Restaurant News

7 Formerly Jinxed Houston Restaurant Locations That Have Reversed the Curse

Late in 2009, Eating...Our Words took a look at the then-top "jinxed locations" in Houston. The compiled addresses had such a long and storied history of failure they made the Astros look like the Yankees.

Looking back at the list today, there may be hope for hometown baseball. Of the eight restaurants listed -- two of which happened to be carry-overs from another list of cursed locations from 2008 -- six are still in business. That's a damn fine batting average. Here is a look back at some of the survivors from that list and a few more who have "broken the curse."

6401 Woodway Drive Today: Sylvia's Enchilada Kitchen Previously: Grotto, Mi Cocina, PK's Blue Water Grill

No one would make the mistake of saying Sylvia's has had an easy run of things lately. Owner Sylvia Casares was critically injured when she was allegedly shot by her then-boyfriend Michael Warren back in March. Despite this incredible setback, Sylvia's family and employees pulled together and managed the two Sylvia's locations in her stead. Today, Sylvia has recovered and returned to the kitchen, and Sylvia's Mexican Kitchen soldiers on.

4315 Montrose Today: Brasserie Max and Julie Previously: Aries, Pic, Russo's, Café Anthony, 43 Brasserie

Formerly inhabited by not one but two different concepts from the arguable king of curse, Scott Tycer, 4315 Montrose has housed some exceptional talent in the past, including Monica Pope. The second restaurant from owners of Cafe Rabelais in Rice Village, Brasserie Max and Julie is going on its sixth year in business.

1915 Westheimer Today: Firkin and Phoenix Previously: Ciro's Italian Grill and Bar, Ohio Grange Cafe, Sabine, Chef G.'s, Epoch Fusion Café

Setting aside my beer nerd qualms about a place with "firkin" in the name that serves very little in the way of craft beer (much less cask beer), there is something to be said for a place that is basically an also-ran Bennigan's surviving at the outer edges of Montrose for going on six years. Clearly it's found a customer base in a spot that -- by last count -- held at least five restaurants prior. That's certainly a respectable achievement.

2411 S. Shepherd Today: Torchy's Tacos Previously: Greatfull Taco, Sabetta, Café Zol, Crostini

Previously home to Greatfull Taco (which, oddly enough, was opened as a sort of homage when a planned Torchy's franchise fell through), this space -- now a Torchy's proper -- finally has a tenant that people will brave the poor parking and ingress to visit. Though I'm pretty middle of the road on Torchy's and their unforgivably bad tortillas, it's good to have what seems like a solid, stable resident as opposed to the revolving door of previous restaurants. Given some of the beautiful dining rooms that came before, who knew Torchy's stark "institution chic" would be the winner? And while 12 months is probably too early to declare the curse broken, the long lines at Torchy's are a safe bet it's here to stay.

2710 Montrose Today: BB's Cajun Café Previously: Alfredo's European Grill, others

I spent a long time looking for what used to be housed in the small space behind the Valero at the corner of Westheimer and Montrose. I know this parking lot well; when I was a teenager, our moms would drop us here to hang out at places like Numbers as a compromise and promise that we wouldn't go up to that "horrible area" off Washington Ave that housed places like The Vatican And Mary Jane's. I can't for the life of me remember anything that preceded Alfredo's in that spot, though people assure me it's been many different things. I guess that shows you the problem. BB's has bucked the trend, however, with soulful Cajun food and late-night hours.

3600 Kirby Today: Kata Robata Previously: Hue Restaurant, others

Anyone who follows food in Houston probably scoffs at the idea of Kata Robata ever being included on a cursed locations list. Three short years ago, however, someone probably still remembered the names of its predecessors at the corner of Kirby and Richmond. Needless to say, the curse has been lifted. (Too soon to see if it's been dumped on Maggie Rita's across the street, though.)

Honorable Mention:

706 Main Today: The Burger Guys Previously: Korma Sutra, Laidback Manor, Yatra Brasserie

If anyone has a shot in the midst of downtown's ongoing construction woes, it's the nearly universally adored Burger Guys. Their far-flung Westchase location attracted steady crowds, so it stands to reason the downtown location will draw strong crowds during lunchtime. How they will fare in the evenings may be another story, but with a handful of resturants and bars planned downtown in the next 18 months, evenings downtown are bound to get a lot more vibrant.

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Joshua Justice
Contact: Joshua Justice