Present Company is one major pasted party — it's all about the ambience.
Kau Ba Saigon's signature Viejun is sure to be a winner.
Any Ugly Delicious-approved cuisine is worth a try, like this dish at Kau Ba Saigon.
Ayesha Curry's Houston International Smoke faced backlash before its doors even opened.
Sip on a Stranger Danger at Present Company.
A new Aladdin has opened up in Garden Oaks.
The combo plate is the way to go at Aladdin.
Chef Johnny Rhodes is nominated for Rising Star Chef of the Year.
Indigo's tasting menu comes courtesy of a former Oxheart line cook.
Fusion Eats brings a blend of tasty colors and cultures to Greenway Plaza.
You've never seen falafel quite like Fusion Eats'.
The peri peri chili is the inspiration behind The Peri Peri Factory.
The Peri Peri Factory offers seven different levels of spice.
International Smoke is bringing some serious ribs.
International Smoke wants you to smell — and taste— the smoke.
Snowballs x Bebidas is perfect for your cheat day, a little sweet and a little organic.
This Bebidas brown rice bowl will keep you going in the summer heat.
The first in the Sunday Supper series at The Grove paired sautéed gulf shrimp and fava beans with a dry Vouvray.
The live oak grilled lamb racks at The Grove are the tour de force.
Editor’s note: The Houston restaurant scene is constantly changing, with new hotspots, must-try places and major foodie events coming along on a daily basis. Even the most dedicated eater can have trouble keeping up. Don’t worry, PaperCity has you covered.
With temperatures at a constant swelter, it’s time to check out August’s hottest must-eat Houston restaurants.
Neo-soul restaurant Indigo hit the scene in late July. The project by former Oxheart line cook Johnny Rhodes puts tasting menus front and center. Two innovative seatings per night show off Rhodes’ skills.
Two years in the making, Indigo aims to show the history of soul food one plate at a time. But that doesn’t mean all is traditional at this restaurant at 517 Berry. Expect a blend of different African cooking styles.
You’ll find names that challenge stereotypes, like Cornrows and Convictions, braided squash with a pumpkin butter glaze; Affirmation of a Stereotype, chilled watermelon and pickled blueberry soup; and If Marcus Garvey, field peas in Jamaican curry.
Open your mouth, open your eyes.
Kau Ba Saigon Kitchen
Chef Nikki Tran wants you to get lost in the lost recipes of Saigon — and her signature East-meets-American-South Viejun cuisine, of course. Just don’t ever call it fusion. The Ugly Delicious star opened the follow-up to her two popular Vietnam-based restaurants at 2502 Dunlavy in July.
The Viejun is a must-have: shrimp, clams and snow crab slathered with Tran’s special garlic and butter sauce, blended with Cajun spices. Tran wouldn’t serve anything she wouldn’t eat, and in Vietnamese tradition that means no MSG, minimal white sugar and the freshest ingredients.
Vietnamese food goes far beyond your classic crunchy bahn mi and bowl of pho. At Kau Ba, you can delight in dishes you’ve never had before like com tam with grilled pork, shredded pork skin, minced pork cake and a sunny side up egg.
The vegetarian menu doesn’t disappoint either, with the Happy Salad bursting with pineapple, Thai eggplant, calamondin and lemongrass.
If you’re a fan of Fusion Taco, you’ll likely fall head over heels for Fusion Eats. You can’t miss the restaurant at 9 Greenway Plaza, with its lively green space dotted with bright Adirondack chairs. The seating’s almost as colorful as the menu itself.
Fusion Taco favorites have all made their way to the menu. That includes Lamb Keema so convincing you’ll think it came from an Indian restaurant — and BBQ Berkshire pork with roasted corn salsa and grilled onions.
But you’ll also find the unexpected: mushroom medley quesadillas, monster-sized falafel, dragon roll salads, seasonal soups, ceviche and paninis. It’s hard to say whether brunch or happy hour takes the cake.
Just know that for happy hour, there are cocktails by the pitcher, and margaritas from scratch.
The Royal Oak may be gone, but you’ll be in good company at the newest bar at 1318 Westheimer. The owner of Montrose mainstays Pistolero’s, Stone’s Throw, Boondocks and The Burger Joint just opened Present Company, a bar, restaurant and 1960s Palm Springs fantasyland all rolled into one.
Present Company’s debut was pushed back because of a fire in 2017. Now, it’s hard to imagine Montrose without this kitschy, all-things-pastel, Cocktail-inspired paradise. Colorful birdcages hang from the ceiling at Present Company, palm trees sway on its rooftop patio.
Sip on a Stranger Danger with watermelon vodka, lime juice, honeysuckle liquer, prosecco and watermelon-kiwi La Croix, served in the fizzy can, no less. Top foods to pair it with? Asparagus and goat cheese pizza, a barbecue pulled pork sandwich and parmesan truffle fries.
After much hype and a flurry of foul Yelp reviews from bitter Houston Rockets fans, International Smoke is finally here. The meat mecca from celebrity chef Michael Mina and Ayesha Curry (yes, Stephen Curry’s better half) has finally opened to foodie fanfare at 800 Sorella in CityCentre.
Get ready for dishes such as Kalua “instant bacon,” Wagyu shaking beef and Tokyo-style chicken Karaage.
The incredibly diverse menu showcases a variety of ethnic culinary traditions from all over, inspired by Mina and Curry’s extensive travels. Think smoked meats with St. Louis to Lebanon influences. American barbecue makes up just 10 percent of the vast menu.
The massive smoker is the crown jewel, five feet wide and seven feet tall. It holds a whopping 26 racks of ribs. The Mexican oven and Josper coal oven don’t hurt, either, The latter is used for baked hot shellfish, including lobsters, oysters and clams drizzled with Espelette pepper miso butter.
There’s always a reason to check out The Grove, the modern American spot cozied up in the heart of downtown’s Discovery Green at 1611 Lamar. But this summer, there’s more reason than ever — a Sunday Supper series.
The communal-style dinners spotlight carefully curated wine pairings and local eats.
On August 19 and September 9, you can enjoy two unique meals, all about local Gulf seafood, house-butchered meats and farm-to-table veggies. The $50 prix fixe cost covers the meal, gratuity, valet and a welcome cocktail.
The wine pairing is optional, but it adds a whole other layer. The chef starts with a vegetable or protein before finding a wine with a fitting flavor profile. The wine then serves as the jumping off point for every other ingredient in the dish.
At one point or other, we’ve all sidled up to the mighty Montrose Mediterranean buffet line at Aladdin. Now, there’s a brand new Garden Oaks option at 1737 W. 34th. No matter your neighborhood, you can come in for a combo platter or entree.
The combo situation is simple: there’s your standard gyro platter, lamb kabob platter, lamb shank platter and fish platter. But Aladdin really shines in the unassuming “entree and three sides” and “four veggie sides” categories.
If we were better at math we’d lay out the permutations, but you can imagine. Meats range from curry chicken stew to kafta kabob, chicken shawarma to lamb meatballs. Veggies include everything from Italian green beans to pomegranate eggplant, from saffron rice to roasted cauliflower.
Did we mention there are 15 kinds of salad? It’s a cornucopia — get creative.
This pint-sized cafe is on our radar for good reason this summer: can anybody say snowcones? Snowballs x Bebidas brings next-level shaved ice made with the finest organic syrups to 2606 Edloe. You can top your sweet-tooth satisfier with chamoy, condensed milk or MALK nut milks such as almond, cashew and maple pecan. It’s as close to healthy as a frozen summer treat can get.
The compact stand is set up in an old drive-thru bank teller’s window, but there’s nothing corporate about it. Bright, bold snowballs decorate the whole area, showing off flavors like “Smells like Summer” with lemonade, lavender and mint.
And while you’re there, it’ll be hard to resist Bebidas’ cold-pressed juices like the Green Light with green apple, spinach, kale, lemon and jalapeno. Or go basic with an avocado toast. We won’t judge.
The Peri Peri Factory
What came first, the chicken or the egg? Honestly, we couldn’t care less so long as this chicken-centric Houston restaurant is on the map. The Portuguese-meets-South-African spot at 6375 Westheimer is all about the chili pepper it’s known for. It was discovered hundreds and hundreds of years ago in Mozambique and lauded for its rich and piquant flavor.
The factory offers up its Portuguese-inspired grilled chicken at seven different spice levels. Starting with “plain-ish” and working up to a Dante-approved level called “inferno,” the chicken runs the gamut. There’s a chicken for everyone.
And that means chicken legs, breasts, entire half-chickens, chicken wraps, chicken pita breads and even meaty bone-in wings.
Cool it down with a milkshake. Your best bet? Fancy-free Ferrero Rocher.
The Classic All Day
Benjy’s on Washington may have come and gone, but owner Benjy Levit has brought new life to the restaurant space at 5922 Washington. The Classic All Day just opened, promising simple and pristine food and sophisticated cocktails.
It’s a no rush, no fuss neighborhood restaurant that takes diners from morning coffee to date night.
Menu must-haves include shaved Brussels sprouts with watermelon, pure luck goat cheese and walnuts, Pelmeni ear-shaped dumplings with savory fillings and beef and New York-style prime rib sandwich with au jus and horseradish on rye.
Cocktails take you way back with Old Fashion, Sidecar, Revolver and Harvey Wallbanger. The last two are brunch classics, perfect for pairing with the classic breakfast sandwich with roasted pork char Sioux or the grain bowl with scrambled eggs and oyster mushrooms.