Restaurant News

Openings and Closings: Cherry Block Expands, The Taco Stand Opens

The sun sets over The Stomping Grounds.
The sun sets over The Stomping Grounds. Photo by Jacob Shelby

Cherry Block Craft Butcher and Kitchen
, 409 Travis, will depart Bravery Chef Hall January 31 in order to open two new locations in Katy and Garden Oaks. The first, Cherry Block Craft Butcher and Market, 5305 Highway Boulevard, will open in early February. Cherry Block is a partnership between Felix Flores, owner of Falcon Lakes Farms, and chef Jess DeSham Timmons. The new shop will offer locally sourced heritage meats through Flores' wholesale distribution company. The butcher shop and market will be both wholesale and retail with a dry aging room, custom bacon and seasonings and chef-prepared meals. The staff at the current Bravery Chef Hall spot have been offered positions at the Katy market until the second location opens later this summer.

click to enlarge Chef Jess DeSham Timmons and Felix Flores have two new Cherry Block projects. - PHOTO BY KELLY YANDELL
Chef Jess DeSham Timmons and Felix Flores have two new Cherry Block projects.
Photo by Kelly Yandell
Flores is partnering with Revive Development to open Cherry Block Craft Butcher and Kitchen at The Stomping Grounds at Garden Oaks, 1223 W. 34th. The lifestyle and restaurant center will allow Cherry Block 2,600 square feet of indoor/outdoor area with a green space. The new location will have an expanded menu plus a curated wine list of boutique and family-owned wineries, reflecting Flores' 25 year experience as a veteran sommelier.

Cherry Block at The Stomping Grounds will join other tenants including Fat Cat Creamery which opened in November 2020 and Becca Cakes which debuted at the retail development this past summer.

click to enlarge More Nashville hot chicken to fire up Houston's taste buds. - PHOTO BY IBRAHIM HALAWA
More Nashville hot chicken to fire up Houston's taste buds.
Photo by Ibrahim Halawa
Clutch City Cluckers, 5550 Val Verde, will have its grand opening February 19 through February 21. This will be a permanent spot for the halal food truck which specializes in Nashville hot chicken sandwiches, chicken tenders and loaded fries. For the three day grand opening, guests can get 50 percent off the menu. There will also be a raffle for a Playstation 5 and Nintendo Switches for guests dining in.

The concept comes from Jordanian-born entrepreneur, Ahmad Kilani, who came to the United States in 2015 to earn his Master's Degree. During that time, he worked at Abu Omar Halal, Houston's first halal food truck. Kilani now co-owns six of its locations including the brick and mortar on Westheimer.

click to enlarge Hot tenders and crispy fries. - PHOTO BY IBRAHIM HALAWA
Hot tenders and crispy fries.
Photo by Ibrahim Halawa
The name and the logo were inspired by the Houston Rockets' nickname when our home team won the 1994 and 1995 NBA Championships. Though it's been over twenty-five years since then, the Clutch City moniker still stands and inspires devoted fans.

click to enlarge Matthew Pak draws from authentic Mexican cuisine for The Taco Stand. - PHOTO BY BECCA WRIGHT
Matthew Pak draws from authentic Mexican cuisine for The Taco Stand.
Photo by Becca Wright
The Taco Stand, 2018 N. Shepherd, opened January 27. The authentic Mexican taco restaurant comes from chef Matthew Pak and restaurateur Shawn Bermudez, the duo behind the The Burger Joint. The Taco Stand is located next to the Heights location of The Burger Joint, the second outpost of the concept. A third is planned for the Baybrook Mall area soon.

The menu includes a variety of street tacos, burritos and quesadillas. Guests can choose from a variety of meats like pastor, carnitas, barbacoa, suadero (brisket), chicharron and chicken. There's also fish and shrimp. For vegetarians and vegans, there are choices such as vegan chicken, mushroom, poblano and cheese. Additions like cheese, avocado, sour cream, pico de gallo and guacamole are available at an additional cost. Customers can choose corn or flour tortillas, which are made in house.

click to enlarge Guests can get a glimpse of fresh tortillas being pressed. - PHOTO BY BECCA WRIGHT
Guests can get a glimpse of fresh tortillas being pressed.
Photo by Becca Wright
The tacos range in price from $2.49 to $4.49 each while the large burritos start at $6.49 for bean and cheese and go up to $10.99 for grilled shrimp. There are also several bowl options plus sides such as chips and queso, charro beans, rice and pork chicharron with salsa. There is a kids menu plus Chocoflan for a sweet treat.

click to enlarge Pastor tacos come off the trompo at The Taco Stand. - PHOTO BY BECCA WRIGHT
Pastor tacos come off the trompo at The Taco Stand.
Photo by Becca Wright
Breakfast tacos like chorizo, bacon, sausage or potato with egg and other variations are available from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. The restaurant offers soft drinks like Jarritos, Mexican Coke and Sprite and agua frescas such as horchata, limonada and Jamaica. There are adult beverages, too, including frozen margaritas, Palomas, Mexican and domestic beers plus canned margaritas available in singles or doubles, perfect for to-go orders.  All tequila beverages are made with 100 percent blue agave tequila.

The Taco Stand offers 2,000 square feet inside and a 1,700 square foot patio. It's open for dine-in, drive-thru and to-go Sunday through Thursday from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 6 a.m. to midnight.

Trendy Vegan, 3821 Richmond, began its soft opening January 1 of this year. The new vegan Asian restaurant takes over the spot which once housed Pepper Tree, another vegan restaurant that was on the forefront of vegetarian cuisine in Houston when it was founded by Happy and Mike Tsai seventeen years ago. It closed November 29, 2020.

The new restaurant is 100 percent vegan and offers traditional Asian dishes like spicy dumplings, Dan Dan noodles, vegan ramen and udon. Guests can create their own bento boxes with a number of choices from which to choose including garlic sauce eggplant, stir-fried green beans, General Tso's tofu, veggie lo mein and sauteed bok choy. For health-conscious folks, there are vegan smoothies like Mango Superfood, Vitality and Immunity.

The restaurant is open daily from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Seafood is always fresh and stunning at Fung's. - PHOTO BY MAI PHAM
Seafood is always fresh and stunning at Fung's.
Photo by Mai Pham
Fung's Kitchen, 7320 Southwest Freeway, was damaged late Sunday night, January 24, by fire and smoke, according to The fire was spotted by a passing police officer who saw the smoke rising from the back of the restaurant. On Facebook, the Fung family said that it appeared to be a small electrical fire and that the restaurant suffered mostly smoke and water damage. No one was injured.

Fung's has been a Houston institution for three decades, hosting notable personages such as President George Bush and the Queen of Thailand. Chef Hoi Fung opened the restaurant in 1990, as he told contributing writer, Mai Pham, here in the Houston Press. The restaurant expanded from 3,000 square feet to 25,000 and became known for fresh seafood from its tanks, extensive Chinese menu and its very popular dim sum, especially on the weekends.

Fung's will be temporarily closed for repairs but loyal patrons can follow the restaurant on social media for updates.

click to enlarge The Turner's Burger  is a hefty burger at a hefty price. - PHOTO BY JENN DUNCAN
The Turner's Burger is a hefty burger at a hefty price.
Photo by Jenn Duncan
Turner's, 1800 Post Oak Boulevard, launched a permanent lunch service January 27. Owner Benjamin Berg made the decision after the success of the restaurant's sixteen-day lunch service originally instituted just for the holiday season. Executive chef Robert Del Grande has created a menu that he says allows for a laid back and fun vibe that still meshes with the overall "glamour and glitz" of the Turner's environment.

click to enlarge Meet me at Turner's for lunch, daaahling. - PHOTO BY WILSON PARISH
Meet me at Turner's for lunch, daaahling.
Photo by Wilson Parish
That glamour is evident in the clubby feel of dark wood accents, dim lighting, white tablecloths and high end fixtures that make Turner's a getaway for the rich and powerful or a special occasion restaurant for the rest of us. The lunch menu is still in the higher end for most diners with a $28 Turner's Burger topped with raclette cheese or the Hot Dog Service ($22) with a Texas Wagyu beef hot dog served with pushcart onions, pickle relish, sauerkraut and Texas beef chili on the side. Starters include Forest Mushroom Soup and the Petrossian caviar service, available at three different levels.

There's also a raw bar with options like oysters on the half shell and a Maine lobster cocktail. For entrees, guests have choices such as rigatoni with vegetarian Bolognese, Planked Scottish Salmon, a twenty-two ounce Wagyu ribeye and Turner's Tartare, made with prime cut steak.

PappaRich, 9393 Bellaire Boulevard, opened January 7 at Bellaire Food Street. The Malaysian restaurant serves traditional dishes like beef rendang, roti canai, beef and chicken satays, curry laksa and Hainan chicken, a Chinese dish in which the chicken is usually poached or steamed. At PappaRich, it's also available fried.

This is the third location for the brand in the United States which has two other U.S. stores in New York. However, it has dozens of restaurants worldwide in Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand, China and more. The new restaurant takes its place at Bellaire Food Street between the SoHo Chicken and an upcoming Ichiko Sapporo Ramen, in a line of Asian restaurants and chain concepts such as Beard Papas, Pepper Lunch, Tiger Sugar and Tom N Toms Coffee.

The Famous Crab Seafood and Oyster Bar, 12130 Dickinson Road, softly opened November 25 in Dickinson. It serves a variety of seafood with a Cajun spin including jambalaya, seafood gumbo, po'boys and seafood boils. For starters and sides, there are munchies like popcorn shrimp, fried crab fingers, hush puppies, Cajun turkey neck and fried crawfish tails. Fried seafood basket options include Gulf shrimp, oysters, catfish and tilapia.

Diners can create their own seafood boils or opt for the Famous Feast in three sizes, ranging from $20.95 to $59.95.

Restaurants Reported Open January 2021:

Airi Ramen, 28404 U.S. 290, opened December 7
Bagel Shop Bakery, 5422 Bellaire, opened December 30
Berg Hospitality Group at Cloud Kitchen, 5832 Fairdale, opened December 22
Bocca Italian Kitchen, 250 Assay, opened early January
Bonchon Midtown, 2100 Travis, opened early January
Cambrian Coffee, 9461 Hammerly, opened January 11
Coreanos, 6880 Louetta, opened late December
Craft Burger, 21945 Katy Freeway, opened December 26
Degust, 7202 Long Point, opened January 14
Diversion Cocktails, 7202 Long Point, opened January 14
Flappy Wings and Burgers, 1315 W. Grand Parkway, opened December 29
Good Vibes Burgers and Brews, 1329 E. Broadway, opened January 9
Hako Bento, 2802 S. Shepherd, opened late November
Himalayan Taj, 1425 Nasa Road, opened December 7
Hummus Bistro, 7910 W. Grand Parkway, opened January 4
JuiceLand, 5103 Bellaire, opened early January
The Juicy Crab, 6501 Highway 6, opened December 28
Kanau Sushi, 2850 Fannin, opened December 18
Lefty's Cheesesteaks, Hoagies and Grill, 1010 Federal, opened January 5
Lupo Pizzeria, 250 Assay, opened early January
Memorial Trail Ice House, 6202 Washington, opened December 12
The Nash, 1111 Rusk, opened January 11
Velvet Taco, 2001 N. Shepherd, opened January 11

Restaurants Reported Closed January 2021:

Bistro 555, 13616 Memorial, will close January 30
Perry & Sons Market & Grille, 12830 Scarsdale, closed early January
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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.