Less than three short months after El Gran Malo closed its doors on Ella Blvd., chef Kevin Naderi is close to opening Lillo & Ella in the very same space on Tuesday, May 20—albeit after an extensive remodel.
Lillo & Ella
2307 Ella Blvd.
Gone is the lime green exterior and cherry red front door; gone is the extensive Mexican mural inside and the wall of tequila infusions that were El Gran Malo's signature (though the tequila has been relocated to its new downtown location at El Big Bad on Travis St.).
In their place, you'll find a relocated front door and a newly enclosed patio that seats 65 with bright hues of orange and robin's egg blue among the crisp whites and Scandanavian wood tones. Inside, you'll find more of the same, along with a bar that seats 20 (prepare to jostle for space as fans line up for Aaron Lara's cocktails and punches) and a large dining room full of dark tabletops and stark white bowls carrying what Naderi is calling "pan-Asian street food."
According to Lillo & Ella's lunch menu and its dinner menu, this includes dishes such as Thai muu noodles tossed with ground pork, chile peppers, herbs, and lime and skewers of green onion chicken livers or yogurt and curry shrimp. A "shared bites" section on the dinner menu includes plates of charred eggplant lettuce wraps and blue crab fried rice with Chinese sausage. And—as befitting the chef who made cauliflower the talk of the town at his flagship restuarant, Roost—there is a cauliflower dish as well: a curried cauliflower and barley salad with wilted spinach and a tamarind dressing, available at both lunch and dinner.
Speaking of Roost, fans may notice a few differences between Naderi's two restaurants: unlike Roost, Lillo & Ella will be open at lunch—which means that's where you'll find Naderi most days, before he takes off back to his Montrose restaurant for dinner service each night. There's also the fact that the menu at Lillo & Ella hews much closer to a single aesthetic than the wonderfully rambling, internationally inspired menu at Roost. Explains Naderi of this new path: "I just love Asian food."
Luckily for him, so does Houston.