Openings and Closings: Superica, La Lucha in September, Pizza Motus Now

Fried chicken and biscuits tempt  at La Lucha.
Fried chicken and biscuits tempt at La Lucha. Photo by Jessica Matos

Superica and La Lucha, 1801 N. Shepherd, will open September 10. The dual concepts from restaurateur Ford Fry will occupy a 9,000 square foot property in the Heights as Fry's popular Houston restaurant, State of Grace, is approaching its third anniversary.

He first introduced his take on Tex-Mex with Superica in Atlanta, Georgia in 2015, with an additional Hotlanta location soon following and another in Charlotte, North Carolina. Now, he's bringing his Austin Tex-Mex style to Houston. Not Austin.

Drawing on the outlaw country music of Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings, the laid-back vibe will be a piece of Texas Hill Country in the Bayou City, with a nod to classics like the tacos, tamales and enchiladas of the small Texas cafes that introduced Mexican cuisine to the Lone Star State in the 1920's. Following the evolution of Tex-Mex, the restaurant's menu will also include grilled fajitas, menudo and ceviche. The queso fundido is a must-have item and the fajitas are large enough to share, if the current locations are an idea of what to expect in Houston. The restaurant's chips come with red AND green salsa-always a happy sight to see.

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Bobby Matos takes on another executive chef role.
Photo by Duc Hoang
Superica's kitchen will be headed by Fry's vice president of Tex-Mex, Kevin Maxey, with Glenn Johnson, formerly of Hunky Dory and Bernadine's, resuming his role as general manager.

There will be picnic tables and an outdoor lounge in which to, well, lounge, with a cold margarita watching the foot traffic of the Heights go by.

La Lucha, next door will be an homage to Fry's childhood memories of the much-loved San Jacinto Inn,which shuttered in 1987 after 70 years in business, according to Houston History Magazine. It was famous for its large servings of fried chicken and Gulf seafood. The restaurant also served the laborers who built the San Jacinto Monument. La Lucha means " the fight" in Spanish, referencing the Battle of San Jacinto.

Matt Crawford and Bobby Matos will add to their roles at State of Grace with Crawford also serving as La Lucha's general manager/sommelier and Matos as executive chef.

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Grilled oysters straight from the hearth.
Photo by Jessica Matos
With Superica having a more festive and colorful Tex-Mex spirit, La Lucha will be a more low-lit complement with plenty of seating indoors and out. There will be an outdoor game area for lawn bowling, with a lush garden and cast iron furnishings, hearkening back to the old San Jacinto Inn era.

The interior will feature worn leather sofas, wood beams and a limestone hearth for grilling oysters. Expect plenty of Gulf seafood options and late night snacks.

You can check out Mai Pham's preview of La Lucha here in the Houston Press.

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Pepperoni Pizza cloud.
Photo by Victoria Christensen
Pizza Motus, 6119 Edloe, opened August 10. The pizza restaurant from Will Gruy serves Roman-style street pizza, which has a crust with lots of air holes and a slight char. The pizza will be made to order and is available in whole pies or slices. Pizza-philes on the go can order at the walk-up window while lingerers can dine-in or enjoy the outdoor patio.

For vegetarians, there is the "Veggie Box", made with kale, artichoke, olives, tomatoes and onion. That's a healthy rationale for eating pizza. There's also the "Eggplant Parmesan", made with grilled eggplant, fresh parmesan and a light pesto sauce. It's also the favorite pizza of Gruy's mother.

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Veg-out at Pizza Motus.
Photo by Victoria Christensen
Besides the specialty pizzas, there are salads,soups, grain bowls and appetizers such as artichoke dip and Italian Wedding soup.

For beverages, there are sparkling sodas and waters available. However, for those who crave a glass of vino or birra with their pie, Pizza Motus is BYOB, with no cork fee. They will provide glasses and ice buckets for free. We repeat, free.

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Paul " Buff" and Sara Burden expand in a bull market.
Photo by Robert Lerma
Buff Burger,10550 Westheimer, began construction on its third location on August 13. Owners Sara and Paul "Buff" Burden began their burger business in 2015 with the first location at 1014 Wirt, with a second following in 2017 at 1540 Alabama in Montrose.

The burger restaurant prides itself on sourcing ingredients locally and being sustainable. Everything is made in-house and the beef for the thick burgers comes from 44 Farms. There are plenty of craft beer options, plus wine on tap or by the half-bottle. For kids and kids-at-heart, there are creamy milkshakes made with locally-sourced ice cream.

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Buff Burger and fries
Photo by Robert Lerma
There are vegetarian offerings, plus gluten-free buns and salad dressings available, if you have the will to pass up the juicy burgers and opt for one of the salads.

Flaming Mongolian Grill, 2310 Highway 6 S., opened this month in West Oaks. Diners can order appetizers like gyoza (pork dumplings) and edamame or go Hawaiian with Spam musubi.

You can build-your-own dish for $7.95 or opt for the Kitchen Special for the same price.

Jin's Cafe, 9013 Westheimer, opened at the end of July. The modern Szechuan restaurant serves dishes like Thai grilled whole fish and lamb spareribs, grilled or fried. They also offer beverages like watermelon juice, boba and milk teas.

Lunch specials run Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Three Flavor Pepper Chicken gets the juices flowing.
Photo by Gwendolyn Knapp
Spicy Girl, 3285 Southwest Freeway, opens August 18, in the former Cafe Chino space, according to CultureMap Houston. This will be the second location of the Sichuan restaurant. The first opened in November of 2017 in Midtown.

The extensive menu offers a variety of dishes from tonque-tingling to tongue-numbing. It's wise to let your server know what your heat tolerance is. For newbies, you can go with the General (Tso) and save some tongue.

Gyro Hut, 2807 Old Spanish Trail, opened in mid-July. The Halal restaurant serves Mediterranean and Middle Eastern food, along with New York-style gyros. Diners can choose the spicy red sauce or creamy white sauce, or both, if you're indecisive. Or a glutton.

Rico's Morning + Noon + Night
, 401 Gray, closed August 6. The kiosk-style burger and dog joint (hot and canine), opened in September 2015 in Midtown's Bagby Park. It was a perfect spot for Midtown residents to bring their pups and hang out with a yummy burger, frozen adult beverage and meet their neighbors. Last month, Houstonia magazine declared Rico's as one of the 10 Best Hot Dog Spots in Houston. Loyal patrons will miss their Haagen-Dazs milkshakes and chili-cheese fries.

In a statement to the Houston Press, a spokesperson said, " We will miss all our friends in Midtown.There are no plans to reopen at this time." Dang.

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Start your day with the Southern Fried Arnold, end it with a nap.
Photo courtesy of Toasted Yolk Cafe
TheToasted Yolk Cafe, 2110 Town Square Plaza, opened August 9. The breakfast and lunch restaurant from Chris Milton and Mathew DeMott  began in 2010. With a slogan of " It's never too early to get toasted", early risers can try some hair-of-the-dog cocktails to go along with the four-egg omelettes and buttermilk biscuits.

Fans of eggs Benedict can try its version, The Arnold, or go for something a little different like the Southern Fried Arnold. It's a dish of two biscuit halves, two fried chicken tenders, two poached eggs, covered in sausage gravy. Your arteries will probably be fried as well, so have a Bloody Mary with it, for the lycopene.

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The money shot.
Photo courtesy of Toasted Yolk Cafe
For people who pay attention to nutrition and all that stuff, there is oatmeal and granola with fruit.

The website says," Come for breakfast, stay for lunch". If that's your plan, you'll find typical sandwich offerings like a French Dip, Reuben and Burger. And salads.

Chuy's Tex-Mex, 20322 Highway 249, is planned for October 2017, according to the Houston Chronicle. This will make the tenth location of the chain founded in Austin in 1982 and renowned for its kitschy Elvis decor and retro style.

There are " Big As Yo' Face" burritos and ten different signature sauces for livening up your tacos or enchiladas. The lime juice for the margaritas is hand-squeezed daily and the tortillas are hand-rolled throughout the day.

The King would approve.

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The English Sunday roast done right.
Photo courtesy of Central Market

Central Market, 3815 Westheimer, will host a two-week event called " Passport United Kingdom". from September 19 through October 2. While the British Isles may have gotten a bad rap in the past for its boiled beef and mushy peas cuisine, many great chefs have emerged from the island nation in the past 20 years and have become quite celebrated, including you-know-who of the four letter words and " It's raw, donkey!" insults.

The upscale grocery store will offer samples of traditional British dishes and products, including artisanal meat pies, Yorkshire pudding and cheddar and Stilton cheeses. For those wanting a deeper dive into British fare, there are cooking classes and tastings available over the two-week event.

You can check out Central Market's website for a complete listing, but here are some examples of experiences to be had.

There is  "Couples Cook, A Dinner From Merry Old England", which focuses on roasting Cornish game hens and making sausage and bacon rolls. For parents wanting to give their kids a taste of Northern Ireland, there is " The Ulster Fry-Up" on September 29. For lovers of the pint, there is a class on pairing British curries with beers and another on " Proper Pub Grub".

Cheerio, mates, until next week. If you have any tips on new restaurants and bars opening, kindly leave us a comment. Ta.
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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.