Dacapo's Downfall
The lady did protest too much: Despite co-owner Leticia Guzman Graham's repeated claims to the contrary this summer, it now appears that Dacapo's Cafe on the Parkway truly was in trouble. Recently-weds Leticia and Kirk Graham boarded up Dacapo's doors on November 17, blaming "irreconcilable differences" with the landlord. The original Dacapo's Cafe and Bakery (1141 East 11th Street, 869-9141) is still open in the Heights and is still owned by former Guzman/ Graham partners Lisa and Teresa Biggerstaff.

The Grahams still plan to open their new downtown restaurant, Staccato's, at 711 Main this month with chef Dwayne Bosse at the helm. Colorado Rockies outfielder Darryl Hamilton, a Houston resident, is the moneyman behind the venture; maybe it's a coincidence that the location is conveniently near the new downtown stadium.

Updating Urbana
At Urbana (3407 Montrose, 521-1086), former sous chef David Alvarado donned Kip Cox's executive chef's toque at the end of this summer, and the restaurant's menus have since been thoroughly retooled. Alvarado and owner John Puente have scaled back prices and plumped selection. Cases in point: a big new one's-a-meal dinner salad and formerly mild-mannered quesadillas that have been punched up with poblanos and jalapenos. Puente admits that Urbana tabs of old could be "on the pricey side" and hopes to lose those dreaded three-dollar-sign rankings in local dining guides.

Two From Texas
Had you heard that only two restaurants in Texas were selected for John Mariani's prestigious "America's Best New Restaurants" list, published in the December issue of Esquire magazine? Yep, and both are in Houston; even better, neither one's a barbecue joint. The newly anointed cafes are Simposio (5591 Richmond, 532-0550) and the Sake Lounge, downtown in the Bayou Center (500 Texas Avenue, 228-7253).

Trouble with Truffles
'Tis the season for ... white truffles? Through December 31, Arcodoro Ristorante Italiano (5000 Westheimer, 621-6888) will feature daily menu specials built around white Italian truffles. Since the '98 truffle season was the most difficult of this decade (another woe to blame on El Nino), better get 'em while they're hot.

-- Margaret L. Briggs


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