A familiar face is back in town: L.J. Wiley, the prodigal chef behind Yelapa Playa Mexicana, has returned to Houston. Although Yelapa has been closed since October 2011 and its various staff have moved on, the modern Mexican restaurant dazzled during its brief run -- the Houston Press gave it a Best of Houston® award for Best Mexican in 2010 -- still holds a place in many diners' hearts. If you're one of those diners, Wiley has a salve for the heartache left by Yelapa's premature closure: a two-day pop-up series called "Yelapagain."
The two-day run of Yelapagain will take place this Tuesday, March 26 and Wednesday, March 27 at downtown's Kitchen Incubator for both lunch and dinner services. Lunch runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and dinner from 5 to 11 p.m., with menus designed by Wiley and his old cohorts from Yelapa: Steve Marques, who's now the chef at Coal Vines, Vincent Huynh (now at Revival Market), Jake Nelson (now at Artisans) and Brett Storey (now the GM at Triniti). Even former Yelapa owner Chuck Bulnes will be on hand to greet old fans.
To reserve a seat for one of the four meals, email Wiley at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you aren't able to attend, don't fret -- from the sounds of this Facebook post, it sounds like more meals from Wiley could be coming up soon: "Keep your eyes peeled for more events in this amazing downtown space!"
Pastry chef Rebecca Masson of Fluff Bake Bar has become equally acclaimed for her fantastic charity fundraiser dinners as she has her Fluffernutters and Moon Pies. Another one of those charity dinners is on the horizon, coming up on Sunday, April 28. Bitches for Bitches is bringing together an all-star lineup of female chefs, pastry chefs and bartenders to benefit Lucky Dog Rescue, hosted at the beautiful Ralph Smith Photography Studio on 5226 Elm from 4 to 8 p.m.
More than a dozen of Houston's (and Austin's) finest female chefs will serve a multi-course feast, including Claire Smith of Shade, Karen Man of Oxheart, Brandi Key of Coppa, Amanda McGraw of Tiny Boxwood's and Jodi Elliot of Foreign & Domestic. Look for cocktails from Alba Huerta of the upcoming Julep and Robin Berwick of Double Trouble, plus wine and so much more.
Seats for this lady-made feast are $125 a person and seating is limited to 125 people. Tickets can be purchased by making a $125 donation directly to Lucky Dog Rescue at its website.
Bet you didn't know there was a National Empanada Day. Neither did we. You can celebrate at home, of course, or you could head out to Pollo Campero. The fast-fresh Latin chain is giving out free empanadas all day on National Empanada Day: Monday, April 8.
There's no catch here; just a free empanada in your choice of flavor: spicy chicken or tamarind chicken. All five Houston-area locations will be handing out empanadas on April 8 from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., and while we don't recommend hitting all five...there's nothing stopping you.