Best New Restaurants 2022

Houston's Top 20 New Restaurants

We believe these impressive new restaurants are destined to become Houston classics.

By Mai Pham, Phoebe Gibson, and Daniel Renfrow Photography by Shannon O'Hara and Kat Ambrose Published in the Fall 2022 issue of Houstonia Magazine

Toro Toro, a pan-Latin steakhouse showcases the cuisine of Latin America alongside steak and sushi, and it does so with flair. Image: Shannon O'Hara


Houston is estimated to be home to over 12,000 restaurants, which means that staying entirely up to date on the latest openings and closings is just about as hard as finding an open parking space at the Montrose HEB on a Sunday—so, basically, nearly impossible. Since new restaurants open in Houston on a daily basis, we’ve decided to make it easier for you to keep tabs on the most outstanding ones by putting together a list of 20 restaurants that we believe are the best newcomers to have opened their doors in our city over the past year. From Norwegian seafood restaurants to Korean barbecue hot spots and Italian steakhouses, there’s something for every type of Houston foodie on our list.


Buffalo Bayou Park

Flora

In what is still one of the most beautiful restaurant spaces to open in Houston, Flora, the latest incarnation of the former The Kitchen at the Dunlavy, is a scene stealer. By day, floor-to-ceiling windows serve as a canvas for the natural landscape of Buffalo Bayou Park. By night, glimmering crystal chandeliers—more than 40 hang throughout the dining room—imbue the space with a fairy-tale ambience. 

Like its sister restaurants, Coppa Osteria and Gratify in Rice Village, Flora has a strong sense of what people want right now. Post-COVID, it’s a full-fledged dining-out experience. Flora delivers with excellent service, well-constructed margaritas, a low-markup wine list, and food that is chef-driven yet comforting at the same time.

The contemporary Mexican menu blends a variety of regional cuisines. Dishes like the ceviche negro or tuna tostada take cues from Baja, while heartier dishes like the beef short rib in red mole or the pescado a la talla (butterflied whole fish basted in red and green sauces of adobado and mojo de ajo) draw inspiration from Oaxaca and the Yucatán. Those who prefer Tex-Mex can indulge in guacamole, nachos, or Flora’s parrillada (a fajita-style mixed grill). For dessert, try the made-to-order churros, served à la mode with a swoosh of cajeta—and don’t neglect to drink in the atmosphere one more time before you leave.

In what is still one of the most beautiful restaurant spaces to open in Houston, Flora, the latest incarnation of the former The Kitchen at the Dunlavy, is a scene stealer.

Cypress

Nomad Barbecue

While Nomad Barbecue isn’t on the move as much as it used to be, the Houston restaurant shows no signs of slowing down. Each week, Houston pitmaster James McFarland, formerly of Reveille Barbecue Co. fame, debuts a new menu of eye-catching, mouthwatering barbecue curiosities.  

Nomad Barbecue started out as a pop-up concept, serving up smoke and fire creations across the Lone Star State and beyond. In May 2022, McFarland put down roots at Cypress’s Misfit Outpost, a five-acre property complete with a taproom, outdoor seating, and a playground. 

Here, Nomad serves up the Texas craft BBQ you know and love but with a distinct Houston edge. The restaurant’s hybrid menu, featuring barbecue specials on weekdays and à la carte meats on weekends, is a tribute to H-Town’s diversity, from the smoked turkey bacon Brie sandwich and tacos vampiros to Trill-slaw and malbec-and-basil barbacoa tacos. 

For this barbecue innovator, the mission is simple: “Why not come up with something that’s against the status quo, come up with something better?” Each week, McFarland does just that. 

Downtown

Golfstrømmen

While the partnership between Golfstrømmen owners Christopher Haatuft, a celebrated Norwegian chef, and Paul Qui, a Top Chef and James Beard Award winner, may seem to have been made in heaven, it was actually forged in the fjords of Norway. Haatuft, whose Bergen restaurant Lysverket just received a Michelin star, is a celebrity chef in his native Norway, where the former punk rocker has made a name for himself through his über-fresh “Neo-Fjordic” cuisine. The two connected in Haatuft’s native country when he invited Qui to tour local farms and fishing spots on the heels of Qui’s Top Chef win. 

While there, the two formed a friendship that was strong enough for Haatuft to take the leap and open his first restaurant in the United States. At Golfstrømmen, a Norwegian-inspired seafood restaurant that opened in POST Houston in December 2021, Haatuft and Qui have created a menu that speaks to Haatuft’s unique perspective in addition to the pair’s commitment to sustainability. 

The menu is stacked with sustainably sourced seafood, some of the freshest you can find in Houston. The red fish ceviche, featuring a tart Bergen Leche and dressed in dill oil, apples, and celery, has become a favorite of local foodies, as has the restaurant’s substantial raw bar selection. There are also snitters (Norwegian for “sandwich”) on the menu for those looking for a fancy take on a comfort-food classic, topped, of course, with decadent treats like Jonah crab and lobster salad.

The menu at Golfstrømmen is stacked with sustainably sourced seafood, some of the freshest you can find in Houston.

ChòpnBlọk

West African restaurant ChòpnBlk started out as a pop-up back in 2018, but it wasn’t until 2021 that the restaurant, founded by Ope Amosu, who featured as a guest judge on the most recent season of Bravo’s Top Chef, found a permanent home inside the food hall at POST Houston. 

If you’ve been to POST, you’ve probably noticed how the line snaking out of ChòpnBlk is one of the longest in the food hall; it’s definitely worth the wait. The fast-casual restaurant presents a contemporary approach to traditional West African cuisine, with each dish deeply rooted in the region’s various cultures and the menu overall showcasing a range of flavors and techniques. 

Dive headfirst into the diaspora by trying the Trad combo, which features a flavorsome mélange of jollof jambalaya, chicken, yaji-spiced veggies, and stewed plantains. The Motherland combo is equally satisfying, featuring East African–style coconut curry with West African staples like sweet peppers, black-eyed peas, yaji-spiced veggies, and a dose of sweet plantains. Both meals are so good that you’ll want to lick your bowl clean before ordering seconds, a common occurrence at ChòpnBlk.

Toro Toro

From Dubai to Chicago, Athens to Los Cabos, celebrity chef Richard Sandoval helms more than 60 restaurants around the world. After he partnered successfully with the Four Seasons Hotel Houston to open Bayou & Bottle in 2018, when the time came to reimagine the hotel’s flagship restaurant, it made sense that Sandoval would be the one to do it.

Thematically, Toro Toro, a pan-Latin steakhouse, just makes sense for Houston. Already successful in Dubai and Miami, the concept (Houston is the sixth) showcases the cuisine of Latin America alongside steak and sushi, and it does so with flair.

Signature starter items like the amarillo ceviche and smoked beef tiradito arrive in a smoky flourish. Then comes the main course: for parties that order the Toro Toro Churrasco or the 52-ounce tomahawk rib eye, the restaurant employs a classic guéridon, which is wheeled to the table with enough pomp and circumstance to make heads turn. For the tomahawk, put your phone on video mode and get ready for a grand show, because the steak is doused in mezcal, set aflame, then sliced and served to order.

Desserts are no less noteworthy. With La Bomba, a server drops a large ball of chocolate on the table; it breaks apart into a kaleidoscope of shapes and colors, an edible Jackson Pollock–style work of experiential art.

The amarillo ceviche at Toro Toro

East End

The gulf shrimp tortellini at Café Louie

Café Louie

When the pandemic hit in 2020, Chef Angelo Emiliani loaded his life into his 2003 Toyota Sequoia, with a custom-built, 3,500-pound pizza oven in tow, and trekked his way from California back to his native Houston. Nearly two years later, the scrappy chef, who put in time at Houston’s Uchi before making career stops in San Francisco, Austin, and Los Angeles, has opened Café Louie with his sister, pastry chef Lucianna “Louie” Emiliani, in Houston’s burgeoning East End neighborhood. 

Housed in a converted warehouse known as The Plant, Café Louie launched in May with a rustic menu spanning sandwiches, soups, salads, and pastries (including one of the best grilled cheeses you can find in Houston). The all-day café has recently added a dinner service, complete with a creative menu that speaks to the synergy of the brother-sister duo, with options like flounder crudo with capers, red onion, and lemon oil; a dry-aged steakhouse burger on a brioche bun with roasted onions, garlic mayo, and American cheese; and redfish with cherry tomatoes, crushed olives, black garlic, and roasted peppers.

The café is housed in a decidedly cheerful industrial space that features gentle curves and soft shades of pink and blue, lending it a warm and inviting vibe. Some have called Café Louie the Brasil Café of the East End, and we think they might just be onto something. 

 

Galleria/Uptown

Uchiko

At first blush, Uchiko (which means “child of Uchi” in Japanese) is nearly indistinguishable from its parent. The design is similar; the menu is similar; the service style, uniforms, and tabletop—even down to the classic paper chopstick covers—are all remarkably similar.

 Precocious child that it is, however, Uchiko takes everything good from its parent and adds its own charms. So, yes, if you order your favorite nigiri—be it madai, shima aji, or Hokkaido uni—on quality and execution, it will feel Uchi-esque. Ditto for cool tastings like the signature Hama Chile, which is so perfect already that any modification would be sacrilege.

 But with chef de cuisine Shaun King at its helm, Uchiko shines with things that Uchi can’t offer, dishes like an exceptional hearth-roasted lobster cooked in banana leaf with tom kha and umeboshi butter; craft cocktails like the fujin, made with Japanese whiskey, homemade smoked fig, and allspice liqueur; and desserts like the crowd-pleasing s’mores, shaped like a candy bar and charred at the table with bincho tan coals. It’s like the fulfillment of every good parent’s fondest hope (supposedly) that their children will outshine themselves.

 

Heights

5Kinokawa

From the handcrafted chef’s counter fashioned by the cook himself to the seasonal seafood flown in biweekly from Japan, the details and dishes at 5Kinokawa are steeped in symbol and story. The latest venture of Chef Billy Kin, formerly of Blackbird Izakaya and Hidden Omakase, 5Kinokawa offers a chef’s table tasting menu and one of the most exceptional dining experiences in Houston. 

Omakase—Japanese for “up to the chef”—is an ingredient-focused, chef-driven dining style. At 5Kinokawa, expect an intimate, dynamic, multicourse meal filled with storytelling, cuisine insights, and just plain fun. Think of 5Kinokawa as an approachable way to enjoy fine dining.

Kin’s passion for his craft extends beyond the specialty ingredients from Japan’s Toyosu Market. It’s ingrained in the way that he explains the story behind the restaurant’s carefully curated ingredients, such as giant Pacific octopus or A5 grade Wagyu beef. And it underlies his invitation to 14 guests per seating to gather around the bar and take part in this communal, multidimensional experience.

If that all seems a little pricey, 5Kinokawa will be soon accompanied by 5Tesseract, a more casual izakaya counterpart. Kin’s dual concepts will be separated by his handmade red cedar bookshelf, a tribute to Christopher Nolan’s film Interstellar, but will be linked to each other through their shared fifth dimension–inspired monikers and dedication to exceptional cuisine. 

Chivos

You gotta love a new restaurant with a name that suggests a claim to being the greatest of all time (G.O.A.T.). Although Chivos, the Mexican American concept from the group behind Heights hot spots Space Cowboy and Trash Panda Drinking Club, means “goats” in Spanish, you won’t necessarily find goat on the menu; what you will find is fresh, inspired food made from scratch. 

From fresh salsas and moles to tortillas made from house-nixtamalized masa, founding chef Thomas Bille laid the foundation for what has become one of the coolest haunts in the Heights. In July, the chef parted ways with the restaurant, but the menu and ethos behind it remain the same. The shareable plates are particularly winning; favorites include a gorgeous tuna tostada, roasted bone marrow tacos, stone-fruit burrata and toast, and the pozole dumplings with pork broth and almond salsa matcha. 

On the potables side, owner Greg Perez’s cocktails are outstanding both in theme—he uses mostly Mexican spirits paired with familiar foods and candy—and execution. Try the Ontas Mailob (translation: “let’s hook up, my love”), made with rose Hornitos, epazote, rhubarb, broiled lime, and pink Himalayan salt, and let the arguments about cocktail superiority begin.

The roasted bone marrow tacos are a favorite at Chivos.

Casa Nomad

Tulum may be a quick two-hour flight from Houston, but you can get there even faster by visiting the Tulum-inspired patio bar and restaurant Casa Nomad in M-K-T. The Heights hot spot opened in September of 2021, and if you follow any local influencers, you’ve likely seen a steady stream of videos of them boomeranging their way through intimate dinners at the tiny eatery, which clocks in at a total of 800 square feet (yes, you read that number correctly) and seats a total of 30 people at a time.

The interior is certainly Insta-worthy. The entrepreneurial group behind Casa Nomad (which also owns Wicklow Heights and Highline Park next door) brought in award-winning design studio Coeval to deck out the pipsqueak spot in the most Mayan Riviera of décor, including breezy touches like a woven overhead rope canopy, walls adorned in sea-blue tiles, and enough lush vegetation to have you prospecting for hidden Mayan ruins.

The drink menu at Casa Nomad is equally tropical, including must-try cocktails like the Jungle Disco, featuring Cazadores Reposado, Giffard Pineapple, serrano tincture, carrot juice, and lemon juice. The food menu, curated by culinary director Araceli Perez, is correspondingly lush, featuring dishes like lobster tacos topped with salsa oro and pickled cabbage; braised, bone-in short ribs served over cheesy huitlacoche polenta and topped with papalo; and tasty starters like grilled oysters cooked in chile morita butter and topped with cotija cheese, pineapple chimichurri, and casa sal.

Mapojeong

As you drive past the busy corner of Studewood Street and White Oak Drive, if you don’t know how to read the Korean hangul script, you could easily miss Mapojeong. At this first and only Korean barbecue restaurant in the Heights, owner Ken Bridge (Pinks Pizza, Lola’s, Ready Room, etc.) wanted to pay homage to the barbecue houses he frequented in his youth in K-town LA, where most of the signage is in Korean.

Inside on any given day, the sound of sizzling meat, accompanied by the aromas of Korean barbecue, greets you enticingly. And everything on the greatest-hits menu translates to delicious, from appetizers like the bulgogi tteokbokki rice cakes and the incredible kimchijeon (kimchi pancake) to mouthwatering steakhouse cuts of prime USDA beef, A5 Wagyu from Japan, and king crab basted in gochujang butter. 

For a treat, order the namesake Mapo Special Galbi; the house specialty marinated short rib is among the best of its kind in Houston. If you’re with a group, choose one of the combo meat plates, and let the servers do the rest. Tables here are built with inlaid charcoal grills, each with its own updraft ventilation hood.

Perhaps best of all, barbecue orders at Mapojeong come with complimentary and refillable banchan Korean side dishes, including egg soufflé and cheese corn. And if you’re lucky, you’ll be waited on like family: Bridge and his mother are often out working the restaurant floor.

Tables at Mapojeong contain inlaid charcoal grills, each with its own updraft ventilation hood.

Image: Kat Ambrose

Trattoria Sofia

One of the latest and most notable achievements of the prolific Berg Hospitality Group, Trattoria Sofia is the Italian restaurant Houston didn’t know that it needed. Intimate and romantic, the dining room—with its half-moon booths, indirect lighting, and lush foliage—sets the stage for a dining experience to remember. 

Food-wise, Berg tapped chef-consultant Magnus Hansson to craft a modern Italian menu that has molto bene written all over it, from deceptively simple starters like the crostini di stracciatella and caponata Siciliana to fan favorites like cacio e pepe pasta and pollo alla parmigiana. Beautifully blistered Neapolitan-style pizzas emerge from the wood-burning oven, their crusts to die for. From the bar, thoughtfully constructed cocktails—created by consulting mixologist Alba Huerta, the 2022 James Beard Award winner for outstanding bar program—include the Modena Cup, a Pimm’s cup with strawberry, blood orange, and white balsamic.

The gorgeous patio with tinkling water features has recently been enclosed, which means that you can enjoy terrace dining in air-conditioned comfort. We haven’t even touched on the wine program, the $19 lunch specials, or the brunch, but needless to say, there’s a lot to love at Trattoria Sofia.

Independence Heights

Sao Lao Thai Cafe

Walking into Sao Lao Thai Cafe feels like entering your best friend’s apartment. But this trendy, cozy Independence Heights restaurant is more than just welcoming vibes: chef-owner Souli Phaduangdet’s Lao and Thai creations are a labor-of-love tribute to her family’s refugee past. The restaurant’s curated menu is an homage to Phaduangdet’s late mother, who sold homemade dishes like Lao chicken noodle soup to keep the family afloat during the Vietnam War. Today, this herby broth, stewed for eight hours and laden with handmade rice-flour noodles, is one of Phaduangdet’s favorite menu items. Otherwise at Sao Lao Thai Cafe, you’ll find mostly Laotian cuisine with a dash of Isan dishes, fare that hails from Thailand’s northeast Isan region (a majority of Isan’s people are ethnically Lao). Compared to most Thai cuisine, Lao cooking is spicier, less sweet, and energized by fermented fish sauce. Dishes like the cafe’s ever-popular boat noodle soup are a good entry point to this lesser-known cuisine: the complex, 40-ingredient soup took Phaduangdet seven years to perfect and is the essence of her restaurant in a bowl—brimming with dedication, passion, and, of course, spice.

Gatlin’s Fins & Feathers

There’s something about wood-paneled walls and supple leather restaurant booths that makes you want to sit for a spell. At Gatlin’s Fins & Feathers, the pull is almost irresistible, enhanced by wafts of freshly fried chicken coming from the nearby kitchen. At least, that’s the modus operandi at this new Historic Independence Heights restaurant, where chef-owner Greg Gatlin and executive chef Michelle Wallace, of Gatlin’s BBQ fame, are shifting their sights to classic comfort fare. 

The menu at Gatlin’s Fins & Feathers features dishes that you’ll surely recognize (not to mention crave), but with a special Bayou City spin. Take, for example, Gatlin’s chicken enchiladas, which fold carefully smoked pulled chicken beneath layers of salsa verde, crema, and cotija cheese. Or how about Gatlin’s hot chicken sandwich, aptly named the “H-Town Hot Sandwich”: with Viet-Cajun hot sauce and a basil coleslaw topping, this sammy eschews twangy Nashville harmony for a polyglot mash-up of flavor notes as diverse as our city itself.  

With everything from Gulf Coast classics to Southern seafood staples, Gatlin’s Fins & Feathers aims to be the kind of place where folks relish the flavors and linger just a little while longer (you know, to save room for dessert).

The menu at Gatlin’s Fins & Feathers features dishes that you’ll surely recognize (not to mention crave), but with a special Bayou City spin.

 

Midtown

Winnie’s

Some of the drinks at Winnie’s, a new sandwich-, po’ boy-, and oyster-dispensing patio bar in Midtown, are served in little treasure chests full of ice. It’s a kitschy shtick that fits perfectly with the concept’s general air of quirkiness—witness their penchant for putting Cool Ranch Doritos in things—and allows Winnie’s to fit in well on an eclectic block that includes My Flaming Heart, Double Trouble, and the Continental Club. 

Opened in September 2021 by Johnny’s Goldbrick owner Benjy Mason and chefs Chris Roy and Graham Laborde—who first met while working at Bernadine’s, the now-defunct Treadsack restaurant that shuttered back in 2017—Winnie’s has become a favorite destination for those looking for a casual spot in which to kick back and imbibe with friends while dining on some truly stoner-caliber comfort food. 

Exhibit A: the restaurant’s version of a crunch wrap supreme, which comes with fried chicken breast, refried beans, Cool Ranch Doritos, crinkle cabbage, sour cream, pico de gallo, and pickled onions, all served on a tortilla. Also of note are Winnie’s BLT katsu sando, its shrimp po’ boy, its barbecue shrimp toast, and its oyster bar, which includes both East Coast and West Coast bivalves in addition to oysters of the chargrilled variety. 

For drinks, there’s a lot to choose from, including several frozen cocktails, a ranch water riff on a White Claw, and a michelada that just might be one of the finest in Houston. When in doubt, you can always just order one of their treasure chest options—perhaps your best bet in town for boozy booty.

Montrose

Marmo

High-end Italian chophouse Marmo debuted in Montrose Collective, Houston’s newest mixed-use development hub, back in April, and it’s already making waves through a robust menu heavy on steaks, pasta, and seafood dishes—the essentials, in other words. Marmo is Italian for “marble,” a name that speaks not just to the restaurant’s deliciously marbled steaks but also to a stunning interior (designed by Patrick Sutton) that is heavy, of course, on marble while also featuring soft touches that help give the space a light and airy vibe. 

The menu at Marmo was curated by executive chef Eli Jackson and Julian Marucci, a chef-partner with Atlas Restaurant Group (also the force behind buzzy H-Town spots Ouzo Bay and Loch Bar), and boy, is it a treat. Standout dishes include the beautifully plated hamachi featuring passion fruit ponzu, basil, avocado, and squid rice chips, as well as the heavenly squid ink campelle, which comes with fresh blue crab, uni cream sauce, chili, basil, and breadcrumbs. 

But you come to a chophouse for steak, right? Marmo has plenty to offer in that area, playing host to a range of 45-day dry-aged steaks as well as choice cuts of American Wagyu, Black Angus, and veal. Consider topping your steak with one of Marmo’s assortment of sauces, and you’ll realize how lucky you are to be dining here.

The menu at Marmo includes a host of 45-day dry-aged steaks, standout dishes such as the beautifully plated hamachi and the heavenly squid ink campelle.

Amore

It’s a classic American Dream restaurant story: Alfredo Mojica left his 20-year tenured position as executive chef at Da Marco to open his own place. Investing his life’s savings and with help from his family, he opened Amore Italian Restaurant to an enthusiastic word-of-mouth welcome in December 2021.

Mojica chose the name Amore, Italian for “love,” to reflect his love for his family, his wife, and his food—and it shows. The menu plays like his own greatest hits album, from the decadently delicious Spaghetti Harry’s Bar (an homage to the lobster pasta at its famous namesake in Venice) to the red-wine slow-braised short ribs with burrata to the simply grilled whole branzino.

A full section on the menu is dedicated to fresh truffles, the star of which is a fantastic egg soufflé,
a savory, ethereally delightful creation punctuated with bits of Iberico ham and finished at the table with a cascade of whichever aromatic tubers are in season. There’s pizza as well, and you can watch Mojica hand-toss the dough before firing it up in the restaurant’s wood-burning oven.

The restaurant itself is modest but charming, with crystal chandeliers and white tablecloths, and service is gracious yet unfussy. The wine list—mostly Italian, with a smattering of French and Argentinian labels—is moderately priced, much like the menu itself, part of the reason why Amore has become a favorite among local food cognoscenti.

After Mojica spent years working for someone else, his expression of hospitality—elevated but down-to-earth, approachable yet delicious—feels like a joyous homecoming, and we’re here for it. 

A full section on the menu is dedicated to fresh truffles at Amore.

Image: Kat Ambrose

Rice Village

Hamsa

Sof Hospitality, the group behind Hamsa, has a track record of doing outstanding things. First came Doris Metropolitan, then Badolina Bakery & Cafe. Hamsa, the group’s new modern Israeli concept which shares the patio space with Badolina in Rice Village, is no less impressive.

For the uninitiated, chef Sash Kurgan and Yotan Dolev’s menu offers a world of possibilities, starting with the salatim—colorful side spreads or salads, like the delightful squash tahini or Amba pickled vegetables—that frame the rest of the meal.

Think that you’ve tasted good hummus? Think again. Hummus at Hamsa goes through a laborious kitchen process to achieve the smoothest consistency. It’s offered with a choice of toppings, such as lamb and caramelized onions or shakshuka-style with spiced tomato, egg, and merguez sausage, and each bite is a revelation, silky-smooth and a worthy rival for any other version that you might find in Houston.

Rounding out the menu are several options for grilled skewers, which are broken down tableside; shareable mains include the whole grilled branzino and the unforgettable Balady eggplant—whole roasted and served on a bed of tahini with pine nuts and parsley.

Designed by Lindsay Madrigal of LM Designs, the restaurant channels chic sophistication, with a soft palette of sea-foam green set against lush foliage and worldly Moroccan textiles. With a wine list of more than 150 labels curated from around the world and a full bar featuring craft cocktails, Hamsa, even in its early stages, is already raising the bar for Middle Eastern food in Houston—and may do so for years to come.

Hamsa, even in its early stages, is already raising the bar for Middle Eastern food in Houston—and may do so for years to come.

Image: Kat Ambrose

River Oaks

Concura Italian Bites

For posh digs and authentic eats, look no further than Concura Italian Bites. This carefully curated River Oaks establishment epitomizes la bella vita through and through, from its high-end Italian furnishings and eye-catching design to the chef’s table dining and open-concept kitchen. Concura manages to be both stylish and welcoming in the same breath.

Concura, which means “with care” in Italian, is the creation of owners Jessica Biondi, an Italian fashion and design consultant, and Alessio Ricci, both natives of Italy’s Marche region, which is bordered by the Adriatic Sea and the Apennine Mountains. Marche’s cuisine is seafood-heavy, truffle-rich, and favors frying (don’t we all?). Still, it’s a lesser-known style of fare compared to many other Italian counterparts, and Biondi and Ricci are on a mission to change that.

Concura’s selection of starters boasts an array of one-of-a-kind seafood offerings, including varieties of pesce crudo (raw fish) and polpo e patate (octopus and potato with Taggiasche olives). Not into seafood? You can’t go wrong with the charcuterie, breaded meatballs, or parmigiana. For the main course, choose from Chilean sea bass, rabbit in porchetta, chicken-fried veal, and an assortment of handmade pastas. Pair your meal with a selection from the eatery’s wide-ranging wine list, and you’re in for an authentic Italian treat.

Sixth Ward

Aiko

Houstonians love sushi. We also love the anything-goes vibe that accompanies Patrick Pham and Daniel Lee’s wildly successful counter concepts, Kokoro inside Bravery Chef Hall and Hands Douzo in the Heights. So when the duo debuted their first brick-and-mortar in April, it was destined for success.

Aiko, which means “love child,” takes the duo’s two existing eateries and, in essence, merges them under one roof. Want sushi? Crudo? A perfectly constructed hand roll? At Aiko, you get the pristinely cut sushi and sashimi from Kokoro, plus the hand rolls and crudos from Handies. 

As at Handies, Aiko offers three options for omakase (their version of a preset menu) at three fixed-price points, each offering a combination of edamame to start, a selection of nigiri, a crudo, and a hand roll. Start with the entry-level omakase, then build on that order through à la carte additions. The fish case is always teeming with a mouthwatering selection of freshly cut fish, and your sushi chef—Pham and/or Lee and their familiar crew of sous chefs are usually behind the counter—can guide you as well. Design-wise, Aiko is unfussy and minimalist, with a generally understated element of glam. But the bamboo-lined mirrored walkway leading to the restroom is already Insta-famous—don’t miss it.

Aiko offers three options for omakase (their version of a preset menu) at three fixed-price points.

Image: Kat Ambrose

 

Share
Show Comments