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2. Bernie's Burger Bus
Looking for the platonic ideal of a hamburger? Look no further than Justin Turner's fleet of buses, named for his beloved grandfather. Winner of the 2012 Houston Press Burger Bracket, Bernie's Burger Bus is the true definition of a gourmet food truck, utilizing the freshest ingredients — fresh-ground Black Angus beef, freshly made baked buns and homemade condiments — to make one of the juiciest, tastiest burgers you'll ever have the pleasure of eating. The school-themed menu features a traditional burger called "The Principal"; the double-patty Texas-cheddar topped "The Bully"; and the "Study Hall" burger, topped with barbecue sauce and crispy-seared, slow-braised pork belly. Only the truly brave will want to tackle "The Detention"; just ask for it and you'll see why.
1. H-Town StrEATs
On any given day, you'll find the personable Jason Hill and/or Matt Opaleski manning the "ugliest food truck" in Houston, serving dishes like crawfish tacos with Tabasco aioli that taste like they should be much more expensive than $3. In fact, whether it's H-Town's infamous boudin balls with creole mustard, its fried avocado taco with cilantro slaw, its burger with sautéed mushrooms and cheese, or its watermelon agua fresca, pretty much everything that you try at this truly gourmet food truck is going to be a winner. The menu changes often, too, so no need to worry about eating the same old, same old. Even if you followed the truck around like a die-hard disciple, the menu is extensive enough that you'd still be able to enjoy a different meal every day. Food sells out quickly, so try to visit at the beginning of service.
Openings and Closings
Woodrow's taking over Washington.
Last week was full of good news, bad news, blind items and idle speculation. In other words, buckle up for a bumpy ride of a round-up.
First is news from B4-U-Eat that Portugallia — the city's only Portuguese and Angolan restaurant — closed quietly a couple of weeks ago. The restaurant we reviewed in February 2012 offered great Portuguese fare but suffered from unsteady service and an odd location along Westheimer. Its outdoor waterfall will certainly be missed, but we hope another restaurant is able to make use of the pretty little spot.
Palm Restaurant is also closed, but as Greg Morago at the Houston Chronicle reported last week, it's only temporary. The Galleria-area steakhouse, which originally opened in 1978, is remodeling and will unveil its new design sometime this summer.
In other steak-y news, Texas de Brazil Churrascaria is now open at CityCentre. This is the first Houston location for the Dallas-based steakhouse, and it's celebrating by offering a free dessert to every paying diner through April 30 and caipirinha cocktails on the house — even if you're not eating — through April 15.
In other opening news, La Madeleine announced in a press release last week that it would add between eight and ten new stores to the Houston market over the next few years. Like Texas de Brazil, the French chain is also based in Dallas. In addition to giving a few of its older restaurants facelifts, La Madeleine has also added a few new dishes for spring like its mini croque trio (turkey, bacon and tomato, chicken pesto, and traditional croque monsieur) and an orange dream cake with toasted almonds.
Looking ahead into future openings, Eater Houston reports that yet another Woodrow's is taking over yet another Washington Avenue space. The old Mardi Gras Grill on Dunham became Woodrow's Heights last year, and now the old Block 7 Wine Company is transforming into a Little Woodrow's. It will be the sixth Little Woodrow's location in Houston. The other Woodrow's — both Big Woodrow's and Woodrow's Heights — are owned and operated independently. This time next year, look for half the empty bar and restaurant spaces in Houston to also become Woodrow's of some kind. It's inevitable at this point.
Eater Houston also reports that chef David Grossman of the now-closed Branch Water Tavern and girlfriend/partner Julia Sharaby are close to signing a lease that would move Sharaby's former food truck, Fusion Tacos, into the recently vacated Les Givrals space on Market Square. The new location for Fusion Tacos would mark the latest in a string of high-profile downtown openings along Main Street and Market Square, although it's a bit of an odd choice. Fusion Tacos was one of the first food trucks in Houston but one of the least successful, and hasn't been on the streets in more than a year. The truck was notoriously unreliable (and we're not talking about its engine) and offered fairly poor customer service when it was out and about. Perhaps a brick-and-mortar location will suit the taco-slingers better, though.
In happier news, Ramen Tatsu-ya is encouraging rumors that it's considering a second location in Houston. The Austin-based ramen shop even Tweeted last week: "This is NOT set in stone, but keeping eyes open..."