When other parts of the country have suffered economic downturns in recent years, Houston's economy has fortunately remained stable. One ironic and sad side effect of that durability is the climbing real estate prices. There are more profitable things that landowners can do than lease restaurants.
As reported yesterday, El Tiempo 1308 Cantina is probably going to have to move sometime after January 1 because the land is being sold. Apartments will be built in its place. The Montrose location of the popular local chain opened back in 2007. On the plus side, at least there are other El Tiempo locations in town to tide over diners who get a hankering for its freshly-made guacamole.
Another victim of high prices may be Polovina Italian Café on Washington Avenue. We received notice on Thursday, October 30 that a lockout notice for non-payment of rent is posted on the door. Additionally, a call to the phone number reveals an out-of-service message. While it's possible this is a temporary situation, it looks like it's probably a permanent one. Houston Press has sent an inquiry to the owners and will post an update if one becomes available.
As a result of the high inside-the-Loop real estate prices, perhaps the beneficiaries will be the folks who live in suburban areas. New restaurant openings in outlying super-neighborhoods aren't slowing down a bit. Vintage Park in the far Northwest side got yet another new restaurant. This one is called Mod Pizza, a "you pick your own toppings and sauce and we'll bake it" kind of place. It sounds like Chipotle, but with pizza instead of burritos.
Katharine Shilcutt at Houstonia reports that chef Anita Jaisinghani has opened a new bakery right above her popular, modern Indian restaurant, Pondicheri. It's called Pondicheri's Bake Lab + Shop and gives Jaisinghani a place to showcase the skills she started honing over 14 years ago as the pastry chef at Café Annie.
Reader "del.martinis" asked in the comments last week about Doc's Motorworks Bar & Grill. The building, just across Westheimer from Royal Oak Bar, appears to be pretty much completed and they are hoping to open mid-November. Doc's is a casual bar and grill that originated in Austin and they specialize in burgers, salads and comfort food fare like fish and chips and chicken fried chicken. The Montrose location is the company's first foray into Houston.
Here's another import from a neighboring Texas city. Katy has a new taco place, Los Roberto's Taco Shop. Their first few locations opened in San Antonio. The menu looks legit. We're talking lengua tacos, tripe tortas, chilaquiles for breakfast and menudo on Saturdays and Sundays. They're keeping long hours, too: 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Zoe's Kitchen has added another Houston location. Their tenth store is in the Heights and it opened on October 25. The Mediterranean fast-causal restaurant caters to a variety of diets, including vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free.
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On the horizon: A restaurant called Eculent is set to open in Kemah on November 7 and it sounds fascinating. It features a selection of tasting menus, but with some interesting enhancements. Their web site says, "Each course is alive with custom created scents, choreographed lighting, changing local artwork and a movie quality soundtrack." Depending on the menu selected, the cost is $85 to $125 per person with an additional $35 fee for wine or "molecular cocktail pairings."
Greg Morago at the Houston Chronicle reports that former Arcodoro chef Giancarlo Ferrara is opening Amalfi on November 10. The restaurant is named for the Italian coast where his hometown of Salerno resides. The dishes are inspired by the cuisine of the same region and includes seafood-stuffed, roasted calamari, spaghetti with fish sauce, clams and lemon zest and herb-roasted octopus.
Finally, a new place is very close to helping feed Houston's fried chicken frenzy. The Chicken Ranch had a one-day preview this past Sunday and will repeat that this weekend on November 1 and 2. They're aiming to be open regular hours starting on November 7.
What did we miss? As always, leave it in the comments section and we may include your mention in next week's post!