Indigo chef Jonathan “Jonny” Rhodes (Photo by Caroline Fontenot)
Each course is plated on custom ceramic dishes, and the food is meant to provoke conversation. (Photo by Caroline Fontenot)
Indigo is an intimate restaurant space with two seatings per night. (Photo by Caroline Fontenot)
Indigo (Photo by Caroline Fontenot)
Indigo is a distinctive setting in a Houston neighborhood that's too often overlooked.(Photo by Christopher Anderson/Solomon Sixteenth)
Indigo (Photo by Caroline Fontenot)
Rhodes' food is highlighted by homemade preserves, infused oils, and pickled vegetables, lending brightness to dishes. (Photo by Christopher Anderson/Solomon Sixteenth)
At Indigo, everything is considered. No wonder it's racking up major food honors. (Photo by Christopher Anderson/Solomon Sixteenth)
Indigo is a coveted reservation. (Photo by Caroline Fontenot)
You could say 2019 has been a very good year for chef Jonathan “Jonny” Rhodes. At just 28 years old, the former Marine and his wife, Chana (who served alongside him on tour in Afghanistan), opened the intimate 13-seat restaurant Indigo in the predominantly African-American Houston neighborhood where he grew up. Almost overnight, rave reviews landed him on the best new restaurants lists published by Food & Wine, GQ and Texas Monthly.
And today, Indigo was named to Time magazine’s World’s Greatest Places, 100 Destinations to Experience Right Now. One of only seven restaurants in the United States, and the only restaurant in Texas that made the cut, Indigo joins a Time 100 list that was evaluated on key factors such as breaking new ground, leading industry trends and offering visitors an extraordinary experience.
This honor comes the day before Rhodes makes his debut at the James Beard House in New York City with five unique courses as part of the “Chef to Watch: Houston Innovator” dinner.
The activist chef — whose résumé includes time behind the range at New York’s Gramercy Tavern and The Inn at Dos Brisas and Houston’s Oxheart — scored a semifinalist nomination for James Beard’s Rising Star Chef of the Year Award. At Indigo, he and Chana (who runs front of the house) focus on neo-soul food, nurtured with a deep understanding of the roots that have shaped African-American foodways in this country.
This BYOB restaurant serves two five-course tasting menus (Herbivore menu $79 and Pescatarian-Chordate $125) with two seatings a night (6 and 8:45 pm), Thursdays through Sundays. Each course is plated on custom ceramic dishes, and the food is meant to provoke conversation, as the well-read Rhodes — whose college major in history is evident in his passionate discussions — joins diners between courses to explain the genesis of his culinary creations, from their link to the systematic oppression endured by his forebears to the mass incarceration of African Americans still occurring today.
Although the dialogue might be complex, Rhodes’ food is highlighted by homemade preserves, infused oils, and pickled vegetables, lending brightness to dishes such as Ash Aged Potato Ashcake and Preserved Green Tomato Upside Down Cake with Cornflake Ice Cream. The result is a deeper understanding of the scarcity of many of the ingredients and the traditions that define the fare we know as soul food.
Indigo is closed the month of August but reservations are now open for the fall season, with seatings beginning September 5. With 13 seats in the restaurant, and only two seatings per night, this is a coveted reservation.
Reservations can be made online at htxindigo.com or directly through resy.com. Indigo, 517 Berry Road, 832.582.6388.