Culture / Restaurants

Houston’s Underground Dining Goes Upscale

Forget the Tired Tunnels, the New Foodie Beer Hall Is Where It’s At

BY // 07.08.16
photography William Hardin

As towering hotels, palatial highrises and tony eateries engulf the downtown skyline, Anh Mai and Lian Nguyen have abandoned curbside comfort for a more subterrestrial scene.  They’ve opened Conservatory Food Hall & Beer Garden (the city’s first venture of its kind) beneath their 1920s-themed Prohibition Supperclub — shared architecture that was once the 1912 Isis Theatre, followed by the now-shuttered nightclub The Mercury Room, circa 1999.

Two stories below Prohibition, Conservatory’s industrial interiors are home to four food vendors (chosen by Mai) and a mammoth beer wall with 60-plus craft beers on tap.

At Conservatory’s entrance, Melange Creperie offers both sweet and savory versions of the beloved Parisian street crepe. At El Burro & the Bull, acclaimed pitmaster John Avila dishes out Texas-style barbecue — brisket, pulled pork, ribs and more. Seattle-based ramen shop Samurai Noodle supplies Japanese staples such as Tokyo-style shouyu (hearty egg noodles in a light chicken broth, topped with pork belly, green onions and seaweed) and Hakata-style tonkotsu (wheat noodles, pork belly and black wood ear mushrooms in a full-body pork broth). At Myth Kafe, authentic Greek fare is at center stage, including gyros and arnadiko (marinated lamb combined with Greek rice and au jus).

The sprawling beer wall inlcudes Karbach’s Love Street, Saint Arnold’s 5 O’Clock Pils, and Lone Pint’s Yellow Rose, alongside wine and sake. Weekend revelry calls for an after-midnight sojourn, and this underground world keeps the lights on until 3 am on Fridays and Saturdays.

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