Warm Impermanence

Big Changes Defined Houston's Food Scene Last Month

Relocations, name changes and chef shifts mean more new ways to eat.

By Jakeisha Wilmore June 15, 2017

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Cali Sandwich is back, in the former Crave Sushi space.

There are places we remember—some are gone. Some remain. Are the changes that have taken place among Houston restaurants forever or for better? We'll have to wait and see. But things are certainly different than they were a month ago. Here's how.


TJ Filipino Cuisine recently moved from its longtime Pearland home at 1826 Country Place Parkway, Suite 110 to bigger digs a few doors down within the Country Place Shopping Center. The Filipino restaurant, which also serves a range of Vietnamese dishes, replaces Russo’s New York Pizzeria at 1826 Country Place Parkway, Suite 102.

Cali Sandwich, a bahn mi hub in Midtown, has resurfaced at 2900 Travis, Suite E, in a space previously occupied by Crave Sushi. The Vietnamese eatery closed its former location a block over at 3030 Travis, Suite A, in February (read more about the move in the Houston Press).

After a seven-month residency at Deacon Baldy’s Food Truck Park in Magnolia, Cousins Maine Lobster is relocating to Tomball. Find the Shark Tank-funded rolling kitchen at newly opened 403 Eats Food Truck Park serving up lobster rolls and other crustacean-based fare.

Koala Kolache, a specialty donut and kolache and shop on the northwest side, has moved from its Houston digs at 17415 FM 529 Road, Suite 300 to 14502 Spring Cypress, Suite 300 in Cypress. Find the same inventive menu when doors swing open this month.

Construction is underway on a new restaurant for Le Peep’s Galleria outpost. Currently located at 4702 Westheimer Road, the brunch eatery aims to open its new location at 4340 Westheimer, Suite 100 by late summer. The restaurant will join Eloise Nichols Grill & Liquors and Bosscat Kitchen & Libations in the Westheimer Oaks development.

Katy coffee house Serene Beans has closed its 1512 Avenue C location in preparation for its upcoming move. Look for the java spot to reopen nearby at 1933 East Avenue in July.

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burger-chan is every bit as tasty as Kuma Burger was.

Name Change Game

Following a trademark dispute with an out-of-state restaurant, lunch joint Kuma Burger has changed its name to burger-chan. The Greenway Plaza spot from Willet and Diane Wu Feng grills up killer burgers, hot dogs and fries up of pretty awesome fish sandwiches to boot at 3 Greenway Plaza.

The group behind Koala Kolache, a donut and kolache hub at 17415 FM 529 Road, parted ways in early spring, bringing big changes to the popular northwest Houston spot. In place of Koala Kolache, a similar concept from one previous owner called Karma Kolache, which continues to serve its familiar offerings of donuts and meat-filled baked goods.


Every restaurant has a lifespan, including Shade, the adored Heights eatery from chef/owner Claire Smith which closed its doors in mid-May. But don’t fret, Smith has returned with Alice Blue, a modern bistro-style restaurant in its place. The new concept opened in early June at 250 West 19th Street, with chef Kent Domas (Bernadine’s and Down House) at the helm.

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An expanded kitchen allows you to eat a pig's head at Armadillo Palace.

Image: Alice Levitt

New Additions

Levi Goode’s honky-tonk Armadillo Palace recently rolled out several fresh changes, among them an updated menu with even more delicious offerings. Featured additions include a larger kitchen, an outdoor entertainment space and new whiskey-devoted Orange Blossom Bar.

Kemah’s Sweet Spot & Cafe has added an outdoor space dubbed the Sweet Spot Hangout at its 601 5th Street beachy digs. The green space is  compact and cozy with hammocks and swings for lounging. Grab an ice-cold beer or a frozen wine-a-rita while taking in the laid-back vibes.


After closing the doors of its 8790 FM 1960 Bypass Road West location in December, Cafe Rian Cajun Café is back in action. Located now at 10920 Will Clayton Parkway in Humble, this mom-and-pop restaurant continues to serve up home-style Louisiana fare and wine-based hurricanes to-go under its new name, Cafe Rian Cajun Café Xpress.

Longing for the day to sink your teeth into a Texas-style cheesesteak from Texadelphia again? The wait is nearly over. After closing up shop in Houston, the beloved Philly cheesesteak-inspired joint returns with its first Bayou City location since 2015. Look for doors to open soon in the Westside Plaza strip at 8383 Westheimer, Suite 114.

Udipi Café is reopening in Katy after closing its 943 South Mason location last year. The vegetarian-focused Indian restaurant is moving further down the road at 2400 South Mason, Suite A1, in the former Red Oak Grill space within Royal Montreal Plaza.

Kitchen Overhauls

After eight years heading the kitchen of Brennan's of Houston, chef Danny Trace takes on a new role as executive chef for Jim Crane’s downtown dual Italian restaurants —casual trattoria Osso & Kristalla and high-end Potente at 500 Crawford Street.

Chef Joe Cervantez, previously of Killen’s Steakhouse, returns to Brennan's of Houston, filling the shoes of former executive chef Danny Trace. Prior to heading the culinary operations at Ronnie Killen’s upscale Pearland restaurant, Cervantez served under Trace as sous chef at Brennan’s for four years.  

Filling the vacancy left by Joe Cervantez, chefs Steve Huang (Del Frisco’s, Grazia, and Peska Seafood & Steaks) and Graham Laborde (Bernadine’s) join Ronnie Killen’s eponymous Pearland steakhouse

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