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Culture / Restaurants

Houston’s Restaurant Buzz

The Hot New Openings and Crushing Closings You Need to Know About

BY // 01.14.17

The Houston restaurant scene is constantly changing, with new hotspots, must-try places, and major culinary events coming along on a daily basis. Even the most dedicated foodie can have trouble keeping up, but don’t worry, PaperCity has you covered.

COMING SOON
It’s restaurant number nine for the Laurenzo family as they debut a new concept Laurenzo’s Bar & Grill at 1910 Bagby Street (the spot previously housed Republic Smokehouse and Saloon) on January 23. The midtown eatery marks the third installment of the Laurenzo’s brand (the family also owns the El Tiempo chain).

The revamped menu will feature a mash-up of favorites from Laurenzo’s Prime Rib and El Tiempo Cantina (think prime rib, Sunday gravy, crab enchiladas, and margaritas) alongside new menu additions such as fried oyster nachos, Cancun carne asada, and more.

Fleming’s Steakhouse operating partner Sam Governale departs from the brand’s River Oaks location to embark on a new journey — debuting new restaurant Emmaline at 3210 West Dallas Street (previously a Teala’s Mexican Restaurant) this spring. Expect classic American cuisine with a European twist.

Michelin-starred restaurant Yauatcha opens in the Galleria’s jewel-box structure, next to The Webster, in March. The dim sum teahouse-meets-European patisserie, from Hakkasan Group, opened in London’s SoHo in 2004, and has locations in Mumbai, New Delhi and more. This marks the brand’s second U.S. location following Waikiki.

Just in time for the Super Bowl, Chef Hugo Ortega (Backstreet Café, Caracol, Hugo’s) will debut newest concept Xochi inside the new $370 million Marriott Marquis hotel downtown. The restaurant is a tribute to Ortega’s Oaxacan roots, showcasing traditional, regional ingredients such as flying ants and Oaxacan cacao, in dishes like tamales, tacos, nearly eight rotating moles, and Oaxaca’s signature street food, tlayudas — a thin, toasted tortilla topped with pork and mushrooms.

Restaurateur Lee Ellis is at it again with his forthcoming seafood-centric restaurant Starfish. Stationed at 191 Heights Boulevard, the casual, eclectic eatery will feature scratch-made entrees alongside a heavyweight martini program crafted by beverage director Laurie Harvey. Starfish joins Cherry Pie Hospitality’s other five concepts — Lee’s Fried Chicken and Donuts, Lee’s Creamery, Petite Sweets, Pi Pizza, and State Fare.

Four restaurants are confirmed to join newly opened gastropub, The Chapman & Kirby, in East Downtown development East Village stationed at the corner of St. Emmanuel Street and Dallas Street. Dallas-based Rodeo Goat Ice House brings its beloved burgers; Poku Poke will serve myriad variations of the raw fish bowl; Dallas-based Truck Yard marries food trucks with an outdoor patio and bar; and Agricole Hospitality (Eight Row Flint, Coltivare, Revival Market) has leased a space for a yet-to-be-named concept

Gourmet tacos will hit The Heights when Fusion Taco opens its second location at 4706 North Main Street this month. Expect the restaurant’s signature Asian-Latin fusion tacos including renditions such as lamb keema, Asian Angus steak, falafel, and chicken tikka masala.

Fusion Taco brings its signature eats to the Heights.

Minute Maid Park is upping the ante on its food offerings with the addition of a Shake Shack and Torchy’s Tacos to the stadium’s newly renovated center-field concourse. The restaurants are slated to open in time for Opening Day in April.

Ramen Revival: Austin-based sensation Ramen Tatsu-ya opens its first Houston location this winter at 1722 California Street. Ramen dishes include tonkotsu original, crafted with pork-bone both, chashu, ajitama, wood ear mushrooms, and scallions …

Hisahi Uehara, owner of Hawaii-based AGU Ramen, debuted three Houston locations at 2016’s end: 9310 Westheimer, 7340 Washington, and 1809 Eldridge Parkway … Nao Ramen, the brainchild of former Tarakaan owner Piran Esfahani and chef Rob Frias is also now open in Rice Village at 5510 Morningside Drive.

Killen’s Barbecue debuts dinner service on Thursday, January 19. Alongside the brand’s famed BBQ, guests can enjoy myriad entrees including steaks, chicken fried steak, and more.

Austin-based Ramen Tatsu-ya opens its first Houston location this winter.

NOW OPEN
Grotto is branching out from its traditional Italian style with its second location in the new Avenida Houston development adjacent to the George R. Brown Convention center. The new restaurant, stationed at 1611 Lamar Street, features a revamped, contemporary menu touting small plates, pizzas, pastas, and the biggest grappa selection in Texas.

Ortega’s spot joins five other in-house restaurants including upscale sports bar Biggio’s, named for MLB Hall of Famer Craig Biggio.

Local Foods continues to expand with its fourth location now open at 420 Main Street. The Joseph Finder-designed, art deco building houses the new three-story restaurant, which includes Local’s menu staples alongside a raw bar serving ceviche and oyster shooters.

Local Foods is also slated to open a fifth location in the new Heights Mercantile development at 714 Yale Street in early 2017 next to Melange Creperie’s first brick-and-mortar location.

Houston’s restaurant scene is in a state of flux. Yauatcha is just one of the new restaurants you need to know.

A second location of Beaver’s has opened at 6025 Westheimer Road. Monica Pope remains as partner; chefs Kevin Bryant (Eleven Eleven), Ed Roberts (Tony’s), and pop-up chef Arash Kharat (Space City Cowboy) serve Texas-style comfort food.

From the owners of Aka Sushi House, Tiger Den, and Mein, Night Market is the newest curry and grill restaurant to hit Houston at 9630 Clarewood Drive. Chef Rikesh Patel presents dishes such as chicken tikka masala, green curry prawns, goat sambal, and slow-braised coconut-marinated brisket and potatoes.

The poke craze is getting brick-and-mortar digs with the opening of Ono Poke at 607 Richmond Avenue. Experience grab-and-go poke bowls featuring various raw fish options, rice, vegetables, and myriad toppings.

Premium organic juice company Buda Juice has opened its first Houston store in Rice Village, with another locale in the Woodlands Mall to follow. The Dallas-based premium 100 percent organic cold-press juice company was founded by Bernard Nusbbaumer and Horatio Lonsdale-Hands. In addition to Buda’s cleansing juices, the brand has recently launched C-Pak juices in flavors such as orange and grapefruit, packing a punch of Vitamin C.

Just two months after debuting neighborhood eatery Eloise Nichols at 2400 Mid Lane, sibling restaurateurs Nick Adair and Katie Adair Barnhart have finally opened their first juice bar concept, Bebidas, in the former Infitiny Title building at 2606 Westheimer Road.

Nestled in the historic Sweeney, Combs, and Fredericks building at 301 Main Street, Dizzy Kaktus is now open serving traditional, veggie, seafood, and dessert tacos alongside cocktails and beers.

CLOSINGS
James Beard award-winning chef Justin Yu closes his acclaimed, vegetable-centric eatery Oxheart on March 15 — which marks the restaurant’s fifth anniversary. Yu will transform the Warehouse District space at 1302 Nance Street into a new restaurant concept that has yet to be revealed.

Thai street-food concept Foreign Correspondents has officially closed. Manned by Treadsack restaurant group, the eatery shuttered after just one year in business despite earning a prime spot on Bon Appetit‘s Top 50 restaurants list. Treadsack’s Heights cocktail bar Canard followed suit with its own permanent closing.

The Lucky Fig the Italian, farm-to-street food truck concept from Master Chef season four winner Lucas Manfe — has left the streets for good. Manfe will continue his catering endeavors.

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