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Restaurants / Closings

Critic Beloved Houston Restaurant is Shuttering After Five Years

High-Profile Chef Turnover Robbed This Former Trendsetter of Some of its Magic

BY // 01.11.19

We’re less than two weeks into 2019, and one of Houston’s most heralded restaurants is already set to shutter. Pax Americana — the Montrose spot that earned national praise soon after it opened, including being named one of GQ magazine’s Best New Restaurants – will soon be gone for good.

It’s the end of an era, to be sure, but the owners are at peace with saying goodbye to their Pax. Tomorrow (Saturday, January 12) will be the last day the restaurant is open.

Owner Dan Zimmerman — who also owns next door’s Bar Victor and the under renovation La Colombe d’Or —  posted a farewell message on Instagram.

“Houston, the time has come to close Pax Americana and allow the team to move onto new projects. We are thankful first and foremost to the Montrose neighborhood and our guests for their support over the years. The adventure wouldn’t have been possible without our dedicated staff, farmers, ranchers, fisherman, and suppliers for the commitment to providing wonderful service and products. We remain thankful for all of the positive accolades received by the local media during our tenure. Our last day of service will be January 12th, we apologize for the short notice, we opted to allow our staff to find new roles and spend much deserved time with their families,” the post reads.

To lessen the blow, the restaurant is serving up boozy discounts: alcohol is 40 percent off tonight and 50 percent off on Saturday.

Pax Americana opened to plenty of critical acclaim when it debuted at 4319 Montrose back in summer 2014. The restaurant received nods from the likes of GQ, Texas Monthly and Food and Wine. The rave reviews lauded the locally sourced, high quality ingredients.

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The restaurant was launched by something of a dream team, if you ask savvy Houston foodies.

Restaurateur Shepard Ross and chef Adam Dorris made up the daring duo. The restaurant and its owner made a mark on The New York Times, which included both in its Houston’s Culinary Bragging Rights article from 2016.

To the national newspaper, Pax Americana was, back then, “a sashaying second home for the city’s young, moneyed and discerningly fed.” And Ross, former New York actor, along with the restaurant were “#winning because they have more than enough substance to match their flamboyance.”

But not long after that, the tectonic plates serving up critically lauded dishes such as braised pork shank with sweet potato and red wine poached pears started to shift.

This is why we can’t have nice things.

First, Dorris made his exit to head up Presidio in The Heights. Then, Pax Americana’s new chef Martha de Leon left early last year after becoming a semifinalist in the James Beard Award’s Rising Star Chef of the Year category and moving to Seattle.

Hunky Dory chef Mark Zeringer was the next to step up to the plate. Recent Yelp reviews are largely positive, and the restaurant’s overall score is still four stars. Still, some argued the one-time trendsetter had lost some of its former glory.

Rest in peace, Pax Americana.

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