Traveler's Table takes over the Aqui space in early October.
The food will be elevated, globally inspired eats.
The menu was inspired by the owner's travels across the globe.
Good news travels fast, especially when it’s tasty. A globally inspired new restaurant dubbed Traveler’s Table is hitting Houston in early October.
Taking over the controversial (and shuttered) Aqui‘s prime Montrose space, Traveler’s Table will fill up 520 Westheimer with dishes from North Africa to Mexico, Italy to Thailand — with modern twists and interpretations.
Think smoked chicken arepas, Belgian PEI mussels, pan seared jumbo scallops and more.
Owner Matthew Mitchell dreamed up Traveler’s Table back in 2014 imagining it as cornerstone of culturally diverse cuisines, curated and crafted in an elevated format.
No mere tourist, the journalist and chef has traveled extensively, everywhere from Europe to Asia, living in England during his time at Oxford.
“I really grew to have this incredible passion for food and travel. I really got the opportunity to see lots of parts of the world,” Mitchell tells PaperCity. “My goal is to combine food and travel, really with the theme of exploring the world through food and drink.”
Traveler’s Table, a cornucopia for foods from far afield, is not about culinary carbon copies.
While Mitchell, executive chef Jordan Economy and general manager Austin Moreno have a weekly agenda marked up with trips planned to Asiatown for authentic Chinese meals and Hillcroft for Indian dishes, Traveler’s Table will put unique spins on these ethnic eats.
“We wanted to introduce something where all these different cuisines can be enjoyed in the same location,” Mitchell says. “It’s not the Chinatown version of Chinese food. These are meant to be modern versions of traditional dishes, more of a chef-driven concept.”
Expect dishes that are lighter, brighter and healthier, with more flavor and more elegant plating.
“It’s not meant to be your grandmother’s Pad Thai. But hopefully an elevated version of that,” Mitchell says “We hope people see the truth behind the dishes but see the creativity inside them as well.”
Traveler’s Table’s menu isn’t an exhaustive roundup of worldwide dishes. All the menu items were selected conscientiously. Mitchell and his team discovered dishes around the world, loved them, brought them back and updated them.
The menu’s Khao Soi stands out for Mitchell. He and his wife tried this Northern Thai yellow chicken curry dish at a dozen different restaurants during their time in Thailand.
“We worked really hard to dial that in and bring us to Chiang Mai where we first had it. That trip was atmospheric, it felt really immersive. This dish really brings us back to that,” Mitchell says.
And the geographically organized menu has a playful side.
“We try to span the chasm between foreign and familiar. I think some of the dishes we’re most excited about are ones we’ve taken creative liberties with. We present dishes in a different form,” Mitchell notes.
Two of the most imaginative starters — Vietnamese Pho Soup Dumplings and “Peking-style” Duck Gyoza with hoisin sauce — put this on display. “They show more of our personality, what we mean by curated global cuisine,” Mitchell says.
The aim is something for everyone — even those who aren’t as big into backpacking across whole continents. Menu items such as spaghetti carbonara, shrimp and grits, and a cheeseburger ensure there’s something for everyone to embrace, even if there are few stamps on your passport.
Traveler’s Table Truths
There will be seats for 141 people inside and 32 people outside on the patio to enjoy dishes such as Whole Roasted Mediterranean Branzino, Chinese 5 Spice Duck, Jamaican Jerk Pork Shank and more.
But the best seat in the house might just be at the literal Traveler’s Table, a community-style area like no other.
“I had it in my imagination as kind of like harkening back to the days of travel, with caravans and spice traders bringing back their goods to their friends and families and laying them out on a travleler’s table for everyone to enjoy,” Mitchell says.
And they can enjoy it from brunch to lunch to dinner, from starters to entrees, from desserts like New Orleans-style bread pudding all the way up to the daring bevy of boozy beverages.
“Our cocktail menu is probably every bit as adventurous as our food menu,” Mitchell laughs. Cocktail options include the Bursting Boba Tea Cocktail. The myriad global influences are all tied together in an upscale boho-chic interior designed by Gin Design Group.
Say hello to Traveler’s Table, a restaurant where the roads less traveled converge.