Restaurants / Lists

Where to Eat in Houston

7 Hot New Restaurants You Need to Know

BY // 03.21.17

Houston’s immense number of restaurant openings still manages to surprise me. Each season, I sit back in awe of the city’s growing collection of dining destinations while lamenting the inevitable fallen, and this spring proved no different.

While we’ve been forced to say farewell to restaurants like Little Liberty, Arthur Ave, and Triniti, we’ve welcomed an excitingly diverse fleet of newcomers that are dishing out everything from beer-battered sweet potato tots to savory dipping ramen.

As spring enters its full swing, what better way to embrace the season’s mantra of “new beginnings” than with a new culinary adventure. Here — seven recently opened restaurants to indulge in throughout the month of March and beyond.

1). Bosscat Kitchen + Libations, 4310 Westheier Road, Whiskey rules at Bosscat Kitchen + Libations, the brainchild of owners John Reed, Leslie Nguyen, and Vinnie Capizzi. The Newport Beach-based transplant is dishing out modern American comfort food crafted by chef Peter Petro — think everything from Nashville hot frog legs and warm pimiento cheese to Cajun brick chicken and 12-hour braised short ribs. (Don’t leave without a taste of the staple Bosscat burger.)

But the true stand out lies within the fleet of seasonal cocktails created by bar director Matt Sharp, which includes whiskey-centric libations such as The Bosscat (Basil Hayden’s bourbon, citrus bitters, rosemary), the House Old Fashioned, and my personal favorite, the Bosslady Vol. 2 (Wild Turkey bourbon, blackberry citrus-infused syrup, thyme).

Enjoy your drink at Bosscat’s expansive bar, or reserve the restaurant’s secluded whiskey room which houses more than 260 whiskey varieties alongside VIP lockers and a 12-seat table for private dining. 

Bosscat’s 12-Hour beef short ribs

2). Field & Tides, 705 East 11th Street, The Heights gains yet another restaurant with Field & Tides, the first solo project from former Liberty Kitchen chef Travis Lenig. With the help of his partner Christopher Ramirez (Liberty Kitchen’s former director of operations), Lenig melds Asian, French, Italian, and Southern flavor profile to create a diverse menu filled with crispy pimiento cheese fritters, crab soup, pan-seared scallops, bacon wrapped pork loin and duck confit alongside vegetarian options such as the herb, tomato, and garlic frittata and the potato and peppers.

It’s safe to say that the restaurant’s broad menu makes it easy to please everyone, including the pickiest eater in you crew.

Whimsical cocktails are prepared by another Liberty Kitchen veteran, beverage director Monique Hernandez. I recommend a sip of the Angry Gunsel, where the habanero and jalapeño-infused tequila stands out as the star. Field & Tides is also serving Saturday and Sunday brunch, which features everything from pain perdu and biscuits & gravy to a pulled pork buttermilk stack and the F&T hash.

3). Hopdoddy Burger Bar Rice Village, 5510 Morningside Drive, While Hopdoddy’s famed burgers made their official Houston debut last summer in River Oaks District, the hip burger haven’s latest location in Rice Village is offering Houstonians a few upgrades. Hopdoddy’s second Houston burger bar touts a larger indoor space, which cuts down on long lines spilling outdoors.

The eatery is also stationed at Rice Village’s new open plaza space, which features outdoor seating and free Wi-Fi.

Indulge in Hopdoddy’s signature burgers, shakes, and fries (I’m partial to the ahi tuna burger paired with truffle fries and a side order of queso.), or experience the new Rice Village location exclusive — the Hoss’ Hot Chicken prepared with fried hot chicken and baby kale slaw.

4). Laurenzo’s Bar & Grill1910 Bagby Street, From the masterminds of El Tiempo Cantina and Laurenzo’s Prime Rib, comes Laurenzo’s Bar & Grill. The Midtown restaurant, which debuted earlier this year, meshes favorites from the Laurenzo Family’s existing concepts to create a diverse menu in the former Republic Saloon space — the newly renovated digs feature highlights such as a private dining space, an expansive sports bar (fully equipped with flat screens), and a large patio for al fresco dining.

Perhaps the most exciting aspect of the latest Laurenzo’s concept is its partnership with Landmark Houston Hospitality Group, which is responsible for popular Houston restaurants like Hearsay Gastro Lounge and 51Fifteen at Saks. The new alliance is driven by a desire to attract a more young, hip clientele — a perfect fit for its Midtown surrounds.

Chef Donny Navarette showcases a menu mash-up of Laurenzo’s Prime Rib and El Tiempo classics such as Laurenzo’s signature prime rib, margherita pizza, and legendary Sunday gravy, as well as El Tiempo’s popular fajitas, margaritas and crab enchiladas. Other must-tries include the crab claws (which are swimming in a heavenly sauce), jalapeño bruschetta, chicken paillard salad, fried oyster nachos, pepper filet steak and Cancun carne asada. 

Nonno’s pasta alongside the cauliflower piccata at Nobie’s

5). Nobie’s, 2048 Colquitt Street, A quaint 1930s bungalow sets the stage for chef Martin Sayer’s new restaurant Nobie’s (named for his grandmother Nobie). Sayer, who’s trained in premier kitchens such as the former Aries restaurant in Houston and Chicago’s Michelin-starred L20 and Moto restaurants, brings his fine dining chops to relaxed surrounds with elevated seasonal plates. 

The restaurant features a revolving menu of 20 to 25 items, so while you can, you’ll want to start your meal with Sayer’s beer-battered sweet tots paired with harissa spice and goat cheese; Texas tartare made with smoked jalapeño, parsley, capers, deviled eggs and served with toast; and the Thai crispy rice salad topped with shrimp, peanuts, herbs, chili, and lime.

The cauliflower piccata served with polenta and Nonno’s pasta — fashioned with sous chef Aaron Mooney’s hand-rolled pasta — round out the meal.

An added bonus is Nobie’s eclectic playlist sourced from Sayer’s personal vinyl collection and blasted through a vintage sound system. Brace yourself for everything from Johnny Cash to Outkast.

6). The Pearl Restaurant and Bar, Sam Houston Hotel, 1117 Prairie Street, Let’s face it, hotel restaurants often get a bad rap. The historic Sam Houston Hotel is striving to change the status quo with its newly unveiled lobby bar and restaurant, The Pearl, which is manned by up-and-coming chef Chris Loftis (the former chef de cuisine at Killen’s Steakhouse).

Loftis presents seafood-centric breakfast, lunch, dinner, and bar menus in the restaurant’s nautical-inspired ambience designed by H3D Hospitality Design’s Candice Schiller and notable architect Craig Schuster.

Loftis’ gulf fried oysters and Jodie’s steak tartare (white anchovies help elevate the classic dish.) are enough cause for a return visit, but you’ll also want to snag the tomato salad, which hits various high notes thanks to the addition of creamy burrata; the snapper, which is artistically plated with peas, romesco, and pickled potatoes; and grouper served on a bed of curry corn, lentils, and cilantro salad.

Gulf fried oysters at The Pearl

7). Ramen Tatsu-ya, 1722 California Street, It seems these days everyone’s crazy for ramen, so it helps to have an ever-expanding noodle landscape. Austin favorite Ramen Tatsu-ya has finally debuted its first Houston location, and let’s just say it’s a must visit. (How can you pass up a restaurant that’s been voted best ramen in the country?)

Of course, chef-owners Tatsu Aikawa and Takuya Matsumoto’s 60-hour tonkotsu broth is the star of five of Tatsu-ya’s eight ramen offerings (if you’re up for something new, opt for the Tsukemen, a dipping ramen paired with condensed pork broth), but veggie and chicken ramen are also available.

But the great thing about Ramen Tatsu-ya is that the ramen isn’t the eatery’s only highlight. The munchie katsu slider and chashu rice bowl are just as noteworthy.

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