Drive up Yale Street in the Heights, and you'll see that almost every major intersection is now occupied with restaurants and bars filled almost around the clock. On 6th and 7th are Better Luck Tomorrow and Postino, respectively. Then there's Local Foods and Melange Creperie before Dish Society, Lola, Eight Row Flint, and La Calle Onze on 11th Street.
But for a long time, there were crickets on the next intersection, 14th and Yale. Sure, the Happy All Cafe stood ground, but on a weekend night, you'd be hard-pressed to find more than one table occupied. 14th and Yale was without gustatory pleasures: a vacant building, a car wash, a music repair shop.
Things are about to change in that respect. We're weeks, if not days, from the opening of Savoir, a wine-focused restaurant anchoring one of the corners of the intersection, and its neighboring wine bar and retailer, La Grande Rue. And just across the street, in the old Happy All Cafe space, will be Taqo Mexican Kitchen and Tequileria, whose team is anticipating a September 1 opening.
First, Savoir and La Grande Rue. Brian Doke, formerly of Tiny Boxwoods, owns and operates both businesses. The former will feature a robust wine list leaning on classic old-world styles, pairing with it Asian- and European-inspired plates that will change seasonally. Chef Micah Rideout (formerly Reef, Potente) aims to deliver on the global flavors, though you’ll also find brick-oven pizza, burgers, pasta, and other comfort food.
As for the space, a large bar welcomes patrons upon entering. A dining room is off to the side, along with a third, more private space. Savoir will also have outdoor seating on a Yale Street patio.
Think of neighboring La Grande Rue as a separate wine experience from Savoir. You’ll get a geekier, more eclectic wine vibe here, and a different food menu from Savoir with about 15 plates. La Grande Rue has its own bar in a long, narrower space, and 50 seats total. You can also purchase wine to take home here.
“To have this kind of flexibility in a wine bar is awesome,” says Doke.
As for Taqo, look for between 15 and 20 tacos—the usual meats, plus goat, and seafood and vegan options—along with Mexican sides, in a colorful space with a front patio. A full bar will feature beer, liquor, and various tequilas, including two—likely a blanco and reposado—from an agave plant harvested especially for Taqo.
Hector de Los Santos, one of the partners of Taqo, says while his fare will be at a slightly higher price point than your typical Houston taco, he promises high ingredient quality.
“Our food will be very fresh. We’re not going to freeze our meat, we’re buying the day of, or the day before,” says de Los Santos. “We’re making our tortillas in house, too.”
Get ready for a big change at one of the Heights’s most curious intersections, y'all. It'll be fun to watch.