10 Houston Restaurants That We Miss the Most at the End of 2014

Honorable Mention: The Boneyard Drinkery may have been a bar, but it made an important stand for dog-friendly establishments.
Honorable Mention: The Boneyard Drinkery may have been a bar, but it made an important stand for dog-friendly establishments.
Photo by Angelica Leicht

Let's have a moment of silence for some of the restaurants that Houston lost this year. Some were good. Some were great. Some were decidedly not great, but still hold a special place in our hearts for reasons other than the food.

The good news is that several of the restaurants on this list have a surviving sibling. Others have a good chance of returning someday in a different spot.

First off, a few honorable mentions:

  • Boneyard Drinkery was not a restaurant. It was a bar, but patrons could often get food from a food truck parked on-site. The combination bar-dog park helped blaze a trail for other pet-friendly dining establishments. Eventually, the City of Houston passed an ordinance allowing restaurants to offer dog-friendly patios if they wanted to do so. It was places like Boneyard Drinkery that influenced that decision. It will be missed.
  • The award for "Chef With The Worst Luck Keeping Restaurants Open" goes to Chris Kinjo, who opened MF Sushi in December 2012. The place didn't even make it a year before a fire shut it down at the end of September 2013. Kinjo, along with brother Alex, rebuilt. MF Sushi finally reopened this past spring and critics and sushi fans alike rejoiced, only to be crushed again when it once again closed in October for "reorganization."

    It's open again, but without chef Kinjo. He's opening his own location in the Museum District, hopefully by May of next year. That sounds like the best idea for everyone involved, especially for fans of his pristine Japanese food.

10. Lucky Burger

Burgers seem less Lucky than they used to be.EXPAND
Burgers seem less Lucky than they used to be.
Mike Morris

Lucky Burger was a landmark on Richmond at Mandell. It was hard to miss the big blue barrel-shaped roof and many patrons were pleasantly surprised at the reasonably-priced burgers, fries and milkshakes. Were they the greatest burgers ever? No, but it was a cozy, unpretentious, family-ran fast food dive--a dying breed inside the Loop these days.

9. Hollywood Vietnamese & Chinese

We said goodbye to Hollywood in November, but may say hello to a new one next year.
We said goodbye to Hollywood in November, but may say hello to a new one next year.
Photo by Jeff Balke

This place wasn't what you'd call great, but how many times did you end up here with friends because it was one of the few places open after 2 a.m. near Montrose? Bartenders and partygoers alike spent time here noshing on lemongrass tofu and egg rolls. Fortunately, the Montrose location of BB's Café has stepped in to fill the late-night gap. It's now open 24-hours. As for Hollywood, it's expected to reopen next spring just around the corner on Grant Street.

8. Van Loc

After 28 years, Van Loc's owners decided to retire. It was one of the first Vietnamese establishments near downtown.
After 28 years, Van Loc's owners decided to retire. It was one of the first Vietnamese establishments near downtown.
Photo by Craig Wilkins

Twenty-eight years ago, there were very, very few Vietnamese restaurants, especially downtown. Van Loc was one of the first, offering family recipes for bún thịt nướng (pork on vermicelli), cơm chiên thập cẩm (house special fried rice) and more. It offered Chinese food as well, which was more familiar to patrons at the time. It stayed family-owned until the owners decided to retire. Van Loc closed this past October.

7. Sandy Witch

Sandy Wich's pulled pork, outstanding burgers and fries should have put them on the map, but not enough people found them inside Grand Prize Bar.
Sandy Wich's pulled pork, outstanding burgers and fries should have put them on the map, but not enough people found them inside Grand Prize Bar.
Photo by Chuck Cook Photography

Food trucks used to regularly park in front of Grand Prize Bar until neighbors complained. At that point, food trucks took turns running the kitchen, including The Modular and Yaki Snack Attack (which didn't have a truck at the time, but does now). It was a nice arrangement, but no one could hold down the fort full time until Anthony Calleo of Pi Pizza Truck took it over. He opened Sandy Wich, and besides great burgers, it had pulled pork sandwiches and vegetarian-friendly options like falafel. Regrettably, not enough people went inside Grand Prize to check out the new little restaurant. Calleo gave up the struggle in August, but at least you can still have his mindblowing pizzas (and the occasional sandwich special) at Pi Pizza Truck.

6. El Gran Malo

El Gran Malo is gone (for now) but drinks like Maria Is a Jerk live on at El Big Bad.
El Gran Malo is gone (for now) but drinks like Maria Is a Jerk live on at El Big Bad.
Photo by Chuck Cook Photography

Many a Sunday afternoon was spent on the big porch of El Gran Malo sipping margaritas and Bloody Marias with beef-jerky infused tequila (aka "Maria Is A Jerk"). Tables were adorned in baskets of chips and queso, pork belly tacos and tortas. Inside, elaborate murals of luchadores and big bad wolves kept watch. El Gran Malo closed in February, but fortunately not before the owners opened sibling restaurant El Big Bad in December of 2013. El Big Bad is no clone of El Gran Malo, but at least some of the food, the infused tequilas and the spirit live on in some ways. With that being said, don't count out the possibility of a new El Gran Malo being born in the coming months.

Go to the next page to see our Top 5 places that will be missed the most.



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