Governor Greg Abbott announced Monday that Texas would begin reopening in phases, with Phase I starting May 1. It allows restaurants to operate their dining rooms at 25 percent capacity while adhering to safety measures outlined here. While many restaurant owners and staff are thrilled to get back to some sort of normalcy, others are still trying to adapt to the new takeout and delivery services they have implemented. Some restaurants are raring to go, while others are hesitant to reopen amid all the stringent guidelines and the costs that abiding by them entails. With a 25 percent occupancy limit, some owners aren't sure if it is worthwhile since profit margins are slim even on a good day.
With this rolling open, it remains to be seen how much of the public is ready to dine-out. There are some eager beavers who cannot wait and will be the first in line at their favorite restaurant. Others are saying, "Hell no, I won't go!" Both sides have legitimate opinions and reasons for their choices. This first phase will determine if Phase 2 goes as planned for May 18.
This restaurant list includes a number of local businesses reopening their dining rooms with limitations. Many are still operating vital take-out service to generate income and provide jobs for their employees, so please continue to support your favorite restaurants even if you aren't ready to dine out . Some restaurants are hanging back until Phase Two when restaurants can increase capacity to 50 percent.
It's a scary time and many see this as a return to our pre-COVID-19 lives. Unfortunately, our lives may never be the same again. At least not anytime soon. So, please make decisions that keep not only yourself safe, but those around you as well. Houston restaurants are taking precautions and implementing safety standards that are meant to protect us. Now is the time to be the customer that every owner, manager, server and chef loves to see come in the door.
This bubbly bistro has been doing curbside take out with daily specials since the COVID-19 shutdown of restaurant dining rooms. Now, it is reopening for dine-in service May 1 and will be following the guidelines set by the CDC and Texas Restaurant Association, including the Texas Restaurant Promise. Reservations are recommended.
Guests can enjoy starters like the 72 Hour Sous Vide Pork Belly ($11) and entrees such as Seafood Bouillabaisse Pasta ($24) and the Smothered Pork Chop ($16). There are sandwiches including the Croissant Jambon Fromage ($14), a ham and cheese croissant.
The restaurant plans to continue its Daily Specials for curbside take-out. A look at recent specials on Facebook shows deals such as lasagne for two with salad, garlic bread and a bottle of Chianti Classico for $42. Other specials have been dishes like coq au vin, chicken pot pie and prime rib for two, all paired with a bottle of wine. They vary daily, but seem like pretty good offers to us. You can add on a kids meal or two if you're quarantining with little ones. The restaurant also offers half-gallon El Jimador margaritas ($32).
Bernie's Burger Bus
5407 Bellaire Boulevard
Owner Justin Turner has closed the BBB locations in the Heights, Katy and Missouri City temporarily, so all of the restaurant's business is coming out of the Bellaire location for now. Turner received a little help recently from local Houston realtor and friend, David Atkins, who purchased thousands of dollars in gift cards that he does not intend to cash in and he also bought a number of burger packs to deliver to his friends and neighbors, according to ABC.com.
Turner is encouraging customers to continue the curbside to-go orders and online ordering for delivery and take-out, but is also opening the patio for al fresco dining, along with a special tent to increase the space. For take-out, there are Build-Your-Own Burger kits and Family Slider Packs plus BYO Texas craft beer six-packs from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. daily. Along with the menu of burgers with names like The Principal and The Cheerleader, there are shakes, kids meals and customizable fries and tots. Check out its all day happy hour specials, too.
If you drop by the restaurant, be sure to congratulate Turner on his recent nuptials. He just got married April 21, amid all of this craziness.
This trendy hot spot closed temporarily due to the dine-in service restrictions. Originally slated to reopen May 5, it has bumped up the date to Friday May 1 at 4 p.m. It will be open until midnight, then resume its brunch service on Saturday and Sunday at 10 a.m. with dinner service beginning at 4 p.m. Reservations are highly recommended.
This Italian restaurant has been the home base for several other Clark Cooper Concepts like Punk's Simple Southern Food during the COVID-19 shutdown. It will continue to offer curbside take-out while opening up its dining room beginning May 1. The restaurant is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. Reservations are required and dining time will be limited to one and a half hours. The tables have been spaced at least six feet apart and all safety guidelines are being followed. There are sanitation stations and sanitizer on each table. The menu for now includes many of Coppa's pastas, pizzas, antipasti and grilled fish dishes.
2042 TC Jester
This breakfast and lunch spot will continue doing curbside pick-up, delivery and online ordering, but will also open for dine-in service May 1 with a limited menu. Its hours are Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
El Big Bad
The world's largest infused tequila bar, El Big Bad is definitely the place to hit up this weekend if you are looking for some Cinco de Mayo fun, margaritas and Tex-Mex. It will open its interior and large, wrap-around patio May 1 at 4 p.m. for its "Cinco at Our Place" celebration. It will be open until 2 a.m. with the kitchen closing at midnight. Its 10th annual Cinco de Mayo celebration will run through May 5. Check its Facebook page for opening hours as they vary daily. Admittance is on a first-come, first-served basis and all safety guidelines will be followed. There is a parking garage across the street on Preston.
El Big Bad has enchiladas, fajitas and margarita kits to go if you want to Cinco in Place at your own domicile.
Galiana's Tex-Mex and Agave Bar
24110 Northwest Freeway
Galiana's Tex-Mex opened April 29 after closing March 1 for rebranding, as reported here in the Houston Press. It was originally Galiana's Bakery and Cafe, one of the concepts operated by Grupo Herrera.
The Herrera family has created a menu of Tex-Mex favorites with some inspiration from regional Mexican cuisine, including sopes, gorditas and street tacos. The Certified Angus Beef Fajitas from another of the family's restaurants, Alicia's Mexican Grille, is on the menu with a little twist. Galiana's version is flavored with the family's secret spice mix and orange and papaya juices.
The restaurant is open for curbside pick-up and delivery, with a convenient drive-thru, open from 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. daily. It offers free delivery within a ten mile radius for orders made directly through the restaurant. It is also offering Avion and El Jimador margarita kits to-go. When the restaurant opens later for dine-in service, guests will be able to enjoy the Agave Bar with classic margaritas and mezcal cocktails. The family has even created its own tequila brand, The Herrera Family Herradura Double Barrel Reposado.
Galiana's expects to open its dining room closer to Phase Two of the Texas reopening plan.
This family-owned restaurant has been around since 1948 and was taken over by the Platsas family in 1993. It recently underwent a major and modern renovation in 2018. Owner Johnny Platsas is a Greek immigrant and his wife Patricia is of Ecuadorian heritage so their menu reflects a blend of Greek, Latin and American flavors. Daughter Zoi Platsas serves as Harry's chef and she has added some new items to the breakfast and lunch menu just in time for the reopening of its dining room. Son Gianni is also involved in the restaurant's operation.
Guests will see new dishes like Tiropita, Pork Gyro and a pastry that we are eager to try, Galatopita. It's a Greek milk pie with a baked milk custard in crispy fillo. For $4, that sounds like a piece of heaven at a reasonable price. It will also have favorites like the Greek Feta Fries and the spicy Chilaquiles. For now, there will be no cafeteria line in compliance with the safety guidelines, so it will be table service only. There will be hand sanitizing stations and the booths and tables will be sanitized after each seating.
Harry's will also continue its curbside pick-up with a 10 percent surcharge which goes to the staff.
Helen Greek Food and Wine
2429 Rice Boulevard
Helen Greek temporarily shuttered its Heights location March 24 and is currently doing curbside pick up from its Rice Village restaurant only. There is a limited menu available on its website and includes dishes like Feta-Brined Chicken, Bavette Steak Souvlaki and the Traditional Pork Gyro Platter. There's also Grilled Octopus and Pecan Baklava. The all-Greek wine list is available and Helen Greek is offering a free select bottle of wine with purchases over $100. Just mention this promotion.
The restaurant is presently evaluating its options for dine-in service in the next couple of weeks.
King's Biergarten and Restaurant
1329 East Broadway
The flagship location of Hans Sitter's Bavarian beer garden and restaurant closed this week for renovations. It is expected to reopen in late May with a new dining room, bar, parking lot and menu. Sitter posted a moving and heartfelt message on the restaurant's Facebook page about his commitment to his staff, his customers, the community and the restaurant itself. Take a minute to read it. You probably have the time, right now.
2044 E. TC Jester, 281-990-3042
828 W. FM 646, 832-820-8264
Hans and Philipp Sitter's other beer houses are opening for dine-in May 1 at 4 p.m. and will be open daily from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. The large outdoor areas are perfect for social distancing while sipping a hefeweizen or hofbrau and eating some of the gourmet sausages. Both the Heights and League City locations will have crawfish boils available on Friday and Saturday.
4201 Bellaire Boulevard
This 90-year-old bakery closed temporarily March 21 due to the coronavirus concerns but reopened April 30 to continue serving Houstonians the pastries and goodies it has served since brothers Goswin and Raymond Moeller first opened it in 1930. And, for the first time in 90 years, customers can order its pies, cookies, cakes and other treats online. Or, you can drop by the store and say hello to its friendly employees, two of which, Miss Dorothy and Miss Carol, have worked there for decades.
The bakery uses no additives or preservatives in its from scratch products which includes yummies like cinnamon rolls, Apple Tea Ring coffee cake, cream horns, loaf breads and more. The petit fours are a favorite among its regular customers and the bakery also creates special occasion cakes. Many of the items are baked in a pre-WWII oven which has rotating shelves for heating the baked goods evenly.
Ouisie's Table Restaurant and Gardens
3939 San Felipe
Ouisie's Table has been offering weekly specials to-go during the crisis. Now, it is reopening its dining room and gardens May 1. It will have a reduced menu with plans to expand it in the future. Hours may be expanded, too For now, the restaurant is open for lunch from 11 a.m to 2:30 p.m. and dinner from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., seven days a week.
Reservations for dine-in are strongly encouraged and the restaurant asks that guests wait outside and not by the entrance. There are 100 seats available in the dining room with more seating in the gardens, weather permitting. For Mother's Day, May 10, Ouisie's is taking reservations for timed seating. It will continue to offer curbside pick-up as well.
1751 Sea and Bar
191 Heights Boulevard
This fine dining seafood restaurant closed for service March 17 after the dine-in restrictions were instituted. Now, it will reopen for service May 1 at 4 p.m. with a limited menu. The offerings will include the raw bar, conserves and simply grilled fish. There will be full bar and wine service. Reservations are required and can be made through Open Table. Each reservation will be limited to two hours.
Sambrooks Management, which operates the restaurants and several others around Houston, says that it will follow all the Texas Restaurant Association's guidelines and will sanitize each table and settings after every turnover. It will also conduct daily health screenings of its employees.
Sylvia's Enchilada Kitchen
1140 Eldridge Parkway, 832-230-3842
6401 Woodway, 713-334-7295
Sylvia Casares, Houston's "Enchilada Queen" operates two locations in Houston of her signature restaurant. Now, the restaurants are reopening the dining rooms for lunch and dinner, while still providing curbside pick up for to-go orders. Reservations are encouraged. Walk-in guests must wait in their vehicles or at a safe distance from the restaurant's entrance. So, it's probably best to reserve a table. Each location will provide seating for 50, including the patios.
The full menu is available, along with lunch specials. Sylvia's famous enchiladas are divided on the menu as North and South. The North enchiladas are more Texas-style while the South enchiladas are inspired by more traditional Mexican flavors.
Chris Shepherd and the team at Underbelly Hospitality are still working on a plan to safely open the dining rooms of Georgia James, The Hay Merchant, UB Preserv and One-Fifth, but they are not quite ready to do so. In the meantime, there are plenty of options for grabbing a meal from the team, along with a bottle of wine from Matthew Pridgen's wine list or some sweets from pastry chef Victoria Dearmond.
Shepherd has partnered with H-E-B to sell some of his most popular dishes as Take and Bake items in the grocery stores. The prepared meals are also available from Underbelly Hospitality as well as to-go dishes such as Cha Ca-style Redfish ($24), Viet-Cajun Shrimp and Grits ($16) and the Cease and Desist Burger ($12). There's also a Spicy Chicken Sandwich with black pepper buttermilk sauce ($11). Starters include choices such as Sweet and Spicy Pig Ears ($8) and there are sweet offerings like frozen cookie dough ($8) and the Build-Your-Own Cookie Box ($12). Customers can purchase steaks and seafood from Georgia James to take home and cook.
Verandah Progressive Indian Restaurant
This Indian restaurant is opening its dining room for dinner only, with a limited menu plus a tasting menu. Reservations are required because it currently can offer only twelve seats at a time. Therefore, the restaurant is limiting dining time to two hours per table and parties no larger than six persons. Dinner will be served daily from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. There will be a Mother's Day brunch service beginning at 11 a.m. with dinner service in the evening. The restaurant will relaunch its weekday lunch service in Phase Two of the reopening plan.
The restaurant is serving its full menu for curbside pick-up and delivery. It also has prepared sauces like Korma and Makhani available along with small, medium and large orders of dishes like its Chicken Tikka W'kana, Lamb Roganjosh and Chicken Biryani. There are also Indo-Chinese options available, along with beer, wine and cocktails.