Restaurant News

Openings and Closings: Winnie's Opens, Dog Haus Expands

A frozen Negroni and chicken wings are a perfect treat on the patio.
Photo by Emily Jaschke
A frozen Negroni and chicken wings are a perfect treat on the patio.

Winnie's, 3622 Main, is now open. The new patio bar takes over the spot which housed Natachee's Supper 'n Punch until the pandemic shut its doors. It is a collaboration between Johnny's Gold Brick owner Benjy Mason and chefs Graham Laborde and Chris Roy, all three having worked together previously at Bernadine's, which closed in 2017.  Like the previous occupant, Natachee's, Winnie's will be approachable, creative and true to the vintage building's character with some modern additions such as bay windows to let in more light.
click to enlarge
The Mississippi Debris is comfort food for those with the munchies.
Photo by Emily Jaschke
The menu will offer chef-driven sandwiches since the three partners are all chefs. There will be classics such as the Shrimp and Oyster Peace Maker Po-Boy and a Smoked Turkey Sandwich done in conjunction with Truth BBQ.  Its version of a Southern favorite, Mississippi Beef Debris, takes it all the way to messyville with ranch-rubbed pot roast, pepperoncini, beer queso, roasted carrot ranch dressing and Cool Ranch Doritos. The debris is also available on top of French fries. Starters include Pimento Queso and crispy confit chicken wings and there's a Muffaletta Chopped Salad and the BLT Sando for entrees. The restaurant's online menu lists quite a few more items that are "coming soon."
Winnie's has cool cocktails and fun food.
Photo by Emily Jaschke
Guests can also enjoy raw oysters on the patio while sipping one of its cocktails like the Peach Bourbon Iced Tea, Raspberry Negroni or an on-tap Hurricane Highball. We think the Hand Grenade Collins is the perfect fruity tropical staycation beverage with its mix of vodka, Midori, honeydew, kiwi, pineapple and lemon. The H-Town Irish Coffee is served frozen, a wise choice for sultry Houston nights. House cocktails are only $5 until 5 p.m.. After that, they are $10 till close.

The bar program is overseen by two industry professionals, Tina Marie Brackett and Garrett Jones. Jones comes from Johnny's Gold Brick and Brackett has worked at establishments such as '93 Til and The Sugar Room. While using craft cocktail techniques, the duo are still keeping it fun and refreshing implementing the flavors of Texas and Louisiana into their creations.
click to enlarge
Dog Haus uses toasted King's Hawaiian rolls as a bun.
Photo by Dog Haus
Dog Haus, 1096 Enclave Parkway, will open October 2. The new Energy Corridor location is the second Houston store for the brand which first opened in Pasadena, California in 2010. Founded by longtime friends Hagop Giragossian, Quasim Riaz and Andre Vener, the company, which also operates Dog Haus Biergarten, has expanded to 35 locations and added concert venues and virtual kitchens as part of its portfolio.

This is the second Houston store for franchisee Jason Rappaport who plans several more locations for the city plus 30 more throughout San Antonio and Houston in the next five years, with five opening in the next six months.
click to enlarge
How do you like your weenies?
Photo by DogHaus
Its popularity stems from gourmet hot dogs made with its signature all beef franks served on Kings Hawaiian rolls, including Haus Dog creations like the Sooo Cali, an all beef dog topped with wild arugula, avocado, tomato, crispy onions and a spicy basil aioli. Other dogs include the Chili Idol, Pineapple Express and a corn dog made with root beer batter. There are also the Haus Sausages with Italian-inspired choices such as The Fonz and the Cocky Balboa or the T-Mex made with beef chorizo-pepper jack sausage and topped with chipotle aioli. The meats are all free of added nitrates and nitrites and are antibiotic and hormone-free. The menu also offers burgers made with humanely-raised Black Angus beef and sandwiches, wings and chicken strips. Its chicken sandwich, Bad Mutha Clucka, made its debut in 2017. There are also Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods options plus Bad-Ass Breakfast Burritos.

During the grand opening weekend, Dog Haus Energy Corridor will 15 percent of sales to Katy Rotary Club.
click to enlarge
The Heights is losing some of the country's best burgers.
Photo by Kirsten Gilliam Photography
Beck's Prime, 115 W. 19th, will close September 30, according to a spokesperson. We reached out for a reason were told that the company decided to release the Heights property after ten years of operating in that location.

The email stated that each member of the closing store's staff has been offered a position with another location in order to retain valued members of the Beck's Prime family. Ten other locations in Houston and two in Dallas will remain open.

Beck's Prime was recently voted Best Burger Restaurant in the country by Gayot.
click to enlarge
Plant-based foods offer a wide variety of healthy and tasty choices.
Photo by Jenn Duncan
 Heartbeet, 14714 Memorial, will open September 29. The plant-based eatery from Hungry's Concepts will open next to Hungry’s in Memorial. The family-owned restaurant decided the demand was high enough for a separate plant-based concept after years of introducing plant-based items on the Hungry's menu. With the interest in vegan and meatless dining booming, it's a timely decision.

The new concept also brings a few changes.  After 45 years, co-owners Fred Sharifi and Ashkan Nowamooz have tapped into the next generation for a fresh perspective by appointing Ashkan's daughter, Nousha Nowamooz, as Vice President of Development for Hungry’s Concepts. Nousha has worked for several years on menu development and management for the company.
click to enlarge
A plant-based meal doesn't mean sacrificing flavor.
Photo by Jenn Duncan
Hungry’s began introducing plant-based offerings in 2016. Executive chef Sue Nowamooz says, "It started with our plant-based daily special, then we added brunch items and we received a lot of positive feedback from our customers – including more kid-friendly options."

The menu at Heartbeet will include Citrus-Marinated "Ceviche," the Seitan Gyros Plate plus a variety of salads and bowls like the Chickpea Penne and Wild Mushroom Pasta and Roasted Beet "Poke" Bowl. The children's menu will offer items like Penne Mac-n-Cheese made with cashew cheese and Falafel Fingers.
click to enlarge
The large patio at Heartbeet will be open next week.
Photo by Becca Wright
Beverage offerings will include a variety of freshly pressed juices and a fresh take on favorite cocktails with drinks like the Cucumber Martini and the Spicy Pineapple Margarita.

Heartbeet hopes to cater not to just vegans and vegetarians but also people who just want more plant-sourced healthy foods like  fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains and beans in their diet.
click to enlarge
Chef Rafael Villalpando joins Toro Toro Houston.
Photo by Charlie Horse Photography
Toro Toro, 1300 Lamar, is slated to open this fall at Four Seasons Hotel Houston. In a press release this week, Richard Sandoval Hospitality announced that it would be bringing in chef Rafael Villalpando to lead the kitchen as chef de cuisine at the Houston location. Villalpando was most recently chef de cuisine at Toro Toro Fort Worth located in the Worthington Renaissance. Prior to that he was the kitchen supervisor/sous chef at 18 Oaks in the JW Marriott San Antonio.
Pan-Latin flavors lead the menu at Toro Toro.
Photo by Richard Sandoval Hospitality
Villalpando was born in Los Angeles, California but was raised in Mexico, where he was inspired by his grandmother's cooking. He eventually worked in high end restaurants in Monterrey, Mexico and New York City. He has an extensive background in the high volume world of hotel dining including his contribution to the pre-opening of the Rosewood Hotel in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. Currently, Villalpando has been training diligently with the executive chef of Four Seasons Hotel Houston, Paul Peddle, in preparation for the grand opening of Toro Toro Houston.

The new Pan-Latin Steakhouse will replace Quattro, the hotel's previous Italian restaurant known for its extravagant brunch feasts. Toro Toro will explore the global flavors of Central and South America with a rodizio-style churrasco, an open ceviche bar and Mexican street snacks called antojitos.

Dave's Hot Chicken
, 12161 Westheimer, opens September 24, as reported by CultureMap Houston. The former food truck was founded in 2017 in a parking lot in West Hollywood by friends Dave Kopushyan, Arman Oganesyan and Tommy and Gary Rubenyan. Within the year, the friends had opened a strip mall brick and mortar, decorated with murals from local artists, a practice the restaurant still continues in its new locations. Kopushyan, a classically-trained chef, worked with culinary powerhouses like Thomas Keller of French Laundry before putting his stamp on the Nashville hot chicken craze. The company, which has most of its stores in California, has expanded to a handful of states across the U.S. and even into Canada. Its investors include actor Samuel L. Jackson and more recently, hip-hop artist Drake.

Customers can choose their halal chicken in tenders or slider form and there are seven spice levels ranging from No Spice to Reaper. Sides include Kale Slaw, Mac 'n Cheese and Crinkle Fries.
click to enlarge
There is nothing more beautiful than seafood peeking out a deep, dark roux.
Photo by Metoya Scott
Cassandra's Louisiana Kitchen, 5203 FM 1960, softly opened August 6 but it celebrated its grand opening with a ribbon cutting ceremony with Houston Northwest Chamber of Commerce September 3. The restaurant originally opened in Shreveport, Louisiana but, much to the disappointment of its fans in that city, it has been transplanted to Houston.
click to enlarge
Good gravy, that looks good.
Photo by Metoya Scott
The family-owned business serves many of the Cajun and Creole specialties to be expected of a restaurant with Louisiana in its name. There are starters like Gator Bites, Hot Boudin and Swamp Fries. One dish that has us intrigued is the Crawfish Cornbread stuffed with crawfish tails and topped with crawfish etouffee.  Other Louisiana comfort foods include seafood gumbo, a variety of fried and grilled seafood platters plus chicken fried steak, chicken and waffles and oxtails. Lunch specials run Monday through Friday for $12.95 with rotating items. Sides like collard greens, fried okra, dirty rice and red beans and sausage will make you miss your mee-maw.
ZOA has healthy and vibrant Moroccan flavors.
Photo by Brian McKenny
ZOA Moroccan Kitchen,  6700 S. Rice Avenue, opened September 9. This is the second location of the Moroccan fast-casual restaurant from owner, chef Youssef Nafaa who is also the CEO at Bella Restaurants Group which operates Bella Mia and Coco Crepes. ZOA first opened in March 2020 serving the food of Nafaa's childhood in Morocco.

Customers can create their own dishes with a variety of choices. First, they choose a base from options like pita, couscous, saffron jasmine rice, lentils or mixed greens. Protein choices include beef tagine, lamb meshwi, shrimp, kefta (beef meatball) and chicken charmoula. There's also a potato cake option that is gluten-free and vegetarian.

The hard part comes when deciding on the toppings. There are many from which to pick including zaalouk (eggplant), fava bean hummus, cucumber-tomato, cinnamon carrots and more. Finally, guests pick their favorite sauce with offerings like red or green harissa, zesty mint avocado-yogurt, tomato charmoula and lemon olive oil.

If it seems overwhelming, there are also signature favorites made with Fatima bread or served in a bowl. There is a brunch menu with dishes like Moroccan Pancakes and the Yalla Breakfast Sandwich plus pastries including walnut date bars and on weekends, croissants.

click to enlarge
Fall is here and Dutch Bros. is ready for thirsty customers.
Photo by Dutch Bros. Coffee
Dutch Bros. Coffee, 8617 Spring Cypress, will celebrate its grand opening September 29. This is the third Spring area location for the drive-thru coffee company. We reported last week on its new spot at 5258 FM 2920 and its is keeping right on track as it expands to nearly 500 locations in 11 states. Founded in 1992 by brothers Dane and Travis Boersma, its "Broistas"  serve a variety of coffee drinks, tea, cocoa, smoothies and iced coffees plus more dessert-like beverages such as its freezes and frosts.  There are a few snacks available including muffin tops.

With the beautiful weather, the Caramel Pumpkin Brulee or Pumpkin Pie Frost are tasty autumnal choices.

Jersey Mike's Subs, 1413 S. Voss, opened September 22. Franchise owner, John Enterline will host a grand opening fund raiser from September 22 though September 26 to raise funds for the Trotter Family YMCA. Each customer who presents a special coupon with a minimum of a $2 donation will receive a regular sub in exchange. Guests must have the coupon.

The sub shop will offer take-out orders in the store or through the website for pick up. Customers can also order through Jersey Mike's app for delivery or curbside and through third party delivery services.

Founded in 2010, Jersey Mike's has over 2,000 stores nationwide. Three have opened in the Houston area in the past five weeks. Its freshly sliced ingredients and freshly grilled meats are served on freshly baked bread. It's fresh.
click to enlarge
I wonder what they serve at Logan's Roadhouse?
Photo by Andy Phan Photography
Logan's Roadhouse, 12950 Northwest Freeway, celebrated its grand reopening September 23.  SPB Hospitality, its parent company, recently moved its headquarters to Houston. The Northwest Freeway restaurant underwent a complete remodel and will serve as the flagship prototype for other stores, including 18 Texas locations. Cam Campbell, Vice-President of Operations, was on hand for the ribbon cutting along with the Houston Northwest Chamber of Commerce.

With its slogan of "The Real American Roadhouse", the brand's new design is going back to its Texas roots with Longhorn wall decor and neon Texas-themed signs. The ambiance is a nod to the Texas spirit of individuality but also community.
click to enlarge
An American flag made of beer cans is perfect for a Texas bar.
Photo by Andy Phan Photography
Its famous made-from-scratch rolls are commemorated with signage in the restaurant while over-sized beer can flags and license plate artwork add some whimsy to the dining experience. The lighting has been updated as well.

Logan's Roadhouse has been around for 28 years and currently operates 113 corporate and 23 franchise restaurants in 23 states.  SPB Hospitality's portfolio also includes Old Chicago Pizza & Taproom, and restaurant-brewery hybrids like Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery plus specialty concepts ChopHouse & Brewery,  A1A Ale Works and Ragtime Tavern Seafood & Grill.

With its new headquarters in Houston, fans can expect that it will probably include more Houston locations in its expanding footprint.