quail Bites as appetizers to entrees like West Texas Pecan Crusted Bourbon Chicken. Do you see a theme here? Many of the ingredients on the menu are locally sourced right here in Texas, which makes for wonderfully fresh dishes. Choosing just one item from the menu is both frustrating and challenging since there are so many tasty options to choose from but worth every bit of the work.
Once our server brought us our drinks, told us about the specials, and gave us some recommendations, we finally decided on an appetizer. We were still several minutes away from having our minds made up on our entrees.
One thing about trying new places is that you never know just what you’re going to get when you order. We always try to order something that we have not had before, but we don’t get too crazy. First, we aren’t that daring when it comes to food, and second, nothing ruins a great night out faster than food you don’t like or can’t eat. That wasn’t the case with our appetizer at all, Wild Boar Empanadas.
If you’re not familiar with what an Empanada is, here’s a quick lesson. Empanadas originated in Spain and are prevalent in Latin America. They are sort of like a fried pie but better. They are filled with all kinds of things ranging from sweet to savory and then deep-fried to golden deliciousness.
The Empanadas at Frio are beyond anything we have ever tasted. The meat is perfectly seasoned and slow-cooked, so it’s like having a pulled pork, deep-fried sandwich. Who would say no to that?
After we got over the initial shock of eating such a delectable appetizer, we were ready to order our entrees. Since I’m trying to behave and eat more healthy foods, I decided that Seadrift Shrimp Tacos would be not only healthy but different. I love a good fish taco, so shrimp in a taco had to be better, right? ABSOLUTELY!
The Seadrift Shrimp Tacos are soft corn tortillas generously filled with beautifully cooked gulf shrimp-is there any other kind? They then add a crunchy, tangy slaw, which is perfect for cooling off the spices, so the heat isn’t unbearable. The addition of a cilantro cream sauce and pickled onions make each bite perfection. Added to the plate is a serving of cilantro lime rice that is the best I’ve ever had and black beans that round out the entree wonderfully.
I have had a lot of fish tacos in different places in the U.S. and abroad, and I must say that the shrimp tacos at Frio are now at the top of my list for the best. The combination of spices on the shrimp and the cooling of the slaw and cream are perfectly matched to ensure that no bite is overpowering. I really have only one word for them – AMAZING!
Being married to a true Texan, I have come to accept that Charlie will almost always order a steak if there is one on the menu. That’s just the kind of guy he is. So when he was looking over the menu, I just had a feeling he was going to go for the Cast Iron 44 Farms Butcher Steak, and I was right.
This 10-ounce center-cut piece of beef joy is perfectly cooked to order, in Charlie’s case, medium-rare. It is then topped with a chili-lime butter that, according to Charlie, matches the steak perfectly. Add on a serving of garlic mashed potatoes and perfectly cooked green beans, not from a can I might note, and you have a heavenly plate of food for a Texan man.
Sometimes, especially when I’ve had a great meal, it’s hard to find room for dessert. This meal was one of those times. Between the fantastic appetizer and the super tasty and filling shrimp tacos, I was having a hard time figuring out just where in my tummy I was going to fit anything more. Not to mention, I am trying to diet and lose some poundage, and dessert wouldn’t help my cause at all.
Of course, those thoughts flew out of my mind as soon as our server started talking about dessert options. I still wanted to stick with something light, so we decided to go for the Prickly Pear Sorbet with seasonal fruit. I know it sounds a little odd, Prickly Pear Sorbet, but I promise you, IT IS SO GOOD! Would I lie to you about dessert?
The sorbet is made from the fruit of the Prickly Pear cactus, which grows here in Texas, making it lovely and fresh. Mixed with seasonal blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries, and it was a low cal sweet treat in every bite. My only issue was that I couldn’t have a huge vat of it to take home.
After we recovered from the overload of amazing flavors on our taste buds, we ventured outside to check out the property. Along with the restaurant itself, there is another building aptly called the Barn, where they provide live music, dancing, and another bar.
There are also two outside common areas at The Barn where folks can hang out, chat, drink, eat, and just have an overall great time. They have fun events and live bands throughout the year, so be sure and sign up for their emails or follow them on social media.
The Frio Hill Country Grill is the type of place that you meet old friends, make new friends, or take those family members that love to have a great time and eat great food. It’s unpretentious, fun, lively, all while serving some of the most amazing food without being uptight about it. It will stay on our shortlist of great places to eat and introduce friends to for a very long time.