Restaurant News

Openings and Closings: Zalat Heights, Voodoo Cypress

Photo by Kathy Tran
Simply Basil is simply good.

Zalat Pizza, 250 W. 20th, will open April 26 in The Heights. This will be the third location in the Houston area. The new store will have limited seating with a focus on takeout though its website or app plus third party delivery services. Hours vary during the week but it is open later than most pizzerias, including staying open on Friday and Saturday until 4 a.m. for late night munchies.

Founded in Dallas, Texas by Khan Nguyen in 2015, the pizza concept pushes the envelope on traditional pies, such as taking the classic pepperoni version over the top with its Pepperoni Masterclass. It features a double serving of its 100 percent beef pepperoni, oregano, cracked black pepper and chopped garlic.
Other inventive recipes include the Nashville Hot Chicken & Pickles, Elote, Pineapple Express and the Pho Shizzle, topped with chicken, red bell peppers, caramelized onions and swirls of hoisin and sriracha. It's then garnished with basil and cilantro for an extra pop of Asian flavors.
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The pink neon is finally lighting up!
Photo by Voodoo Doughnut
Voodoo Doughnut, 9320 Barker Cypress, will open its doors May 3 at 9 a.m. The arrival of the funky doughnut shop on the northside in Cypress has been highly anticipated, if internet buzz is any indication. There are currently two previous Houston locations on Washington and on Westheimer.

The brand was founded in Portland, Oregon in 2003, on the forefront of the gourmet doughnut craze. Its irreverent business model, cheeky doughnut names and unique flavors have propelled its success and it has a cult following for its Bacon Maple Bar, Voodoo Doll and signature Cannolos.
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Every Voodoo Doll looks a little different.
Photo by Voodoo Doughnut
Its doughnut offerings have increased to over 50 flavors, including 25 vegan options. Customers can opt for the curated doughnuts like the Classic, Voodoo and Vegan Voodoo Dozen boxes or customize their own from favorites like the Oh Captain, My Captain with Cap n' Crunch Crunchberries or the Old Dirty Bastard.

Doughnut lovers can channel the King with the Memphis Mafia, an over-the-top confection that starts with a fried, glazed doughnut that is then topped with banana chunks, cinnamon, chocolate chips, peanuts and a chocolate and peanut butter drizzle. Just remember, Elvis left the building early for a reason.

The Cypress location will also have a drive-thru so that customers can indulge their guilty pleasures, such as the Maple Bacon Blunt, in relative anonymity.
Ashley and Raj Ghandi stand in front of a mural by Houston artist Gelson Lemus.
Photo by Jesse Sendejas
Cheba Hut "Toasted" Subs, 2150 Edwards, opened April 18, as reported by Jesse Sendejas here at the Houston Press. This is the first Houston joint for the Colorado-based restaurant which has been serving its sandwiches and munchies in a cannabis-themed atmosphere since 1998.

There are more than 30 signature sandwiches on the menu with fresh-baked bread, white, wheat or garlic-herb, made to order for each location. They range in sizes from the four-inch "nub" to the 8-inch (that's what he said) "pinner" to the foot-long "blunt'. Each franchisee is allowed to experiment with the sandwich offerings and Houston owners Ashley and Raj Ghandi have chosen options like the White Widow, a chicken, bacon and ranch sub topped with 'shrooms, provolone and LTOP. There's also the Jamaican Red, a buffalo chicken sub, and the Pacific Blue, its version of a tuna melt.
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Veg and meat options abound at Cheba Hut.
Photo by Jesse Sendejas
Sendejas enjoyed the 5-0 with its motto "all the pig baby!" which included a load of pork charcuterie favorites including smoked ham, Genoa salami, prosciutto, pepperoni and bacon. For lighter fare, the Power Plant is a veggie sandwich of spring mix, tomato, onion, pickles, cucumbers, mushrooms, black olives, feta and green bell pepper with a blend of guacamole and hummus for an added veggie treat.

Munchies include  Bowl of Balls (meatballs), Loaded Not'chos and Pretzel Nuggets while the Treats menu has sweet cereal offerings like the Krispy Bar and Goo Ball plus a classic chocolate chip cookie. There are soft drinks, teas and kool-aids, plus signature cocktails made with Red Bull energy drinks. There is a full bar, but alas, no actual marijuana to be found. However, with cocktails like the Cheba Rita, Bloody Mary Jane or the Hot Box, you'll still be feeling pretty good.

German Doner Kebab
, 2148 Texas, will open in Sugar Land this summer. It will be the first of three U.S. locations to open, with another planned for the Houston area and one for New York City. The brand opened its first restaurant in Berlin in 1989 and the meats for its 100-plus global locations is imported directly from Germany, though the company is based in Glasgow, Scotland. The bread is handmade and it took over a decade to perfect its Doner Kebab waffle bread.

Besides the Doner Kebab with its signature bread, the restaurant also offers the Doner meat in wraps, spring rolls, boxes and atop French fries and nachos. There are a couple of vegetarian options including a Veggie Burger and Veggie Kebab. Curry Fries and Flaming Fries are popular sides.

Peony & Crane, 626 W. 19th, has been in soft opening mode for the past three weeks. Located in The Heights, next to Squable, the Szechuan restaurant has an extensive menu and includes appetizers like edamame and Pow Pow Cake, a bubble scallion pancake plus fried rice dishes and soups such as Sweet Corn Egg Drop and Roast Duck. there are plenty of vegetarian choices including Mapo Tofu and Spicy Cauliflower Roast. For those who like it spicy, the Hot-Ass Smoked Belly Bacon and the Numb Ass Shanky Leg will deliver the desired effect.

Main Squeeze Juice Co. is coming to The Heights in January 2023. The New Orleans-based juice brand has a dozen locations in the Greater Houston area and Montgomery County but the Heights location will be its first within the city limits of Houston. Another location in Missouri City will open soon. It was founded in 2016 and quickly began franchising the following year. Former New Orleans Saints wide receiver Marques Colston and former Saints punter Thomas Morstead are part of its ownership group.

The super-food menu is nutritionist-designed and offers fresh cold-pressed juices made in-house, smoothies and organic acai bowls. Ordering is made easy with its Main Squeeze mobile app which is available through Apple App Store and Google Play Store.

The Houston Heights shop will be owned and operated by husband and wife Jeff Drost and Tabatha Jones-Drost in partnership with Couple Marc and Sandra Miller.
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Tim Reading is bring a new menu to Georgia James Tavern.
Photo by Julie Soefer

Georgia James Tavern, 737 Preston, has a new chef. Tim Reading, formerly of Ixim at Bravery Chef Hall, will be taking over the executive chef role that was recently held by Nick Wong, who has decided to depart Underbelly Hospitality.  Wong spent several years with chef Chris Shepherd's restaurant group as head chef at UB Preserv. He moved to to GJT when Shepherd decided to close UB Preserv in order to open the now scratched concept, Everlong.  A spokesperson for Underbelly Hospitality says that Wong will be with the restaurant group for a few more weeks and that they wish him the "absolute best" when he ventures out on his own.
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The new menu features seasonal vegetables and Crispy Duck Fat Potatoes.
Photo by Julie Soefer
Reading has created a new menu, along with Shepherd and culinary director Nick Fine, that appeals to the diverse clientele of Houston's downtown as well as diners further afield looking for a destination restaurant. Because the Tavern is meant to be a gathering place, too, there will be bar snacks plus raw oysters with cucumber-jalapeno mignonette and a Gulf Coast Oyster Bake with Calabrian pepper butter. Entree choices include a roasted brick chicken, Cavatelli with duck confit and the brand new Tavern Burger, made with 44 Farms ground chuck and topped with Swiss cheese, horseradish sauce, sauteed mushrooms and  fried shoestring onions atop a toasted potato bun.
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Ube and Cheese Milk Foam color the airy youtiao.
Photo by Kimberly Park
Yelo, 23119 Colonial Parkway, is changing culinary directions. With the departure of chef Cuc Lam, owner and chef Alex Au Yeung is switching gears with a new menu for Yelo that is inspired by his street food favorites. With Lam, the concept was Vietnamese street food and craft banh mi. Au Yeung, a 2022 James Beard Award Best Chef: Texas semifinalist, is taking the menu in a personal direction that reflects his culinary history and draws from the Southeast Asian market foods of his childhood in Hong Kong.

Even though the fare will be inspired by authentic dishes, anyone who is familiar with Au Yeung's culinary footprint knows that he likes to shake things up. He said in a press release, " From Yelo's inception, we wanted to offer food we enjoy eating every day and without the boundary of being authentic or not." With the variations and differences in regional and familial food traditions from country to country, Au Yeung says, " No need to worry if that's the way you ate when you were a child in Hong Kong or Houston or how your grandmother cooked it. Just enjoy".
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The Curry Chicken Bread Bowl is yummy inside and out.
Photo by Kimberly Park
Some of the new dishes include saucy skewered curry fish balls, curry fries, firecracker shrimp and Chinese-style dumplings. As a nod to San Francisco's clam chowder bowls, Au Yeung is filling sourdough boules with his Phat Eatery Malaysian chicken curry and beef rendang. For a dramatic dish, the staff at Yelo are using a traditional technique to make Chinese-style noodles that are a 5 to 6 foot single loop of dough that will be served in a 12-hour bone broth with beef shank, tomato and chili oil.

Some of the best selling craft banh mi at Yelo will stay on the menu but they will be joined by youtiao, a Chines fried doughnut with a range of adventurous toppings such as Ube & Cheese Milk Foam or Malaysian coconut jam. A savory version, Tako Aioli, will be finished with garlic aioli, shaved katsuobushi and seaweed flakes.
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Nashville hot gets a Texas twist at Spitfire.
Photo by Jay Kim
Spitfire Hot Chicken, 4232 Highway 6 N., launched January 24. Hot chicken restaurants are exploding across Houston and this locally-owned spot was one we missed earlier this year. Now, the word is out about this Bear Creek-area restaurant, owned by Janisse and Han Kim. The couple told the Houston Press in an email, "This is our very first store and just can't tell you how excited we are and feel so blessed to finally make our dream a reality."

The restaurant serves Nashville-style hot chicken with a Texas twist. That twist of Texas comes in the form of its jalapeno-cornbread waffle, the JC Waffle, and a side dish of Poblano Mac & Cheese. It offers combos of chicken tenders, sliders, and jumbo leg quarters in  dark or white chicken meat. There are also family packs and a la carte options. The Da Bomb fries are loaded with chicken tenders and mac & cheese for a shareable snack.

Diners can choose from different heat levels such as Heat It Off, Easy Peasy, Honey I'm Hot, Heat Up, Spitfire Hot and 911 Hot. There's fresh lemonade, sodas and beer available to cool it down, either in the spacious dining area or on the covered outdoor patio.
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The pretty Peking duck at Taste of Spices shines.
Photo by Siyi He
Taste of Spices, 2268 W. Holcombe, opened March 21. The Chinese restaurant is located near the Medical Center and offers Peking duck (with all the accompaniments), roasted pork, ribs, stir fried crispy noodles and Hong Kong-style Won Ton Noodle Soup among its many authentic items plus a number of tofu dishes and vegetarian options.
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Sorriso's new menu includes a decadent and luxurious Truffle Agnolotti.
Photo by Michael Anthony
Sorriso, 2 Waterway Plaza, has a new culinary team at the modern Italian restaurant located on the bottom floor of The Westin at The Woodlands. The trio are David Buckley, taking on the job of executive chef, Brien Paskvan, who will serve as executive sous chef, and Director of Food and Beverage Operations Alexandrina Dumitru.

Buckley most recently was executive sous chef at the hotel's sister property, The Woodlands Resort, and spent a decade in San Diego at a number of high profile resorts and restaurants. He is joined by Paskvan, a native Californian, who also worked previously at The Woodlands Resort. Paskvan also trained under David Chang at Pier 17's Momofuku Ssam Bar in the Seaport District. Dumitru, an Advanced Sommelier with a WSET Diploma, has created an array of cocktails that will debut at Sorriso. She too brings experience in food and beverage management from her time at various resorts in Arizona and California.
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Sorriso provides a waterside escape for dinner in The Woodlands.
Photo by Rouse Photography
With the new crew comes a new menu for the restaurant and its glamorous upstairs lounge, Como Social Club. Guests can expect small plates like Bangs Island Mussels with Nduja and tomato broth, Veal Meatballs, Grilled Octopus and Broccolini with Calabrian chili flakes, smoked garlic and Mimolette cheese. New entrees include Squid Ink Tagliatelle, Dry Aged Ribeye, Koji Dusted Duroc Pork Chop and Ora King Salmon with corn orzotto and caramelized fennel. Paskvan has added a carrot cake from from his family's recipe to the dessert offerings along with the Chocolate Bomb.
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The Fish Wich Sando is crispy.
Photo by Michael Anthony
P&J's Wich Shoppe, 401 Franklin, launched at POST Market April 21. The sandwich pop-up comes from Top Chef and James Beard Award-winning chef, Paul Qui, and chef James Gnizak, currently the head chef at FAM Hospitality's Koko Ni in Denver. It will be located next door to another FAM concept, Johnny Good Burger.

The new pop-up will offer a variety of "sandos" like the Broccolini, The Fishwich. The Spring Pea and the Steak, made with Denver steak, Cheese Whiz, jardiniere and dijonaise. The Chicken Parm Sando offers a cornflake-crusted chicken breast, topped with tomato sauce, mozzarella and parsley. There are also two salads; the Wedge Romaine and the Green Salad, served with Green Goddess dressing.

City Place Plaza, 1250 Lake Plaza, is hosting its inaugural HTX Whiskey Weekend, April 29 though May 1.

It begins April 29 at 6 p.m. with a ticketed, four-course dinner and whiskey/cocktail pairing in partnership with the sustainability focused group, The Butcher's Ball. Seating is limited to 100 guests and the dinner will combine the talents of three Houston Top Chef competitors, current contestant Evelyn Garcia, past participants Dawn Burrell and Sasha Grumman and Sushi Rebel's Daniel Chang. There will also be music from Austin-based singer, songwriter and guitarist Sophia Johnson. Tickets are $150 and can be purchased at butchersball.com.

On April 30, The Plaza adjacent to City Place Marriott will host complimentary, industry-friendly seminars beginning at 10 a.m., followed by its signature event, A Taste of City Place, from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. The event offers separate and ticketed whiskey and food sampling areas, a complimentary main stage and a cash beer, wine and cocktail garden. For tickets, go to htxwhiskeyweekend.com.

The last day of the whiskey weekend will be May 1 with Waffles & Wheels from 9 a.m. to noon. The outdoor brunch will have Art Cars, music from DJ Redd and family-friendly activities. Admission is free and brunch items will be available for purchase.