With Memorial Day almost here and the kids practically out of school, summer is inching ever closer. In Houston, that means loads of restaurant are still opening up with menus that will provide food for the healthy-minded, the sinners, the people in search of an outside evening perch or a late night lair for cold drinks and small plates. This summer will usher in a little bit of everything, just like very season (or, umm, whatever you call the changing of months here in Houston) does.
Here are eleven spots we're especially excited to see open around Space City this summer and beyond.
Brand new to the Heights, chef Ryan Hildebrand's casual new restaurant and bar officially debuted on Friday, May 19, with loads of comfort food from queso to burgers to fried chicken with beer and cocktails on tap and wines by the glass for $7. It's what summer dining is all about, with kids and dogs welcome, plenty of yard games and outdoor seating, live music slated for the weekends, and great food from a chef who has proved himself to be one of Houston's finest over the past decade.
This new Korean gastropub from chef Mike Tran will put the focus on soju, a filtered rice wine similar to sake, and makgeolli, unfiltered rice wine, as well. Expect soju-based cocktails, beer, and food that isn't your typical Korean restaurant , with inspiration drawn from L.A.'s Koreatown and a vibe that's much the same — the feeling of old, worn wood and a lived-in space — in the same strip mall as Tran's restaurant Mein in Bellaire, planned to open by next month.
A bit of a delay means this highly-anticipated poke eatery, which could very well be the most popular of Houston's poke crop with chef-driven bowls of the popular raw fish salad, is looking at a June opening. Chefs Tai Nguyen (of Fish & Knife , Soma Sushi and Uchi fame) and Vuthy "Tee" Srey (an Aka and MF Sushi alum) will offer eight signature bowls that incorporate traditional poke with a Houston twist along with a build-your-own option at this 1,700-square-foot restaurant heading to 2118 Lamar.
12-year-old restaurant Shade surprisingly closed in the Heights, 250 West 19th, in mid-May to transform into Alice Blue, a casual new eatery that will debut in June with a new chef, Kent Domas (formerly of Down House), a new menu and brand new interior space. The team will also include consulting chef Jason Vaughan, general manager Summer Sepeda of One Fifth, and beverage consultant Sean Jensen of Shade and Hay Merchant fame.
Bryan and Jennifer Caswell will team up to open a new ground floor restaurant Oxbow 7 inside Downtown hotel Le Méridien, 1121 Walker, with plans for a July 18 opening, following the renovation. Plans call for a bar called Hoggbirds on the 22nd floor too.
Beard Award winner Justin Yu closed his beloved eatery Oxheart on March 15 to make way for a new casual spots with chef de cuisine Jason White heading the kitchen and a menu that's geared toward à la carte menu items, though anything other than that — including a projected opening date — remains a mystery.
The Ivy & James
This long-awaited eatery from the team behind former Heights gem Zelko's Bistro has just softly open in the new Evelyn’s Park, 4400 Bellaire, a renovated refuge at the former Teas Nursery site. The Ivy & James brings chef Jamie Zelko's obsession for all things local, backyard-grown, and organic to the kitchen and guests can dine inside the cafe for breakfast or lunch or take a picnic out into the park to feast under the oak trees. A weekend chef prix fixe dinner is also planned to launch in June, which will reprise Zelko's famed shrimp and grits, Captain's Chicken, and more great eats.
The former Teala’s restaurant at 3210 West Dallas will open as a neighborhood restaurant from owner Sam Governale, formerly of Fleming's River Oaks, creative director Ashley Putman and chef Dimitri Voutsinas, a NY transplant who hones his chops at Bar Boulud, Motorino Pizza and La Gamelle. A “botanical thread” awaits in the outdoor space and the menu will feature seasonal dining from morning to night, including late-night eats, coffee and cocktails. Projected opening unknown.
This Isreali steakhouse has a solid reputation in New Orleans, where its second location opened in the French Quarter back in 2013 (the original is in Costa Rica), gaining critical acclaim for its fine service, dry aged steaks, and exotic sides. While many people are already drawing close comparisons to B&B Butchers without ever having gone to Doris, it really is the touch of modern Israeli among the sides and non-steak offerings that will truly bring a new experience with this stunning eatery set to open inside the former Triniti space by end of year.
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New Orleans-based celebrity chef John Besh brings his empire to Houston with a new Louisiana-inspired brasserie in River Oaks at 3737 Buffalo Speedway, next to Kiran's on the edge of the newly revamped Levy Park. The restaurant will be helmed by the chef of Besh's Luke, Drake Leonards — also a partner in the new restaurant — and if Eunice ends up being anything like Luke in New Orleans, expect an insane oyster happy hour, lots of meaty, seasonal dishes, and big, frothy French 75s. Expect a fall 2017 opening.
Pop + Pan
Former Garden Oaks/Oak Forest hubs Houston Panini & Provisions will open its new location for paninis, gourmet popcorn, open-faced sandwiches and toast (and booze) this fall in the new ReVive Development at Ella and 34th. Chef David Colby will add to his already popular menu of sandwiches and popcorn, and sleek new digs with outdoor seating and, of course, a happy hour.