Friends in hospitality, Aaron Franklin and Tyson Cole.

Image: Logan Crable

A healthy number of restaurants and eateries are scheduled to open in 2021. In fact, we're staring at everything from fine dining to top-shelf pizza, and from exciting expansions to entirely new food experiences. Of course, at this time last year we expected a slew of openings for 2020, but Covid-19 and its impact lightened the load considerably and, in some cases, changed things completely. Consider as you read this list that the pandemic may affect a few, if not all, of these projects.

At any rate, we've put together a list of some (read: not all) of the most anticipated restaurant openings of 2021. A few spots have either started service over the past few weeks or will open soon. They include:

  • Good Vibes Burger & Brews: This tiki-forward concept (you'll get tuna poke bowls along with RC Ranch beef burgers) opens this weekend at the former King's Biergarten at 1329 E Broadway St, Pearland.
  • Kanau Sushi: Mike Lim, formerly of Tobiuo, is now hosting omakase dinners and more in this sweet space at Midtown's Drewery Place.
  • Tres: This cozy taco and tequila hang with a little Middle Eastern influence is now open at 212 Westheimer Rd in Montrose.
  • Ume Sushi: The folks behind MF Sushi have rolled out this concept at 2802 White Oak Dr in the Heights.

With that, here's our guide to what's coming (hopefully) in 2021:

Thirteen

Whether or not James Harden finishes the 2020-21 season in Houston, he will have a restaurant here. We reported in December that Thirteen will open, possibly at 1911 Bagby St in the Fourth Ward. It looks to be a highly fashionable place that combines food and entertainment, a restaurant worthy of basketball's most explosive scoring threat.

Wild Oats and Georgia James Tavern

These two concepts were announced this week. The former is Underbelly Hospitality's footprint at the Houston Farmers Market development on Airline Drive, which will essentially be Nick Fine's restaurant. Fine, who opened Chris Shepherd's One Fifth concept and has been working as UB Hospitality's culinary director, will put his spin on Texas cuisine here. Expect an opening later in 2021. Meanwhile, Georgia James Tavern is a clever brand extension of the popular Montrose steakhouse. Here, Shepherd will offer a more accessible (read: inexpensive) experience centered on cast-iron steaks. Undoubtedly, the wine and whiskey lists will be deep and exciting. The GJ Tavern should be ready to go in spring or summer.

Urbe

This is Hugo Ortega and Tracy Vaught's next restaurant, planned for the former Cafe Express space at Uptown Park. We still have little to no information about Urbe, which does have an Instagram page, but the Spanish word translates to city. Take that as you will.

March

One of Houston's most anticipated restaurants is this fine dining concept from Goodnight Hospitality (Rosie Cannonball). Folks are getting a preview of the space with the March Lounge, though the full experience is still yet to launch.

Dégust, Diversión Cocktails

The Kirby Group is launching Dégust, a tasting menu experience from chef-owner Brandon Silva, and Diversión Cocktails, an intimate cocktail bar from bar owner Steven Salazar. We don't know a heck of a lot about this intriguing project, but we'll know more soon.

Loro

We're less than a year away from the scheduled opening of Loro at 1001 W 11th St in the Heights. For those unaware, Loro is an Austin restaurant from Tyson Cole (Uchi) and Aaron Franklin (Franklin Barbecue) that is referred to as an Asian smokehouse. This Loro will be the first time Franklin leaves Austin to open an eatery. It's a big deal. 

Home Slice Pizza

Way back in February 2020, we learned that another famous Austin name—Home Slice Pizza—was coming to Houston. It's slated for 2021 at 3701 Travis St in Midtown. 

Yelo

Cuc Lam gave everyone a little taste of her upcoming banh mi-focused eatery when Phat Eatery sold food briefly from Blodgett Food Hall. Early reviews were strong, so we're all eagerly awaiting the brick-and-mortar's launch next to its Katy Asian Town sister restaurant.

The many meats of Feges BBQ.

Feges BBQ Spring Branch

Those of us who haven't yet been to Greenway Plaza to experience the deliciousness of Feges BBQ will soon have no excuses. The Spring Branch location of Patrick Feges and Erin Smith's smokehouse is due to open in the spring at 8217 Long Point Rd. Naturally, you'll get smoked meats and inventive side dishes, along with specials, a wine list, local beer, and plenty of new food items: a burger, sandwiches, salads, and chicken wings among them.

Hamsa

We've been waiting for this new restaurant from the folks behind Doris Metropolitan for a while. When it opens at 5555 Morningside Dr, it'll be a stylish and modern Israeli space that no doubt will have people buzzing.

Monkey's Tail Concept

The team behind the popular Northside bar will be opening a food and beverage concept at the former Petrol Station space in Garden Oaks. A fall opening was first planned for this spot, which aims to be a different experience from Monkey's Tail.

The Taco Stand

Soon to stand next to The Burger Joint on 2018 N Shepherd Dr is this taco project that was originally scheduled to open in fall 2020. No worries: We'll be there early on to dive into street-style tacos and breakfast tacos (maybe by pulling up around 3 a.m.). Margaritas will also be on offer.

New York Deli & Coffee Shop Bellaire

The folks behind the Bagel Cafe Bakery and New York Deli & Coffee Shop in Meyerland announced expansion into Bellaire recently. The bakery is now open, and the restaurant will follow later in the year. Expect a full bar and innovative new dishes (like a peanut butter and banana bagel sandwich).

I scream! Ice cream!

Van Leeuwen

The first Texas location for New York ice cream shop Van Leeuwen will open this spring at 2565 Amherst St in Rice Village. Van Leeuwen brings gourmet ice cream, including vegan flavors like cookie crumble strawberry jam, to the table. 

Dave's Hot Chicken

The first of 26 Texas locations of Dave's Hot Chicken, a Los Angeles-based street food brand, is slated to open in the spring inside the Loop. Dave's obviously does hot chicken tenders, along with sliders, plus macaroni and cheese, fries, and kale slaw.

POST Houston

POST Houston, the mixed-use development at the former Barbara Jordan Post Office, is scheduled to welcome in folks around the fall. At that point, its International Market will open with a number of concepts, including The Butcher's Burger (from the folks behind Austin's Salt & Time Butcher Shop, which will also open in the market), Denver-based Lea Jane's Hot Chicken, Taco Fuego (an upgrade for a South Houston food truck), Colorado-based GELU Italian Ice, and SOUPreme, where Tuan and Thy Tran of Moku Bar will be serving pho and bun bo hue.