Restaurant News

Openings and Closings: Graffiti Raw Debuts, Local Table's Flagship Reopens

The Ffiti is a tower of seafood and fresh vegetables with the added spicy bite of piquin sauce.
The Ffiti is a tower of seafood and fresh vegetables with the added spicy bite of piquin sauce. Photo by Kirsten Gilliam

Graffiti Raw, 1001 California, opened this week at Montrose Collective. It's the fourth concept from The Big Vibe Group, a hospitality brand owned and operated by veteran restaurateur Grant Cooper, wife Jacy Cooper and their business partner Josep Prats. The group also operates Coppa Osteria, Gratify and FLORA, sister concepts whose influences are evident at the newcomer to the lineup.
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Josep Prats, Jacy Cooper and Grant Cooper are bringing a laid back, yet upscale bar and restaurant to the Montrose Collective.
Photo by Kirsten Gilliam
Taking its cue from the California food scene and the inspiration of a relaxed beachside lifestyle, the restaurant and bar is influenced by the flavors of Mexico, the Big Sur area and the Mediterranean. Though there are a few raw dishes on the menu like campechana, aguachile de camarones and oysters, its name is drawn from the 'raw' creativity and inclusivity of street art resulting in an approachable menu of dishes made with high quality ingredients.

It's a collaborative effort from the principals at The Big Vibe Group with Chef Epi Rosas executing a menu of items such as Cod Croquettes, a Spanish-influenced Charred Octopus, Cioppino and Spaghetti Rustichelli. Its Caviar & Chips is a plate of house-made surfboard potato chips, creme fraiche onion dip and 3 ounces of caviar.
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Linguine alla Vongole transports guests to the Italian coast.
Photo by Kirsten Gilliam
The restaurant has a small wrap-around patio with colorful tiles, marble-topped tables and wooden chairs, shaded by Bamboo umbrellas. The interior dining area of white oak is accented by woven Moroccan light fixtures and weathered arched mirrors. Local artist Haley Bowen has created figurative murals for the walls with a number of finds from around Europe and California adding to the decor. The intimate space means that there will be no accommodations for private events and tables with 5 to 8 guests should email or phone ahead of time to make arrangements.

There is a cozy nine-seat bar and a bar program with craft cocktails, natural wines, chilled sake, cold beer and FLORA's frozen margaritas.
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Local Table has a wide selection of delicious dishes to start.
Photo by Jenn Duncan
Local Table, 24033 Cinco Ranch Boulevard,  will host its grand opening January 30 in the revamped 14,500 square-foot building housing their flagship restaurant. It will also be its first Local Table and Local Bar combo.

The family-owned restaurant from Eat Local Concepts has been a staple for families and a gathering spot for the local communities in the Greater Houston area since it was first founded in Cinco Ranch in April 2016. It is owned and operated by brothers Shervin Sharifi and Neima Sharifi and their cousins Ashkan Nowamooz, Arash Nowamooz and Alex Nowamooz. Executive chef Sue Nowamooz is in charge of the menu development for all four locations, with a fifth planned for April 2023 in The Woodlands.
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There's a kids menu daily and Kids Eat Free on Monday.
Photo by Jenn Duncan
For each location, the owners strive to bring something unique to the specific neighborhood. The new Cinco Ranch location will offer an extensive patio plus the largest private dining room of all the locations with space for up to 75 people. The bonus of having Local Bar means there will be space for hosting watch parties for sporting events, corporate happy hours and casual gatherings. Co-owner Shervin Sherif says, "We are excited to expand on that notion, bringing even more space for hosting events, large parties and combining forces with Local Bar."

Because of its diverse customer base, the menu features a variety of gluten-free and vegetarian dishes including the Southwest Bowl, Honey Ginger-Roasted Brussels Sprouts Salad and its Local Farmers Market Salad.  There are also wood-stone pizzas, wraps, tacos, sandwiches and pitas. Vegan guests will find options as well.
Killen's is bringing the meat tray to Cypress.
Photo by Kimberly Park
Killen's Barbecue, 25618 Northwest Freeway, celebrated its grand opening January 20 after a brief soft opening. Its newest spot is located in Cypress in the former space of Bull & Burro, the barbecue spot opened by John and Veronica Avila in partnership with Squealing Pigs LLC in November 2021. The Avilas gave up interest in the Cypress barbecue restaurant in March 2022. A few months later, it was announced that local restaurateur and pit master, Ronnie Killen, was taking over the space to open a third location of his Killen's Barbecue. The first opened in Pearland in 2013 followed by a second Killen's Barbecue in The Woodlands in January 2021. Killen also owns Killen's Steakhouse, Killen's STQ, Killen's TMX and Killen's Burgers.

Some of its famous smoked meats by the pound include beef brisket, lean brisket, pork ribs, turkey, homemade beef and pork sausage and pulled pork. There are also meat plates with two sides, sandwiches and its popular desserts such as banana pudding and bread pudding.

Berg Hospitality announced two new concepts January 26. Located next door to Berg's B&B Butchers & Restaurant, the new ventures, Benny Chows and Canopy Social, will share the same building in Lovett Commercial's latest development at 1818 Washington.

Benny Chows will be the first foray into Chinese cuisine for Berg Hospitality, owned by restaurateur Benjamin Berg. It will be situated on the first floor of the building while Canopy Social, a British Caribbean-style rooftop bar, will be above it on the third floor. The two concepts were designed by local architect Isaac Preminger along with Berg and Sam Governale, Vice President of Design and Experience at Berg Hospitality.

Both concepts are expected to open April 2023.
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Out of this world pizza and cocktails are coming to Montrose
Photo by Lindsey Cooper-Trevino
Betelgeuse, Betelgeuse, 4500 Montrose Boulevard, is expected to open this summer. It will be the second location for the cocktail bar and pizza joint. The first opened in the Sixth Ward in May 2022. Owner Chris Cusack said in a press release "We can’t believe how lucky we are to have found this space in one of our favorite neighborhoods in Houston — and we’re gonna get real weird with it!"

The original location features a state of the art pizza oven, a fully stocked bar and outer space-themed decor. Extraterrestrial pizza enthusiasts can expect the same at the upcoming Montrose location.
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The fire at La Calle Tacos on Gray means customers have to visit the other two locations for a while.
Photo by Dayanara Viveros

La Calle Tacos, 401 Gray, will be closed temporarily for approximately two months due to a fire January 25. The fire, which began at about 1:30 a.m., was caused by an electrical issue. There were no injuries and the damage was not significant but service at the Bagby Park location will be halted with plans to reopen before summer 2023.

The staff at La Calle Tacos will be temporarily transferred to its other two locations at 3321 Ella in Garden Oaks/Oak Forest and 909 Franklin in Downtown Houston, which will continue to serve delicious tacos birria and authentic street tacos.

We wish them a speedy recovery!

Cali HTX, 12910 Northwest Freeway is shooting to open in early February. In the meantime, the new restaurant and bar is hosting a hiring event January 28 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. to get staffed for the opening. Positions are available for servers, hosts/ hostesses and bartenders. Interested candidates should have strong backgrounds in the food and beverage industry, a valid I.D., resume and a desire to be part of a dynamic team. Professional dress is a must, preferably all black attire.

The new restaurant, sports bar and live entertainment venue is taking over the space formerly occupied by Brick House Tavern + Tap. the concept is a blend, hinted at by its name, of California flavors and Texas Cajun cuisine. It is the brainchild of the creators of L. A.'s Trap Kitchen. Owner Oscar Edwards has transformed the spot into a cool urban bar and restaurant with a West Coast vibe.

Part of that vibe comes from the Compton chefs who originally founded the Trap Kitchen empire, Malachi 'Spank' Jenkins and Roberto 'News' Smith. The two are former rival gang members who turned their lives around with a successful partnership, earning accolades and celebrity fans along the way.
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Chef Michelle Wallace is debuting her culinary creations at a pop-up.
Photo by Michelle Wallace
b'Tween Sandwich Co. will debut a one-day-only pop-up at The Ion, 4201 Main, January 29. There will be a special Lunar New year celebration, hosted by Have A Nice Day, which is free and open to the public. It runs from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. with a lion dance at 6 p.m.

b'Tween comes from Chef Michelle Wallace who recently left Gatlin's BBQ and Gatlin's Fins & Feathers to start her new sandwich venture, as we reported here in the Houston Press. Wallace will have her own vendor station at the event with her soon-to-be famous biscuit sandwiches.
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Clutch City Cluckers are hot chicken truckers.
Photo by Christian Pena
Clutch City Cluckers, 3210 FM 528, is having a grand opening weekend in Friendswood January 28 and January 29. It will be the 8th location for the late-night food truck which is open 10 a.m. through 3 a.m. For the grand opening, guests will receive 50 percent off their entire order of chicken favorites. The first 25 early birds in line will receive a complimentary meal.
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There are new milkshakes and wings at Clutch City Cluckers.
Photo by Christian Pena
The chicken brand from Ahmad Kilani sells Nashville hot chicken with items such as Hot Chicken Sandwiches and Chicken Tenders plus sides such as Loaded Fries and vegetarian Cauliflower Tenders. The halal food truck also has a new menu of Milkshakes & Wings.

Sixty Vines, 9595 Six Pines, opened January 23 at Market Street in The Woodlands. The second Houston area location was announced in December 2022, as we reported here in the Houston Press. The California wine country-inspired restaurant first opened in Plano, Texas and now operates seven locations in Texas, Tennessee and Florida. It made its first foray into the Houston market in 2019 with its Rice Village restaurant.

With its wine-on-tap system, Sixty Vines offers wine lovers the closest "from the barrel" tasting experience possible in a restaurant venue. It is also a sustainable process, saving a predicted 27,000 bottles alone at The Woodlands location. There are over 60 wines on tap plus bottled varietals, craft cocktails and local beer.

The food menu has been designed to go well with the grape and guests will find shareable bites as well as entrees. Hand-tossed pizzas, custom charcuterie boards are perfect nosh for sharing with friends while fancier fare such as Rainbow Trout, Pan Roasted Chicken and NY Angus Strip offer date night dinner options.
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Cafe Express has a new look and a new location in The Woodlands.
Photo by Michael Anthony
Cafe Express, 3091 College Park, is also coming to The Woodlands. It opens January 30. This is the fourth location for the local brand which specializes in fresh salads, soups, sandwiches and entrees like Mediterranean Grilled Salmon and Steak Bavette.
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LORO has ramen but for a limited time only.
Photo by Hai Hospitality
LORO Asian Smokehouse & Bar,1001 W. 11th, is launching ramen specials this February for a limited time. Beginning February 7, guests can enjoy Smoked Brisket Ramen ($18) or Post Oak Grilled Prawn Ramen ($18) on Tuesday and Wednesday after 4 p.m. through the month of February.
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Is it a dog or is it a coin?
Photo by Lorretta Ruggiero
Shiba Liquor,12634 Grant, opened softly in mid January with a grand opening January 24. It sells a variety of spirits, wine, craft beer and mixers. And yes, its mascot is an adorable Shiba Inu. The liquor store's sign, however, looks strikingly similar to the symbol for Shiba Inu crypto.
The Wagyu Chicken Fried Steak is now available in two sizes.
Photo by Claudia Casbarian
Wild Oats, 2520 Airline, will expand its Wednesday through Friday hours beginning February 1. The restaurant, located at the Houston Farmers Market, will now be open Wednesday through Friday from noon to 8 p.m. That means the entire menu, including its Wagyu Chicken Fried Steak and traditional Texas Chili will be available for both lunch and dinner.

The weekend hours will remain the same: Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday brunch buffet from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wild Oats is closed Monday and Tuesday.

A second location of the Texas-inspired eatery is shooting to open in summer 2023 at 1222 Witte in Spring Branch. 
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Lorretta Ruggiero is a Houston Press freelance writer based in Cypress, Texas. She loves entertaining her family and friends with her food and sparkling wit. She is married to Classic Rock Bob and they have two exceptionally smart-aleck children.