Restaurant News

Openings & Closings: Oh, Hello Hamburger Mary's, Farewell Triniti

Diners are encouraged to "eat, drink and be Mary" at Hamburger Mary's.
Diners are encouraged to "eat, drink and be Mary" at Hamburger Mary's. Photo by Danielle Martinez
Funky, friendly San Francisco-based Hamburger Mary’s is headed to Houston. The bar and grille where diners are encouraged to “eat, drink and be Mary,” is scheduled to open at 2409 Grant the weekend of February 24, as reported by Sam Byrd, freelance writer for the Houston Press. The restaurant is famous for its food and daily entertainment including drag performances, bingo nights, variety shows and Broadway-themed celebrations. Over a dozen franchised locations exist all over the country, and news of the arrival in the Bayou City has been greeted on social media with lots of cheer and excitement.

After a weekend of private events for the Super Bowl, Potente officially opened to the public on February 7 and following on its heels is sister restaurant, Osso & Kristalla, slated to open on February 20. Having played the name game for months since March of last year, Astros owner Jim Crane chose to name the more higher-end of the two restaurants, Potente, in honor of his youngest son James’s nickname. Similarly, Osso & Kristalla were chosen for son, Jared, and daughter Krystal’s nicknames.

The menu and space at Potente is designed to reflect a sophisticated Italian restaurant reminiscent of an Italian villa and will feature a spacious bar, three private dining rooms and a special chef’s table in the wine room. Osso & Kristalla is more of a casual, modern trattoria with an open kitchen and an outdoor patio.

The kitchen team includes executive chef Michael Parker (Jim Crane’s personal chef and executive chef of the Floridian National Golf Club), with chef Micah Rideout (formerly of Tarakaan and KUU) as chef de cuisine, and chef David Berg (executive pastry chef of Tony’s and Phoenicia) as the executive pastry chef, according to a press release. Both restaurants are located at 1515 Texas in downtown Houston.

Fans of Cake Boss star Joe Faugno need not wait any longer for his cannoli. The reality television star is opening Carlo's Bakery in The Woodlands next week. Eater Houston reported that a smaller kiosk version of the chain will open inside The Woodlands Mall and will offer 20 different sweet and savory options, including the famous cannoli and lobster tails. Faugno also told Eater that a full-line bakery is in the future for Houston.

click to enlarge Triniti served its lsat meal on Super Bowl Sunday, February 5, 2017. - PHOTO COURTESY OF TRINITI
Triniti served its lsat meal on Super Bowl Sunday, February 5, 2017.
Photo courtesy of Triniti

, at 2815 South Shepherd, served its last meal on Super Bowl Sunday, a press release announced. Chef/partner Ryan Hildebrand opened the restaurant on Christmas Eve in 2011, built on the triad of sweet, savory and spirits.

Chef Hildebrand released a statement thanking staff members who have become friends and family over the years:

“It is with a heavy heart that we announce Triniti’s closure. I want to thank our staff. I have had the opportunity to work with amazing, amazingly talented people that have become more than friends. They have become family, and I will miss them dearly. We have enjoyed successes and have executed dinners and menus I never dreamt possible. The Mercury Dinners, pairing food and wine to the signs of the zodiac, and creating 20 menus in five years will all continue to inspire me. I want to thank this city for the venue in which to practice our craft and share our visions. I am excited for the next chapter – for myself, my family, and for the staff of Triniti, (Chef de Cuisine) Pat Sommers, (Sous Chef) Nick Hill, (Beverage Director) Aki Hagio, (Sommelier) Rick Stiles and (Service and Special Events Manager) Jase Westeen, who I know will continue to lead and inspire. Cheers, all!”

The city has been all-a-buzz about In-&-Out news. Houston Business Journal reported that the California-based company will announce its intentions to open in Houston this year. There are more than 20 locations in and near Dallas, a handful in Austin, outposts in San Antonio and Fort Worth. It’s time for the Animal Style to come to Houston.

click to enlarge 1000 Degrees Neapolitan Pizza opens at 24600 Katy Freeway on February 9. - PHOTO COURTESY OF 1000 DEGREES NEAPOLITAN PIZZA
1000 Degrees Neapolitan Pizza opens at 24600 Katy Freeway on February 9.
Photo courtesy of 1000 Degrees Neapolitan Pizza

Katy has a new fast-casual pizza option at 1000 Degrees Neapolitan Pizza. A press release announced that the pizza parlor, located at 24600 Katy Freeway opened on February 9, next to the Field & Stream and Bed Bath and Beyond. Diners can customize pizzas with more than 35 high quality cheeses, sauces, meats, vegetables and other toppings all for one flat price, and the 1000 Degrees in Katy will offer BYOB.

Franchise owner John Bock has been in the restaurant industry for 22 years and plans to open additional stores in Sugar Land and Spring later this year. The Katy location is the third store to open in the Houston area.

A restaurant has launched in the newly renamed Sam Houston Hotel at 1117 Prairie. According to the Houston Chronicle, under the team of Lonnie and Candice Schiller (of Café Express and Café Annie), Pearl will offer a seafood heavy menu and the bar will feature an oyster bar complete with oyster shell antique chandeliers.

A reader’s tip noted that the Wunsche Brothers Café & Saloon at 103 Midway in Spring has been purchased. In March of 2015, the restaurant suffered a fire which caused it to permanently close. An announcement on the Old Town Spring site said that the Kosh family from Amerigo's Grille bought the historic building and may have plans to open again.

California-based banh mi giant, Lee’s Sandwiches, at 8338 West Sam Houston Parkway South (in front of the Viet Hoa Supermarket) quietly closed a few weeks ago. The Alief location with a drive-thru is still open at 11210 Bellaire, suite 113. Lee’s is known for its skinny French baguettes baked in-house and features a dozen different varieties of banh mi. The locals enjoy having ca phe sua da (Vietnamese iced coffee) and pastries at the Bellaire location.

Get ready for Houston’s first microbrewery inside of a movie theater. Flix Brewhouse is on its way to Sugar Land. Houston Business Journal reported that the Round Rock, Texas-based company expects to open approximately 11 months after breaking ground, and approval for the project could happen by winter or early spring of this year. *Editor's note: Flix Brewhouse is not opening in Sugar Land. This incorrect information was based upon a long outdated report.

A Facebook post noted the opening of a new Japanese restaurant at 2659 Gessner. Teriyaki Kitchen opened on January 9, offering counter service and featuring a variety of dishes like fried noodles, noodle soup, sandwiches and katsu plates. Early reviews are positive.

click to enlarge Pokii Eatery is the latest in a slew of poke places to set up shop in Houston. - PHOTO BY KERIN MAYNE
Pokii Eatery is the latest in a slew of poke places to set up shop in Houston.
Photo by Kerin Mayne
Local food lover Kerin Mayne posted about a new poke restaurant that opened recently in West Houston. Pokii Eatery, 12153 Katy Freeway, plans a grand opening for Saturday, February 18. Owner Steven Au told the Press that the restaurant will be celebrating with a live Dragon Dance at the event. Similar to other poke shops that just opened in Houston, Pokii Eatery offers customizable bowls, allowing diners to choose the type of fish/protein, sauce and toppings. Pokii also offers six signature bowls and includes scallop, cooked octopus and shrimp tempura, which sets them apart from other poke joints. The menu also features a poke burrito call the “pokiiritto.”

Many new restaurants and entertainment venues are coming to Lake Houston in Humble. Community Impact reported that White Lightning, a Las Vegas style nightclub in a country music setting will feature three bars, including a 70-foot bar with more than 700 bottles of bourbon, whiskey and moonshine; a craft beer bar; and a daiquiri bar. There will also be a restaurant and bar on-site called Whiskey Thumper, which will serve southern comfort food and wild-game hot dogs.

A Swamplot reader noted a TABC Application notice on the premise of 5734 Larkin under the name of Hidden Goods with an intention to sell beer and wine at late hours. The address is only two houses down from popular neighborhood cocktail bar, Down the Street. The owner of Down the Street, as well as EaDo’s Around the Corner, Cheryl Crider, is listed on the public notice as well. We’ll be following up to see what hidden goods are in store at Hidden Goods.

Looks like Presidio is getting ready to open doors in the former Java space at 911 West 11th Street in the Heights. A Facebook post urged fans to “come check us out next week!” With the recent announcement in the Chronicle of Kenten Marin coming onboard as chef de cuisine, the opening has been much anticipated. Expect a diverse menu influenced by the rich cultural backgrounds of the kitchen team which includes Choctaw heritage from executive chef Adam Dorris, Peruvian flavors from Marin and Mexican from Abe De Leon as sous chef.

By mid-2018, Levy Park will be home to The Woodshed, the Park’s flagship restaurant led by nationally acclaimed chef Tim Love. According to the press release, Love and his team will also run the Park’s food kiosk and double decker bus, which will be modified for beverage service inside the park’s beer garden.
The new restaurant will feature Love’s signature urban western cuisine, similar to his other restaurants.
"Houston is such a dynamic city with great restaurants and culture, and I'm thrilled to partner with Levy Park as we create a fun, vibrant food and beverage experience for the neighborhood,” says Love.

Logan Farms Honey Glazed Hams & Market Café at 10560 Westheimer in Westchase shuttered to relocate. Signage outside said: Closed for relocation. Locations at 2427 FM 1960 and 3277 Southwest Freeway, open to serve you. The popular neighborhood taco truck, Tacos del Gato, is still intact, parked at the east corner of the restaurant’s parking lot.

click to enlarge The second outpost of Vino & Vinyl is slated to open the first week of March in Sugar Land's Town Square. - PHOTO COURTESY OF VINO & VINYL
The second outpost of Vino & Vinyl is slated to open the first week of March in Sugar Land's Town Square.
Photo courtesy of Vino & Vinyl
Vino & Vinyl is ramping up to open a second outpost in Sugar Land’s Town Square at 15977 City Walk in the old Aura Brasserie space. General Manager Rachel Clabaugh told the Press that the new store is set to open by the first week of March. The concept will match the existing Missouri City location, but now there is space for a kitchen. Chef Tori Bergersen, along with his team, has created a menu that reflects the diversity of Sugar Land and inspired by his international travels.

We want to work with local purveyors for cheese, bread and other locally sourced items because that’s important to us,” said Clabaugh. The menu will include gastro-pub fare, charcuterie and cheese boards and rustic flatbreads, and will offer daily chef specials and wine dinners. A wine locker program associated with the wine club will also be available at the new store. Beer expert Michael Gibson will also be expanding the craft beer selections for both locations.

Owners Paul and Nichole Killingsworth told the Chronicle that “at this point, we're rich, but not in the way a lot of people think. We're rich in community. From the beginning, we've always wanted to convert our customers to our friends, and our friends to be like our family. This business has been a labor of love."

A reader’s tip reported new signage up at the former Verts located at 14555 Memorial. It appears that another poke spot called Poke Bar will be opening in the space soon. Additional information is not available at this time.

Sweet Times, a soul food restaurant, opened on February 4 at 6356 Richmond in the former home of Beaucoup Bar & Grill. Houston Business Journal reported that Robbie Montgomery, a reality television star on the Oprah Winfrey Network is also the owner and founder of the chain, Sweetie Pies, which chose to open the restaurant without fanfare during Super Bowl weekend. Montgomery opened her first restaurant with son James "Tim" Norman in St. Louis in 1996. The menu features Mississippi southern cooking with items like smothered chicken, pork steak with gravy and meatloaf and sides including candied yams, collard greens, and cornbread dressing.

Liberty Taco, a new spot from first time restaurateur, Ruey-Jen Huang, has opened at 4703 Richmond as of February 6, according to a tip. The menu includes all day breakfast tacos, street corn, quesadillas and an array of specialty tacos including a beef kogi (Korean sesame grilled beef) version and a Thai basil chicken option.

A reader’s tip reported that Mi Cocina at 1201 Lake Woodlands Drive in The Woodlands Mall has abruptly shuttered on February 7.

That's it for this week's restaurant openings and closings! Leave us a comment or send us an email to let us know if we missed something.
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Cuc Lam is a freelance food writer for the Houston Press and local pop-up chef. She enjoys teaching cooking classes and hosting dinner parties when she is not writing.