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Where the Chefs Eat

Grant Gordon, Matt Marcus and Kevin Naderi

"No matter what any of us do in life," remarked Sedillo, "none of us will ever be as cool as that guy." It was close to midnight and last call, so we closed up our tabs and walked back into the humid San Antonio night with promises to meet up again at The Esquire soon, which means I'll be making another short drive down I-10 west in a few weeks. I can't wait.
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RESTAURANT GOSSIP

Fun with Speculating
What will Ricky Craig of Hubcap Grill's new concept be?

The crisp, refreshing avocado tostada from La Gloria.
Katharine Shilcutt
The crisp, refreshing avocado tostada from La Gloria.
The tap list rivals those at Petrol Station and Mongoose versus Cobra.
Courtesy Brews Brothers
The tap list rivals those at Petrol Station and Mongoose versus Cobra.

BY CARLA SORIANO

Unless you've been living under a rock, you've heard of the two-location, critically acclaimed Hubcap Grill burger joint and its bold, outspoken owner, Ricky Craig. It's commonly accepted, both in Houston and out, that Hubcap Grill serves up some of the best (if not the best) burgers in the city. It's also commonly noted, both in Houston and out, that Ricky Craig is unrestrained and uncensored when responding to criticism, snarky comments and the like via Twitter — his primary outlet of communication with the public.

For this very reason, critics and media love to hate Ricky Craig. But, contrary to popular opinion, Craig is a friendly, welcoming restaurant owner. He also uses his Twitter account for more than just firing back. Often he uses it to share interesting and noteworthy news. Such was the case recently when Craig tweeted that he would begin "experimenting in the kitchen on [his] next adventure/concept."

We can't stop wondering what his new "adventure/concept" might entail. So many possibilities come to mind. Here's a lighthearted look at three possible concepts that Ricky Craig could have up his sleeve.

Craig & Co. Steakhouse

One quick skim at his Twitter feed, and it's obvious that Ricky loves a good steak. Because Ricky does what he loves and believes in — Hubcap is a living testament to that — it's not crazy to think that his next venture could be a steakhouse, where perfectly cooked steaks flow out of the kitchen as fast as his ragingly popular burgers fly off the grill. White linens and tealights might even make the scene at Craig & Co. Steakhouse. His juicy steaks would be accompanied by side dishes laced with the popular pimento cheese he makes or his home-made muffuletta, maybe even some of the secret sauces he uses in his burgers. Think about it. It would be some fine fine dining. This could be why Ricky switched his Twitter avatar from his Ed Hardy-clad self to a photo of him donning a dress shirt and jacket — he wanted to ensure his image is up to par with the concept in the works.

Ricky's Veggie & Beer Garden

Perhaps Ricky's new adventure will throw Houstonians for an unexpected loop. Remember when Ricky stated that he would not serve vegan/vegetarian burgers, and all the greensters in Houston flipped out? Maybe the weight of offending all those anti-meat-eating citizens finally got Craig down. What if he is secretly planning to make amends with veggie lovers by providing them a haven of their own? Ricky could grow vegetables in his spacious Hubcap Burger & Beer Yard and then spotlight the produce in his new eco-friendly setting, which would focus on sustainability and farm-to-table veggie cuisine. The legume, root and tuberous verdure selection would change seasonally. Just to ensure that the apple didn't fall too far from the tree, Ricky would offer a huge craft beer selection, including a wide variety of beers flavored with fruits and vegetables. Who knows? Ricky's Veggie & Beer Garden could be Houston's breakthrough vegetarian paradise. Besides, the steakhouse idea sounded way too conventional.

Craiganale's

Did you know that Ricky's mother is Italian? And that his parents once owned a restaurant downtown called Craiganale's Italian Deli Cafe? Ricky was the head cook at said restaurant, whose name, Craiganale's, is a mash-up of his mother's maiden name and his father's last name. What if Ricky's planning to go back to his roots and give Houston a new Italian dining spot? He would naturally name the place Craiganale's. In a quaint locale reminiscent of an Italian home, he would revive Craiganale's pasta and dressing forever, not just as a one-night stint as guest cook on The Modular. His mother would helm the kitchen and, apart from the classic spaghetti and meatballs, would offer lasagna, gnocchi, risotto and ravioli. As another unexpected turn, Ricky would veer away from beer and offer fine Italian wines. As guests exited the homey spot, Ricky's friendly father, often seen manning the counter at Hubcap Grill, would say "Ciao" from the host stand as "That's amore" trailed off in the distance.

We promise that when the time comes, Eating...Our Words will fill you in on all the details of what Ricky Craig's third venture will actually be.
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RESTAURANT NEWS

Openings & Closings
Courtesy of the Red, White & Blue Cheese.

BY KATHARINE SHILCUTT

As Eater Houston reported earlier this week, West Oaks Mall is losing one of its biggest anchors — Alamo Drafthouse — as the chain expands into other areas of Houston, namely Midtown and Cypress.

In its place, West Oaks Mall is getting a western-themed bar from country singer Toby Keith, Nashville's answer to Nickelback: I Love This Bar & Grill. Were the names Courtesy of the Red, White & Blue Cheese and Beer & Bites for My Horses already taken?

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