In our series of Must Do Things Around Greater Houston, we take a look at Houston’s vast array of neighborhoods to bring you five fun, tasty, and enticing reasons you should give each a visit. Originally published in 2016, we are now refreshing, updating, and adding to this series, including new neighborhoods and destinations.
The Tomball area was first settled in the mid-1800s when pioneers from Europe found the fertile land to be perfect for farming and raising cattle. Because the topography gently sloped from the low Texas hills to the flat coastal plains of the Gulf, it also made an ideal spot for a train stop. So in the early 1900s, Texas politician Thomas Henry Ball (Tom Ball, get it?) convinced the Trinity and Brazos Valley Railroad of that fact, and a game-changing railroad stop was built. Soon after, hotels, mercantile stores, and saloons popped up and then came the oil and gas industry boom.
Over the years, Tomball continued to grow into the bustling, small city that it is today, a perfect compromise between big city life and the quiet countryside. From a place serving craft chocolate and smoked meat to the historic train depot, there’s plenty to do and see in this neighborhood.
Note: For the purposes of this list, Tomball is defined by the area covered in this map.
5 Must Do Things in Tomball
- Double your pleasure at Tejas Chocolate & Barbecue – Not only does Tejas Chocolate Craftory make some seriously excellent artisan chocolates, it also makes some seriously excellent barbecue (as confirmed by its No. 6 status in Texas Monthly’s “10 Best BBQ Joints in Texas” list). Hit the dual concept to grab truffles and chocolates in unique flavors like jalapeño fig and key lime pie, then fill up on barbecue salt-and-pepper-kissed, fat-rendered smoked brisket, and ribs by the pound, plus some chocolate bread pudding with cajeta caramel sauce for good measure. Click here for directions.
- Explore Old Town Tomball – You should definitely check out Tomball’s historic downtown when it hosts yearly events including the Tomball German Heritage Festival and Tomball German Christmas Market, but it’s also fun to stroll through year-round. There’s music venue Main Street Crossing, where you’ll find a calendar of live jams alongside pub grub and drinks. You can also tour historic homes and buildings at the Tomball Museum Center or check out the family-friendly Railroad Depot. And when you’ve worked up an appetite, hit Jane and John Dough Bakery for an all-star breakfast and delectable in-season pies, enjoy tea sandwiches and raspberry cream cake at Whistle Stop Tea Room, smash brisket and ribs at the aforementioned Tejas Chocolate & Barbecue, or unwind with wine and cheese at The Empty Glass, a rustic chic wine bar and tasting room with a true Texas feel.
- Take the Mega Mel Challenge at Mel’s Country Cafe – You may be tempted to get the incredible, bigger-than-the-plate chicken fried steak on nearly every visit to Mel’s (as you should be), but you have to try the greasy spoon’s crazy burger challenge at least once in your lifetime. The challenge works like this: finish the burger plate, featuring one and a half pounds of ground beef, a full pound of bacon, quarter pound of cheese and all the trimmings, in under 2 hours without help (and be able to walk and talk without getting sick), and you’ll earn yourself eternal glory. Oh, and a highly-coveted spot on the wall. Click here for directions.
- Pick your own fruit at Matt Family Orchard – This family-owned and operated orchard boasts 40-acres of fruit and berries, including blueberries, blackberries, figs, dates, and pears. Hit it to pick-your-own fruit by the pound, enjoy a fun family picnic, purchase fruit trees, or experience special events like October’s Harvest Festival, complete with a pumpkin patch. Fruit picking hours are seasonal depending on fruit availability. Check the estimated picking schedule and call the fruit hotline at 281-351-7676 for current hours and days. The orchard is also available for tours ($10 per person), featuring a hayride around the wooded, 145-acre grounds, all year long. Click here for directions.
- Shop local at the Tomball Farmers Market – This rain-or-shine market is open Saturdays year-round. Show up early for the best selection of goods from over 50 vendors, featuring local produce, pasture-raised meats, farm fresh eggs, cheeses, seafood, and artisan treats like gourmet jams and local honey, freshly-baked bread and handmade pasta, local coffee, and fiery salsas. Saturdays 9am to 1pm. Click here for directions.