11 Essential Houston Sandwich Shops

Houston may not be known as a sandwich capital like New York or Philadelphia, but the city’s unmatched multiculturalism results in a diverse array of bread based specialties. From Cajun po’boys to Vietnamese banh mi to Mexican tortas, here are Houston’s best sandwich destinations.

Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Kenny & Ziggy's New York Delicatessen

2327 Post Oak Blvd
Houston, TX 77056

(713) 871-8883

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This New York style deli is a family business that began three generations ago. Kenny & Ziggy’s has sandwiches galore including bagelwiches, burgers, hot dogs, chicken sandwiches, grilled cheeses, and hot and cold deli sandwiches. If you dare, try the massive 8 decker Zellagabetsky with meats stacked higher than the Empire State Building.

2. BB's Tex-Orleans

6154 Westheimer Rd
Houston, TX 77057

(713) 339-2566

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BB’s is a beloved late night spot serving Texas-New Orleans fusion. Po’ boys range from traditional fried seafood or roast beef to the Tex-Mex inspired South Texas Fire with fajita beef, jalapenos, and a peppery cheese sauce, all on soft and flaky Leidenheimer French bread. (Multiple locations)

3. Niko Niko's

2520 Montrose Blvd
Houston, TX 77006

(713) 528-4976

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A longstanding Greek eatery, Niko Niko’s specializes is gyros, souvlaki sandwiches, and pitas spread with creamy tzatziki. Carnivorous toppings include chopped lamb and beef, grilled chicken, pork kebob, and beef tenderloin while falafel, spinach and feta, and chargrilled vegetables accommodates vegetarians. Sample three different sandwiches with the hat trick combo—mini versions of the gyro, chicken kebob, and pork sandwich.  (Multiple locations)

4. Local Foods

2555 Kirby Dr
Houston, TX 77019

(713) 255-4440

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Area purveyors Atkinson Farm, Black Hill Ranch, and Slow Dough Bread Co emphasize the “local” in Local Foods. The crunchy chicken sandwich (baked, not fried) is crusted with nuts and seeds adding texture that complements the fluffy pretzel bun. Another standout, the garden sammie, is packed with veggies like Brussels sprouts and avocado and full of flavor from the curry spiced cauliflower and pickled onions. (Multiple locations)

5. Pappa Geno's

1801 Ella Blvd Ste. C
Houston, TX 77008

(713) 863-1222

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Pappa Geno’s brings a taste of Philly to the Bayou City. Grab an authentic cheesesteak sprayed with Cheese Whiz or a number of other steak and cheese varieties like the spicy Wicked Philly, the Texas Philly Melt sandwiched between slabs of Texas Toast, or the Smothered Philly with mushrooms, melted cheese, and brown gravy.  

6. Paulie's

(713) 807-7271

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Paulie’s is a casual neighborhood haunt that’s been a staple of the Montrose community for over 20 years. Known for housemade pasta and shortbread cookies, Paulie’s also offers Italian-style sandwiches like ham, salami, and provolone hoagies; saucy meatball sliders; and grilled paninis like the mozzarella, tomato, and pesto Pizzitola and the Principe with Italian sausage, mozzarella, grilled onions and peppers.

7. Las Tortas Perronas

1837 Bingle Rd
Houston, TX 77055

(713) 461-1900

Las Tortas Perronas is a divey counter service shop in Spring Branch with eclectic decor and over 30 varieties of tortas. Crowdpleasers include the super Cubana with heaping portions of ham, pork, skirt steak, chorizo, egg, and cheese; the ham and pineapple based Hawaiana torta; and the guera with grilled chicken, rich Oaxaca cheese, and avocado. 

8. Les Givral's

2704 Milam St
Houston, TX 77006

(713) 529-1736

Houstonians line up at Les Givral’s for consistently delicious banh mi. These Vietnamese-style street sandwiches are piled with chargrilled barbecue pork or shredded chicken, a smear of pâté, pickled veggies, and fresh cilantro. Wash it all down with a potent Vietnamese iced coffee. 

9. Katz's Deli

616 Westheimer Rd
Houston, TX 77006

(713) 521-3838

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Indulge late night cravings at this 24-hour deli. Katz’s signature sandwiches are available in three sizes: skinny, klassic, and towering New York-sized. The reuben with corned beef, swiss, sauerkraut, and Russian dressing on rye is a house specialty.

Turkey Reuben at Katz’s

10. Urban Eats

3414 Washington Ave
Houston, TX 77007

(832) 834-4417

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Urban Eats is a 3-in-1 market, bistro, and restaurant. The extensive menu features 11 types of sliders including the Picnic, a toasted ciabatta roll topped with barbecue brisket, slaw, and pickles. Also find a fried green tomato BLT slathered with spicy-sweet peach pepper jam and served on a pretzel roll.  

Urban Eats chicken-fried steak and eggs signature sliders

Urban Eats/Facebook

Beloved Houston Seafood Restaurant Debuts New Name, New Location Later This Year

Later this year, the beloved Montrose seafood restaurant formerly known as Danton’s Gulf Coast Kitchen will debut in a new home with a brand new name.

As Eater reported last year, the restaurant is en route to a new space at 1985 Welch Street, and owner Kyle Teas now plans to debut the newly-rebranded Eugene’s Gulf Coast Cuisine later this year. Originally, the plan was to reopen as Eugene’s in January 2019, but that date was pushed back as Teas and his team revamped the 4,600 square foot space on Welch Street, which formerly housed Mockingbird Bistro.

Danton’s served its final meals on December 31 of last year, when it was forced to vacate its Chelsea Market location in Montrose after its building was set for demolition to make way for a fancy new high-rise tower.

To create a homey, vintage look at Eugene’s, Teas repurposed decor from the iconic (and long-shuttered) Sonny Look’s Sirloin Inn for the space, along with the original wood bar from Houston relic Joske’s, according to a press release. The menu for the restaurant will be similar to Danton’s, with classics like gumbo, the New Orleans-style “debris” sandwich, and blackened Gulf catches on offer.

Expect Eugene’s Gulf Coast Cuisine to debut sometime in “late summer or early fall.” Stay tuned for an official opening date.

The 30 most anticipated restaurants, bars, breweries, and food halls opening in Houston this summer

Halfway through 2019, it feels like this year has been a relatively slow one for new restaurants. Sure, places like 1751 Sea & BarTruth Barbeque, and Squable have made big splashes, but the overall pace hasn't been quite as torrid as in 2017 or 2018.

Well, friends, that's about to change. This summer is loaded with interesting concepts from both prominent local operators and established restaurants from beyond the Red River. That doesn't even include the new Ninfa's, which dropped off this list by opening on Monday.

Just to note, this list isn't designed to be comprehensive. For example, some of the 13 restaurants coming to Bellaire Food Street will open this summer, but it isn't yet clear which of them will arrive by Labor Day or in what order. The first, a second Houston-area location of Japanese cream puff purveyor Beard Papa opens June 22.

Also, this list focuses on establishments expected to open before Labor Day. That means that Killen's, the new comfort food restaurant that will replace Hickory Hollow, or Be More Pacific, the Austin-based Filipino restaurant coming to the Heights, are not included, because they won't debut until this fall.

With those caveats out of the way, read on for information about two new food halls coming to downtown, a massive new brewery, the latest project from Justin Yu and Bobby Heugel, Tex-Mex from The Pit Room, and so much more.

B.B. Lemon - Montrose
Ben Berg will open a second location of his upscale diner in the former Pax Americana space. Like its sibling on Washington Avenue, the menu will feature a first-rate cheeseburger made with Texas wagyu beef, but executive chef Emily Trusler will expand the number of seafood offerings. In terms of design, the decor will feature a similar style of plaid wallpaper as Washington, and the patio will be reworked to make it more functional. Expect an opening just before the July 4th holiday.

Bravery Chef Hall
Remember when this food hall in the Aris Market Square apartment tower was going to open in late-summer or early-fall 2018? We don’t either, but the beginning of hiring and training employees makes it appear as though Bravery will finally open in late-June or early-July.

When it does open, the food hall will feature six restaurants and three bars including: Atlas Diner from Richard Knight, the Blind Goat (a Vietnamese pub) from Christine Ha, BOH Pasta from Ben McPherson, Cherry Block Craft Butcher and Seasonal Kitchen (a steakhouse with a wood-fired grill) from Felix Florez and Jess Timmons, Kokoro (seafood) from former Uchi chefs Patrick Pham and Daniel Lee, and Nuna (Peruvian seafood) from David Guerrero. Veteran bartender David Cedeno will lead Lockwood Station, the venue’s cocktail bar, and partner Shepard Ross will oversee the wine bar. Each stand features a dining counter, which will allow patrons to interact with the chefs as they prepare each order. 

Buffalo Bayou Brewing Company
Houston’s most creative brewery will soon open the doors to its massive, three-story facility in Sawyer Yards. In addition to providing increased capacity to make more Crush City IPA and Sam’s Daily, the new Buff Brew will feature a beer garden on the first floor, a 200-seat restaurant on the second floor, and a rooftop patio with a view of the downtown skyline. Chef Arash Kharat moves over from Beaver’s to lead the kitchen; expect the menu to feature his creative cooking mixed with a new focus on beer and its component ingredients. With construction moving quickly, it should open in August.

Bukhara
Set to replace Indika after it closes at the end of June, Bukhara is a new concept from veteran restaurateur Mickey Kapoor (Khyber North Indian Grill). The restaurant takes its inspiration from the region in Uzbekistan that helped shape the culinary trends along the Spice Route that ran from China to Turkey. With kebabs and rice pilaf dishes on the menu, Kapoor promises it will be a “meat lover’s paradise” when it opens in mid-July.

The Burger Joint - Heights
The over two-year process of turning a former mechanic shop at the corner of N. Shepherd Drive and 20th Street into a second location of the popular Montrose burger spot should finally come to an end later this summer. In addition to all the creative burger and hot dog combinations that have made the original equally popular with regular Houstonians and celebrities like Astros shortstop Carlos Correa, the new spot will feature a large patio and a full bar.

Candente
The Tex-Mex restaurant from Sambrooks Management (The Pit Room, 1751 Sea & Bar, etc) is on track for a mid-July opening. Powered by a custom-built wood-burning grill, the restaurant, which replaces the shuttered Montrose location of Cane Rosso, will feature high-quality ingredients and scratch-made recipes. The Wednesday night fajitas special at the Patio at the Pit Room is already a hit; mixing in enchiladas, margaritas, and other classic dishes certainly sounds like a winning formula.

Common Bond - Heights
The third location of the ultra-popular bakery and cafe will makes its debut in the Heights Waterworks development in July. Expect the same sky-high croissants, decadent cakes, and savory entrees as its siblings in Montrose and near the Medical Center.

Craft Pita
The transformation of the Fountainview Square Shopping Center — Barnaby'sreplacing Eatalia, Cabo Bob's replacing Harvest Green — continues with this Mediterranean concept. Owner Rafael Nasr brings years of experience working for Pappas Restaurants to this "fast fine casual" establishment that will serve pita sandwiches, bowls, rotisserie chicken, and more. Locally sourced ingredients, such as vegetables from Plant It Forward Farms and pita from Phoenicia, will help set it apart from other, similar establishments when it opens in August. 

Edelweiss Stube
Located in Bridgeland’s Lakeland Village Center, this Swiss restaurant will celebrate the joys of raclette, which will be served tableside and scraped onto diners’ plates. Chef and co-owner Markus Klauser’s menu will feature Swiss specialities like Älplermagronen, penne pasta with potato cubes in a creamy cheese sauce, and Zürcher Geschnetzeltes mit Rösti, beef, and mushrooms in gravy with shredded, roasted potatoes. We’ll find out whether Cypress residents crave stinky cheese when the restaurant opens in late June.

Eugene’s Gulf Coast Cuisine
Restaurateur Kyle Teas is updating Danton's Gulf Coast Seafood and Steaks in a new location, the former home of Mockingbird Bistro at 1985 Welch St. Named for Teas’ father, the new concept will feature a similar menu as Danton’s with some updated dishes designed to appeal to contemporary diners. Unfortunately, a rep couldn’t confirm a specific opening timeline, but we expect it to open by summer’s end. 

How to Survive on Land and Sea
Mike Sammons, the beverage expert who co-founded 13 Celsius, Weights & Measures, and Mongoose versus Cobra, will bring this wine bar to the Second Ward. Details are light, but Sammons’ track record of success makes anything he does worth following. Look for a mid-July opening.

Loch Bar and Ouzo Bay
Coming to Houston courtesy of Baltimore’s Atlas Restaurant Group, these two seafood restaurants should bring even more energy to River Oaks District. Of the two, Loch Bar is the more casual option. Described as a “seafood tavern,” it features classic fare (crab cakes, lobster roll) as well as an extensive selection of raw oysters. A bar with 400 whiskeys and daily live music should make it a lively hangout spot when it opens June 24.

Ouzo Bay is a more upscale affair that features fresh seafood sourced from around the globe. Dishes like Norwegian langoustines, West African salt prawns, and a lamb shank may be paired with a selection from sommelier Evan Turner’s(Helen, Emmaline) 300-bottle wine list — 225 sourced from Greece. An indoor-outdoor fireplace, octopus tentacle lighting fixtures, and "high-backed cherry banquettes" give the interior a luxurious feel. It opens June 19.

Lotti Dotti
Chef Adam Dorris (Pax Americana, Presidio) makes his triumphant return to Montrose at this new bar, which replaces Brooklyn Athletic Club. General manager Michael Riojas (Beaver’s, Ladybird’s) will oversee the cocktail menu, which will focus on draft options to expedite service; draft beer and wine will also be available. The limited food menu will focus on charcuterie, with Dorris preparing pates, terrines, and dry-cured items that harken back to his time at Stella Sola and Revival Market. It opens in late June.

MAD
BCN chef Luis Roger will expand his repertoire at this new restaurant in River Oaks District than takes its name from the airport code for the city of Madrid. MAD will focus on tapas and a rotating selection of paella cooked over a wood-burning fire. As at BCN, a selection of both classic and creative gin and tonics will be the focus on the cocktail program. While BCN is fine dining with prices to match, MAD will have a more casual atmosphere and lower price points. It opens for dinner on June 19 with lunch to follow in the coming weeks.

Mendocino Farms
Backed by investment money from Whole Foods, this California-based restaurant has already revealed plans for four Houston locations in Rice Village, Uptown Park, downtown, and the Heights — in that order, with Rice Village kicking things off later this summer. Known for its creative sandwiches and salads, the restaurant prides itself on using locally-sourced produce and freshly-baked breads. A reputation for excellent service and reasonable prices have also contributed to its rapid growth.

Monkey’s Tail
Sharif Al-Amin (Helen Greek Food & Wine) and Greg Perez (Calle Onze) are transforming a north Houston dive into a modern, Mexican-American bar with creative cocktails and food. Steven Ripley (Helen, Jonathan’s the Rub) is overseeing the menu, which will include New York-style pizzas, wings with Mexican-inspired dry rubs and sauces, and street corn. A draft wall with 20 taps will join Perez’s cocktails that draw on his Mexican heritage. Since the original late-April timeline has slipped, let's hope for a mid-July opening.

Montrose Cheese & Wine
One of two new concepts from Goodnight Hospitality (Goodnight Charlie's), this retail shop will feature a rotating selection of 12 to 15 cheeses along with a selection of 75 wines focused on (but not limited to) organic, biodynamic, and natural production, In addition, the 760-square-foot shop will also feature gifts, accessories, and wine-related tools when it opens later this summer.

Musaafer by The Spice Route Company
Named after the Hindi world for “traveler,” this ambitious restaurant aims to take diners on a journey across the entire Indian subcontinent. Chefs Mayank Istwal and Shivek Suri took a 100-day journey across the country to collect recipes, techniques, and ideas for the restaurant's a la carte, bar, and tasting menus. Details on specific dishes are still elusive, but the two courses they served at a Recipe for Success dinner in October hint at its potential. Expect lavish decor in the 10,000-square-foot space, which will sit above Fig & Olive in the Galleria VI. Fingers crossed for an August opening.

Penny Quarter
Having successfully launched Squable, Justin Yu and Bobby Heugel can now turn their attention to this all-day cafe that replaces Etro in the space next to Anvil. Pitched as the evolution of Montrose staples like Brazil, Penny Quarter will offer coffee in the morning (courtesy of Alex Negranza), but the cafe’s real focus will be a wine list created by Justin Vann (Public Services, Theodore Rex, etc) that will be available until midnight Sunday-Wednesday and until 2 am Thursday-Saturday. Yu will contribute a menu of toasts, small plates, salads, and other dishes. The opening timeline is still uncertain, but Heugel promises it will be sometime this summer.

Postino - Montrose
A second Houston location of the Arizona-based wine cafe will open in the former Montrose Mining Company space. As with its location in the Heights, patrons may look forward to $5 glasses of wine until 5 pm, a selection of bruschetta and other shareable dishes, and a stylish renovation of the historic building. Expect a late-August opening.

Rosie Cannonball
This casual restaurant from Goodnight Hospitality will features dishes prepared by a wood-burning oven and grill. Chef Adam Garcia will utilize locally sourced ingredients, including vegetables from Goodnight's farm, to prepare pastas, seafood, and meat dishes that let their ingredients shine. Master sommeliers June Rodil and David Keck will team up on a wine list that features affordable vintages from places such as Beaujolais, the Loire Valley, and "progressive" New World producers. Like Montrose Cheese & Wine, Rosie is on track for a late-summer opening.   

Savoir
This wine-fueled new restaurant in the Heights features talents such as managing partner Brian Doke (Tiny Boxwoods), beverage director William Meznarich, and chef Micah Rideout (Potente, Reef, etc.). The restaurant will feature an eclectic menu of mostly European-inspired dishes with enough global touches to feel in touch with contemporary Houston alongside an extensive wine list that covers all varietals and price points. A pop-up dinner in Januaryfeatured two dishes from the menu — chicken bundles (sauteed chicken wrapped in mustard greens) and balsamic-cured duck — both of which received an enthusiastic response from diners.

Beyond the wine list, the restaurant’s stylish look will help set it apart from other spots in the neighborhood. With permitting and construction delays behind it, the restaurant seems to be on track for a July opening.

Shake Shack - downtown
Houston's fourth full service outpost of the New York-based global burger juggernaut — no, the one at Minute Maid Park doesn't count — will arrive at 712 Main St by "mid-summer," according to a representative. That's good news for downtown office workers, JW Marriott hotel guests, and anyone else that appreciates the elegant simplicity of a ShackBurger.  

Strato 550
Named after its height, this restaurant occupies the 43rd floor (550 feet above street level) of downtown office building 1415 Louisiana. Executive chef Evan Parker’s Mediterranean-inspired menu features dishes such as chilled cauliflower soup and scallops with lentils and Spanish chorizo, but it's the expansive views that will be the real draw. It opens June 24.

The Toasted Coconut
The team behind Nobie’s — chef Martin Stayer, sommelier Sara Stayer, and bar manager Sarah Troxell — will celebrate their love of all things tiki at this Montrose restaurant that replaces Maria Selma’s/Texas Shrimp Shack. The food menu features dishes inspired by countries within 20 degrees of the equator with a focus on shareable items like skewers and dumplings. Cocktails will both pay homage to classics like the Zombie and the Painkiller and offer alternatives that don't rely on rum and sweet juices.

If the recent presence of Peter Jahnke (Tongue-cut Sparrow) behind the bar at Nobie’s is any indication of future staff, the Stayers will launch the concept with a talented, veteran crew. Send positive thoughts for a mid-to-late-July opening.

Toukei Izakaya
Chef Mike Tran (Tiger Den, Mein, etc) will complete his project to open six restaurants in a Chinatown shopping center with this izakaya. Inspired by his many trips to Japan, the restaurant will feature a large, wood-burning grill, a chef’s counter for raw dishes, and an extensive selection of Japanese spirits. Predicting the chef’s moves is always a little tricky, but a mid-July opening seems like a safe bet.

Understory
Located in the newly-constructed Capitol Tower, this food hall features a design by acclaimed Austin architect Michael Hsu. It will feature seven restaurants and a cocktail bar, six of which have been announced: SeaSide Poké, East Hampton Sandwich Co., Boomtown Coffee, Mama Ninfa’s Tacos y Tortas, MONA Fresh Italian Food, and Flip ‘n Patties. While most of those are familiar, Mama Ninfa’s is new; it's a fast casual, taco-oriented concept from the owners of The Original Ninfa’s on Navigation. We anticipate a mid-July opening.

The Union Kitchen - Cypress
The sixth location of this wine-fueled comfort food restaurant will replace Jaxton’s Grill at The Boardwalk at Towne Lake complex. That’s good news, since the restaurant comes equipped with a wood-burning oven and grill that sets it apart from other TUK locations. Work is moving swiftly enough that it should open in late June or early July.

Warehouse 72
This restaurant in the Marq*E Entertainment Center will update Spaghetti Warehouse for a new generation. Executive chef Don Flores' new menu will mix Spaghetti Warehouse classics like the 15-layer lasagna and spinach and mozzarella ravioli, while also introducing new tastes like porchetta, Gulf shrimp, and short ribs. To drink, expect an all-new cocktail menu, a focus on Italian wines, and an expanded beer selection. The restaurant plans to open on July 22, according to its website.

Source: CulturemapHouston

The Union Kitchen Is Moving into Cypress

The Union Kitchen scores a new location

This summer, neighborhood restaurant The Union Kitchen will move into the former Jaxton’s Grill House & Bar space at The Boardwalk at Towne Lake at 9955 Barker Cypress Road #104. This will be the sixth The Union Kitchen outpost in the greater Houston area, and the Cypress location will boast 200 seats indoors and 130 seats outside on a patio facing Towne Lake.

“We’ve been looking at the Cypress area for a long time,” Gr8 Plate Hospitality owner Paul Miller said in a press release. “Between the property, the community and the unbeatable location on the lake, it all added up to a great opportunity.”

Squable serves up melted French raclette cheeseburgers

Houstonia visited Justin Yu, Bobby Heugel, and chef Drew Gimma’s new restaurant Squableand counted down the most popular dishes so far. Best-sellers include a Dutch baby pancake with preserved citrus, salt-baked sweet potato and the pork neck schnitzel, and a giant burger topped with butter, melted French raclette, and cornichon pickles.

Elizabeth Warren dines at Ninfa’s on Navigation

While in Houston for the She The People event, presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren sang the praises of Ninfa’s on Navigation. “The first time Bruce came to Houston to meet my family, I picked him up at the airport and drove him directly to my favorite Tex-Mex place, Ninfa’s on Navigation. He’d grown up in Massachusetts and everything in this part of the world was new,” she tweeted, adding: “I ordered him a huge lunch, and he wolfed down every bite. At the end, he said he loved it. Right then, I knew this was a guy I could live with forever. This week we were back in Houston for She the People, and we went back to Ninfa’s.”

Source: Houston Eater

Tacos Over Texas returns to Houston April 7

The spirit of Mama Ninfa Laurenzo looms large over this city. Which is why the Laurenzo family decided to honor their mother with a celebration focusing on a food she knew well: tacos.

Last year's inaugural Tacos Over Texas, a fundraiser for the Ninfa Laurenzo Scholarship Fund, raised more than $100,000 to financially assist students in economic need to reach their educational goals.

This year's event, to be held April 7, hopes to top that amount with an event featuring a chef competition and unlimited taco samples from some of the city's top chefs.

The second annual Tacos Over Texas taco-palooza will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. at The Original Ninfa's on Navigation, 2704 Navigation.

Guests can sample tacos from participating chefs who will include Chris Shepherd from One Fifth Mediterranean, Ronnie Killen from Killen's TMX, Greg Gatlin of Gatlin's BBQ, Ryan Lachaine from Riel, chef Jamie Zelko of Zelko Concepts, and chefs David and Michael Cordua. Other participating restaurants: Bosscat Kitchen & Libations, La Calle Tacos, Poitin, Laurenzo's Restaurant, Tony Mandola's Gulf Coast Kitchen, Café Annie, Tout Suite, Saint Arnold Brewing Company, Grace's on Kirby, Mia's Table, Christian's Tailgate, and Elliot's Table. The chefs are challenged to create a taco inspired by Mama Ninfa.

Tickets are $40 for general admission including two drink tickets; VIP tickets at $200 include early admission at noon. See tacosovertexas.info.

Where to Celebrate National Margarita Day

THE CREATION STORY OF THE MARGARITA is tough to pin down. In 1974, Texas Monthly profiled a former El Paso bartender who claimed to invent the drink around 1942, though it’s curious his wife (whom he married in the 1950s) had the very same name. Cocktail historian David Wondrich goes back to the 1930s, saying the drink was a Prohibition-era tequila variation of the brandy daisy. There are a bunch of other tales that can easily be disputed, many of them set in the 1930s and ’40s. 

However it was created, just know that the margarita is our chosen cocktail—the perfect beverage for the discerning Houstonian.

That brings us to Friday, which is National Margarita Day. It’s a bit of a holiday here, with plenty of restaurants and bars doing special things to mark the occasion. Here’s what’s happening:

  • Chef Hugo Ortega is offering The Greatest Margarita Ever Sold (25-year-aged Grand Marnier, anejo tequila) for a special $15 price (usually $29) at XochiHugo’s, and Caracol. Also, order a margarita-paired tasting menu for $60 per person at either of the three restaurants on Friday.

  • The Original Ninfa’s on Navigation will celebrate with $10 jalapeño piñaritas (jalapeño-infused tequila, mezcal, pineapple, Navigation mix, combier, and a salted mole rim).

  • At Arnaldo Richards’ Picos, get classic margaritas with Don Julio Silver for $10, Altos Resposado frozen tamarind margaritas for $10, El Jimador Silver and Reposado shots for $5 during happy hour, and picorita frozens made with Cazadores Silver for $6 during lunch and happy hour.

  • The Union Kitchen’s special is half-off (or $6) the Love Bug margarita, which includes Volcan Blanco tequila, cranberry liquor, sweet and sour mix, ginger ale, and a chocolate rim.

  • Sylvia’s Enchilada Kitchen will sell house margaritas for $6.50, skinny margaritas for $9, Ambhar mango habanero margaritas for $10, and illegal mezcal margaritas for $10. Come between 4 and 7 p.m. and pay $4 for the house ’rita.

  • Alicia’s Mexican Grille is bringing back its Millonario Margarita, its 12-year anniversary cocktail, from Friday to Sunday. It’s available for $12 (previously $40) at all locations.

  • BCK is offering $5 classic, blood orange, and watermelon margaritas from 11 a.m. to close.

  • State Fare is selling the Texans Rita (tequila, orange juice, lime, agave, curacao, sweet-and-sour mix, egg whites, and a Tajín rim) for $10.

  • The Classic and Benjy’s are both selling margaritas for happy hour prices.

  • BuffBurger’s Margarita in the Buff is available for $4 all day.

  • Get $4 margaritas (with $12 Gulf oysters by the dozen) at Field & Tides.

  • The Rustic will have the Don Julio DJ truck while pouring drinks from a five-foot-tall margarita glass. Party from 5 to 11 p.m., and live music starts at 9:30 p.m.

  • Eight Row Flint is hosting a Margarita Day/Go Texan Day celebration. It’s launching its Real Ale Single Barrel Whiskey, plus pouring Real Ale specials. Also, there’ll be four featured margaritas available at $7 during happy hour (2-6 p.m.) and $11 afterward.

  • The General Public is unveiling its Sweet Diablo Frozen Margarita, selling it for just $1 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

  • Jax Grill will have $4.50 margaritas during an 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. happy hour.

  • Axis Lounge at Royal Sonesta is celebrating with a margarita and taco combo for $18.

  • At Casa Ole, get a $1 margarita of tequila, triple sec, lime juice (regular price $2).

  • Abuelo’s is offering its premium margaritas for $6.95.

  • Fajita Pete’s is offering $0.99 ’ritas. Get a half-gallon to-go for $9.99, or a gallon for $19.99 (delivery available).

  • Pistolero’s will have a parking lot party with a DJ starting at 4 p.m. $5 Hornitos margaritas and $6 Kimo Sabe mezcal margaritas.

  • El Patio will have happy hour from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Margaritas are on offer from $6-13.

Urban Eats to host artist, Ronnie Queenan

Ronnie’s art delivers a broad spectrum of texture, style and emotion. From contrasting repetitive forms to structured figures, each offering it’s viewer an experience worth making time for,” stated owner and culinary director Levi Rollins.

“Please join us January 7th, 2019 through March 31st, 2019 and see his amazing work for yourself,” Rollins said.

Everyone is invited to attend the reception for Ronnie Queenan on Saturday, February 16th 2019, from 3-5 p.m. Come and enjoy an afternoon of art, complimentary beer, wine, champagne and hors d’oeuvres.

Urban Eats is located at 3414 Washington Avenue.

For more information about Urban Eats, visit www.feasturbaneats.com

The Union Kitchen introduces new chef, menu at original Bellaire location

Gr8 Plate Hospitality’s Paul Miller is bringing the original The Union Kitchen back to its roots, with a new menu and wine list at his popular neighborhood restaurant at 4057 Bellaire Blvd.

New Executive Chef Jesse Esquivel (Perry’s Steakhouse, Grand Lux Cafe), who grew up in Meyerland and graduated from Bellaire High School, has revamped approximately 50 percent of the restaurant’s menu. It marks the most significant overhaul since Miller opened the Bellaire location in 2010.

“We have loved being a part of the community for the last eight years,” Miller said. “Our menu had changed quite a bit during that time. In the spirit of a true neighborhood restaurant, we wanted to get back to the community and focus on items old and new that our regulars wanted to see on the menu. The Union Kitchen has always been about ‘the perfect union of good friends and great food’, and we truly appreciate the input from our guests in helping to make that a reality.”

Back on the menu are several neighborhood favorites from when the restaurant first opened including Prosciutto-Wrapped Asparagus; Prosciutto Arugula Pizza; Sweet Heat Chicken; Paul’s BBQ Sandwich; Pete’s Steak Sandwich, named after Miller’s father; and Mama P’s Baked Brie, named after Doris’ mother.

New items include the Chilled Seafood and Avocado Salad, Reuben Egg Rolls, Cedar Plank BBQ Salmon, Shrimp & Grits and pastas such as Doris’ Chicken Primavera, Shrimp & Scallop Linguini Fra Diavolo, Bayou Pasta Linguini, Maine Lobster Stuffed Ravioli and Roasted Garlic Gulf Scampi.

At lunch, new highlights include the Crispy Chicken Club, Bellaire Reuben, Short Rib Grilled Cheese, Crispy Chicken Club Salad, Mediterranean Quinoa Salad, Salmon & Basil Pesto Risotto and rotation of seasonal sorbets.

The Union Kitchen’s popular brunch, available on Saturdays and Sundays, features new items including House Made Sticky Buns, Katie’s Nutella Crepes, Fruit Crepes, Canadian Omelette, Corn Beef Benedict, Prosciutto & Asparagus Benedict, Chicken Fried Steak & Eggs, Corn Beef Hash & Eggs, Hash Hangover Burger and California Wrap.

Sommelier Craig Lindstrom also introduced a fresh new wine list with The Union Kitchen’s hallmark aggressive pricing. The Union Kitchen features 38 wines by the glass, ranging in price from $7 to $15. Select wines go for $5/glass and $15/bottle during lunch (“Lunch Grapes”) and Happy Hour Monday-Friday.

The restaurant offers Karbach, SpindleTap and Saint Arnold on tap and will feature special allocations, monthly beer dinners and pint nights and beer brunches with local breweries, including a Saint Arnold Beer Dinner scheduled for March 5.

The Union Kitchen has five locations in Houston (Bellaire, Memorial, Kingwood, Ella, Washington), with a sixth location to open in Katy in 2019.

hotinhoustonnow

Where’s Maggie? Getting Super Bowl ready at Jax Grill in Bellaire

Hope you're hungry for more than football because we've got some ultimate fan fare for you! Maggie brings her appetite to Jax Grill in Bellaire for a Super Bowl party preview with a line up wings, nachos, quesadillas, hot dogs and juicy burgers and more. Watch the above video to learn about the deal the restaurant will be offering this Super Bowl Sunday.

Houston Chronicle


Radio TropRock Blog: T-Bone Tom’s Party Under The Palapa

A Musical History At This Legendary Texas Restaurant & Bar

As owners of a trop rock radio station, Gina and I are very fortunate to travel to tropical locations to visit the best bars and live music venues.

For years we kept hearing that all the best artists on the trop rock circuit were playing at a place just outside Houston called T-Bone Tom’s. We thought to ourselves “Why are all these folks playing in Houston? Shouldn’t they be in Key West or something?”

We never really gave a thought to a venue in Houston being a good host for trop rock style music. After a little research we found out this place called T-Bone Tom’s at the Kemah Boardwalk, just southeast of Houston, had been on the Trop Rock Music Association’s nomination list as Live Music Venue of the Year for many years! We decided this venue must be added to our list of locations for a live broadcast on Radio Trop Rock.

A couple of short months later we found out exactly what all the fuss was about. Upon arrival, you can’t help but notice “Tom’s Backyard.” It’s a stage, bar, and seating area under a huge palapa. Some say it’s the largest palapa west of the Mississippi, others claim it to be the largest built in Texas. I don’t know the actual answer, but I can tell you it’s a big one!

Before I go any further, I should tell you a little more about T-Bone Tom’s history, because when you get right down to it, it’s actually a freakin’ fantastic restaurant first, and a kick-ass place to listen to music and party second. T-Bone Tom’s actually started as a meat market in the mid-1960’s and began smoking meats in the late ’60’s. Around 1974 it became a restaurant. The location became well-known by locals as “the place” to go for great bar-b-que and steaks.

In 1998 Barry Terrell, with many years of restaurant experience under his belt, had the opportunity to purchase T-Bone Tom’s. Barry was not at all new to the restaurant business. Decades earlier he waited tables while attending college and progressed one step at a time until the mid-1990’s when he was on the corporate side with Landry’s Restaurant Group.

Barry made little to no changes to the already successful menu of T-Bone’s but did decide to expand the rear of the establishment to add “Tom’s Backyard,” which consisted of a bar and a small area that could host live music. Kelly McGuire, a trop rock musician, was one of the first to approach Barry about playing there and apparently it went well because shortly, thereafter, T-Bone Tom’s began hosting live music every Friday and Saturday night.

T-Bone Tom’s continued to gain momentum through the early 2000’s. When Hurricane Ike hit in 2008 T-Bone’s suffered quite a bit of damage. Barry took that opportunity to expand Tom’s Backyard to include a larger bar, stage, and the huge palapa that people now  love to party under on those hot Texas days and warm nights.

In 2009 the Food Network show “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” shot an episode at T-Bone Tom’s. One of the menu items Barry had Guy Fieri try was my personal favorite; Armadillo Eggs. Strangely enough, these contain no armadillo, nor egg! What they do contain is shredded bar-b-que brisket. Think of a jalapeno popper the size of a huge egg filled with very tasty smoked brisket. My mouth is watering writing this now.

Other great items on the menu include their famous ribeye and Chicken Fried Steak. While everything on the menu is fantastic, these items have received local and national recognition as some of the best in the country. When eating at T-Bone Tom’s be ready to carry home some left-overs for tomorrow. Portions are large.  (Personal note: The Armadillo Eggs are fantastic for breakfast… Simply pull them out of your fridge and microwave for about 1 minute.  Yum)

Enough about the food, now more about the music!

T-Bone Tom’s hosts live music six nights per week. It has gotten so good at it that the Houston Chronicle has named T-Bone Tom’s the second best place to hear live music in greater Houston area. Think about how large Houston is, thousands of venues play live music. Coming in second is pretty damned good!

T-Bone Tom’s began it’s live music twenty years ago, and has since established itself as the BEST place to hear trop rock music. Proof of this is that last November in Key West, the Trop Rock Music Association named T-Bone Tom’s Best Live Music Venue in the country. They have consistently been nominated by the TRMA year after year, but in 2018 they beat out the previous winner, a venue in Key West, for the honor.  Yes, a venue in the Houston area beat out a place in Key West for best place to watch live trop rock music!

How did it get there, you ask? Well, to start with, T-Bone Tom’s is the home of one of the most successful trop rock songwriter showcases. John Burns, aka “Jon Boy” put together a songwriter showcase using talent from all over the country. The show is now frequently hosted by Jerry Diaz or Donny Brewer, two of the biggest names in TropRock. While Pirates and Poets Songwriter Showcase also has shows in Key West, New Orleans, Port Aransas, and even into Mexico, they call T-Bone Tom’s “home.”Pirates and Poets Podcast was recognized in 2016 as the Trop Rock Music Association Radio Show of the Year.

Here’s what John Boy of Pirates and Poets says about T-Bone Tom’s:

“T-Bone Tom’s is the perfect place to spend a fun evening with your friends or family. It has great food and cold drinks, plus its are located near many of the Kemah-area’s top tourist attractions. And its easily the best music venue in the area and they don’t charge a cover. They have live music six nights a week. Tuesday-Thursday features acoustic acts, many of which perform original material. The weekend are usually geared towards high energy cover bands.

“We’re lucky to have T-Bone Toms host our Pirates & Poets Songwriter Shows 11 months out of the year.”

T-Bone Tom’s hosts around sixty trop rock live music shows per year. Since Gina and I with Radio Trop Rock first visited T-Bone Tom’s October 19, 2016, we have broadcast live shows from there no less than twelve times, making it the most frequent broadcast venue for our TRMA award winning show Trop Rockin’ the USA on Radio Trop Rock. T-Bone Tom’s is also the “go to” place for many of the Galveston Bay Parrothead Club events. It is not unusual to find a large group of these brightly dressed revelers forming a conga line around the entire area under the palapa. They are especially active when folks like Jerry Diaz and Hanna’s Reef are performing. Jerry has been very instrumental in the growth of “trop rock” for a couple of decades, and it’s easy to see why when he performs for his hometown fans there in Tom’s Backyard.

While many restaurants that play live music may have great food OR great music OR great service OR a great atmosphere T-Bone Tom’s set’s itself apart from the others by having ALL of these qualities. Some people come for the food, and stay for the music. Others may come for the music, but stay for the food. What I mean by that is normally a person’s first visit to T-Bone Tom’s is for a reason, whether they’ve heard bout the great food, or maybe the great music, they go there for one, maybe not knowing about the other. Once they’ve experienced T-Bone Tom’s they are now very aware that T-Bone Tom’s is the whole package of great food, music, service and atmosphere.

Jerry Diaz has even paid homage to T-Bone Tom’s by writing and recording the song “Eat at T-Bone Tom’s” which is included on his latest CD Rum Drinks & Sandy Beaches. Jerry says in the song “They’ve got Mexican pickles and buckets of beer. Man it’s a party when Barry is here. Live music playing six nights of the week, cute little waitresses and fresh cut meat.”.  I’ve got news for you, it’s not just a party when Barry is there, it’s always a party!

Next time you are in the Houston area do yourself a favor and make the trip down to the Kemah Boardwalk and see why T-Bone Tom’s consistently receives accolades from local newspapers, national TV shows, and the Trop Rock Music Association.

Source: PubClub

Peeling Back The Onion: The Challenges Of Redevelop Redeveloping Older Product Into Mixed-Use

Limestone vaulted arcades, Tuscan columns and deep window ledges highlight the historic frame of The Star, a century-old landmark building recently converted into a residential tower in Downtown Houston. Yet, beneath the beauty lies an incredibly difficult redevelopment process. Redevelopment of historic property presents a complicated combination of what needs to be done, what can be done while meeting tax credit guidelines, what developers want to get done and what it will cost. The Star, Texaco’s headquarters in the late 1980s, serves as a case study of the challenges of converting a historic building into a mixed-use development
Reactivating Historic Spaces — To Change Or Not To Change?

Executing the redevelopment dream requires patience and tough decisions, Provident Realty Advisors’ Kip Platt said. Platt is the project development partner over The Star. A key part of this redevelopment was selecting which spaces to renovate and which spaces to leave alone. Provident is already on year seven of work at The Star, a 286-unit luxury high-rise community, and it isn’t done yet. The company bought the property in 2012, after it had stood vacant since Texaco moved out in 1989, and completed converting it to multifamily in 2013. That redevelopment focused on the build-out of the residential units. In 2016, the site underwent another round of renovations, which modernized all of the units and common spaces and added new on-site amenities, such as an outdoor pool and an attached garage. Last year, it turned to the basement, which had never been finished out. Provident Realty Advisors made a sizable investment to build out that space. The company created a game and lounge room in the basement, inspired by speak-easies with gentle lighting. The space is all new but brought back in a historic feature — an authentic 12-foot-long TEXACO illuminated sign is a focal point of the space. Designer Lauren Parson purchased the sign from a former Texaco employee, Jim Conrad. The sign was designed for a gas station that never opened in the ’80s, he told Parson. “He was happy to send it back home,” she said. The game room walls are splashed with other memorabilia from the oil company. The bottom level also features a virtual golf simulator, a dog spa, a theater and a poker room. Parson also redesigned the top floor lounge area, which includes an open meeting and kitchen space, a sitting area with a television, an Equinox-inspired fitness center and an outdoor rooftop lounge. The final piece of the redevelopment will include an 18K SF full-service restaurant on the ground level by popular restaurateur Benjamin Berg, who also runs B&B Butchers. Stepping into historical mixed-use is new for him. His first location for B&B Butchers was a free-standing industrial building on Washington Avenue and Sabine Street. On that project, he had more build-out options (like putting things on the roof) and didn't have to consider how space engages with another space. But when you’re working with historic space, not all sought-after design elements will make it to the final draft. For example, Platt wanted to add a balcony to the units that featured deep window ledges. But as Provident began to research the option, it discovered that it could cost upward of $2M to repair the Renaissance Revival-style exterior finishings if they were damaged, and the finishings can only be rehabbed by Italian designers. The add-on was not worth the financial risk so the developer skipped it, Platt said.

Also A Pain Many developers dive into historical redevelopment projects in order to maximize state and federal tax credits. However, the guidelines can be strict, the process often spans years and developers must be willing to partner with regulators to get the final stamp of approval. "If a building still has a lot of intact historic fabric it is important to understand what must be retained and preserved before any work begins," Texas Historical Commission Director Chris Florance said. The Star was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2003 and is an active tax credit project, Florance said. The National Park Service’s guidelines for the rehabilitation of high-rise buildings, one of the most common historic redevelopment types, say the building must be 50 years old to be listed on the National Register or awarded the state's Recorded Texas Historic Landmark designation. The first phase of work on The Star, which includes everything except for the first-floor tenant space and the rooftop amenity space, has already been certified for the State of Texas Historic Preservation tax credits. The project cannot be certified for federal credits until all of the work is completed. The developer has been working with the THC since the asset was purchased in 2012, Florance said. He said it is critical that anyone interested in the historic tax credits or other related programs should contact the organization before finalizing any plans. Since much of the building had been gutted before it was purchased by the current developer, there was not a great deal of historic interior fabric left to preserve, Florance said. The most historically significant features included the first-floor entry, the original elevator lobby and the overall exterior facade. The exterior work involved cleaning, repair and restoration of masonry and the replacement of the non-historic windows to be considered for tax credits. As the design process began for the restaurant, Benjamin, Berg discovered that he was in for a big challenge. Situated on the corner of San Jacinto and Rusk streets, Benjamin will occupy the former lobby of the pre-war building. The original wing of the building was designed by the New York firm of Warren & Wetmore, which is also responsible for Manhattan's 1913 Grand Central Terminal. The build-out includes constructing two kitchens, relocating the elevator and adding a balcony to overlook The Star’s heated outdoor pool. Berg found that some of the tax-related requirements were more difficult to overcome, and he had to find creative workarounds. In order to retain and expand the original flooring, he will implement a sealing system to level it with the new flooring. Other regulations disallowed structures or objects from being placed within 15 feet of the floor-to-ceiling windows, Berg said. Developers are also not allowed to closely mimic the previous use without pictures and other documents as a reference. The restaurant's design takes inspiration from the original black-and-white flooring but will not re-create the former lobby. Benjamin, which requested construction permits in late December, has faced delays as it worked through the redevelopment constraints. It was originally scheduled to open in 2018 but is now slated to open later this year. Making Everyone Play Nice Even when there is no historical component adding hurdles, mixed-use developers have to figure out how to accommodate the space to welcome customers without disturbing the other tenants. Common residents’ concerns include parking, increased building traffic and additional odors, Platt said. The newly added parking garage in The Star will offer free valet for the residents' guests and designated spots for customers. Benjamin will feature a cold room that will be used to store trash and contain the smells. You Can't Buy Special With all the pain, why does anyone bother? It is the built-in character of historic buildings that makes it worth the trouble, Berg said. Many features of older buildings would be too expensive to build today. The cost for The Star's grand windows would probably range from $50K to $100K per window, Berg said. The all-in renovation budget for Benjamin is about $6M. Plus, buildings like the former Texaco HQ are unique. "There is nothing like it in Houston," Berg said. "If you tried to build it yourself it would lose the specialness of it."
Source: BISNOW

Conversation: Nicole Bean, Pizaro’s Pizza, Houston

Owner Nicole Bean has recently moved Pizaro’s Pizza out of its original location and into a larger and updated location nearby that could handle its three pizza styles.

We operate a fast-casual concept with two locations serving Napoletana, New York and Detroit-style pizzas. We offer a simple counter service and table delivery without the hassle of servers or wait staff. We also serve both beer and wine in addition to B.Y.O.B (small corkage fee applied).

We opened in 2011 with Napoletana style pizzas.
There was a lot of education with customers during the first year and tons of feedback about wanting more toppings and a more substantial crust to hold those toppings from those who didn’t quite understand the concept of Napoletana pizza. We knew our Napoletana was great and didn’t take long to catch on here in Houston, but we wanted to give customers something more. After opening our second and larger location (closer to downtown) in 2015, I went out to San Francisco to Tony’s International School of Pizza to learn to make Detroit-style while also learning Chicago, New York and Sicilian. Matt and I launched Detroit six months after I got back from school. I used only social media and local press to spread the word on our newest baby. Response to our Detroit went better than expected and continues to grow. It was only a year ago (2017) that we launched New York-style, which took us 10 months of development with dough, tomatoes, cheese and market testing.

All three styles are thriving, they are almost to an even split among the orders.

There is also a possibility of a new style coming…

We got tired of telling people “no;” Napoletana is challenging to keep authentic in the United States. Educating customers helped, but we still had to cut people back from piling on the toppings, which made both the customer and us unhappy.

Detroit was a great solution. We had a thick enough dough to hold more toppings and the sauce went on top; it was a no-brainer, plus the cheddar crust … People love that cheddar crust!

After getting our handle on making two styles and seeing that our customers loved having an additional option, we knew the time was right to get going on New York. It had to be more rigid (than Napoletana) with a bit of a crunch. We were listening to what our customers were seeking out. New York style was the answer and so we began the process. As soon as we started posting on Instagram about testing it, people started calling and coming in asking about the New York style even before we launched it. The response was overwhelming!

Now, we have all three styles at the re-location of our original store.

Source: Pizza Today

Brunch restaurant inks first retail lease in Australian co.'s apartment tower in Midtown Houston

The Flying Biscuit Café is the first retail tenant signed on for Australia-based Caydon’s new apartment tower in Midtown. 

The Atlanta-based restaurant will occupy more than 3,200 square feet at 2850 Fannin St., according to a press release from Caydon. The brokers on the deal were not included in the release.

The 27-story tower, slated to open next year, will include more than 13,000 square feet of retail space in addition to 357 apartment units. Houston-based Ziegler Cooper Architects designed the tower, and Alabama-based Hoar Construction is the general contractor. Caydon’s in-house team worked on the interior design. 

This will be one of the first Flying Biscuit locations in the Houston area and in Texas overall. The company opened its first Texas location in Richardson about a year ago, per the release. According to the restaurant’s website, it also has locations coming soon to Dallas and the Memorial City area. The company has 13 Georgia locations open or coming soon, three locations open in North Carolina, one in Florida and one slated to open in South Carolina in early 2019. 

The Flying Biscuit offers southern-inspired breakfast, brunch and lunch options and is generally open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekdays and 4 p.m. on weekends at most locations. The Midtown location’s menu will have a “Tex-Mex twist,” per Caydon’s release. 

“As Houston continues to emerge as a world-class city with a rich culinary scene, we are strategically focused on partnering with community-driven staples that will complement our iconic landmark development in the epicenter of Midtown,” Joe Russo, principal of Caydon, said in the release. “Similar to Caydon, The Flying Biscuit strives to build strong ties to its community and deep relationships with their neighbors and friends. We are committed to satisfying the demand of those who live within and will visit the neighborhood.” 

Steakhouse owner's buzzy new Washington Avenue burger joint sets opening dat

en Berg doesn't slow down. Over the last year, the proprietor of B&B Butchers steakhouse has purchased Memorial-area Italian restaurant Carmelo's and hired his brother Daniel as its chef, opened a second B&B in Fort Worth, and is planning an upscale concept called Benjamin for The Star apartment building downtown — all under his growing Berg Hospitality banner. 

In his free time, Berg is opening a new restaurant and patio bar on November 8. His new concept B.B. Lemon describes itself as “an elevated eatery and bar serving classic, straightforward food.” Located across the street from B&B Butchers in the former Caddy Shack space, B.B. Lemon occupies a tidy, 1,900 square feet. The space features a 76-seat dining room, a 22-seat bar, and a spacious, fully landscaped patio. 

“This is a place where I’d want to go and hang out,” said Berg in a statement. “We’ve put a lot of thought into what our customers like. It’s more than just a great menu or ambiance; it’s an experience.”

Taking its name and some of its inspiration from iconic New York City spot J.G. Melon, burgers have pride of place on the menu — a hamburger, cheeseburger, “baconburger,” bacon cheeseburger, and a patty melt are all available. Other options include some of Berg's favorite comfort food dishes from both his roots in New York and his life in Houston: everything from New England clam chowder in a bread bowl and a lobster roll to blue crab beignets, chili, and fish and chips. Not surprisingly, dessert options skew nostalgic; diners may opt for a root beer float, banana pudding, cheesecake, or brownie a la mode (among others). 

Chef Eric Johnson, the husband of B&B's sommelier Lexey Johnson, leads the kitchen. Monique Cioffi-Hernandez makes the jump from Field & Tides to fill the role of beverage director. Cocktails feature riffs on classics, including "B.B." versions of the Manhattan, the mule, and the bellini. A tidy list of wines by-the-glass and some easy drinking beers round out the beverage options. 

“To us, this was about creating a fun, neighborhood spot where there’s something for everyone, but it’s also worth the drive for people who don’t live in the area,” Berg added. “Our team really enjoyed putting together the design and the menus and we hope Houston loves it just as much as we do.”

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Source: CultureMap Houston

B.B. Lemon; 1809 Washington Avenue; 713-554-1809; Monday through Wednesday 11 am to 12 am; Thursday through Saturday 11 am to 2 am; Sunday 11 am to 10 pm.

Ken Hoffman has the prescription for annoying doctor's office waits

When I moved to Houston, to the Gessner and I-10 area, I discovered a tremendous, secret sale at my local supermarket. At 10 pm, they reduced the price of fried chicken, whatever they had left, to 10 cents a piece. I started setting my biological and digestive alarm clock for 9:50 pm, pedaled to the store, and bought my late dinner and next day’s lunch.

Not thinking clearly, I mentioned this absurd bargain in my little newspaper column. The next night, there was a small crowd at the deli counter, watching the clock tick down to 10 cents, like it was Times Square on New Year’s Eve.

The next night, no more dime chicken. I ruined everything for everybody — mostly myself.

This week, I’ve discovered an even better scheme. At the risk of blowing it again...

I was due for my annual checkup and showed up at the doctor’s office right on time. The waiting room was packed. Uh-oh, this might take forever. I’m not a waiter: I don’t wait at the bar in a restaurant, in the drive-through for a Frosty — or in the lobby for a sex robot.

I sat in the doctor’s waiting room for five minutes, went to the counter and lied, “I just got a call from work, they need me down there right away. Can I reschedule another appointment?” And away I went.

This week, I went back, on time, for my reschedule appointment. Oh no, the waiting room is SRO again. I checked in with the receptionist, already thinking what lie I’ll tell her this time.

The receptionist turned and announced to a nurse, “He's here!" The nurse opened to door and said, “we’re ready for you.”

Huh?

I went into the back, and as the nurse took my blood pressure, I asked, “What just happened?” She said, the doctor told office workers that I was a flight risk. Like a criminal with a passport. Do not let him walk another appointment.

That’s the ticket: turn the tables. Make the doctor wait for you. (Got a feeling I’ll be waiting and waiting and waiting from now on.)

Ken's no-spin zone
Here’s my in-depth, hard-hitting political analysis for 2018:

Have you seen Harris County Judge Ed Emmett’s new political ad, where his grandchildren ask where voters can find Emmett on the ballot, and grandpa surprises the kids with a big box of doughnuts?

The investigative reporter in me had to ask: Where did Emmett get those doughnuts? Answer: River Oaks Donuts on Westheimer. Seems the ad’s producer liked how the box looked on camera. 

I would have gone with Shipley Do-Nuts, home of the fantastic Hoffy Twist, an extra-long cinnamon cruller topped with dark chocolate icing. It’s one of the crown jewels in my collection of fine foods. But I’m still voting for Emmett.

Hands off the baseballs
Here’s what the Astros need to do to avoid another ugly incident of fan interference on balls that should have been homers. Just move the outfield fences in by two feet, or the seats back two feet, so it’s impossible for fans to stick their arms onto the playing field. Baseball is weird. I can’t think of another sport where fans can impact the final score by touching a player or ball in play.

While the Astros are at it, extend the screen farther down the foul lines. At some point, MLB will make it mandatory, so why not be proactive for fan safety? I used to have a jai alai problem when I lived in Florida. Jai alai frontons are totally screened in so the audience doesn’t get smacked with a stray pelota. The view never was an issue, especially when I hit an exacta.

Behind the burger scene
Last week I was dining on a burger (I know, big surprise) at Jax Grill on S. Rice Avenue and thought: “This is pretty terrific, I need to know more. I’ll just ask the owner, Paul Miller.” He also owns the Union Kitchen on Bellaire Boulevard, two blocks from my spring/summer home in West U. (Love the Kitchen’s meatloaf.)

Jax half-pound patty is 80/20 chuck, never frozen, from Ditta Meats in Pasadena. The bun is from Ashcraft bakery in Stafford, delivered fresh daily. The burger is served with sliced tomato, Bibb lettuce, red onion, and dill pickle. MSRP: $5.25.

“All of our burgers are cooked over a live-fire mesquite grill, which burns hot and puts off a great smoke that makes our burgers something special,” Miller says.

Jax Grill has a second location on Shepherd Drive, which adds live music to the menu on weekends.

Source: Houston Culturemap

Houston's best pizzeria fires up new tastes with Memorial outpost opening

Memorial-area pizza fans, rejoice. Your new Pizaro’s has arrived. For too long, fans of Pizaro’s Pizza’s Memorial-area location have been denied the same experience as patrons of the Montrose location. Space limitations at the original outpost prevented the installation of a deck oven that would allow Pizaro’s owners to make the same Detroit and New York-style pies that have transformed the restaurant from Houston’s best Neapolitan-style pizzeria into the city’s best pizzeria — period.

Open quietly since last week, the new Pizaro’s (11177 Katy Fwy.) has enough space (2,500 square feet) to allow for both a deck oven and a wood-burning oven made by Italian firm Forza Forni. Nicole Bean, who owns and operates both locations with her husband, Brad; her father, Bill Hutchinson; and her brother, Matt Hutchinson, couldn’t be more thrilled about her new digs.

“It was the most perfect spot we found,” Bean tells CultureMap. “We probably looked at 15 other spaces. We’ve looked in West U. We looked in Katy, out in Pearland. When this popped up, [we knew] this was it.”

Customers who have been to the Montrose store will recognize the industrial-inspired look with simple wooden tables. Graphics on the wall illustrate the difference between the three styles: Neapolitan (stretchy dough, personal-sized); Detroit (deep dish, rectangular shape); and New York (what most Americans traditionally think of as “pizza”).

“Customers are thrilled,” Bean says. “I had a customer who said he came in for usual potato and mushroom, but [chose] the Detroit instead. [He said] ‘I saw the picture on the wall, and that’s what I had to get.’”

Even the most dedicated customers may not realize Bean is now an award-winning pizzaiolo. She earned the coveted Rising Star award at this year’s Caputo Cup during the recent Pizza & Pasta Northeast trade show. Unlike other awards given for making a specific style of pizza, the Rising Star award goes to someone that conference attendees will be a future leader in the pizza world.

“I’m honored to have it,” Bean says. “I don’t know if I feel like I deserve it. My peers think that I am deserving of it, so I’m very appreciative of that.”

Her brother Matt also earned an award for a pasta he made at one of the event’s competitions. While Pizaro’s doesn’t serve pasta, that could be changing. Bean says she and Hutchinson are contemplating pasta pop-ups to gauge interest in featuring the dish on a regular basis.

And why not? If a bar in the Heights can swing a weekly pasta night, surely Houston’s best pizzeria can figure it out.

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Source: Houston Culturemap

Pizaro’s Pizza I-10; 11177 Katy Fwy.; 713-485-0530; Monday to Thursday 11 am to 9 pm; Friday and Saturday 11 am to 10 pm.

On game day, take your tailgating to the pro-level

Tailgating has been the only part of football that Owen Daniels didn’t experience.

The former Texans tight end started his career as a high school quarterback nearly 20 years ago. And when you’re winning Super Bowls — as Daniels and the Denver Broncos did in 2015 — there’s not much time for pregaming.

Now that Daniels is happily on the sidelines, he’s got some catching up to do.

Enter Jax Grill owner Paul Miller, whose gospel of tailgating follows a three-tier system.

“There’s just throwing drinks in a cooler. And then you’ve got your fold-out grills,” he says. “But a pro-level tailgate rolls out the smoker and the fryer — the works.”

He and wife Doris Miller definitely qualify as professional-grade. They’ve been Texans season suite holders from the beginning, ever since NRG Stadium opened in 2002.

And though the couple cheers on all of Houston’s sports teams, organizing the pre-party before the Texans take the field is more than just tradition, it’s part of their profession.

“Everyone meets up in the suites’ parking lot,” Paul Miller says. “Last week, I saw a trailer with a huge deck, cornhole, Mega Jenga and that new jumbo flip cup game they sell at Dick’s Sporting Goods.”

Like Daniels, Miller was a student athlete. He doubled up on both the wrestling and football teams at Purdue University. That’s where he gleaned the name for one of his restaurants, The Union Kitchen.

“In Purdue’s basement, the bottom level was the (Union) food hall and we always called that ‘the kitchen,’” he says.

When Miller moved to Houston in 2005, he earned his restaurant chops at McCormick & Schmick’s and Grand Lux Café. He and and his wife opened The Union Kitchen in 2010. In 2015, their company, Gr8 Plate Hospitality, bought the two Jax Grill locations, and they’ve been hauling their trailer between Texas A&M University and NRG Stadium to cater tailgates ever since.

“It’s the largest cocktail party in the world,” Miller says. “I’m amazed at the culture in Texas. People just leave all their stuff out in the parking lot, and when they come back after the game, it’s still there.”

Southern hospitality is the foundation of the Millers’ tailgating strategy. And if you ask them, the cardinal rule of entertaining is never running out.

Naturally, Paul Miller’s solution is a surplus of everything. “People never want to take the last of something. So if you’re going to do it, do it right.”

And because no one wants to work too hard on game day — it’s a party, after all — the Millers recommend pre-batched cocktails that can be poured directly into glasses. That, and ice-cold wine and beer — it’s fail-safe.

Where grub is concerned, heat-and-serve dishes are key. Seasoned hosts prep in advance so they’re not slaving away over a hot stove (er, coals) once guests arrive, which explains why bacon-wrapped sausage, aka voodoo balls, stuffed mushrooms, and Frito Pie macaroni and cheese (winner of Taste of the Texans coveted People’s Choice award) are some of Jax Grill’s most-requested tailgate items. No day-of slicing or dicing required.

Daniels awards the extra point to fare that can be eaten sans utensils.

“Right now, people are into steak and lobster, but you’ve got to have tables and chairs for all of that. It takes away from the actual experience,” he said. “When someone comes up to me with a beer in one hand and food without a plate in the other, that’s goals.”

For Doris Miller, it’s not a proper tailgate without a little sparkle. She purchases the bulk of her Texans décor from Amazon and the Dollar Store, then adds a personal, blinged-out touch with loose stones and a hot-glue gun.

“Everything has to match, from outfit to tabletop,” she says, pointing to her red Kendra Scott earrings, bedazzled football jersey and rhinestone sneakers.

Daniels values atmosphere over aesthetic. “If a stranger can be walking through the parking lot and is handed a cold drink, that’s the kind of tailgate I want to be around — one that’s inclusive.”

But Paul Miller thinks his wife might be right. Details are what separate good tailgates from the great.

“Shade,” he says of his No. 1 tip for a first-class game day. “Always have shade.”

Source: Houston Chronicle

Danton’s gulf coast seafood and steaks announces name change and location change

Danton’s Gulf Coast Seafood and Steaks has been serving some of Houston’s freshest and most delicious Gulf seafood since 2007 at Chelsea Market, 4611 Montrose Boulevard, Houston, Texas.

Early 2019 brings numerous changes for this Houston hotspot including a new location, menu and name: introducing, Eugene’s Gulf Coast Cuisine.

Eugene is the name of the father of Kyle Teas, proprietor of Danton’s Gulf Coast Seafood and Steaks. “Eugene is my father’s name, so our core values will remain the same, but guests can expect refreshing updates,” says Teas.

Danton’s last service will be on December 31, 2018.

Eugene’s Gulf Coast Cuisine is set to debut in early 2019.

Location: Eugene’s Gulf Coast Cuisine will be located at: 1985 Welch Street, which previously housed Mockingbird Bistro.

Dishes: Fan favorites and classic offerings from Danton’s will be available at Eugene’s Gulf Coast Cuisine like: Kyle’s Crab Salad, Shrimp and Grits, Seafood Gumbo and the Debris Sandwich.

Signature cocktails like the Bloody Danton and the Puerto Rican will be served at Eugene’s.

Cuisine is described as "authentic and genuine southern cuisine."

All dishes will be made from scratch. Seafood and steaks will be grilled over a wood burning fire. And there will be an oyster bar.

What originally started as an investment for Teas has morphed into a meaningful and personal endeavor. “I like getting to meet great people through our restaurant. Many of them have become friends that I hunt, fish, golf and play music with,” says Teas. “I look forward to expanding into Eugene’s and creating a concept that our customers resonate with that is even better than before. And yes, there will be an oyster bar!”
 DantonsSeafood.com

Sneak peek: Popular Memorial restaurant sets opening date for stylish new locationN

Never let it be said that Jonathan Levine doesn’t know how to celebrate his birthday. One week after turning 65, the chef-owner of Jonathan’s the Rub will throw open the doors to his second location in the Memorial Green development on October 4.

Over a year in the making, the new Jonathan’s offers many of the dishes found at the Hedwig Village original location in a stylish new setting. The new location also features an expanded beverage program with a wine list created by consultant Shepard Ross (Pax Americana, Glass Wall, etc.), and, for the first time, a full set of spirits with cocktails created by bartender Linda Salinas (Hungry’s, Julep, etc.).

“We have two discernibly different restaurants,” Levine tells CultureMap. “We have one that’s a neighborhood place that people come with bottles from their wine cellars.”

Later, he adds “Noticing the demographics coming here for Dish Society, seems like a little different animal. We think it’ll be a little younger here. We’ve catered to baby boomers. Now we’re going to a younger generation and millennials who will be our base. It’s a different world.”

Those differences become apparent the moment customers enter the restaurant. Whereas the original location evolved over time from a catering business with a couple of tables into taking over its small shopping center, the new Jonathan’s is purpose-built in the heart of a luxury project from development firm Midway. Taking its inspiration from Jonathan’s status as a family-owned business, architecture and design firm Gensler created a space inspired by a home — well, a home that can seat approximately 230 people inside and out. 

Have cocktails in “the den,” which features a marble-topped, 10-seat bar. From there, patrons may choose to dine in the more formal “living room,” which features butcher block tables, or the “sun room,” with large windows that let in lots of natural light. “The study” serves as a 24-seat private dining room complete with multimedia capabilities that should make it a popular place for corporate meetings with businesses in the nearby Energy Corridor. 

Turning to the menu, Levine worked with executive chef Eric Laird (Liberty Kitchen, Ritual) to craft a wide array of options that blends the original location’s most popular dishes with new arrivals designed specifically for the second restaurant. At a time when trendy restaurants might only have 20 items on the menu, Levine is going the other way.

“I’m not interested in a small menu,” he says. “You see the fire in the guys when there’s so many things to learn. They love it. How would you feel cooking eight things over and over? It just doesn’t work for me.”

Regulars will appreciate that favorites like the lobster tacos, dumplings, Hill Country chicken and shrimp, and veal chop marsala are all present and accounted for. Jonathan’s has always served steak and chops, but the new restaurant features an expanded selection sourced from renowned purveyor Meats by Linz. Carnivores will want to sink their teeth into the new veal chop (pictured above) as well as a bone-in ribeye, strip, or filet.

Levine’s trips to Mexico show up in the chicken mole poblano and a tostada topped with mixed-fish ceviche. Tamales will appear on the happy hour menu.

“Sam [Levine’s son] and I went to Merida, Mexico [to learn from] a ceviche guru who taught me eight ceviches in three days,” the chef says. “We ended up with eight great ceviches. Some are fish, some are vegetable. Some are mixed.”

The family feel comes from more than the restaurant’s look. Levine’s daughter Jessica will serve as the new restaurant’s general manager, and Sam will remain with the original location. 

“When I met the waitstaff, I said ‘this is not a corporate joint with tiers and tiers of management,’” Levine recalls. “‘We’re family. We’re going to work it out and take care of each other for a common cause.’”

Putting his kids in charge and hiring Laird to run the kitchen represents the closest Levine will come to stepping back from his day-to-day responsibilities of cooking on the line. He’s more of a culinary director now, responsible for developing ideas and ensuring his standards are maintained at both locations — and of thinking about the next restaurant.

Wait, what? This one isn't even open yet. 

“We have a couple of things we’re plotting,” he says.

Source: Culturemap