This month, our list of Houston’s hottest new restaurants has some interesting dynamics. Many of the entries sit on one extreme side of the dining spectrum or the other: very casual or very fancy. Also, recent accolades from a national food publication have propelled a restaurant that dropped off the list a few months ago back into the spotlight. From Asian fine dining to the best trashy pizza we’ve tasted lately (that’s a compliment), here are the newest eateries that Houstonians just can’t wait to get into.
Arthur Ave, 1111 Studewood. This Italian restaurant by way of Brooklyn comes from the team behind Helen Greek Food & Wine but that’s where the similarity ends. As described in our recent First Look, the fledgling eatery is already producing a memorable Sunday gravy chock full of meat doused in rich tomato sauce. (Thank goodness it’s available every day, not just Sundays.) Of course, there’s a great selection of red wine to pair with it. Diners also rave about the eggplant Parmesan and caprese salad with housemade mozzarella.
Brasserie 1895, 607 South Friendswood, #11. Chef Kris Jakob, the former namesake of Kris Bistro at Culinary Institute LeNôtre (now renamed as “Le Bistro”) brings his years of experience to bear on his new restaurant in Friendswood. That experience is in many areas, not just French food, so the menu is delightfully eclectic, sporting Indian and Italian dishes right alongside Texas-by-way-of-France fare like delicate cutlets of chicken fried steak. The wine by the bottle is so affordable, it seems silly to not buy one for the table. Check out our First Look at the restaurant and its dishes.
Foreign Correspondents, 4721 North Main. Welcome back to the hot list, Foreign Correspondents! Houston’s most interesting Thai restaurant got some well-deserved props from Bon Appétit early this month when it was named one of only 50 semifinalists across America for the “Hot 10” list of best new restaurants. It didn’t get picked for the top 10 but just last week, Southern Living also named it (along with Helen Greek Food & Wine) as one of their best new restaurant picks for 2016. Among the draws: ingredients rarely seen outside of Thailand (but grown locally), silky curries that cannot be simplistically described with color names (“green,” “red” and “yellow” just don’t cut it here) and food-friendly cocktails.
Le Colonial, 4444 Westheimer. Once again, there’s the opportunity to answer the question of whether Houstonians are ready to accept Asian fine dining. We’re spoiled by one of the most diverse and affordable group of casual eateries in the International District, but as we mused in our review of Ginger & Fork, isn’t there room for some upscale places, too? Le Colonial is helmed by chef and author Nicole Routhier and is widely praised for its stunning setting. Classic Vietnamese dishes served French-style include cha gio (fried spring rolls), ga nuong xa (roasted lemongrass chicken) and vit quay (marinated and roasted duck). It’s one of two restaurants in this month’s hot list located in the swanky River Oaks District shopping center. Watch for our First Look at Le Colonial later this week.
Love Buzz, 408 Westheimer. Taking a dive from fine French-Vietnamese colonial dining now to a pizza joint (and we do mean "dive"): Love Buzz revels in ‘90s subculture and is adorned with pop culture memorabilia, including a Pee-Wee Herman doll, a big Marge Simpson statue, a neon Kool cigarette sign and, of course, a Nirvana album. It’s from the team behind Moon Tower Inn and does for pizzas what its predecessor does for hot dogs—it makes them fun, irreverent and delicious. Pizzas include Kosher As Christmas with all the pork-meats—pepperoni, salami, ham and Italian sausage—and Stank Nuggets with goat cheese, mozzarella, smoked provolone, roasted garlic, “tiny salty anchovies” and caramelized onion.
Oui Banh Mi, 1601 Richmond. Oui Banh Mi has finally taken up residence in the former Lucky Burger spot. A reader contacted us over the weekend to say that all the meat options for now are chargrilled—no cold cuts—but perhaps that will change in the future. Either way, it adds a welcome option for banh mi that saves people a drive to Midtown or the International District. There are also spring rolls and the chilled, Vietnamese-style coffee is reportedly top-notch.
Rise No. 2, 1700 Post Oak, #290. This Dallas import that specializes in soufflés is giving Galleria-area diners a reason to head to the second floor of BLVD Place. This place makes a well in the middle of their chocolate soufflés and pours chocolate sauce in—you know, just in case it isn’t chocolaty enough. There are savory soufflé options, including inventive takes like Duck a'lOrange and Oyster Rockefeller. This is also one of the few restaurants in Houston offering cheese service. That’s right: it’s a cart wheeled to the table stacked with all sorts of cheese. There’s an astute wine list that goes perfectly with the cuisine, including a flight that pits Bordeaux against California.
Snooze: an A.M. Eatery, 3217 Montrose, #11. Snooze is a welcome and needed addition to Houston’s breakfast scene. It’s open from 6:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily and was originally established in Denver. There are now 17 locations across the country. Menu items range from upscale takes on morning classics like corned beef hash with caramelized poblanos and onions to inventive takes on eggs Benedict like the Chile Verde Benny with pulled pork, poached eggs, green chili hollandaise and melted cheese over tortillas. The full-fledged morning cocktail list is a glorious signpost of potential hedonism that includes the Snooze Fashioned, a mix of 9 Branded bourbon, cold brewed coffee, blueberry shrub and bitters.
Steak 48, 4444 Westheimer, #A-100. This is the second place on this month’s hot list that’s located at the upscale River Oaks District shopping center. As the name indicates, prime, wet-aged steaks and chops are central to the menu—including a whopping 22-ounce ribeye—but there’s plenty for those who don’t want beef to choose from, too, including a goodly selection of seafood and fish. Rumor has it that people who visit Steak 48 are as much into the people-watching as the food.
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The Pit Room, 1201 Richmond. This new inside-the-Loop barbecue place is off to a rollicking start. It just opened to the public this past Friday and is already selling out. It opens at 11 a.m. and closes at 4 p.m. (unless all the meat sells out early). Interestingly, pitmaster Bramwell Tripp says that plans are underway to offer wine pairings with the barbecue. For now, there are cans of rosé wine right alongside the beer in the cooler. It is well worth noting that the pits are totally wood-fired. To comply with city ordinances, the firebox was built to be outside the facility while still filling the pits with wood smoke. The design is quite clever.
Oldie But A Goodie: Berryhill Baja Grill (multiple locations). What do you get when you hire a former MasterChef competitor to spice up the menu of a taco place? All bets are off when it comes to Alvin Schultz, who was just retained as a consultant by Berryhill Baja Grill. (We recently covered his inventive and intimate Eat. Drink. Experience! dinners, which are well worth checking out.) A recent press release says, “At Berryhill, Shultz will oversee food product consistency and develop new products for the company’s corporate and franchise stores. At a recent tasting of potential new dishes, three of his tacos are already making steps toward going on the Berryhill menu.” We can’t wait to see—and taste—the new creations.