Restaurant News

Openings and Closings: Candente, Postino Montrose Debut Next Week, Flying Biscuit is Open

It doesn't get much more Southern than shrimp and grits.
It doesn't get much more Southern than shrimp and grits. Photo by Sara Hanna Photography

click to enlarge Candente is putting wood-fired brisket on its nachos. - PHOTO BY MEGHA TEPJA
Candente is putting wood-fired brisket on its nachos.
Photo by Megha Tepja

Candente, 4306 Yoakum, opens September 16. The new Tex-Mex  restaurant comes from Sambrooks Management Company. Like another Sambrooks holding, The Pit Room, Candente will focus on smoke and high quality meats, such as prime Niman Ranch skirt steak. Candente's Tampiquena will feature a 9 ounce prime Niman Ranch ribeye topped with two cheese enchiladas, grilled onions and chili lime butter. That's a little fancier than most tampiquenas around town.

Other meat-centric dishes fill the handcrafted Tex-Mex menu such as grilled ribs and quail, plus pork or duck carnitas. Brisket nachos and brisket enchiladas will echo the flavors of The Pit Room. There are even smoky flavors for vegetarians such as the portobello mushroom fajitas.

If diners still have room for dessert, there's house-made queso flan on the menu. There's also complimentary soft serve ice cream.

click to enlarge Colorful cocktails created by David Maness at Candente. - PHOTO BY MEGHA TEPJA
Colorful cocktails created by David Maness at Candente.
Photo by Megha Tepja

Beverage director, David Maness, has created a bar menu featuring margaritas made with 100 percent agave Epsolon tequila and frozen cocktails like a Paloma with tequila, Aperol, agave, lime and grapefruit. There will also be Mezcal margaritas, sangrias and tequila old-fashioneds.

Owner Michael Sambrooks describes the new restaurant as "doing Tex-Mex the Pit Room way." For fans of the popular barbecue restaurant, that's a very good thing.

The custom-built wood burning grill in the open kitchen will offer guests the opportunity to be part of the action, with the bar surrounding the grill and tortilla work station. That means freshly made tortillas, an added bonus. There's also a large covered patio.

Candente will be open daily for lunch and dinner, with a happy hour, Monday through Friday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

click to enlarge Bruschetta and vino make a lovely pair at Postino. - PHOTO BY BECCA WRIGHT
Bruschetta and vino make a lovely pair at Postino.
Photo by Becca Wright

Postino Wine Cafe, 805 Pacific, opens September 15. The all day wine cafe is based in Phoenix, Arizona. The company opened its first Houston location in April 2018,  in the Heights. In keeping with its mission to scout out historical buildings in neighborhoods to repurpose and restore, the company chose the former Montrose Mining Company building. Though the structure isn't very historic, the varied bars and drag clubs that have occupied the space have been an integral part of the Montrose neighborhood over the years.

Montrose Mining Company closed in 2016, ending its tenure as Houston's longest running gay bar. However, the design and sympathetic restoration of the building and the thousands of bricks surfacing it will delight former patrons, as will the outdoor art wall with its mural of androgynous figures from artist Jacquie Comrie, paying homage to the history of the Montrose neighborhood as the center of the LGBTQ community in Houston. The art wall is named "Love. Period."

click to enlarge Postino has snacks like meatballs with goat cheese. - PHOTO BY BECCA WRIGHT
Postino has snacks like meatballs with goat cheese.
Photo by Becca Wright
The 3,500 square foot space is nearly twice the size of the Heights location and will have 103 dining seats, 24 bar seats and 70 additional seats on the covered patio. The decor is an eclectic mix of vintage objects and funky statement pieces.

Advanced Sommelier, Brent Karlicek, has curated the beer and wine program. Local residents especially love Postino's daily drink bargains from open to 5 p.m. There are $5 select glasses of wine and 32 ounce pitchers of beer. Wine friendly snacks like bruschetta and charcuterie pair perfectly with the fruit of the vine and there is heartier fare like soups, salads and panini.

Co-founder Lauren Bailey said of the location, " We believe that these historic spaces carry special energy - kind of vibrate at a higher frequency. It's easier and cheaper to knock it down and build something new, but that's never been what we stand for."

Oh, how we wish some of the other businesses and developers in Houston felt the same way.

click to enlarge It doesn't get much more Southern than shrimp and grits. - PHOTO BY SARA HANNA PHOTOGRAPHY
It doesn't get much more Southern than shrimp and grits.
Photo by Sara Hanna Photography

The Flying Biscuit Cafe, 12389 Kingsride, opened September 2 at Memorial City Mall. The breakfast-all-day concept opened in 1993 in Atlanta and has expanded to 25 locations throughout Georgia, Florida, Alabama and the Carolinas. The Houston store is the first in Texas.

Menu items are named for pop, rock  and soul songs like the "Gimme Three Steps" bacon and eggs breakfast or "We Are Family" Egg-Straordinary. The "Drops of Jupiter" fluffy buttermilk pancakes come with a side of creamy dreamy grits, befitting a Southern breakfast.

click to enlarge We like our biscuits a little on the fluffy side. - PHOTO BY SARAHANNA PHOTOGRAPHY
We like our biscuits a little on the fluffy side.
Photo by SaraHanna Photography
The "Freebird" is an oven-fried chicken Benedict, served over a split biscuit, topped with chicken sausage gravy and drizzled with syrup. Besides the ubiquitous creamy dreamy grits, the chicken sausage gravy at Flying Biscuit is another signature item.

On the veg side are options like the "Smooth Operator" vegan tofu bowl and the "Love Shack", a veggie burger with a spicy black bean patty, avocado and goat cheese. Other Southern favorites round out the menu such as  "A Whole Lotta Love" shrimp and grits and "Shake it Off" fried green tomatoes.

There are also reasonably priced burgers, sandwiches and a few salads. Nothing is fried here, so burgers and sandwiches are served with kettle chips.

Mala Sichuan Bistro, 231119 Colonial Parkway, opened the last week of August in Katy Asian Town. Many Houstonians consider the Sichuan cooking at Mala Sichuan to be some of the best in town. In 2017, its chef, Jianyun Ye, was a finalist for the James Beard Award Best Chef Southwest, taking his place among some of Houston's more prominent and visible fine-dining visionaries.

The prices at Mala Sichuan are very reasonable, especially when you consider the quality and execution. This is the fourth location for the brand, including the recently opened spot in Finn Hall.

click to enlarge Wings and beer have had a long and happy marriage. - PHOTO BY MELISSA SKORPIL
Wings and beer have had a long and happy marriage.
Photo by Melissa Skorpil

Pluckers Wing Bar, will open its sixth Houston area location in  Pasa-get-down-dena in early 2020. A lease has been signed for a space at Spencer Highway and Beltway 8. The family-friendly sports bar is known for its wings and its 20 different sauces, all homemade. The brand started in Austin in 1995 and has expanded across Texas with several locations in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

There are burgers, sandwiches and salads, plus appetizer favorites like fried pickles and the Holy Macaroni, which is fried mac 'n cheese. We're not sure that is very holy.

click to enlarge Saltgrass is now at the GRB Convention Center. - PHOTO BY CHRIS BRUDER
Saltgrass is now at the GRB Convention Center.
Photo by Chris Bruder

Saltgrass Steakhouse
, 1001 Avenida de las Americas, opened September 10 at the George R. Brown Convention Center. The steakhouse is known for its Certified Angus steaks, which are char-grilled over an open flame. Regular patrons love its complimentary Texas Bock beer bread and homemade desserts. All soups and salad dressings are made in house daily.

Besides steaks, the restaurant offers dishes like Double Bone Pork Chops served with savory bacon jam, BBQ Baby Back Ribs and Blackened Redfish.

In its No Bull Lounge, happy hour runs from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday. There are snacks like cheese fries, queso fresco and Chicken and Shrimp Enbrochette, starting at $4. Drink specials include domestic beers ($2.75), margaritas ($3.75), select wines ($4.75) and select cocktails ($6.75).

That should make the quilters, who will hit the GRB in about six weeks, very happy indeed.

Taste of Greek, 1956 Northpark, will open its first brick and mortar restaurant, according to Weingarten Realty, at King's Crossing in Kingwood. A lease has been signed, but there is no projected opening date yet.

The food truck first opened in 2016, when owner Altin Mulla began serving authentic Greek food in the FM 1960 area of Humble. In 2017, Mulla, a native of Athens, Greece, moved the food truck to its current Kingwood spot on Northpark. The menu offers typical Greek favorites like gyros, falafel, baklava, moussaka, spanakopita and bifteki. For a decadent calorie splurge try the Greek steak fries topped with tzatziki, feta and an optional Siracha drizzle.

click to enlarge That's Mister Peanut to you. - PHOTO BY DANIEL HERNANDEZ
That's Mister Peanut to you.
Photo by Daniel Hernandez

Ms. Green Acai Cafe, 11191 Westheimer,  opened August 12 in the Westchase district. The cafe serves acai bowls. Acai is a berry from the Brazilian Amazon that is one of the most nutritious and anti-oxidant rich foods in the world. Ms. Green is on a mission to help people make healthy choices for more energy and vitality in their lives.

Besides the acai bowls filled with fruits, nuts and granola, the cafe offers smoothies, coffee and tea. All menu items are plant-based.

The City Hall Lunch Market returns. - PHOTO BY MICHAEL MORAN
The City Hall Lunch Market returns.
Photo by Michael Moran
City Hall Lunch Market, 901 Bagby, will reopen September 18. The seasonal lunch market is hosted by Urban Harvest which operates several farmers markets around town and holds gardening education classes around Houston. The market will open every Wednesday through the fall from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. There will be organic produce from local vendors and food trucks offering various lunch items for purchase. Some of the food trucks on site will be Dumpling Haus, Churrascos to Go and El Topo. Entrance to the market is free.

Pink's Pizza may soon be back in the hands of its founder, Ken Bridge, if all goes to plan. Bridge, the Founder and CEO of Delicious Concepts Restaurant Group, sold majority ownership in Pink's to his friend and former COO at Raising Cane's, Ian Vaughan. For the past several years,Vaughan, with his team and a group of investors, have lain the groundwork for expansion in the Texas market with an eye to taking the concept nationwide.

After realizing that a majority of his time was being spent on his Rock N Concepts LLC, another enterprise, Vaughan was approached with an opportunity to sell the brand in late 2018. Vaughan and Bridge agreed that the best place for the brand to flourish would be back in the hands of its original founder.

Bridge's other concepts include Ritual, Blackbird Izakaya, The Ready Room and Shepherd Park Draughthouse.      
click to enlarge Jeremy, a self-portrait. - PHOTO BY JEREMY ACKERMAN
Jeremy, a self-portrait.
Photo by Jeremy Ackerman

Star Cinema Grill has picked Jeremy Ackerman as general manager of its upcoming location at CityPlace in Springwoods Village, which is set to celebrate its grand opening September 20.

Ackerman began his career as corporate chef for Star Cinema Grill's Missouri City location in 2011. Since then, he has done stints as bar and banquet manager at Cullen's American Grille and Whiskey Bar in Clear Lake. More recently, he has served as general manager at The Republic House in Pasadena and Houston's F.E.E.D. TX Restaurant Group. 
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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.