Restaurant News

Openings and Closings: Blue Sushi M-K-T Heights, Todos Santos on Washington

These lunch specials are extra special.
These lunch specials are extra special. Photo by Flagship Restaurant Group


Blue Sushi Sake Grill, 600 N. Shepherd, opened June 15 at M-K-T Heights. The concept comes form Flagship Restaurant Group, based in Omaha, Nebraska. The hospitality group operates over 30 restaurants in more than a dozen markets. The Blue Sushi concept first began in 2002 in Omaha. Owners Nick Hogan, Anthony Hitchcock, Tom Allisma and Tony Gentile are focused not only on serving quality food and drink  but also on running a responsibly-sourced seafood program which is done in partnership with Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch. In addition to its sustainable seafood, the concept also offers a large vegan sushi menu.
click to enlarge The Lincoln Park location gives an idea of what to expect in Houston. - PHOTO BY FLAGSHIP RESTAURANT GROUP
The Lincoln Park location gives an idea of what to expect in Houston.
Photo by Flagship Restaurant Group
The sourcing details of each menu item are available to guests as part of the brand's "Concious Earth" program. Whether it's Whiteleg shrimp from Indonesia or blue crab from Nicaragua, the mission is to educate diners about the quality of the ingredients.

The menu, though, offers more than just a learning experience. Guests can make their way through creative dishes such as River Rock Beef, served on sizzling rocks with jalapeno ponzu and yuzu kosho, and the Madai Chimichurri with red sea bream. The Maki menu features three categories (specialty, classic and vegan) and offers both cooked and raw rolls with whimsical names like Green Eggs and Hama and the Godzilla Bomb. The Vegan menu has more than 18 maki rolls and a variety of specialty nigiri like seaweed caviar and the Unami BBQ eggplant eel.
click to enlarge Creative cocktails are part of the experience at Blue Sushi. - PHOTO BY FLAGSHIP RESTAURANT GROUP
Creative cocktails are part of the experience at Blue Sushi.
Photo by Flagship Restaurant Group
There are also cocktails and mocktails including the Far East Mary, its take on a Bloody Mary, and a Sake Sangria. There's beer and wine plus a unique list of sake and Japanese whisky.

The interior reflects a modern Asian aesthetic with comfortable booths and a 12-seat sushi bar. Lantern clouds hang from the ceilings and the custom tables are painted with Kanji characters, inspired by the carts of Tokyo fish markets. The restaurant was designed by Design Collective in collaboration with co-owner Allisma, an architect by trade, and Haylie Rousek, Flagship Restaurant Group's Art Director. Rousek also created the large murals throughout the space.
click to enlarge Isn't she Pretty in Pink? - PHOTO BY LISA GOCHMAN
Isn't she Pretty in Pink?
Photo by Lisa Gochman
Todos Santos, 5317 Washington, softly launched June 10, adding to the list of bars and restaurants that are getting Washinton Avenue hopping with fun food and drink. The new tequila bar has more than 40 different tequilas from which to choose including the entire collection of Clase Azul. There's also a cocktail menu of specialty margaritas and tequila-based libations such as Pretty in Pink, made with Calirosa Blanco, lemon and prosecco.
click to enlarge There's a new tequila hotpot for Houston hotshots. - PHOTO BY TODOS SANTOS
There's a new tequila hotpot for Houston hotshots.
Photo by Todos Santos

Owner Brandon Duliakas felt that there weren't many tequila-focused bars in Houston. He says, " With tequila being one of the most popular spirits in the country right now, Todos Santos fills that void, offering specialty agave cocktails, while also offering a full bar."

The vibrant bar was designed by Davis Ink and is a Latin-inspired 4,000 square-foot space with greenery on the walls and ceilings and custom-made stone throughout the open floor plan. Instagram influencers, or just regular folks, will find plenty of photo ops including a wall with angel wings. Sports fans can watch their favorite pastime on the 30-foot interactive video wall which can also be used for late-night branding.

The bar will be open Tuesday through Sunday from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. with happy hour specials Tuesday through Friday from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. The vibe becomes more night-clubby after 10 p.m. There will be rotating taco trucks brought in, soon.
click to enlarge The kitchen is now open at Local Group Brewing. - PHOTO BY DYLAN MCEWAN
The kitchen is now open at Local Group Brewing.
Photo by Dylan McEwan
Local Group Brewing, 1504 Chapman, has reopened its kitchen with new owners and a new chef.  Daniel Leal, formerly of Night Shift, will be leading the kitchen which debuted its new menu June 16. Currently, the brewpub, which was acquired recently by Distincture Hospitality, is open Thursday through Sunday.

The new menu includes Pork Belly Gorditas, Smoked Jalapeno and Cheese Sausage Kolaches, a Hot and Tangy Fried Chicken Sandwich and freshly-made churros. The Topo Local Mushroom is a dish with hen of the woods mushroom that is fried and served with house cabbage slaw, buttermilk poblano ranch and spicy yum yum sauce. On Saturday and Sunday, the kitchen will serve barbacoa and carnitas tacos.

The new owners, Dave Sorrell, Morgan Green and Jorge Benitez are planning to rebrand the space in the upcoming months. The trio are also looking to hire a new brewer for the 7,500 square-foot facility.
click to enlarge Bubble Egg Waffles make a unique snack. - PHOTO BY YI CHA
Bubble Egg Waffles make a unique snack.
Photo by Yi Cha

Yi Cha Tea and Coffee, 2174 Spring Stuebner, opened June 11 at The Market at City Place in north Houston. Located next to Jinya Ramen Bar, it joins several restaurants and service businesses in the retail development.

Some of its beverages on offer include its Breeze items such as the Avocado Smoothie, Taro Smoothie and Watermelonada. There are brown sugar bobas and a variety of creme brulee drinks such as match, mango and strawberry creme. There are pure fruit green teas, a selection of cold and hot coffee drinks, Thai milk tea and hot chocolate. Food items like Bubble Egg Waffles and the Cheese Sausage Corn Dog are as much fun to see as eat.
click to enlarge The Monsterwich combines the best of both sweet worlds. - PHOTO BY INSOMNIA COOKIES
The Monsterwich combines the best of both sweet worlds.
Photo by Insomnia Cookies
Insomnia Cookies, 2520 Rice Boulevard, opened June 14 in Rice Village. The all-day and late-night  cookie purveyor is bringing its warm cookies, cold ice creams and other treats to Houston for the first time. It is the 13th location in Texas, however. We don't know what took them so long to get to our fair city but they are here now, conveniently located to Rice University.

The store offers in-store, pick-up and delivery options for its Snickerdoodle, Confetti Deluxe and classic chocolate chunk cookies and there are a number of vegan treats as well. To introduce Houstonians to the brand, it is having a five-day grand opening special from June 14 through June 19. Visitors to the store or customers who order delivery from the new location will receive 1 free Classic Cookie.
Clean Juice is all organic. - PHOTO BY CLEAN JUICE
Clean Juice is all organic.
Photo by Clean Juice
Clean Juice, 25672 Northwest Freeway, opened June 11. The Cypress location is owned and operated by father and son Ray and Drew Pikulski. The duo were inspired by their passion for health and wellness to leave their respective jobs and open their own juice shop, part of a nationwide franchise that has almost 135 stores nationwide.

The brand was the first USDA-certified organic juice bar franchise in the country. Its cold-pressed juices, smoothies, acai bowls, salads, toasts and wraps are all made with premium organic ingredients. The nutritious juices are pressed fresh daily and are non-pasteurized to protect the enzymes. In addition to its wide variety of superfood add-ons, there are organic spices that can be added to juices and smoothies.

The shop will host a grand opening June 25 with 20 percent of Grab & Go Cleanse plus specials and activities throughout the day.
click to enlarge The pollo a la lena is part of the LRW menu at Chivos. - PHOTO BY DYLAN MCEWAN
The pollo a la lena is part of the LRW menu at Chivos.
Photo by Dylan McEwan
Latin Restaurant Weeks is happening in Houston June 17 through June 30 and will showcase Latin chefs, restaurant owners, caterers and bartenders with more than 50 local restaurants offering special dishes and menus throughout the two-week celebration.

It's the fourth year for the event which has participants from all over the area including Katy, Channelview, Spring and, of course, Houston itself. The various restaurants reflect the diversity of the city and of Latin food culture with options like Gloria's Latin Cuisine offering a taste of El Salvador and newer players such as Maize giving diners authentic Mexican flavors. Each restaurant has created a special menu or items for LRW that range in price. Guests can try out the mangonadas or Mexican street elote at Gaspachos food truck for a few bucks or opt for the $60 unlimited churrasco feast at Avenida Brazil Steakhouse.

A list of restaurants and their LRW menus can be found at latinrestaurantweeks.com.

7Friday Sushi, 18121 Tuckerton, opened in early April in Cypress, but we missed this little gem. The local, family-owned, fast-service sushi joint is already generating a lot of buzz online for its food and its service. It offers a variety of sushi, bao and tasty appetizers, with some items pre-packaged for easy pick-up including party trays. It even has a drive-thru for extra convenience.

The menu starts with breakfast items like egg rolls, chorizo bao and musabi maki. Starters include crawfish chowder, gyoza, shrimp summer rolls and shao mai dumplings. Customers can choose from a variety of cooked sushi such as Bang Bang Shrimp and Chicken Teriyaki Roll or take a walk on the raw side with Hawaiian Poke, Hamachi Nigiri and Spicy Tuna rolls. There are poke bowls, too, plus a selection of its "baowich" items like the steamed Cheesy Char Sui or the fried Philly Bao.

Greggo's Pizza & Subs, 2466 FM 1488, celebrated its grand opening June 1. Its founder, Ryan D'Avignon, is the son of the late Greg D'Avignon, who owned Greek Tony's, a popular Woodlands-area restaurant that originally opened in 1982 in Conroe, before moving to The Woodlands in 1985. Greg D'Avignon ran the restaurant until his death in 2011, according to The Woodlands Online. His son continued the legacy until 2016 when it closed. Now, Ryan has opened his own restaurant serving high-quality pizza and oven-toasted subs and its name is a tribute to his father Greg.

Some of the same items from Greek Tony's are on the menu at Greggo's including specialty pies like The Godfather and sandwiches such as The Gobbler. Besides pizza and subs, there are appetizers including mozzarella sticks, jalapeno poppers, chicken tenders and wings. There is a selection of salads plus munchies like fries and house-made Greek chips.
click to enlarge A family-owned sushi restaurant is expanding to Magnolia. - RENDERING BY GULF COAST COMMERCIAL GROUP
A family-owned sushi restaurant is expanding to Magnolia.
Rendering by Gulf Coast Commercial Group
Akashi Asian Bistro & Sushi Bar is planned for the future Magnolia Village which is currently undergoing site preparations. The mixed-use development will span 60 acres at 1488 and Spur 149.

The Magnolia restaurant will be the tenth location for the family-owned brand which offers both Japanese and Chinese cuisines in a casual, full service atmosphere. Along with its sushi rolls, the menu includes noodle and vegetable dishes, soups, chef salads and value-oriented family dinners. It is open for lunch and dinner with take-out dine-in and delivery services plus catering.
click to enlarge It's never too late to celebrate. - PHOTO BY BRANDON HOLMES
It's never too late to celebrate.
Photo by Brandon Holmes
The Warwick, 5888 Westheimer, is having a grand opening celebration June 23, though it opened in mid-April of this year. The fun runs from 8 p.m. to midnight with drink specials, private tastings, a DJ and some summer swag. The event is open to the public and reservations can be made online through Resy.

The restaurant, which is located the former Houston's space, has also launched its new daily happy hour from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. with half-priced bottles of select wines. It's available throughout the restaurant and bar. The Warwick is also serves a bar bites menu until midnight.
click to enlarge Sean Beck saw many changes in the restaurant industry. - PHOTO BY KENN STEARNS
Sean Beck saw many changes in the restaurant industry.
Photo by Kenn Stearns
Sean Beck is leaving H-Town Restaurant Group after 24 years, as reported by the Houston Chronicle. The sommelier and beverage director began his career as a server at Backstreet Cafe, which was opened in 1983 by restaurateur, Tracy Vaught. What began as a college job while attending the University of Houston turned into a career for Beck. For more than two decades he has been creating the wine and spirits programs for H-Town Restaurant Group with Vaught and husband Chef Hugo Ortega. Over the years the group's portfolio grew to include Hugo's, Caracol, Xochi and URBE, while winning James Beard awards and nominations along the way for Ortega and Vaught.

In a Facebook post, Beck said, " I loved almost every minute of it, but I am burnt out."

A spokesperson for H-Town Restaurant Group told the Houston Press, "H-Town Restaurant Group wishes Sean the best in his future endeavors. Each of our concepts has a top-notch team ready to make the transition seamless. For now, the general managers and certified Sommeliers at each of the restaurants will be handling the liquor-beer-wine programs. Just like we promoted Sean from within, we are going to give these Somms an opportunity to grow personally and to participate in the programs."
click to enlarge Shoot your shot for Pride at Monkey's Tail. - PHOTO BY KIRSTEN GILLIAM
Shoot your shot for Pride at Monkey's Tail.
Photo by Kirsten Gilliam
Monkey's Tail, 5802 Fulton,  will start its Pride celebrations June 20 with a week-long Pride menu leading up to Pride weekend. For each drink purchased from the special menu, one dollar will be donated to The Montrose Center. The week will culminate in a Grand Finale June 25 with a Pride Parade afterparty called Disco + Margs from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. There will be a Disco DJ for entertainment.

Then, Sunday June 26, the bar will have a Drag Loteria from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. hosted by Jewel Tones and Sinema. Spots for the Loteria will be first come, first served and there is no cost to participate in the card game. The Drag Loteria is for adults 21 and up only. 
KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
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.