The Spots Opening Before the End of 2018 That Every Self-Respecting Foodie Must Know About
by Marci De Luna, Papercity
While you may not be ready to say goodbye to summer, you can excitedly look forward to the debut of several new Houston restaurants between now and the end of the year. The super-active season of openings includes several restaurants with a healthy slant, a much anticipated downtown food hall and some out-of-town concepts heading into H-Town for the first time.
These are the 21 new Houston restaurants you need to know as the calendar starts to turn toward 2019. In 2018, the best (restaurants) may be saved for last.
When: This Wednesday, September 12
Where: 1101 Uptown Park
Who: Flower Child, from Phoenix-based Fox Restaurant Concepts (North Italia), will open its doors at the Uptown Park shopping center.
What: The kitchen at this fast-casual restaurant cranks out gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan items, including the Thai Cashew Quinoa Bowl with red quinoa, zucchini, snap peas, shiitake mushrooms, jalapeno, Thai basil and cashew and the Flying Avocado Wrap with smoked turkey, gouda, romaine, tomato, avocado and hummus, while the bar serves up fresh juices, seasonal lemonades, organic wine, local brews and kombucha.
When: Late September
Where: 3737 Richmond
Who: A love letter to executive chef Drake Leonards’ southern Louisiana heritage, Eunice, located in the heart of Greenway Plaza, is named for his hometown and the menu offers modern Cajun-Creole brasserie-style dishes.
What’s more, the 7,000 square-foot space with farmhouse elements, designed by Houston’s Gin Braverman of Gin Design Group (Goodnight Charlie’s, Axelrad Beer Garden), aims to capture the southern charm of the region.
What: Seasonal ingredients are revered by Leonards, who has cooked at Luke and August in New Orleans and for New York’s Daniel Boulud, whose impressive roster of restaurants includes the eponymously named and Michelin two-star rated, Daniel. Leonards’ menu focuses on items from the Gulf Coast with a European spin.
Go for hearty mains such as Bandera quail, Texas redfish courtbouillon, slow roasted cochon de lait and roasted shellfish-stuffed oysters. A raw bar features shrimp, blue crab and oysters from Louisiana and Texas. Finish your meal on a sweet note with a selection of tarts, pies and house-spun ice creams and toast to the evening with beer, wine, or a selection from the curated cocktail menu.
Jonathan’s The Rub
When: Late September
Where: 12505 Memorial Drive
Who: The second outpost of neighborhood gem Jonathan’s The Rub is situated at mixed-use community, Memorial Green. Put yourself in the hands of owner and executive chef Jonathan Levine, Shepard Ross (Glass Wall, Pax Americana, Bravery Chef Hall) who consults on restaurant operations and the wine program, and Linda Salinas (Hungry’s, La Grange), who oversees the bar program.
What: American- and Latin-inspired creations are served alongside old familiar favorite dishes from the original Memorial-area locale of Jonathan’s. Say cheers to craft beers, a well-curated wine list, and classic and shareable cocktails.
When: October 1
Where: Radom’s Lowell Street Market (in The Heights) at 18 W 18th Street
Who: Former Houston restaurant critic Cuc Lam switches gears, going from a seat at the table to the kitchen helm as she teams up with Jerry Lasco (The Tasting Room, Max’s Wine Dive) to open Sing, a tribute to Singapore, at Radom’s Lowell Street Market.
What: Chef-driven wok dishes that are made-from-scratch are yours in under five minutes at Sing. Yeah, you read that right. This casual joint, with a small patio and seating inside for 30 guests, aims to get your palate-pleasing mango shrimp spring rolls, lemongrass pepper ribs, bak kut teh (pork bone noodle soup), laksa (spicy curry coconut noodle soup), chicken tikka masala and char kway teow (flat rice noodle stir-fry) to you quickly, leaving you plenty of time to hit the town.
Shun Japanese Kitchen
When: Early October
Where: 2802 South Shepherd
Who: Owner and chef Naoki Yoshida — who spent 17 years honing his craft at his family’s Montrose restaurant Nippon Restaurant — cooks here. He’s joined at Shun — Japanese for “peak season” — by sous chef Nick Hill (Triniti). Aki Hagio (Sanctuari Bar at Triniti, Bad News Bar) serves as beverage consultant.
What: Izakaya-style small plates and sushi offerings headline the roster of seasonal Japanese cuisine at Shun. You’ll be drinking innovative cocktails made with Japanese spirits and sake galore thanks to an encyclopedic list of Japanese rice wines.
When: October 26
Where: 111 North Post Oak
Who: The team at Tribute includes executive chef Neal Cox (Americas, Pappas Bros. Steakhouse) and sommelier Vanessa Treviño Boyd (Philippe Restaurant + Lounge, 60 Degrees Mastercrafted).
What: Tribute, located in the former Olivette space, branches off the main lobby of The Houstonian Hotel. At this sophisticated restaurant, you’ll find a wine room with more than 500 bottles, 40 wine lockers for private collectors and flavorful regional cuisine. Options include charred rib-eye steak and Gulf oysters prepared on a wood-burning grill, braised cabrito, smoked Wagyu beef rib, and redfish on the half shell.
When: Late October
Where: 1809 Washington
Who: B.B. Lemon is brought to you by Benjamin Berg, who knocked our socks off with B&B Butchers & Restaurant, took over 37-year-old Italian restaurant Carmelo’s Cucina Italiana in time to stop its doors from closing, and aims to open Benjamin restaurant at downtown apartment high-rise, The Star, in 2019.
What: Berg, who is originally from New York, brings a taste of the Big Apple to this cozy Washington Avnue bistro. Its New York-influenced pub eats include French onion soup, fish and chips, shepherd’s pie, a bacon cheeseburger and items from a raw bar.
Where: 110 South Heights
Who: Truth BBQ which earned a spot on Texas Monthly’s hallowed “Top 50 Barbecue Joints” list, comes to the Bayou City. Houston-born pitmaster-owner Leonard Botello IV, who recently competed on Food Network’s Chopped Grill Masters, steers the food program at the 6,000 square-foot space, and the menu features an abundant amount of smoked meats.
What: At Truth, stack your tray with melt-in-your-mouth prime brisket, pork ribs, beef ribs, homemade sausage and smoked turkey, creative sides, from tater tot casserole to mac ‘n’ cheese with bacon, and homemade multi-layered cakes by the slice. Grab an ice-cold beer, roll up your sleeves — and dig in.
Where: 4444 Westheimer
Who: Clé Group turned heads with high-profilers and champagne girls at party spots Clé and Spire, and now the company is set to launch Bisou, French for “kiss,” at River Oaks District with a menu of continental cuisine.
What: Start with arancini-wrapped escargot in spicy butter sauce and move on to whole roasted chicken and crabmeat mac ‘n’ cheese. Linger over classic cocktails, offerings from an extensive roster of wine and champagne magnums. During late-night dinners and Sunday brunch when a DJ spins, the restaurant walks the line between restaurant and club, so be ready to mingle.
Where: 1836 Polk
Who: The Rustic out of Dallas is the brainchild of Kyle Noonan, Josh Sepkowitz and Texas country artist Pat Green. The downtown 25,000-square-foot venue offers Houstonians a new place to dine and catch live music performances.
What: The restaurant cooks up homestyle dishes and smoked meats, from beer-can game hen with jalapeno bread to a wood-grilled pork chop with ancho-lime butter. The bar doles out 40 beers on tap with a Texas leaning, classic and creative cocktails, and an expansive list of wines.
Live music fans will be over the moon thanks to a stage in the large outdoor patio area for various acts to perform seven days a week. There’s also a retractable roof, two VIP areas, and an Uber Lounge for ride-hailing users.
Where: 449 West 19th
Who: Get ready for several openings at Heights Waterworks, a new development located at the corner of 19th Street and Nicholson Street.
What: The Verdine success story starts in 2014 with Ripe Cuisine all-vegan food truck and leads to this brick-and-mortar operation, designed by architect Issac Preminger (Tiny Boxwoods, B&B Butcher). Natural foods chef and registered dietitian, Stephanie Hoban has been driving this food success every step of the way.
Other restaurants coming soon to the complex including a branch of Austin-based burger-chain Hopdoddy, Jinya Ramen Bar and Common Bond.
What: On the entirely plant-based menu at Verdine, you’ll find some carryovers from the food truck, from beet falafel to jackfruit carnitas, along with vegetable-centric bowls, salads and bar bites. The quaint restaurant with seating for 80 also presents a small menu of organic-driven wine and craft beers.
Sweet Paris — Highland Village
Where: 2701 Drexel
Who: A modern interpretation of a classic French cafe, Sweet Paris, with several locations across Houston and one at the Vidanta Hotel in Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico, heads to Highland Village.
What: Waffles, omelettes, soups, salads and paninis share space on the menu with breakfast options, sweet, and savory crepes (think croque madame, chicken enchilada, dulce de leche and apple cinnamon creme brulee), available with vegan, gluten and dairy-free batter.
Place your order at a Carrera marble counter adorned with steel buckets of wine and craft beers.
When: Late November
Where: 1344 Yale
Who: Brian Doke, formerly of Tiny Boxwoods, Relish Restaurant and Bar, and Chapman and Kirby, launches Savoir, an upscale yet approachable restaurant in The Heights.
What: The menu at Savoir was not available for preview, but look for seasonal modern American dishes with a European influence at this chef-driven spot. And count on housemade pasta, plus beer, cocktails, and wines by the glass and by the bottle curated by William Meznarich (Victory Wine Group).
Note: Doke is also partnering with Meznarich on La Grande Rue next door (see below).
La Grande Rue
When: Late November
Where: 1344 Yale
Who: La Grande Rue, from Brian Doke and William Meznarich, is a wine bar and wine merchant shop rolled into one.
What: Order your vino, and drink it here or take it to go. Although you may want to stick around for cheese and charcuterie boards, baguettes and small plates from a chef-driven menu.
Dish Society-Finn Hall and The Heights
Where: 712 Main; 1050 Yale
Who: With two new locations, it’s a busy time of year for farm-to-table mini-chain Dish Society. In late November/early December, Dish Society opens its fourth location at Finn Hall, a 20,000 square-feet mecca in the JPMorgan Chase and Co tower. You can dine at Dish Society in The Heights beginning in December.
What: At Finn Hall, the Dish Society menu is condensed, but still offers familiar favorites like fried chicken biscuits, shrimp and grits, and breakfast tacos, along with menu test items. You can also get sandwiches, salads and entrees such as chimichurri steak tacos.
Enjoy the regular food roster of fresh and locally grown eats at The Heights address, where you can partake in a game of darts, shuffleboard or foosball while sipping drinks from an ambitious bar program.
Bravery Chef Hall
Where: 409 Travis
Who: Anh Mai, Lian Pham and Shepard Ross partner up to open Bravery Chef Hall. Six restaurant options, two unannounced including a Mediterranean spot, and three bar concepts share the massive 9,100 square-foot space on the ground floor of Hines’ Aris Market Square downtown luxury apartments.
What: Restaurants at Bravery Chef Hall include —
– Nuna Nikkei Bar: Chef David Guerrero (Andes Cafe) showcases items from the sea, including ceviche and tiradito, and other South American dishes with a fusion of Peruvian, Ecuadorian and Japanese flavors.
– BOH Pasta: Chef Ben McPherson (Krisp Bird and Batter, Prohibition Supperclub and Bar) serves up homemade pasta, Roman-style pizza and gelato.
– Cherry Block Craft Butcher and Seasonal Kitchen: Felix Flores (Black Hill Meats, Blood Bros. BBQ) and Jessica Timmons (Landry’s, Redneck Country Club) bring locally-sourced, wood-fired steaks and chops, smoked brisket, porchetta, and the like.
– The Blind Goat: The winner on Gordon Ramsay’s Masterchef Season 3 on Fox, chef and author Christine Ha, cooks up elevated Nhau Vietnamese food made with local ingredients and prepared via traditional and modern techniques.
Bars at Bravery Chef Hall include:
– Bartending teams from around Houston have gone head-to-head for the grand prize of operating their own bar at Bravery. The winner has yet to be announced but stay tuned.
– An outdoor bar, enclosed in a greenhouse structure, offers frozen drinks, a coffee program and more.
– A wine bar with a curated list of wines, with more than 30 vintages on tap.
When: December/January 2019
Where: 7620 Katy Freeway
Who: Downtown’s defunct Spaghetti Warehouse, flooded beyond repair during Hurricane Harvey, returns as a new concept called Warehouse 72, located inside the Marq*E Entertainment Center.
What: This is a great place to nosh on traditional pastas, and handcrafted pizzas before popping over to Edwards Houston Marq’e Stadium 23 and IMAX to catch a movie. Mains include roasted short ribs with a sweet demi-glace and pickled baby carrots; Gulf coast shrimp with sweet mesquite and sumac (tangy, lemony spice); and pizza guanciale, a Neapolitan-style pie with whipped mozzarella, Berkshire sausage, Tuscan pesto and local honey.
Where: 9630 Clarewood
Who: Mike Tran expands his restaurant empire, which includes Tiger Den, Ohn Korean Eatery, Mein, Aka Sushi House and Blkdog Coffee, with Ishin Udon.
What: While this Japanese udon (noodle) shop is still under construction and no official menu is currently available, you can expect dishes like egg drop beef udon, basil pesto udon, and miso pork udon in a stylish setting at restaurant hit master Tran’s latest venture.
Perry’s Steakhouse and Grille
When: December/Early 2019
Where: 1997 West Gray
Who: Suburban high-end chophouse chain, Perry’s, makes a move inside the loop with a new River Oaks location. The two-story 12,000-square-foot restaurant boasts Bar 79, with a large island bar and outdoor patio seating, on the first floor and the main dining room upstairs.
What: Perry’s offers butcher-fresh cuts of top-notch beef. The impressive châteaubriand is served table-side with three sauces: truffle merlot demi-glace, béarnaise and peppercorn reduction. While you’re here for red meat, of course, don’t ignore the fried asparagus spears topped with jumbo lump crabmeat or the pork chop. It’s cured, roasted, smoked and caramelized before it ever even lands on your plate.
Other Upcoming Hotspots
Jack & Gingers
Where: 2416 Brazos
Who: Union Venture Group (Red Door, Saint Genevieve) brings two Austin bars to Midtown with Jack & Gingers and neighboring bar, 77 Degrees (see below). They share the block with Unicorn Disco (from the folks behind Houston’s HandleBar) and Electric Feelgood (the group behind Dogwood) — and both are slotted to open in 2019.
What: Polished Irish pub Jack & Ginger’s, has more than 80 beers on tap and Irish and American comfort eats, from Guinness-battered fish and chips to bangers and mash to a pulled pork sandwich.
Where: 2416 Brazos
Who: Union Venture Group (Red Door, The Good Life, Saint Genevieve) is behind this Midtown bar.
What: Get your drink and dance on at 77 Degrees. Four stories tall, the Austin import boasts cabana-style seating, cocktails aplenty, and a Caribbean-inspired menu of tapas.