"We're not taking reservations until February 8" were the words to come off of Bobby Heugel's lips when the Houston Press spoke to the cocktail guru and owner of bar Tongue Cut Sparrow, opening on Wednesday, February 1, in downtown. The bar has only 25 seats, so the chances of getting in during the soft opening this week, with Super Bowl LI descending upon the city, are nearly impossible. Plus, it's never fun to go to a bar when it's getting absolutely crushed, which is likely going to be the case here.
So you should wait. In fact, you should wait to go to the city's highly anticipated new eateries One Fifth Steak, Xochi and Brasserie du Parc too. All three of these huge concepts from huge Houston restaurateurs barely squeaked out openings in time for the Super Bowl, but should you wait? Yes, you should wait.
A rep for chef Chris Shepherd's One Fifth Steak, which opened on January 26, confirms that the weekend is already pretty much booked up anyway. Diehards can get in this week, but the reservations are filling up fast. The kitchen will undoubtedly have a much better grasp on how to kick butt by next week anyways, and without thousands of extra people in town, it will be a far superior experience.
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Brasserie du Parc, which just opened yesterday from the Etoile team, has exceptional curb appeal (there is a crepe window on a terrace, y'all), but the location itself — in a beautiful, sprawling ground-floor space in One Park Place downtown — is not in an area that will be easily conducive to, you know, accessing. An entrance at Lamar and Austin will be open, however, and a rep tells us that "there is a fence around One Park Place so it’s not as visible as we would like for it to be," which maybe will keep crowds at bay? But probably not. The restaurant is also currently taking reservations at 832-879-2802.
As for Hugo Ortega's incredible new Oaxacan concept, yes, the mecca of mole, Xochi — in the words of Donnie Brasco: Forget about it. Xochi opened January 27 in the Marriott Marquis (1777 Walker), i.e., the brand-new hotel where all the NFL honchos happen to be staying. A call to the restaurant confirms that yes, the walk-ins are coming in full force. There are a few reservations until Friday (and on Sunday night). The restaurant is the newest major concept from Ortega, whose empire includes Hugo's, Caracol and Backstreet Cafe, and it will happily be waiting for you when the suits have left the building.
So wait it out. Traffic is going to be a nightmare. There are already numerous awesome neighborhood spots where locals can embrace the Super Bowl, and best of all, Houston's hottest new restaurants will be waiting to impress you once the insanity is over.