Best New Building - 2011
Readers' Choice: Readers' Choice: Houston Ballet Building
Mai's Restaurant was started in 1978 by the Nguyen family as a sandwich and coffee shop. It went on to become a Houston institution with a large menu of Vietnamese favorites. After the restaurant was destroyed by a fire in 2010, the family, led by Nguyen granddaughter Anna Pham, rebuilt rather than shuttered the place. What was a rather nondescript two-story building on a similarly nondescript corner has been replaced with a sleek, updated building with a light-filled, two-story dining room and spacious kitchen. The garish lighting and mismatched furniture from the old Mai's dining room was replaced with soft lighting, dark wood tables and subtle green walls. Parking went from 30 spaces to more than 100. But don't worry, Pham has made sure that the food — and late-night hours — stayed the same.