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Openings and Closings: Common Bond On-the-Go in G.O., Fegen's Heights

Travel lockdown blues can be lightened with European-style treats.EXPAND
Travel lockdown blues can be lightened with European-style treats.
Photo by Andrew Hemingway
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Common Bond On-The-Go, 3210 N. Shepherd, opened March 4 in Garden Oaks. It's the second location for the brand's more casual, trimmed down version of its popular Common Bond Bistro and Bakery. The first offshoot opened in the Heights in May 2020.

Common Bond's success lies in its fresh baked bread and beautiful pastries which offer Houstonians a taste of European-style delicacies. The pastries, though not inexpensive, are delicious pieces of art and the breads are reminiscent of a Parisian boulangerie. While the full-on Common Bond Bistro offers a place to unwind and linger, the On-The-Go version offers a limited menu of grab n' go salads, sandwiches and breakfast treats. However, there's a full pastry case and a small selection of loaves is available. The Country Sourdough is a particular favorite among Houstonians. Its croissants are also a big draw with butter, Nutella, pistachio and chocolate iterations.

The drive thru is for food, not an oil change.EXPAND
The drive thru is for food, not an oil change.
Photo by Andrew Hemingway

The fast-casual concept also offers breakfast items from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. which includes yogurt and fruit cups, croissant breakfast sandwiches and its Breakfast Bites, mini versions of crust-less quiche. The croissants also play a major role in the lunch offerings with a variety of sandwiches like the Chicken Salad. There are also choices like Curried Egg Salad on Ciabatta and Tuscan Vegetable on Rye. 

A cross-section showcases the croissants' flaky layers.EXPAND
A cross-section showcases the croissants' flaky layers.
Photo by Andrew Hemingway

Common Bond excels with its delectable, pretty pastries from its pastel macarons to its Turtle Brownies, Chocolate Parisian Brest and Strawberry Chocolate Passion. There is a selection of typical coffee drinks like cappuccino, cortado, nitro cold brew and more. The Frozen Bond is a slushie option, made with espresso, whole milk and sugar. There's also Underwood wines available in cans.

The Garden Oaks location is set in a former service station with one of the service bays transformed into a drive-thru. Patrons picking up orders can admire the mural done by local artist Shelbi Nicole who also designed the artwork for Alto Ride Share vehicles, a ride-sharing app that hit Houston streets in October 2020.

Fegen's decor hearkens back to simpler times.EXPAND
Fegen's decor hearkens back to simpler times.
Photo by Carla Gomez

Fegen's, 1050 Studewood, is set to open this spring. It comes from F.E.E.D. TX Restaurant Group, with partners, Lance Fegen Carl Eaves, Will Davis and Jim Jard. F.E.E.D. TX founded Liberty Kitchen in 2010. The group sold the brand last summer. The new restaurant will focus on American cuisine and classic cocktails as it takes over the space which formerly house Liberty Kitchen and Oyster Bar.

Chef and owner Lance Fegen (FEE-gehn) is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in New York. Over the years, he's had stints at Brennan's of Houston, served as executive sous chef at The Houstonian Hotel Club & Spa and worked at Zula and Trevisio before opening Glass Wall, also on Studewood, in 2005. In 2010, he and his partners founded F.E.E.D. TX, after leaving Glass Wall. It shuttered in 2017 and the space is now occupied by BCK.

Chef Lance Fegen will open a namesake restaurant.EXPAND
Chef Lance Fegen will open a namesake restaurant.
Photo by Carla Gomez

The Heights neighborhood is a perfect fit for Fegen and F.E.E.D. TX Restaurant Group. Managing partner Will Davis says, "When we sold the Liberty Kitchen brand last year, we knew we had to keep this particular locale; it's where Liberty Kitchen started." Davis added that the neighborhood is a special place for the team because it's where they live and where they go with friends and family.

For the menu, Fegen says to expect solid seafood salads and refined American food plus pastas and pizzas that are a nod to his Southern Italian-American roots. Dishes like Chicken Schnitzel, Neapolitan-style pizza, Blue Mussels in tomato-garlic butter and a special Surrago's Sunday Meatball, Veal and Pork Tomato Gravy and Macaroni give an idea of the fare on offer.

Chevron tiles make up the flooring at Fegen's.EXPAND
Chevron tiles make up the flooring at Fegen's.
Photo by Carla Gomez

Fegen's Bar, on the other hand, will be open late night Thursday through Saturday with cheeseburgers, chowder fries and oysters brought in occasionally. Nicole Meza will be in charge of the beverage program serving classic cocktails with a modern twist. Meza brings experience from highly-regarded establishments like Weights + Measures and Julep.

The space no longer has the coastal vibes and bright colors of Liberty Kitchen & Oyster Bar. Instead, Fegen's partner, Carl Eaves, owner of Eaves Construction and Design Service, has redone the space to be more sophisticated using dark greens and reds and rich-colored paneling with cozy booths, brass accents and sepia-toned artwork giving a nostalgic feel. The dropped-down ceiling features glazed, emerald ceramic tiles.

A doorway arch is decorated like a Dutch flower painting.EXPAND
A doorway arch is decorated like a Dutch flower painting.
Photo by Carla Gomez

Matt Hart, Certified Sommelier (wine)and Cicerone (beer), will take on the role of general manager. Hart has over 20 years of experience working with large hospitality corporations such as Landry's Inc. and Darden Restaurants. Hart will curate the wine selection for the restaurant as well.

Fegen's will open for dinner only in the beginning, adding lunch and brunch service a few weeks after opening. However, it will offer to-go and online ordering from the start.

Acme Oyster House has been serving Gulf seafood for over a century.EXPAND
Acme Oyster House has been serving Gulf seafood for over a century.
Photo by Romney Caruso/Acme Oyster House

Acme Oyster House, 1201 Westheimer, should be making its appearance this April according to a Facebook post, as reported by Eater Houston. This will make the sixth location for the storied restaurant which first opened in the French Quarter of New Orleans as the Acme Cafe in 1910. After a fire destroyed the restaurant, it relocated to another French Quarter address, 724 Iberville, in 1924. Subsequent locations in the 21st century include Louisiana locations in Baton Rouge and Metairie plus Destin, Florida and Gulf Shores, Alabama.

The Houston location takes over the Tower Theatre spot which most recently housed El Real, Brian Caswell's Tex-Mex restaurant which shuttered in October 2019. A spokesperson told the Press that the restaurant does not have any interior photos to share as there is still some ongoing construction but that the opening looks to be mid-April.

Barry's Pizza no more.EXPAND
Barry's Pizza no more.
Photo by Parma Restaurant

Parma Restaurant and Lounge, 6003 Richmond, opened March 4. If the address seems familiar, it's because Parma has taken over the space which once housed Barry's Pizza, the family-owned pizza parlor that had served pies for 37 years on Richmond. While the new restaurant is offering pizza by the slice and pie, it also offers a far different atmosphere than the previous tenant.

Let the pineapple on pizza debate begin!EXPAND
Let the pineapple on pizza debate begin!
Photo by Parma Restaurant

Under multiple light fixtures and the glow of televisions, the new space is pizza joint by day and party lounge by night, complete with a DJ booth and a green neon sign that outlines a quote from Notorious B.I.G.  After 8 p.m., it's also 21 and up only.  For lunch there are specials on slice combos and also a Businessman's Lunch which is a slice of pepperoni and a shot of Jameson's for eight bucks. Along with New York and Detroit-style pizza, there are a few pasta dishes plus boiled Cajun crawfish which are offered at the unbelievable price of $3 per pound, with a five pound minimum. Potatoes and corn are extra. Those are prices I use to pay at places like Sam's Boat on Richmond in my younger days.

Owner Michael Collins purchased Detroit-style steel pizza pans necessary to get the crispy edges for Detroit-style pizza, according to CultureMap Houston. The new venture comes from Eighty-Six'd Bar and Restaurant Group which also operates Bovine and Barley and The Fish Restaurant and Sushi in Midtown. The group also owned South Bank Seafood Bar which closed in 2019.

Houston Farmers Market, 2520 Airline, may be just weeks from opening its produce market. In the meantime, it was announced that Trong Nyguen will join as a tenant with a second location of his Crawfish and Noodles, as reported by CultureMap. Nguyen, a James Beard Award finalist for Best Chef three times, will join with another JBA alumnus, chef/restaurateur Chris Shepherd, whose Underbelly Hospitality has two concepts in the works for the market including Wild Oats by chef Nick Fine.

Nguyen is considered by many to be the pioneer of Vietnamese and Cajun fusion cuisine, perfecting the Viet-Cajun crawfish boil that has become ubiquitous at almost every Houston establishment selling the freshwater crustaceans.

House of Pies' desserts don't skimp on ingredients.
House of Pies' desserts don't skimp on ingredients.
Photo by Jeff Balke

House of Pies, 25686 Northwest Freeway, is shooting to open in the fall of 2021. The Cypress store will make the fifth location for the diner and bakery which has been a go-to standard for Houston pie fanatics for decades. It was founded in 1967 as a chain out of California but it was the Kirby and Westheimer stores in Houston that survived through changes in ownership. The remaining restaurants have been a workers' lunch stop and a late-night hangout in the Houston area for years. In the 1980s, HOP was the place to go after clubbing and enjoy watching the customers, many who brought to mind characters from Lou Reed's " Walk on the Wild Side".

Now, with a new direction, the House of Pies has expanded to the suburbs with the Lake Woodlands location and the upcoming Cypress restaurant. While this writer is happy to have House of Pies closer, the temptation of its Monte Cristo sandwich is dangerous.

Pacific Coast Tacos, 6329 Washington, softly opened February 26. This is the second location for the Baja-inspired fast-casual restaurant which opened its first store in Sugar Land in late 2017. Guests can start off with botanas like Baja Queso, Ceviche Tostadas, Pacific Pig Skins and Tahitian-Style Sticky Wings. Pacific Coast also offers fare that you wouldn't expect to find at a Baja joint including Tom Kha Soup and a Pork Bahn Mi taco. There are also bowls including its Poke and build-your-own Baja Bowls or Burritos. Loaded fries like Tsunami, Wasted Rage and Cheesy Hot are made with twice-fried fries as is the PCT Original version.

However, it's the wide variety of tacos that make its name. Customers can choose from fish and shrimp, both grilled and fried, beef, chicken, pulled pork, jerk chicken, Korean beef, fried octopus, veggie and Hawaiian carnitas. The restaurant also has breakfast tacos and online ordering for pick-up.

There's a full bar with frozen cocktails, a variety of margaritas, sangria and plenty of beer options.

W Kitchen offers Chinese dishes and plenty of seafood options.EXPAND
W Kitchen offers Chinese dishes and plenty of seafood options.
Photo by Benny Wong

W Kitchen Chinese Restaurant, 10928 Westheimer, opened February 15 but like many restaurants in Houston, it suffered some power outages over the next few days which affected its service. However, it got back in the running February 18 with its very reasonable weekday lunch and dinner specials for dine-in with counter service. Guests pay in advance and the food is brought to the table. However, it also offers pick-up and delivery through online ordering, by phone, or through UberEats, GrubHub and DoorDash. Unlike many Chinese restaurants in Houston, it is open late night  Sunday through Thursday till 1 a.m. and Friday and Saturday till 2 a.m., for pick-up only after 10 p.m.

Lobster with lobster sauce will only set you back $12 at W Kitchen.EXPAND
Lobster with lobster sauce will only set you back $12 at W Kitchen.
Photo by Benny Wong

The lunch specials ($6.25, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.) and dinner deals ($8.25, from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.) run Monday through Friday and offer diners a choice of eggroll or cheese puff appetizer, rice and entrees options like Orange Chicken, Pepper Steak and Eggplant with Garlic Sauce. The restaurant's menu offers lo mein, udon and rice noodle dishes plus seafood boils and fried seafood baskets. Kids meals are $5.

You don't have to go as far south as Cruz to get a taste of Mexico.EXPAND
You don't have to go as far south as Cruz to get a taste of Mexico.
Photo by Angelo Arriaga

Vintage Crown Micheladas and Tacos, 628 FM 517, began its soft opening January 16 in Dickinson. This is the second location for the brand which originally began in Galveston as a retail shop selling high end streetwear. Owner Angelo Arriaga recruited his retired father to pass out flyers to visitors on the island when local business owners suggested they should set up a beer booth for the 2015 Mardi Gras. The beer booth morphed into a bar selling over-the-top michelada concoctions along with preparadas and mangonadas.

The decor is as colorful as the daquiris.EXPAND
The decor is as colorful as the daquiris.
Photo by Angelo Arriaga

The new location in Dickinson takes the michelada bar concept and adds some snacks and mariscos to go with it. It's a family affair with Arriaga, his girlfriend, his younger brothers, mom and dad all operating both locations. The micheladas are the stars and can be ordered regular size or in a 64-ounce fish bowl ($20). For a meal and cocktail in one, the B.O.I. ($20) offers 24 ounces of michelada with beer, fresh shrimp, cucumbers, spicy tortilla chips and its in-house jerky, carne seca. There's also spiked mangonadas, sangritas with wine and fruit plus other refreshing drinks like Red Hurricane, Blue Hypnotic and Margarita.

The Dickinson store also offers a daiquiri bar where guests can create their own flavors or try one of the signature daiquiris such as Miami Vice (pina colada and strawberry) and Pink Starburst (margarita and watermelon). The drive-thru service also makes it easy to take daquiris to-go. Arriaga told the Houston Press that he is currently working to get the patio area ready by the end of March.

Who could use a frosty daquiri right now?EXPAND
Who could use a frosty daquiri right now?
Photo by Angelo Arriaga

Arriaga also said that he is trying to recruit staff to expand the food menu at the Dickinson location. He admits that the current pandemic situation and extra unemployment benefits are making hiring more difficult.

For now, the mariscos on offer include items like ceviche, aquachile (verde and rojo) plus snacks like elote, hot cheetos and cheese and the carne seca. The Vasito Loco (Crazy Cup) is a 16-ounce cup filled with mixed fruit, chamoy, chili powder, candy, cacahuates, chips and lime juice. Arriaga plans to add more options like street-style Mexican hot dogs, carnitas and Baja-style fish tacos in the future.

Juanita's Mexican Kitchen, 29110 US 290 Frontage Road, is currently hiring. We have reached out for an opening date and were told the restaurant is shooting for a soft opening the first week of April but it could be as early as the last week of March, if things move a bit quicker. Juanita's is a family-owned Mexican restaurant from the Nunez family who use recipes from their Guanajuato, Mexico heritage. They originally opened Juanita's on TC Jester in 2000 but as of 2015, that location is no longer part of the family's current restaurant operations which includes a location on Louetta and the upcoming 290 spot. 

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