A New Approach

Underbelly Hospitality Opens Georgia James Tavern in Downtown Houston

The new restaurant serves as a casual offshoot to the original Georgia James restaurant.

By Shelby Stewart July 27, 2021

A selection of dishes and drinks at Georgia James Tavern. 

Chris Shepherd’s Underbelly Hospitality has brought many tasty concepts to Houston, and now we can look forward to one more. 

On Tuesday, July 27, Underbelly Hospitality will introduce its casual, sister offshoot to their critically acclaimed Georgia James restaurant in downtown Houston, Georgia James Tavern.

According to a press release, Georgia James Tavern will utilize the same philosophies on sourcing, technique, service, and attention to detail that define Georgia James.

"I love Georgia James," said chef and owner Chris Shepherd. "But I understand that it’s not a restaurant most people can visit on a daily or even weekly basis. Georgia James Tavern is designed to be a place where our guests want to—and can—eat every day."

To help add some of that original Georgia James flavor, the new restaurant enlists help from some of Underbelly's veterans. Current sous chef at Georgia James, Matthew "Tally" Coburn will be running the show as chef de cuisine at the new Georgia James outpost. A concept driven by technique, Georgia James Tavern will apply similar, yet scaled-down renditions of some of their popular plates, like Xavi’s Club and the 7 Vegetable Salad.

Restaurant-goers will find that the menu is filled with diverse offerings, ranging from salads, sandwiches, burgers, and, yes, cast-iron seared steaks, along with entrées cooked in a wood-burning oven.

The Tavern Burger at Georgia James Tavern: 44 farms ground chuck, American cheese, smoked onion fancy sauce, pickles, red onion, Kraftsmen potato bun, and steak fries.

Image: Julie Soefer

"A tavern is a place for people to gather, drink and eat," said Coburn. "We want to build a sense of community with this restaurant strengthened by our relationships with local farmers and ranchers, and the simple, technique-driven menu will reflect those relationships. My goal is for our guests to feel the culture we create from the moment they walk in the door."

In addition to the cuisine, Georgia James Tavern will offer an extensive wine list, curated by wine director Matthew Pridgen, and a cocktail and spirits program from Underbelly's spirits director, Westin Galleymore.

To fit the casual aesthetic, the wine program will feature some small names alongside the more popular, heavy hitters. Pridgen wants the list to offer "something for everyone, from the casual patio bottle to the most sought-after allocated wines."

A selection of dishes and drinks at the bar at Georgia James Tavern

Despite the back bar being a lot smaller than the one at Georgia James, the tastes and quality of the cocktails will be no different. Some of the classic cocktails from Georgia James can be seen on the menu, as well as a few new ones that "push boundaries," and a small list of drinks specifically designed to take to-go.

In addition, Victoria Dearmond is the new eatery's pastry director and curated a dessert program that is simple, and cozy. Tasty treats on the menu include an apple crumble that serves as an ode to the Georgia James apple pie.

The restaurant is located on the ground floor of Market Square Tower, by Houston-based Nest Interior Design Group. 

Georgia James Tavern opens today, July 27 at Houston’s Market Square Tower. 777 Preston. Hours: 5–10 p.m. Tuesday–Thursday, 5–11 p.m. Friday–Saturday, 5–9 p.m. Sunday. 

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