Houstonians have long-lamented the dearth of restaurants in the Museum District. In other cities, such destination neighborhoods have plenty of dining action but not in Houston. Instead, the nation's capital for restaurant saturation has a surprising lack of dining options in close proximity to its finest and most popular museums. Yes, the restaurants in Montrose, Rice Village and Midtown are only a car ride away, but simply walking out of the Contemporary Arts Museum or the Museum of Natural Science and continuing that walk to a restaurant? Not as easy.
For years, I've hoped that intrepid restauranteurs would move into the area and open something other than another lackluster Cafe Express (located in the basement of the Beck building at the Museum of Fine Arts). With news of the second Little Big's location and now Bodega's Taco Shop opening in the area, it seems like that day is inching closer.[jump]
Bodega's Taco Shop is the newest offering from local restauranteurs Ryan and Josephine Granger, who live in the Museum District themselves. The Grangers currently run another area restaurant -- the Park Grill -- and are excited about opening the only Mexican restaurant in the neighborhood. Bodega's will be located on Caroline Street between Binz and Ewing, only a few blocks away from the museums and Hermann Park.
Aside from the obvious tacos, Bodega's will feature a tequila bar, fresh fruit margaritas and a patio under the sprawling live oak trees that define the area. Similar to Chipotle and other customize-your-own-food joints, customers at Bodega's will get to build their tacos or burritos from an array of meats (such as rotisserie chicken, spicy ground sirloin and fajita steak) and fixings that includes ten varieties of house-made salsas. Appetizers and desserts will also be on hand to round out the menu.
In addition to the food, I'm excited about the "bike to Bodega's" program that the Grangers are trying to encourage by providing plenty of bike racks for their customers. Unless it's August or raining, there's really no reason not to ride your bike if you live in the area. And what better reward at the end of your bike ride than a margarita on the patio? Bodega's will also offer free Wi-Fi for customers and live music on the weekends, all but ensuring that people will hang around long after they've eaten their tacos.
No official grand opening date has been set, but Bodega's is expected to open for business before the end of the month. They plan on being open seven days a week for lunch and dinner. Here's hoping the food is as good as the ideas behind the restaurant.