Missed the news about a hotspot that opened recently? With the bar and restaurant scene constantly changing in and around Houston, it can be a challenge to stay on top of it all. Luckily, Houstonia is here to help you stay in the loop (even out of the Loop) and discover new places to dine and imbibe. Here’s an exhaustive guide to (almost) every opening from the last month. Look for upcoming posts about what's coming soon and what's gone for good.
Hakkasan Group, a global force in all things hospitality, is putting its mark on Houston’s evolving culinary scene with the mainland debut of its contemporary teahouse Yauatcha (a Waikiki outpost recently opened too). The elevated Chinese dim sum concept, whose London outpost earned a Michelin star, is situated in the Galleria’s “jewel box” addition at 5045 Westheimer Rd. Expect an exhaustive menu of dumplings and Cantonese dishes, exquisite Euro-inspired sweets, and 24 varieties of Five Mountains Heirloom Organic Tea, including a signature blend exclusive to H-town.
Austin’s highly revered gelateria Dolce Neve has finally arrived. The sweet shop from Marco Silvestrini, his sister Francesca, and her fiancé Leopoldo Ferrarese, landed next door to donut hub Morningstar at 4721 N. Main St. in the Heights. With up to 18 flavors of locally sourced gelato, from classic stracciatella to a goat-cheese-and-blueberry-jam combo, there’s plenty to enjoy. The menu also features sorbets, granitas, and other handmade frozen concoctions like gelato pops.
New school breakfast tacos are at the heart of Tacodeli, the long-awaited Austin-based taqueria, which landed at 1902 Washington Ave. in April. Utilizing locally sourced and organic ingredients when available, the breakfast-and-lunch-only spot has more than 30 tortilla-wrapped varieties on offer, including vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options. Don’t miss the seasonal aguas frescas and horchatas, either; they're made fresh in-house daily.
Just in time for patio season comes Heights Bier Garden, a laid-back beer sanctuary and eatery from nightlife gurus The Kirby Group, now pouring craft brews and draft wines at 1433 N. Shepherd Dr. in the Heights. The bar—one-half of a dual concept that also includes adjacent cocktail bar Worcester’s Annex—is essentially everything patrons adored about its Midtown sister concept Wooster’s Garden, which features 94 taps with over 50 beer options, wines, and ciders. Wine is also “available in kegs,” adding to the bar’s fun, causal atmosphere. As for food, chef Brandon Silva (Uchi) has that covered with shared plates, sandwiches, and housemade sausages.
Adjacent to Heights Bier Garden is cocktail-focused bar Worcester's Annex. With a variety of house cocktails and curated whiskey menu from beverage director Steven Salazar (Anvil, Kata Robata), expect a packed house and patio daily at this hot newcomer.
Bacon Bros. Public House, the swine-obsessed gastropub from South Carolina, has unveiled its first Texas location at 2110 Town Square Place in Sugar Land Town Square. Joseph Zerwas (formerly of local Bourbon & Bacon pop-up fame) leads the kitchen with a menu highlighting Lowcountry southern fare, and of course, a substantial selection of porcine goodness. Indulge in house-cured and smoked meats, alongside a bevy of cocktails and well-chosen whiskey offerings.
The seemingly unstoppable Peli Peli team has rolled out yet another South African concept, this time for downtown denizens. Peli Deli is a nine-month pop-up residing on the street level of the Esperson Building at 808 Travis St., occupying a former Murphy’s Deli. Like its sister eatery Peli Peli Kitchen, the menu here takes a casual approach with a variety of street food-inspired creations: oxtail soup, naan tacos filled with curried chicken and pork belly, grilled steak banh-ninis (think panini-style banh mi), and South African calzones called perogens stuffed with a traditional bobotie. There is also a limited breakfast menu.
A number of eateries opened in March within United’s new C-North terminal, each offering a slew of exciting dining options for hungry travelers. The chef-driven spots include Bam Bam, a Viet-Cajun seafood hub from Cajun Kitchen’s John Nguyen; Ember, a Texas-inspired tavern and eatery from Underbelly’s Chris Shepherd; Pala, an upscale pizzeria from Coltivare’s Ryan Pera; and Vida Taqueria, a Tex-Mex spot and agave bar from El Tiempo’s Roland Laurenzo.
Craft brew fanatics can now enjoy hopped-up faves alongside tasty grub at downtown suds emporium Craft Beer Cellar. After putting the finishing touches on its new kitchen at 907 Franklin St., the beer mecca has tapped Tony Nguyen and Man Dao of Wokker (the food truck formerly known as Wokker TX Ranger). The duo will serve their brand of Asian-Texan cuisine, which includes the much-sought-after Wokker TX Ranger Fries, crafted with smoked brisket, cheddar jack cheese and spicy aioli. Additionally, the menu will offer items exclusive to the beer bar like wing flights featuring spicy tamarind, curry mustard and other saucy flavors.
Drink well while doing good at Throughgood Coffee. The charity-focused coffee shop from Rudy and Juanita Rasmus — the husband-wife team are pastors of St. John’s United Methodist Church Downtown, although to the secular world, they’re better known as Beyoncé and Solange Knowles' spiritual advisors—opened its doors April 15 at 732 W. 27th St. in the Heights area. Aside from caffeinated beverages, other menu items include baked goods and small plates like chicken-and-waffles kabobs, doughnuts, buttermilk biscuits, and scones.
The family of Burns Original BBQ fame, has branched out into the world of burgers with the debut of Burns Burger Shack. Located at 8307 De Priest St., next door to its Bourdain-approved smokehouse, the Acres Homes restaurant is serving up juicy 44 Farms beef patties topped with lettuce, tomatoes and onions (grilled veggies, bacon, cheese, and fried egg are extra), sandwiched between brioche buns. Because no burger is complete without a side of crispy potato sticks, the no-frills joint offers up fresh-cut regular and sweet potato fries for pairing.
The group behind local Thai spots Thai Cottage and Time for Thai recently opened another concept highlighting the Southeast Asian cuisine. Rim Tanon, a modern Thai street food eatery, takes over Upper Kirby sister restaurant Blue Fish House, which shuttered its 2241 Richmond Ave. digs in December. An assorted menu of street fare ranging from curried skewered meats to delicacies like khai luk koei (deep-fried eggs with a tamarind sauce) pair perfectly with any number of Thai beers available.
Fast-casual IndiEats bills itself as a “modern Indian kitchen” with a set up in the same vein as Pei Wei. The open-kitchen concept touts a menu of traditional and fusion Indian dishes such as biryani, kachumber, naan pizza, and its signature customizable Indi Bowl. Patrons pick their protein (lamb, chicken, veggies), spice level, and choice of masalas. The Galleria-area restaurant is located in the former MF Sushi space at 5887 Westheimer Rd., Suite K.
160ft Beerworks, a downtown nanobrewery from husband-wife team Michael and Jennifer Olenic, is the newest addition to Houston’s burgeoning beer scene. Situated a few doors down from James Beard Award-winning chef Justin Yu’s Oxheart at 1310 Nance St., Ste. G, the small-batch brewery has a limited number of beers on tap, including a stout and hefeweizen.
Poke Mania Continues
Following last summer’s successful limited engagement at downtown’s food hall Conservatory at 1010 Prairie St., Casian King food truck owner Tuan Tran trades his former Poké King pop-up moniker for a new one: Moku Bar. Moving into the recently vacated Samurai Noodle space at Conservatory, the trendy food stall serves up cuts of marinated fish atop sushi rice, a spring mix, or choice of quinoa. As for toppings, go with another emerging trend: a dusting of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos or stick with traditional options like masago and furikake. Also on offer are poke towers, tempura dishes, and musubi.
Another restaurant causing a stir among poke obsessives is California import Pokè Bar. Similar to many build-your-own models popping up all over Houston, this Memorial-area shop offers customized bowls with a lengthy list of add-ons and sauces. While sides are limited, diners can switch things up by opting for wonton chips as a base for poke nachos. Pokè Bar replaces Verts at 14555 Memorial Dr., Ste. 500.
As poke madness reaches a fever pitch across the city, a new suburban contender is throwing its hat into the ring. Situated inside Howie’s Tiki at 4334 FM 2920, Suite 100, Hawaiian Poke Co. is the latest to serve up the food trend currently clogging every Houstonian’s Instagram feed. In addition to its eight signature marinated fish bowls, the island-inspired spot also provides a wide-ranging menu stocked with poke fries, poke-stuffed shrimp chips, ahi tacos, musubi, steamed buns, and of course, tiki cocktails.
New Suburban Hotspots
Blockhouse Coffee & Kitchen: This quaint coffee house from owners Aimee and Cody Federick, is quickly establishing itself as a destination for crafted coffee beverages in Richmond’s Historic District. Utilizing locally-roasted beans from Fort Bend Roasters and offering premium loose-leaf teas, Blockhouse is serious about its caffeinated brews. The tiny cafe’s dedication to local craftsmen even extends to its food menu with honey, pastries, and ice cream from community artisans.
Chobani Cafe: A health-focused eatery isn’t the type of place one expects to find in Wal-Mart, but that’s exactly what Greek yogurt specialist Chobani is offering at a new, high-tech test model in Tomball. The yogurt-centric restaurant — the first in Texas, with two additional locations in New York—doles out a variety of Mediterranean-inspired sweet and savory yogurt-based creations, in addition to soups, sandwiches, salads and breakfast bowls. There's also simit—a thin Turkish-style bagel—served daily.
Dosey Doe Breakfast & BBQ: Following its New Year’s Eve closure, Conroe’s Doesy Doe Music Cafe has reopened under a new name further down Interstate 45. Taking over the old Ragin’ Cajun spot in The Woodlands is the barbecue-focused iteration of the popular down-home music venue and eatery. Executive chef Jay Stone (Wicked Whisk, Vallone’s) helms the kitchen, which offers a 16-hour smoked brisket, espresso barbecue pork ribs and a sweet tea-brined smoked chicken. The massive menu also includes breakfast and Southern fare.
Fire & Spice: A new Indian kitchen has taken over Doubledave's Pizzaworks’ vacated space in Webster, where items like Indo-Chinese jalfrezi, butter chicken and grilled kabobs grace the menu. While this newcomer boasts some serious (and wallet-friendly) daily specials, the signature dish, a karahi wok meal served for two, is a popular option.
The Local Bar: The latest concept from the Sharifi/Nowamooz family (Hungry’s, Baba Yega) is this casual gastropub in Katy, a neighbor to Mediterranean sibling Local Table. Menu-wise, patrons can expect small plates, wood-stoned pizzas, burgers and off-the-wall hot dog selections (think a jalapeño mac 'n’ cheese dog with crab cake bites). Swing by for cocktails and weekday happy hour specials. And because this is the age of social media, don’t forget to snap an obligatory selfie under the glowing “KTX” signage.
The Refuge Steakhouse & Bourbon Bar: This new spot for steaks, chops, and whiskey comes from the group behind The Refuge Bar & Bistro in The Woodlands. As the name implies, the steakhouse offers a variety of meaty wood-fired options and a ridiculous amount of Bourbon, alongside seafood dishes and an extensive cocktail menu.
Woodson's Local Tap + Kitchen: While there are no shortage of bars for enjoying local brews in Conroe, this beer-focused neighborhood spot from Sawyer Management Group (Exit 73, Calhoun’s Rooftop) is sure to become a standout. There are 24 beers on tap along with bottled drafts from local breweries Conroe’s B-52 Brewing and Magnolia’s Lone Pint. Additionally, the bar pulls double duty as a gastropub with a Southern bent. Don’t miss the stuffed egg rolls filled with brisket from smoked meat purveyor Feedlot BBQ.