The 9 Stupidest Things in the Houston Restaurant Scene Right Now

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Eater reported that Maine-ly Sandwiches's second location had its soft opening on August 15, with the grand opening the next day. The new location, on Shepherd between Alabama and Richmond, has more kitchen space and a deep fryer, so the owners, Buddy and Angela Charity, can now serve fried clams and french fries in addition to the crazy-popular lobster rolls and clam chowder.

Greenz Restaurant opened its first Houston franchise in The Shops at Houston Center on August 8. The salad restaurant focuses on bringing "fine dining salads" to the masses at an affordable price. The salad joint also offers soups, sandwiches and smoothies, and every Wednesday from 2 to 3 p.m. during the month of August, Greenz is giving away smoothies for free. There's really no excuse not to eat healthy now.

CultureMap reports that Bite Macarons opened next to Paciugo Gelato on Buffalo Speedway earlier this month. Sandia Horng and her business partner, Gabo Lo, hope that the bakery will be "a little bit of Europe in Houston," but they don't want to make only macarons. Eventually, they hope to start making high-end French pastries as well, but for now, Bite Macarons is serving more than a dozen different flavors of the popular French cookies.

As beautiful as it may look, it's food, not a painting.
As beautiful as it may look, it's food, not a painting.
Happy Hour at Cove Cold Bar
Minh T Truong
Happy Hour at Cove Cold Bar

French Fry Heaven, a new fries-only chain, hosted its Houston grand opening on August 17 at The Woodlands Mall. According to the press release, "French Fry Heaven serves more than 50 creative flavor combinations, including Garlic Parmesan with black truffle salt; French Quarter with rémoulade sauce; Cha Cha with ghost pepper salt ; Saint Jennifer (sweet potato fries that taste like sweet potato pie with marshmallow topping); Festival Saint (tastes like funnel cake)." Okay, so with all the crazy toppings and flavor combos, can we still call all these french fries?

Gay cowboys are still mourning the loss of Brazos River Bottom, but they can dry their pretty little eyes because Neon Boots Dance Hall and Saloon is coming to town. It will occupy the former Esquire Ballroom, which is being completely restored to include a huge dance floor and performance stage as well as a large outdoor area with a deck and patio. There will be table service and six bar stations throughout the dance hall. The owners also hope to eventually install a mechanical bull, sand volleyball court and horseshoes in the back patio area. At more than 10,000 square feet, Neon Boots will be the largest gay bar in Houston when it opens August 22.

The Houston Chronicle reports that HUSA Management is opening a pizza and craft beer pub called City Oven in the Heights. HUSA owns and operates a number of other pub chains in Houston, but City Oven will be the first to focus on artisan pizzas and craft beers. It's scheduled to open sometime at the end of August.

The Chronicle also reported on plans to turn a long-abandoned gas station at the corner of La Branch and Alabama in Midtown into a coffee and crepe joint called Retrospect Cafe. The owners of Tacos a Go-Go are behind the new cafe concept, which will also serve beer and wine. Currently, the former gas station is part of a graffiti and mural exhibit in conjunction with the Station Museum of Contemporary Art. One of the owners of Retrospect Cafe, Sharon Haynes, says she's been admiring the artwork on the building for years, so hopefully the structure will continue to be a canvas for local artists.

Allô French Rotisserie is planning a September opening, according to Eater. The non-stuffy French restaurant will be located inside the Vintage Park Shopping Village and offer hearty French food in a casual dining setting. Eric Goldner, formerly of Hubbell & Hudson Bistro in The Woodlands, is the mastermind behind Allô.

Swamplot reports on a new "ranch to table" concept from Chef Fritz Gitschner called 60 Degrees Mastercrafted. The restaurant is showing every aspect of its development on Facebook, from going to the Houston Permitting Center to bulldozing parts of the property to make room for the new building. It will be opening in the fall.

Adam Karam, the owner of Red Door, Saint Genevieve, Wonder Bar and The Good Life, tells CultureMap that he sold defunct sports bar Sawyer Park on Washington Avenue to his cousin Saleem Fernandez, who is remodeling the space. It seems Fernandez intends to keep the space a sports bar, and he is aiming for a September opening. Fernandez also owns Roosevelt Bar on Washington and 5th Amendment in Midtown.

A reader sent Swamplot photos of a TABC sign taped in the window of an old laundromat at 1009 Moy Street that promises a Pink's Pizza will be opening soon. This will be the fourth Pink's Pizza inside the Loop; a fifth restaurant is located in Garden Oaks.

Dunkin' Donuts is planning to take over Houston, according to the Chronicle. The chain has announced plans to open three new branches with drive-throughs on Center Street, just north of Pasadena Boulevard, in Deer Park; west of Beamer Road and Scarsdale Road in southeast Houston; and south of the corner of Fry Road and Morton Road in Katy. Another store already opened in Terminal E of IAH on August 15. Jonathan Hicks, a broker with Davis Commercial Real Estate who represents Dunkin' Donuts, also told the Chronicle that the chain plans to open 60 stores in Houston over the next five years. Um, WHAT?! I know America runs on Dunkin', but I'm partial to a little mom-and-pop donut joint myself. Sigh.

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Kaitlin, I'm a burger purist, too. But I've grown to love some of the designer burgers that are being created around town. Chefs like Ricky Craig (Hubcap Grill), Jay Stone (Wicked Whisk, now Vallone's), Jake Mazzu (Burger Guys) and Austin Simmons (Hubbell & Hudson) are creating some remarkably innovative burgers. All deliver a top-notch traditional burgers, but when they let their creativity run wild, the results can be spectacular. As an example, Chef Austin substitutes flash-fried pancetta for bacon, and generic lettuce gets replaced with lemon-infused arugula. The beef swagger is still leading the band, but these new backup players combine for a burger that both unique and superb. Check 'em out before you dismiss them.