Wandering aimlessly down Rice Blvd. will lead you in either of two directions: into Hermann Park, or to a place where great food, wine and class meet: Ruggles Café and Bakery in the Rice Village. Quite a popular establishment, Ruggles offers some of the best food in Houston and uses the finest and freshest ingredients.
The downside of its popularity is that the line is often out the door. Luckily, superb service makes the daunting wait fly by with a quick and accurate cashier staff and a simply amazing cooking staff that turns out orders quickly. On days when the line is doable and the weather is beautiful, customers can take the patio seating and even bring their own wine. The café will provide glasses for free.
With a bustling environment that seems more like a beehive than a restaurant, Ruggles is the prime destination for delicious homemade soup and fresh salads. Their soup offerings include black bean with goat cheese and bacon, tomato basil and vegetarian vegetable. Those craving a fresh garden salad can try the satisfying small side salad, the spinach Cobb salad or the award-winning chicken tostada salad. The soup and sandwich combo features half of any sandwich and a cup of soup, for a perfect light lunch. With a price that won't break the bank, patrons are sure to leave with full pockets and, even better, full bellies. Definitely a great deal!
The sandwiches range from the simple smoked turkey and Swiss, with cranberry-orange alioli - a mayonnaise flavored with garlic and other spices - on soft sourdough bread, to the elaborate grilled chicken wrap, filled with fresh mozzarella, lettuce and tomato in a spinach tortilla covered in ranch dressing and spicy mango chipotle sauce.
Meatier offerings include the 91-percent lean meat buffalo burger with fresh mozzarella on a whole wheat bun, the roasted pork loin sandwich with caramelized onions and mango chipotle mayonnaise and the eight-ounce prime Angus burger. Both time-honored favorites and new twists are delicious, but the selling point of Ruggles is the choice the restaurant offers: All wraps can be made into sandwiches, and all sandwiches can be made into wraps.
Sandwiches aren't for everyone, though, and Ruggles also offers an impressive array of pastas. In particular, the southwest pasta is to die for, containing goat cheese, bacon, spicy salsa and grilled chicken, mixed into a pile of fettuccine pasta. It has a delightfully spicy and bold flavor, and customers can add grilled shrimp for a delicious double-meat combination of poultry and seafood. If the meals still aren't jazzed up enough for you, you can create your own masterpiece at the thoughtfully organized and tidy self-service station.
Patrons should also make sure to check out the Ruggles dessert gallery. This three-windowed display of sugary delights is a marvel to behold and includes such fares as the vanilla bean parfait with raspberries, the red velvet cake, several kinds of cheesecakes, the German chocolate cake and the berry ripple cake. Try the new strawberry bomb, made with a delicate angel food cake, mascarpone cheese, whipped cream and tons of fresh strawberries. Those who don't want cake may prefer death, and at Ruggles, death comes in the form of four-inch cookies, available in chocolate chip, white chocolate Macadamia, oatmeal raisin, peanut butter, double chocolate chip and Reese's peanut butter cup. Definitely save room.
Ruggles offers some of the best food and the best variety for the price in the Rice area. Rice University students with a HedgeHopper card gets students a 10% discount on Monday and Tuesday. A picnic basket in Hermann Park will never give you so many options.
Pros: Wonderful Food, Great Location, BYOB, Variety
Cons: Long Lines, A Little Pricey