Restaurant News

Openings and Closings: Eugene's Opens, Toasted Yolk Heights

That's a beautiful seafood spread at Eugene's.
That's a beautiful seafood spread at Eugene's. Photo by Leah Wilson

Eugene's Gulf Coast Cuisine, 1985 Welch, will open officially October 28. While it has been in soft opening mode since September for happy hour and dinner, it will now offer full service. The restaurant comes from Kyle Teas, who originally opened Danton's Gulf Coast Kitchen over a decade ago in Chelsea Market. Unfortunately, the plans for a new apartment complex meant that Teas had to take his Gulf Coast cuisine elsewhere. Fortunately, his new restaurant has landed in the former Mockingbird Bistro locale which originally was a quirky Houston hot spot, Sonny Look's Sirloin Inn. Some of the original decor has been kept, such as the original wood bar from Joske's, though there have been  with updates to create a comfortable, fine-dining experience. (Correction:Some of the original decor has been restored from Sonny Look's Sirloin Inn, brought in and incorporated into the restaurant, as well as the original wood bar from Joske's department store.)

click to enlarge The Debris Sandwich remains at Eugene's. - PHOTO BY LEAH WILSON
The Debris Sandwich remains at Eugene's.
Photo by Leah Wilson
The restaurant has a new name, in honor of Kyle Teas' father, but much of the menu, staff and Southern hospitality will be familiar to loyal patrons of Danton's. Kyle's Crab Salad, Poblano Shrimp and Grits and the famous gumbo are still there. The commitment to sourcing high quality seafood, Angus beef and quality ingredients is still a priority. There are some new menu items such as an updated take on pimento cheese and Kyle's Backyard Burger.

The Oyster Bar promises to be a spirited spot to grab a cocktail from its full service bar or a glass of one of the carefully curated wines or beers. And there will be plenty of oysters served on the half shell or roasted on the wood-burning fire.

click to enlarge Kyle Teas extends a warm, Southern welcome at Eugene's Gulf Coast Cuisine. - PHOTO BY LEAH WILSON
Kyle Teas extends a warm, Southern welcome at Eugene's Gulf Coast Cuisine.
Photo by Leah Wilson
Former Danton's guests will be happy to see some familiar faces. Kyle Teas' daughter, Bailey Teas is the Director of Marketing and Development. Executive chef/kitchen manager Jonny Valdivia has been with the Teas family for over ten years, as has Louis Borowski who will serve as general manager. Lisa Alexander will be the friendly face behind the bar program as bar manager.

click to enlarge Wake up little Suzie with some morning cocktails. - PHOTO BY BUBBLE POP
Wake up little Suzie with some morning cocktails.
Photo by Bubble Pop

The Toasted Yolk, 4601 Washington, is slated to open its 11th Houston-area restaurant in December 2019. The  Heights location will be the first within the 610 Loop for the small chain. It began in 2010 with friends Chris Milton and Mathew DeMott seeing a dearth of modern, contemporary breakfast spots. The duo opened the first Toasted in Conroe and have since expanded from Sugar Land to Katy to New Caney.

The restaurant is designed with a menu that goes from breakfast to brunch to lunch with American style breakfasts that include buttermilk pancakes, waffles, egg dishes and various proteins. Diners can pick from the various omelettes or try a signature "Arnold", a play on the typical eggs Benedict. Choices include the Southern Fried Arnold with chicken tenders, poached eggs and sausage gravy or the West Coast Arnold with Cajun turkey, guacamole, tomato, two poached eggs, bacon and Cholula Ranch served atop two English muffins.

click to enlarge The Southwestern Arnold is piled with spicy sausage. - PHOTO BY BUBBLE POP
The Southwestern Arnold is piled with spicy sausage.
Photo by Bubble Pop
Though many of the items are calorie-forward, there are healthier choices like the Wheatwhich with berrywheat toast, scrambled egg whites, Swiss cheese, avocado and turkey sausage. There's also a yogurt parfait and granola.

On the lunch side, there are familiar sandwiches such as a Reuben, French dip, BLT and The Yolk Burger.  There are salads including its popular Strawberry Fields with grilled chicken, feta, candied pecans and a blackberry vinaigrette. There is also the Salmon Salad with capers and lime vinaigrette.

click to enlarge There's "nothing to get hung about" with the Strawberry Fields Salad at The Toasted Yolk. - PHOTO BY BUBBLE POP
There's "nothing to get hung about" with the Strawberry Fields Salad at The Toasted Yolk.
Photo by Bubble Pop
There are coffee options such as espresso, cappuccino and macchiato and fresh-squeezed juices. A selection of beer and wine is available along with boozy morning cocktails like the Toasted Yolk Bloody Mary. The Morning Mule will open your sleepy eyes with Absolut vodka, ginger beer and orange juice.

Gen Korean, 3201 Louisiana, opened October 16 in Katy. This South California-based all-you-can-eat Korean BBQ chain has over a dozen locations with two in Dallas-Fort Worth. This is the  first in Houston, according to Eater Houston. It takes over the spot vacated by Holley's Seafood Restaurant and Oyster Bar in Midtown.

Loyal patrons of its other locations are happy to see it arrive with its offering of over 30 different meats and proteins to cook at the table. The experience begins with banchan, which includes kimchi, pickled cucumbers and a small scoop of potato salad. There's a limit of four meats at one time and there is also a two hour limit at each table. Its AYCE price is $16.99 for lunch and $24.99 for dinner. There is also a surcharge for uneaten food, which is quite common nowadays, but varies from business to business.

The sides are small, but unlimited. The wine list is reasonably priced and there is a garage with free parking nearby.

click to enlarge The chicken fried steak at Mia's Table comes with jalapeno cream gravy. - PHOTO BY NICHOLAS L. HALL
The chicken fried steak at Mia's Table comes with jalapeno cream gravy.
Photo by Nicholas L. Hall

Mia's Table, 23235 Kingsplace, opened October 16 in Katy. This is the fourth location of the home cooking restaurant from the Johnny Carrabba Family of Restaurants. The other three are in Webster, Shenandoah and on Upper Kirby in Houston.

The from-scratch restaurant serves family favorites with its Country Platters such as chicken fried steak, chicken fried chicken, meatloaf, Southern fried chicken and its Backyard 1/2 Chicken. Its jalapeno gravy is a popular condiment.

There are several taco options, including pulled pork and red snapper along with half-pound burgers made with ground beef brisket. Sides like black-eyed peas, creamed corn and green beans add to the down-home menu as well as desserts like banana pudding. Soft serve ice cream cones are complimentary.

The prices are a bit higher than your typical family fare restaurant but they reflect the quality ingredients that go into the food. For those looking for less carbs and calories, dishes such as the Bison Lettuce Wrap offer a healthier nutritional profile. The restaurant also offers large carry-out packages for feeding a crowd at home.

Freddy's  Frozen Custard and Steakburgers, 6125 E. Sam Houston Parkway N., opened October 22. The franchise is known for its made to order steakburgers and freshly churned chocolate or vanilla custard. It also serves Vienna Beef hot dogs, chicken sandwiches, shoestring fries, onion rings, chicken tenders and chili. There is also a black bean veggie burger.

Freddy's has over 300 locations across 32 states in the United States.

click to enlarge SwitcHouse in Spring has a new executive chef. - PHOTO BY JESUS ACEVEDO JR.
SwitcHouse in Spring has a new executive chef.
Photo by Jesus Acevedo Jr.

SwitcHouse Plates and Pours, 1200 Lake Plaza Drive, has a new executive chef, a new general manager and a new patio. The restaurant is located on the ground floor of Houston CityPlace Marriott at Springwoods Village. It serves Texas fare with in-house smoked meats, some sourced from local vendors such as Rosewood Ranch and 44 Farms. Dishes like the Switchouse Dip, made with 14 hour-smoked brisket and pork tenderloin medallions brined in sweet tea are an example of the Texas influence on the cuisine.

Steven Valerio, who joined SwitcHouse in 2018 as sous chef has been promoted to executive chef. Prior to his role at SwitcHouse, Valerio was executive chef at the Hyatt Regency Houston/Galleria and and also was chef de cuisine at Spindletop, the revolving restaurant that sits atop the Hyatt downtown.

Aaron Hyman will serve as the new general manager. His previous management experience includes Lupe Tortilla restaurants, Freebirds World Burrito, Wynn Las Vegas and Aladdin Hotel and Casino.

The new covered patio overlooks the central green of the CityPlace District. The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner.

click to enlarge The Original Burns BBQ, mural by Donkeeboy - PHOTO BY CARLOS BRANDON
The Original Burns BBQ, mural by Donkeeboy
Photo by Carlos Brandon
Burns Original BBQ, 8307 1/2 Priest Street, is launching a catering service. This family run barbecue joint began serving the Acres Home area in 1973 and was founded by Roy Burns Sr., who passed away in 2009. It still serves its world famous barbecue to the community from the same wooden building, though some updates have been made to handle the crowds that come for the reasonably priced smoked meats. Some of the newfound (or rediscovered) fame comes from celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain's visits to film at the restaurant.

Burns BBQ hosted a launch event with free samples at 8th Wonder Brewing October 24. The catering menu will feature a new item that tops the scales, a 10 pound loaded baked potato. Burns is known for its loaded potatoes, but this one takes the cake. Or the potato. It will also offer a baked potato bar on its catering menu.

You can read more about Burns BBQ in a recent review in the Houston Press.

Taqueria Mi Charro, 5420 Lawndale, opened mid-October. The Mexican restaurant is part of the El Charro group of restaurants which includes a location on Harrisburg and Taqueria El Charro #3 on Beechnut.

The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Breakfast choices includes taquitos($1.80) and burritos ($4.99) with various fillings, plus pancakes and egg dishes. The lunch and dinner menus offer tortas, quesadillas, fajitas and enchiladas at reasonable prices. More traditional Mexican dishes like caldo de marisco and torta de lengua are also available.

L&L Hawaiian Barbecue, 209 Heights Boulevard, opened October 12. It also has a Houston area location in Katy Asiantown. Originally a successful drive-in restaurant in Hawaii, its founders, Johnson Kam and Eddie Flores Jr. brought it to California in 1999. The franchise now has nearly 200 locations from Hawaii to the Continental United States, Guam and Japan.

The menu has classic dishes like chicken katsu, kalua pork and SPAM musubi, a dish of spam and rice wrapped in dried seaweed. The Loco Moco is a popular dish with two hamburger patties, rice, brown gravy, topped with two fried eggs.

click to enlarge Tasos Katsaounis and Desi Vasquez  are ready to give Houston more bread. - PHOTO BY TASOS KATSAOUNIS
Tasos Katsaounis and Desi Vasquez are ready to give Houston more bread.
Photo by Tasos Katsaounis

White Elm Cafe Bakery, 14079 Memorial, is planned for January 2020, according to CultureMap Houston. The bread and pastry cafe is the result of a partnership between Tasos Katsaounis of Bread Man Baking Co., Chico Ramirez and Chez Nous owners, Scott Simonson and Stacy Crowe-Simonson. Chez Nous is a cozy French restaurant located in Humble.

The artisan bread and pastry will be supplied by Katsaounis and head baker Desirae Vasquez while the French-Mediterranean inspired menu will be created by Crowe-Simonson. Ramirez, who recently sold his stake in the Houston restaurant, Field and Tides, will manage the day to day operations at the cafe.

Mendocino Farms, 609 Main, will open in downtown Houston November 7. The grand opening begins at 11 a.m. The California-based gourmet sandwich and salad chain has just recently opened two locations in Houston, Rice Village in July and Uptown Park October 3. Obviously, Houston is a good fit for the concept.
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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.