Virbant's carrot ginger soup shows its healthy power.
Georgia James is all about the steak.
La Lucha is one of Houston's more anticipated new restaurants. (Photo by Johnny Autry.)
Irma’s Southwest brings all of the Tex-Mex favorites.
Chris Shepherd's One Fifth Mediterranean brings the fish. (Photo by Julie Soefer.)
Finn Hall is a highly-anticipated downtown Houston food hall.
International Smoke comes from a celebrity chef and Ayesha Curry. (Rendering by Bishop Pass.)
Kau Ba Saigon Kitchen puts a different spin on seafood.
New Houston restaurant Fusion Eats comes from the Fusion Taco team. (Photo by Kirsten Gilliam Photography.)
Pizza Motus owner Will Gruy spent a lot of his formative years Italy, where he was later based as a professional motorcycle road racer.
Blood Bros. is the latest Houston barbecue contender.
Miss Carousel has major drinks ambitions.
This summer keeps heating up as Houston’s dynamic food scene gets ready to welcome a host of highly anticipated new restaurants. From celebrity chef hotspots to fast-casual upstarts, here are 19 openings to get excited about between now and the end of summer.
These are Houston’s most eagerly awaited new summer restaurants.
When: Just opened Thursday, July 5.
Where: 800 Sorella Court
Who: James Beard Award-winning chef Michael Mina and personality/cookbook author Ayesha Curry (yes, Stephen Curry’s wife) team up to open the Houston locale of their International Smoke at CityCentre.
What: International Smoke puts a global spin on items from the grill and tasty ‘cue. The menu ranges from St. Louis ribs and Korean short ribs, marinated 48 hours, to charcoal-grilled shellfish to Punjabi-spiced fish fry to bacon-pork belly steamed buns, prepared tableside.
Offerings from a full bar include red and white sangria and cocktails aplenty, including the large-format, “I Got 5 On It.” This is a punch bowl of vodka, tequila, hibiscus, lychee and chili. It’s made for sharing (or not).
When: July 10
Where: 9 Greenway Plaza East
Who: Fusion Taco owners Julia Sharaby and chef David Grossman (formerly of Branch Water Tavern) launch Fusion Eats.
What: We’ll take tacos any way we can get them, but when they’re chef-driven with globally-influenced flavors, it’s a double yes. At Fusion Eats, a spin-off of Fusion Taco dig into signature and seasonal tacos like grilled Thai chicken with grilled onions, peanut sauce and red cabbage slaw; spiced lamb keema with grape tomato, persian cucumber and tahini; smoked brisket with salsa verde, onion and cilantro; and crispy tofu tikka masala with spicy curry tomato sauce and creme fraiche.
Beyond tacos, go for the house-made sauces, marinades, tortillas, salsas, juices and purees and handmade churros — not to mention a new weekday breakfast service. Did we mention the 2,400 square-foot restaurant, located in the Greenway Plaza complex near Richmond and Edloe, also features a roster of beer and from-scratch margaritas?
When: Early to mid July
Where: 1318 Westheimer
Who: Owner Shawn Bermudez (Stone’s Throw, The Burger Joint) presents this reimagined version of the old Royal Oak bar in Montrose. Chef Matt Pak (The Burger Joint) helms the kitchen while Rex Nielsen (Stone’s Throw) oversees the cocktail program.
What: A tropical wonderland with bright colors, neon signs and palm trees awaits you at Present Company. While the food menu hasn’t been released, the drink menu runs the gamut from wine, champagne and beer to inventive cocktails like the Are Those Space Pants made with gin, lime juice and fresh blackberries, all topped with black cherry-vanilla foam, and the Don’t Tell the Butcher (About the Milkman), which features a one-two boozy punch of spiced rum and banana cognac, plus coconut milk, served in a milk bottle.
Kau Ba Saigon Kitchen
When: July 31
Where: 2502 Dunlavy
Who: Chef Nikki Tran, whom you may recognize from Netflix’s Ugly Delicious and Somebody Feed Phil, relocates from Vietnam to Houston to open Kau Ba Saigon Kitchen, her first U.S. restaurant. She brings her take on Vietnamese-Cajun cuisine, coined “Viejun,” to Montrose.
What: If you’re not sure if Tran’s “Viejun” cuisine is your thing, we’re here to tell you it is. This fusion Vietnamese-Cajun restaurant offers a lot of bang for your buck.
Go for the for the Happy Salad with pineapple, Thai eggplant, calamondin, sesame seeds, mint, lemongrass, stir-fried beef and passion fruit dressing; United Nation Banh Mi with curried shrimp, shrimp roe, apple Kimchi and cream of arugula; or spicy beef noodles simmered in lemongrass infused broth and chili saute.
Kau Ba also boasts a vegetarian menu and a killer chef’s special: Seafood VieJun with shrimp, clams, snow crab in a house garlic and butter sauce with Cajun spice. Enjoy it all in a casual Saigon pre-1975 setting.
When: Late July/ early August
Where: 718 West 18th
Who: The super-cool ice cream sandwich food truck gets a brick-and-mortar location at Lowell Street Market in The Heights.
What: We’ll never say no to basic ice cream sandwich, but Smoosh Cookies has turned the frosty dessert into a sensation with premium ice cream and crazy toppings stacked between two freshly baked cookies. And while the permanent address still offers the same icy sandos, milkshakes, floats and luxe Cookie Split, now there’s even more to sink your teeth into.
New items include a donut and brownie ice cream sandwich, affogatos and churros. So go ahead and skip breakfast (and lunch, and dinner), and dig in.
When: August 4
Where: 114 Main
Who: This Montrose fixture for contemporary electro/disco/EDM and ’80s dance tunes closes its doors on July 28 to head downtown as PaperCity’s Annie Gallay reported.
What: So similar yet so different, Etro has a few surprises in store. Expect the beloved club’s trademark tracks, video screens showing art films and ‘80s flicks, music videos played on a projector and classic arcade games (the new spot will have six instead of two). There also will be a stage that serves as both an elevated dance area and as a platform for live bands to perform, a 24-and-up age requirement on the weekends, and … wait for it … a food concept during lunch that’s expected to launch by the end of the year.
Guaranteed to “spin you right round,” the dance club reopens on August 4 as former Club 6400 DJ Mike Snow christens the new locale without skipping a beat. Uber/Lyft it or take advantage of $5 parking at Spaghetti Warehouse.
When: Early August
Where: 311 Travis
Who: The folks behind Wicklow Heights in The Heights present this tiki bar at Market Square Park downtown.
What: Waiters in Hawaiian shirts, rum cocktails (there are more than 100 rum labels here), shareable drinks served in ceramic treasure chests and tiki drinks will put you in an island state of mind at Kanaloa. Tequila and mezcal based cocktails, wine and beer share the menu.
And if that’s not enough to pique your interest, you can also get Mexican-Korean eats from the Oh My Gogi food truck.
Where: 1931 Fairview
Who: Owner and creator Kelly Barnhart collaborates with Portland-based food blogger Alison Wu to create the menu of gluten free, dairy free, refined sugar free dishes at Vibrant.
What: The all-day restaurant takes over the space formerly occupied by McGowen Cleaners. Dig into a seasonal kale salad or the Savory Toast with house-made gluten-free teff bread, avocado, herb salad, dukkah and two pastured eggs.
Or maybe you’d prefer a salmon rice bowl or cauliflower-chicken salad? Cauliflower rice and shredded roasted chicken are joined by watercress, celery, avocado, pickled apple and pickled mustard seed dressing. If all that sounds a touch too healthy, there’s always the pastry case with a Meyer lemon-poppy seed tart, pistachio thumbprint cookie with rose cashew creme and more.
Where: 1100 Westheimer
Who: A spin-off of James Beard Award-winning chef Chris Shepherd’s defunct One Fifth Steak (One Fifth restaurant changes themes annually and is now One Fifth Romance Languages), Georgia James is located in the revamped former Underbelly space.
What: Based on the mouth-watering top-notch cuts of beef served at One Fifth Steak, we’re already fans of this upcoming steakhouse. The food roster not only boasts cast-iron steaks, but also cold seafood items, seasonal and locally-sourced sides, and dishes served tableside, including the Airman Salad based on late Mexican restaurateur Alex Cardini’s original Caesar salad recipe.
And if that’s enough to get your attention, desserts include a one and a half pound apple pie, the wine cellar has 500 selections, and, yes, you can still get the baller boards, a popular carryover from One Fifth Steak, off-menu. Go for it.
Where: 1201 Saint Emanuel
Who: Restaurant group Agricole Hospitality’s (Coltivare, Revival Market, Eight Row Flint) has three new concepts — Indianola, Miss Carousel and Vinny’s — all set to open at the same address in EaDo this August.
What: Indianola, named for the mid-1800s Texas port of entry for European immigrants, fittingly presents culturally diverse yet familiar food and a global wine program, largely consisting of wines from Spain, France, Germany, Austria and the Southern Hemisphere.
A lineup of all-domestic wines by-the-glass focuses on small production labels and diverse grape varieties.
Where: 1201 Saint Emanuel
Who: A 5,000-square-foot cocktail bar from Agricole Hospitality (see Indianola above).
What: Cocktails are the headliner at Miss Carousel, where the encyclopedic menu of 25 to 30 drink creations is designed for easy navigation. In order to make it an effortless task to find your newfound favorite, cocktails are grouped in categories that are familiar to most drinkers (sours, collins, highballs, spritzes).
“This bar is about the guest being comfortable and drinking exactly the way he/she wants,” co-owner and beverage director Morgan Weber says.
One-third of the drinks list is made up of classics while the rest are original creations, including the Miss Carousel Cocktail made with rye whiskey, cognac, Italian herbal liqueur, Italian walnut liqueur, pistachio-walnut orgeat, orange flower water and fresh lemon.
Where: 1201 Saint Emanuel
Who: Pizza joint from Agricole Hospitality (see Indianola above)
What: The tagline at Vinny’s is “A Slice is Nice.” The team behind this fast-casual pizza by the slice restaurant offers pies in multiple styles at lunch, dinner and late night via delivery.
When: Late August
Where: 1801 North Shepherd
Who: This Tex-Mex restaurant in The Heights comes from Houston-born restaurateur Ford Fry (State of Grace), taking over the former Bernadine’s location.
What: Chef Fry tips his hat to his hometown roots with Superica. A full bar serves up beer, wine, plus cocktails and margaritas including the Vampire Weekend made with spiced rum, house-made rice-based horchata and nutmeg and the Texas Star margarita with tequila, elderflower liqueur, ruby red grapefruit and lime.
The kitchen offers an extensive menu of Texas favorites and reinterpreted classics. Load up on fajitas, enchiladas, nachos and puffy tacos topped with cheese and shredded lettuce, accompanied by rice and refried beans. We want to eat these every single day, forever.
When: Late August
Where: 1801 North Shepherd
Who: Chef Ford Fry’s gulf-centric restaurant, bar and lounge, located in the former Hunky Dory space, shares a roof with his neighboring new Tex-Mex spot Superica.
What: At La Lucha, which means “the fight” in Spanish, the only struggle is trying to decide between the many alluring options, including gulf coast oysters, shrimp, crab, warm biscuits and a fried chicken dinner, all inspired by Ford’s childhood memories of dining at the legendary San Jacinto Inn, which closed in 1987.
Settle in at the neighborhood spot, which features an oyster shucking room and exposed wood burning hearth for roasting oysters, and you’ll be tempted to stay thanks to a bar menu that ranges from bubbly to wine to craft beer to tequila and mezcal offerings.
Irma’s On Texas Avenue
When: Late August
Where: 1475 Texas Avenue
Who: Irma’s, the long-time downtown staple helmed by Louis Galvan, the son of Irma Galvan (Irma’s Original), and his family, moves down the road to the first-floor of the new chic apartment tower Catalyst.
What: While you can still get your familiar favorites: seafood, wild game, and traditional Mexican food dishes, from sizzling fajitas to cheesy enchiladas with chile ancho sauce to Chilean sea bass with shrimp, the menu will move from the chalk board to paper at this upscale locale.
Enjoy sips from an enhanced beverage program in the contemporary space, flooded with natural light, or on one of two tree-shaded patios.
When: Late August
Where: 6119 Edloe
Who: Owner Will Gruy, a professional motorcycle racer from Texas who lived much of his life in Italy, brings Roman-style pizzas to West University.
What: Light and crispy Roman-style street pizza? Yeah, we’re game. All the pizzas, made-to-order or by the single slice, at Pizza Motus, a fast-casual restaurant walk-up window and patio, are worthy of a splurge, but there are also salads, grain bowls, sandwiches and Italian ice to consider.
Bonus: It’s BYOB with no corkage fees.
Blood Bros. BBQ
When: Late August/ early September
Where: 5425 Bellaire
Who: Blood Bros. BBQ goes from a barbecue pop-up to a brick-and-mortar location in Bellaire at the hands of Terry Wong and Robin Wong (Glitter Karaoke, Quy Hoang).
What: Smokin’-good Texas-style ‘cue, including beef brisket, beef and pork ribs, pulled pork and house-made sausages and boudin, with a few twists, including Asian-influenced items, are what’s in store for you at Blood Bros. BBQ.
But that’s not all. Must-try sides include roasted creamed corn, jalapeno coleslaw and potato salad.
Late Summer/September Restaurants
One Fifth Mediterranean
When: September 1
Where: 1658 Westheimer
Who: The third concept of Chris Shepherd’s annual changing restaurant, One Fifth.
What: Chef Chris Shepherd explores the flavors of Greece, Turkey, Israel, Lebanon and the Middle East at One Fifth Mediterranean. The menu is still in the works, but with Shepherd, along with Underbelly culinary director Nick Fine and One Fifth chef de cuisine Matt Staph, developing the dishes, you can bet on having a memorable feast.
When: Late summer
Where: 712 Main
Who: The massive Finn Hall — 20,000 square-feet mecca in The Jones on Main in the JPMorgan Chase and Co. Building — features 10 chef-driven food outlets, a craft beer and curated wine bar, and an Art Deco cocktail lounge.
What: So many options, so little time. Let’s get down to business — the roster of 10 operators includes: Amaya Coffee; Goode Co. Taqueria; Low Tide, a seafood and raw bar concept from the team behind Harold’s Restaurant and Taproom; and Mr. Nice Pie (think giant pizza slices and unique pies) from the group behind Moon Tower Inn and Voodoo Queen Daiquiri Dive.
Also at Finn Hall: Dish Society; Mala Sichuan; Craft Burger with all-natural gourmet burgers by chef Shannen Tune (Craft Burger Food Truck); Sit Lo with Vietnamese street food; falafel-centric Mediterranean joint Oddball Eats; and Yong with Korean barbecue bowls, double-fried chicken and homemade egg rolls.
Now for the two bars. Drink up at Swallow’s Nest, an Art Deco cocktail lounge that serves specialty and classic cocktails, beer, and wines by the glass and by the bottle. St. Jac’s is a casual watering hole where you can enjoy a beer, Houston-themed cocktails and 12 wines on tap.