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Food News: Welcome Chef Incubator Decatur Bar

Plus, The Woodlands gets a modern Italian restaurant.

By Timothy Malcolm January 14, 2019

A few months ago we reported on a new concept called Vinegar Hill, which was to incubate up-and-coming Houston chefs while promising a high-level beverage program. That name changed to Decatur Bar & Pop-Up Factory, and it is now open.

Set in the former Beavers space, the concept starts with a bar helmed by Leslie Krockenberger (Reserve 101, Moving Sidewalk, Aqui), where original cocktails and rotating chef cocktails fit alongside chef-made bar bites and standard noshing fare (cheese boards, olives, hummus). For dinner, the chef-in-residence takes over, and for the first few months it's Evelyn Garcia, a Houston-born chef who made her mark in New York before returning home. She's presenting four-course, family-style meals, and you may see hints of her Latina heritage and her travels to southeast Asia within the dishes. The first menus are highlighted by chu che curry, Thai-style fried chicken, and a milk tea cake. 

Decatur promises to also be a co-working space  and a pop-up incubator during the week with workshops, special events, and more. Hours for the bar are 4-11 p.m. Sunday, Tuesday-Thursday; and 4 p.m.-1 a.m. Friday-Saturday. There will be two dinner servings each on Friday and Saturday evenings (6 and 8:30 p.m.).

Hopdoddy Burger Bar is continuing its Houston expansion with a move to the Heights. Its newest location at Houston Heights Waterworks (449 W. 19th St, #D100) will open Jan. 21. Hopdoddy has already opened locations in Rice Village and River Oaks. Hours in the Heights are 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday.

Urban Bricks, a San Antonio-based chain, has arrived in the Westside area at 12161 Westheimer Road. You can build your own pizza, panini, salad, or pasta for one flat price. Gelato, wings, and dessert pizzas also on offer. It's open 11 a.m.-10 p.m. daily.

Up in The Woodlands, a new Italian concept has taken flight. Sorriso Modern Italian Kitchen is open at the Westin at the Woodlands, promising a contemporary take on neighborhood trattoria fare. Italian chef Enzo Fargione is running the kitchen here, handling dishes like papparadelle short rib ragu, grilled branzino, and braised veal ossobuco, plus pizza, burrata, and plenty of cured meats and Italian cheeses.

Though we're already enjoying the third of five concepts at Chris Shepherd's One Fifth, the restaurant is only now celebrating two years. And on Jan. 29, that occasion will be marked with a big party with some old friends. The crew at One Fifth is assembling a special Sightseeing Tour with dishes from all three One Fifth concepts. You'll get 44 Farms ribeye, braised lamb, 18-month prosciutto, tuna tartare, Katafi cheesecake, and much more. The price is $85. 

Will 2019 be the year of mezcal, like it should be? Harold's in the Heights has some thoughts, as it's hosting a mezcal dinner at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 17.  Come for a five-course meal that includes duck confit sopesitos, sopa de Elote, beef short rib tamale, carne al pastor en el anafre, and a candied lime tart. All course come with a mezcal cocktail pairing. Dinner is $85 per person plus tax and gratuity. Reserve here.

¡Txotx! (pronounced chōch) is coming! The third annual festival celebrating the Basque region's delights is scheduled for Jan. 18-31, and a collection of some of Houston's top wine bars (13 Celsius, Camerata at Paulie's, Light Years) and restaurants (Nancy's Hustle, Brennan's, Nobie's, BCN, Uchi) are taking part with tastings, events, and parties. Check Camerata at Paulie's for information.

Running the Houston Marathon on Sunday? After putting your body through the 26.2-mile test, hop (or gently be carried) over to Shake Shack, which is offering a complimentary shake with any in-store purchase if you have a racing bib. Offer only good on Sunday at all Houston locations.

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