Openings & Closings

Earlier this week on Twitter, the Chron's Alison Cook noted disapprovingly that Rico's Luchadores had experienced a makeunder: "There goes the neighborhood: Rico's Luchadores has ditched the wrestling theme for more tasteful 'Frida' motif. Say it ain't so." Indeed, Rico's has been transformed into La Casa de Frida (4002 Main, 713-880-1564), complete with new ownership. You'll just have to get your Mexican wrestling-inspired food at Cyclone Anaya's from now on, folks.

In other transformations, the popular Bistro 829 in Katy -- which closed in July 2009, seemingly for good -- has risen from the ashes to reopen at 22764 Westheimer Parkway. It remains to be seen if the popular monthly wine dinners will also be resurrected, but one can hope.

And speaking of changes, earlier this week we spoke to veteran Houston restaurateur Tony Mandola about his new digs on Waugh and the temporary space he's moving to while the new build-out is completed. Tonight is the last night that the old Tony Mandola's on Waugh will be serving dinner. After that, they'll be taking up temporary quarters at 2810 Westheimer, most recently home to the now-closed Fins. Look for the new Tony Mandola's to finally open in April.

This tidbit of information from B4-U-Eat's newsletter sounds particularly lovely:

Joe Duong, former owner/chef of Rockwell Tavern and Grill, has found a lovely old house in Cypress and, after considerable renovations, is soon to open Love Shack. It features 6000 sq feet of spacious patio with views of herb and vegetable gardens, a gazebo and Texanbiergarten, livestock and children's play areas.

It sounds like the Love Shack has potential to join other worthy drives such as the commutes to Fulshear (for Ray's Grill) and Tomball (for Bootsie's Heritage Cafe) to get some inventive cooking outside the city limits.

Dallas and Austin are still busily exporting their restaurants to Houston, as evidenced by two newcomers to the scene: Vivo, an Austin-based Tex-Mex restaurant, and Blue Fish, a "sake, sushi and martini" bar from Dallas. Vivo will likely take up residence next to the new Railyard bar (you know the one; it replaced the Roll-N on San Felipe), according to Culture Map, while Blue Fish is planning on opening next door to Samba Grille in downtown's Bayou Place at the end of the month. Unsurprisingly, it also plans to open a location on Washington Avenue.

Whither the homegrown talent, Houston? Whither?

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