RESTAURANTS ARE OPENING THEIR DINING ROOMS ONCE AGAIN.
On May 1, they were allowed to start doing it, as long as they maintained a maximum guest occupancy of 25 percent of normal occupancy and followed multiple guidelines to keep customers and staff members safe. Some establishments unlocked their doors and rolled out the carpet immediately, and nearly two weeks later, it seems we're amid a second wave of openings.
What this says, at least to this observer, is that people are growing more confident that restaurants can operate safely. The risks remain high—provisional data from Texas Health and Human Services show that statewide, neither daily new cases of COVID-19 nor fatalities have slowed—but there are numerous considerations restaurant owners and operators must take when weighing their options.
If you're hoping to eat inside a restaurant (or on its patio), we're updating this master list semi-regularly. But here's the latest news, focusing on this second wave of openings we're seeing:
The popular Meyerland bagel purveyor and java pourer is back at 40 percent capacity (it's how they can maintain proper social distancing in the space). Guests are being asked to call ahead, and parties are limited to six. Each table has sanitization products and disposable menus. Open 8 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Friday-Sunday. And if you just want a bagel, head to the Bagel Shop Bakery next door, open 6 a.m.-6 p.m. daily. One customer at a time allowed inside.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, chef Chris Shepherd announced plans to turn One Fifth into a "lightning round" where menus were apt to change frequently. That's no longer the case, as Shepherd pivoted, deciding to feature a cuisine he did pretty darn well in a previous iteration. You can sit in the dining room for meat from the fire, dips, and mezzes like taboon-roasted tomato and kibbeh nayyeh starting Friday, as it opens at 50 percent capacity. Open 4-10 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, noon-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday, and noon-8 p.m. Sunday.
Speaking of Shepherd, his steakhouse will be up and running starting Friday at 50 percent capacity. You'll get the usual 44 Farms steaks, King crab legs, and the lunch items like GJ Burger. That said, lunch service will not be available just yet, as Georgia James will be open 5-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 5-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday. Curbside pick-up is ongoing.
Ford Fry's River Oaks restaurant - known for a menagerie of global flavors and some tasty East Coast oysters - is back, keeping parties limited to six or less. Reserve a table online or by phone. Hours are 4:30-8:30 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 4:30-9 p.m. Friday-Saturday.
Keeping with Fry, the dining room is open at his restaurant that serves as a love letter to the Gulf Coast. Get oysters, crab legs, and some awesome fried chicken, open 4:30-8:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday and 4:30-9 p.m. Friday-Saturday. Like at State of Grace, groups must be kept to a six-person maximum, and reservations can be made over phone or online. You can walk in, but only for seating on the patio and at the bar. (Superica, next door to La Lucha, has also opened its dining room; hours are 4:30-8:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday-Saturday, and 11:30 a.m.-8:30 p.m. Sunday.)
Kenny & Ziggy's New York Delicatessen
Craving a slice of Times Square with those loaded sandwiches and enormous platters of corned beef, roast turkey, and chicken Astoria? The restaurant's Post Oak location is back in business for dine-in service, open 8 a.m.-9 p.m. daily. Reservations are a must, and you can do them over Yelp No Wait (download the app). K&Zs is also requiring all guests to wear masks until reaching their table and to order food from a website over smartphones. Mealtimes are limited to 75 minutes. Guests may also be asked to have their temperatures taken.
The very popular Kata is back with 84 seats, adhering to social distancing guidelines. Lunch is available noon–2:30 p.m. daily, and dinner will be 5–10:30 p.m. Sun–Thurs and 5–11 p.m. Fri–Sat, with table times limited to 60 minutes at lunch and 90 minutes at dinner. Reservations are required. Curbside service continues for lunch and dinner.
The popular concepts taking on the traditions and cuisines of Madrid and Barcelona, respectively, are welcoming visitors once again. BCN opened its doork recently, while MAD opened shortly after. To-go operations are now underway at both restaurants, and according to the team there, it might be a regular fixture going forward.
Speaking of restaurants in the River Oaks District, the duo of Atlas Restaurant Group concepts are open. According to the team there, it was as busy as it could be over the first weekend. Ouzo Bay and Loch Bar are continuing on with 25 percent occupancy and safety measures in place.
As of May 10, all locations of Mala Sichuan are back. The Montrose and Chinatown locations are open six days a week (closed Tuesday), while the Katy Asian Town spot is 11 a.m.–10 p.m. daily. To-go and delivery services continue.
Both locations of the popular burger and shake restaurant are back open under the 25 percent capacity rule. Only patio seating is permitted at both locations, and if you're getting in line to dine in, you'll have to stand 10 feet apart from one another. One customer at a time will be allowed inside to order, and then she or he will be escorted to her or his table. To-go continues with cars going through curbside tents.