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Restaurants / Lists

Where to Eat Right Now in Houston — 10 Hot New Restaurants for August

From Fancy Pizza to a Creative Vietnamese Haven

BY // 08.10.19

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

Summer’s nearing its end, but the Houston restaurant scene is definitely heating up — especially when it comes to the food hall craze. Not one but two new food halls have opened this month, giving you the best culinary cafeteria experience imaginable.

Healthy fare has also made its way to Rice Village, balancing out the oh-so-satisfying — and salty — pizza and halal eats you’ll find elsewhere.

Summertime, and the livin’s easy. And the eating’s phenomenal. These are Houston’s 10 Best New Restaurants for August.

Kokoro

The hotly anticipated Bravery Chef Hall has finally thrown open its doors, drawing eager Space City foodies. Japanese restaurant Kokoro was among the first to open, the tasty triumph of Uchi veterans Daniel Lee and Patrick Pham. Their impressive pedigree covers more than 20 combined years in the industry.

All the sashimi, nigiri and yakitori skewers come from the “kokoro” — the heart. The chicken thigh skewer is Lees’s favorite, a combo of negima and green onion. But you can’t go wrong with the unagi sushi, Bluefin chutoro or sake maki. The restaurant is in soft-opening mode the next week or so.

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IMG_3423 (Photo by Shelby Hodge)
Sushi served at Kokoro in Bravery Chef Hall (Photo by Shelby Hodge) 

The Blind Goat

This one’s another Bravery Chef Hall original, the brainchild and debut restaurant of blind chef Christine Ha. The Masterchef winner also wrote a best-selling cookbook and co-hosted a cooking show. You could say she’s kind of a badass.

The Blind Goat is a Vietnamese hideout, known for ma’s egg rolls just like mama used to make them, with pork and fish sauce vinaigrette, the peanut tofu bowl with tamarind and toasted coconut and sweets like the unbeatable Vietnamese affogato with condensed milk and chicory coffee. Keep in mind that the restaurant is still in soft opening for a little bit.

the blind goat
The Blind Goat comes courtesy of a blind chef — who’s also a MasterChef winner.

Mama Ninfa’s Tacos y Tortas

The story behind this new Understory food hall spot is simple. Ninfa’s wanted to jump into the dining hall craze, with this new outpost in Downtown serving as a casual off-shoot to the Tex-Mex oasis that started it all.

It’s a different take with a fast casual concept, helmed by chef Alex Padilla but focused on Mexican sandwiches called tortas, in five different flavors. Favorites include the cubano with pulled pork and the Adobo Chicken with chorizo remoulade.

Tacos are all made with the signature hand-made tortillas, and the dishes can be enjoyed all day — breakfast, lunch, dinner and even late-night. 

Warehouse 72

This elegant, upscale Mediterranean bistro is anything but a Spaghetti Warehouse spinoff. The original plans evolved into what the now-open, ultra distinctive spot at the Marq’E Entertainment Center is today: a Mediterranean-inspired restaurant with a stunning interior design of sleek metals and velvet banquettes.

It’s a feast for your eyes as much as your stomach, with gorgeous murals adorning the exposed brick walls. You’ll find updated takes on the pasta dishes that made Spaghetti Warehouse so memorable — but this elegantly plated four cheese ravioli and short rib ragu pappardelle is like nothing you’ve ever tasted there. And the seafood risotto should definitely not go unnoticed.

Sebastien “Mr. D” Boileau, Aisha Khan at the mural by the entrance at Warehouse 72
Sebastien “Mr. D” Boileau, Aisha Khan at the mural by the entrance at Warehouse 72

Mendocino Farms

This one’s for all these globe-trotting gourmands and sandwich savants out there. Mendocino may be named for and come from Cali, but its husband-and-wife founders crafted an expansive menu bursting with flavor inspired by their travels across the world. Find it at 5510 Morningside.

The Rice Village spot’s Mendo-style sandwiches range from the Modern Tuna “Almost Melt” with yellowfin tuna and farmhouse cheddar to the Hot Italian with caramelized nitrate-free Creminelli salami. But over the years, the salads have become top-billing items — like the Impossible Taco Salad with housemade superfood krunchies and jicamo succotash.

The Gypsy Poet

You see your gypsy at this brand new Midtown pizzeria. Artisanal pies are on draft at this boho-chic establishment, which wants to brand itself as a “studio” more than a pizza parlor. The idea being that Neopolitan-style pizzas are works of art at 2404 Austin Street.

The open-fire pizza ovens allows for a short but sweet menu of classics and some fun twists. Think the best version of your traditional Margherita and a pepperoni take-off drizzled with hot honey. But don’t forget the more out-there items, like the Cappellone “Big Hat” with portabello mushrooms and shallots. It can also be made vegan.

The Chicken & Rice Guys

These halal masters brought their Boston best to a temporary pop-up in The Heights at 2723 Yale. Everyone’s hoping this haven for savory combo platters and special sauces sticks. So do The Chicken & Rice Guys themselves. If this spot takes off, it might just pave the way for a permanent brick-and-mortar location.

The food-truck-fleet turned thriving Boston business offers standard, perfectly spiced fare: chicken and beef with good umami flavors thanks to cumin and garlic. But the real fun is making it your own, drizzling your dish with any sauces, or blend of sauces you want.

Think creamy garlic, hot, extra hot, barbecue, or mint, cilantro and jalapeno. Get drizzlin.’

Olive & Twist

This Dickensian dive into new American cuisine means elevated eats from across the globe, an homage to the many cultures that make Houston home. All dishes are made with the freshest ingredients, just like the bevy of cocktails. It may be classified a bar and kitchen at 2712 Richmond , but the menu rivals anything you’d see at a full-on restaurant.

Think The Huy Pham Fritters with lightly seasoned shrimp and crab with homemade garlic chili ranch, Anne’s Gulf Shrimp and Pork Laksha with Malaysian spiced coconut milk and the Mykonos Salmon, a delight brimming with kalamata olives and wild mushroom risotto.

Sweetgreen

Fresh, fine eats are the name of the game at the brand new Sweetgreen in the heart of bustling Rice Village at 2551 Amherst. It’s the upscale chain’s very first venture into Texas, the jumping-off board for its ethos of high-quality, healthy dishes all made from scratch.

All the salads and warm bowls at Sweetgreen include a calorie count, but it’s one you won’t be ashamed to see. The Hummus Tahina salad is a standout, with herb falafel and red onions, as is the Superfood Bowl with avocado and roasted sweet potatoes.

But the best part? You can even customize your own with seven bases, 20 veggies, and tons of premiums and dressings from spicy cashew to fresh lemon squeeze.

Bori

This Korean steakhouse at 1453 Witte is a glowing example of its genre. Spring Branch lucked out big time with the authentic Bori, an upscale restaurant where premium steak options abound. Fine, high-quality meats make Bori the best it can be, embodying the essence of Korean flavors.

Bori’s USDA Choice-quality meats are exceptionally well marbled. The beef combo is making waves — a mix of juicy beef short rib, sliced brisket and marinated prime beef. It comes served with a small soup, cheese corn, salad and kimchi.

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