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Dining on the Rails

A guide to light rail lunching in Houston.

"On game days," says Marcus, "every one of these lots around us is full." They plan to take advantage of this luck by hosting tailgating parties once the brewery is finally open, although not just for the Dynamo. Minute Maid Park isn't too far from here either, and once the new light rail line is finished it will be equally easy to ride from Reliant Park to their front door.

They plan to host a blow-out block party this fall when the brewery is finished, inviting other food trucks ("It's a huggy industry," Soroka laughingly notes about the friendly, ultra-cooperative food truck scene in Houston) and hosting the neighborhood in an effort to bring more positive attention to the rapidly growing "EaDo" area. In the future, Marcus says, they even want to host a "Taste of EaDo" night to highlight the many terrific restaurants in the area — Cafe TH, Calliope's Po-Boys, Brothers Taco House, Huynh and Cork Soakers among them.

What needs to be done between now and then is to finish out the plumbing in the big, open space with vaulted barrel ceilings — ceilings that inspired Soroka to call the brewery 8th Wonder after the Astrodome's own curved roof — as well as to install glycol lines for the huge stainless steel tanks, which can produce 40 barrels of beer at a time. A converted shipping container will hold the finished kegs in cold storage, while a bar and merchandise area will eventually be built next to the office, which — for now — is the only air-conditioned part of the brewery.

Grand Prize Bar is gonna ring your dinner bell.
Katharine Shilcutt
Grand Prize Bar is gonna ring your dinner bell.
Aaron Corsi, Ryan Soroka and Matt Marcus are bringing craft beer to the East End.
Katharine Shilcutt
Aaron Corsi, Ryan Soroka and Matt Marcus are bringing craft beer to the East End.

Corsi estimates the brewery's capacity on tailgating days and other brewery events will be about 200 people when all is said and done. There will, of course, be food on-hand at the brewery from the Eatsie Boys truck, but Soroka and Marcus plan to invite others to play along too.

At the moment, the only beer for sale from 8th Wonder is its root beer, which is found at Local Foods — and which they're already brewing quite a bit of. It's all a lot to take on, especially when the Eatsie Boys are also hard at work opening a cafe in the old Kraftsmen space on Montrose. But they're nothing if not determined and ambitious.

"A year from now, we hope to double our brewing capacity," says an eager Soroka. Then, with a quick laugh, he corrects himself: "Scratch that. In a year, we hope to be brewing. Period."
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RESTAURANT NEWS

Openings & Closings
New Locations Coming Soon for Torchy's and BB's.

BY KATHARINE SHILCUTT

Attention all you Torchy's Tacos fans who aren't fans of the parking situation at the current location on Shepherd: The Austin-based taco shop is opening a second location in the Heights on 19th Street, in the spot formerly occupied by Harold's. Is there any restaurant that isn't opening a location in the Heights these days?!

Oh, wait — here's one: BB's Café is opening a fourth (!) location in Greenway Plaza next month. It doesn't seem like it's been nearly five years since the first BB's opened in Montrose, but owner Brooks Bassler has achieved great success with his mini-empire of Cajun restaurants in that time, having opened ­outposts in the Heights (see what I just said?) and downtown.

The new BB's Café will have room for 110 guests, with lot and garage parking available. It will also offer a full bar and fresh oyster bar, with plans to be open Sundays through Wednesdays from 11 a.m. to midnight and Thursdays through Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 3 a.m.

Back to the Heights, as usual, the Houston Business Journal reports that new French restaurant Salé-Sucré is now open. "Philippe Harel and his wife Béline are the husband-wife entrepreneurial duo behind Salé-Sucré," writes Greg Barr, "the city's newest crêperie tucked away in the former White Oak Bakery in the fast-growing restaurant row in The Heights on White Oak near Studewood."

And speaking of crepes...The recently opened Sweet Paris Crêperie & Cafe is already expanding its hours to include breakfast service starting today. From now on, the cafe will open at 8 a.m. Mondays through Fridays, and at 7 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. The cafe still plans to close at 10 p.m. each day.

In addition to made-to-order crêpes — both sweet and savory — Sweet Paris will have espresso and coffee on hand as well as Mexican hot chocolate and spicy chai latte for those who aren't caffeine addicts, and a must-try frozen Nutella hot chocolate. Can winter please come soon?

Also in Rice Village, Red Mango has finally finished its conversion to a fully self-service store.

Way out west at Westheimer and Fondren, there's a new Turkish restaurant in town: Nazif's Turkish Grill & Deli, which is already featuring an extensive menu of Turkish favorites for breakfast, lunch and dinner. At breakfast, check out menemen or a traditional Turkish bagel. For lunch, you'll want to get acquainted with Turkish flatbreads such as pide and lahmacun — trust me.

And down south in Pasadena, check out a series of revitalized properties known as The Silver Sycamore: The Tearoom is located in a cottage built in 1930 and features a menu of soups, salads, sandwiches and desserts. The Coffee House is in a nearby house, also historic and now-renovated, and offers both coffee and freshly baked goodies as well as items from local suppliers. And if you happen to feel like staying, there's even a bed and breakfast on-site.
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