Beloved Houston Restaurant Gets a New Casual Spin With All-Day Dining Power — Inside the New Eloise Nichols
A Fresh Look, a Revamped Menu and Plenty of Welcoming TwistsBY Laurann Claridge // 03.07.23
Betsy’s Favorite Pasta is the recipe from the Adairs siblings’ mother, with linguine, olive oil, sun dried tomato, romano, pine nut, basil and parmesan. You'll find it on the menu at Eloise Nichols. (Photo by Alex Montoy)
The new refreshed interior of Eloise Nichols includes this punchy green striped wallpaper. (Photo by Alex Montoya)
Served by the cup or the bowl with a side of warm cornbread, the Chicken and Dumplings is made from a family recipe that has been passed down through generations. Photo by Duc Hoang
The "Not Jennifer Aniston's Salad" is tossed with farro, pistachio, chickpea, parsley, mint, cucumber, olive oil, feta, red onion and lemon—photo by Alex Montoya.
An array of breakfast goodies — Salmon Hoppin John, a Latte, and Avocado Toast — is available at Eloise Nichols.
Siblings Nick Adair and Katie Adair Barnhart grew up in the Houston restaurant world watching their daddy Gary Adair open a bevy of restaurants from Skeeter’s Mesquite Grill to the Tex-Mex joint called Los Tios. A few years back, Gary Adair’s young progeny joined him in the family business opening Adair’s Kitchen, Bebida and Betsy’s at Evelyn Park. Now, they’ve put a fresh spin on their 6-year-old neighborhood spot Eloise Nichols.
Situated on the tree-shaded Mid Lane between Highland Village and the River Oaks District, Eloise Nichols is named for the Adair siblings’ beloved 99-year-old grandmother. They’ve described her as a spitfire, a no-nonsense Texas beauty with an unpretentious air who grew up in South Texas, the dutiful wife of an oilman.
Katie Adair, the stylish sister (and a talented graphic designer), has put her stamp on the interiors of Eloise Nichols with a chic refresh of the airy space filled by day with natural light. While the restaurant’s signature grand oak bar, glowing globe pendants and leafy green wallpaper stay, Barnhart has added bright, bold green striped wallpaper, a vintage liquor sign poised over the bar and an outdoor dining alcove shaded from the sun by a smart awning. She’s also dressed the front of the house staff in spiffy sailor-like striped tees.
Inspired by Grandmother Nichols’ Southern cooking (the duo has shared her hand-written recipes with chef Victor Torres), the food at Eloise Nichols is a purely new American style take on cuisine with touches of their grandmother’s family favorites (hello chicken and dumplings) sprinkled throughout. The menu is now being offered — as you might have guessed — all day long.
To clarify, breakfast is served until 11 am. That includes morning staples from flapjacks ($12) to omelets ($14) to new takes on old favorites like salmon studded hoppin’ John ($15) and a buttermilk biscuit sandwich stuffed with eggs, bacon and hash.
After 11 a.m until closing, come as you are for lunch or dinner — be it in Lululemon after your Pilates workout or a pressed Armani suit breaking for a quick martini lunch. Or mainline the delicious Eloise Sour ($11) that bar manager Louis Rodiles has perfected.
The new Eloise Nichols menu merges the best dishes at lunch with the best of dinner onto one approachable list with small plates perfect for sharing. Those include my favorite Joe’s hot chicken topped with sliced house-made pickles ($10), roasted beet salad ($14), caramelized Brussels sprouts ($10) and lump crab and corn mélange layered atop a creamy avocado mash with freshly fried potato chips. Entrees include a bone-in pork chop with whipped sweet potatoes accented with apple cranberry chutney ($26) and pastas like the mildly spicy penne pasta napped in a chipotle cream with asparagus, broccoli and spinach ($16). Salads abound for those looking for a lighter meal fix, from brown rice “superfoods” bowl ($11) to a Cobb salad ($16) and a tuna poke bowl ($17).
“Our intention was to be a go-to neighborhood destination with a laid-back atmosphere, high-quality food and classic cocktails,” Adair Concepts president and co-founder Nick Adair says in a statement. “The enhanced interior and merged menus are a natural evolution to an All Day Cafe, which is predicated on great meals and fun times with friends and family in a stylish and relaxed atmosphere.
“We want our customers to feel as comfortable as they would in their own living rooms any time of day and stay as long as they’d like.”
Eloise Nichols is open 7 am to 9 pm Mondays through Thursdays, Fridays from 7 am to 10 pm, Saturdays from 9 am to 10 pm, and Sundays from 9 am to 9 pm. Breakfast is served every day until 11 am, with a weekend brunch menu served Saturdays and Sundays until 3 pm. Happy Hour featuring a $5 burger, discounted small plates and cocktail specials is offered every day from 3 to 6 p.m.