Restaurant News

Openings and Closings: Gatlin's F&F Opens, South Beach Returns, La Table Will Refresh

This gumbo has everything.
This gumbo has everything. Photo by Becca Wright


Gatlin’s Fins & Feathers, 302 Crosstimbers, will have its grand opening July 15.  The new restaurant from chef/owner Greg Gatlin debuts as the sister concept to Gatlin's BBQ with Texas comfort food and Gulf Coast catches on a menu that is sure to please Houstonians. The menu was created by Gatlin along with Michelle Wallace, executive chef at Gatlin's BBQ, and Darius King, the chef de cuisine at Fins and Feathers.

The fare on offer represents the inclusiveness of today's Southern cuisine with New Orleans BBQ Shrimp,  Shrimp & Crab Campechana, enchiladas, fried catfish, Duck Mole Rojo and Not my Momma's Biscuits with seasonal jams. Diners can start their meal with Chargrilled Oysters with herb butter and parmesan or opt for the Grilled Oysters of the Day, a rotating list of  different flavor combinations. The Oysters on the Half Shell are freshly shucked and are available by the half or full dozen.
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Gatlin's joins the neighborhood.
Photo by Becca Wright
The restaurant's signature Fins & Feathers Clucker is a spin on the ever-popular charcuterie board with Szechuan-spiced pork cracklings, Southern-fried gizzards, chipotle-glazed crispy chicken feet, smoked liver pate and berbere-spiced quail, served with accoutrements.

Guests can also indulge in Everything Gumbo, a 16-ounce bowl of dark roux gumbo filled with chicken, shrimp, crab, smoked sausage and okra, topped with white rice. Other starters include Charred Brussels Sprouts and the Burrata & Grains. There's the H-Town Hot Sandwich with a choice of  crispy chicken or fish, tossed in a Viet-Cajun sauce plus a couple of sandwiches sure to make this writer's husband happy; a Smoked Chicken Salad Sandwich served on Texas toast and the Filet-O-Fish, a crispy fish sandwich with tartar sauce and American cheese.
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Is this better than your grandma's fried chicken?
Photo by Becca Wright
Entrees include Fried Chicken, Crispy Chicken Tenders, Blackened Catfish, Grilled Jerk Chicken, Fried Shrimp and Smoked Chicken Enchiladas. There are comfort sides befitting a Southern-style restaurant such as Red Beans & Rice, Gatlin's Creamed Corn, Basil Cole Slaw, Mac-N-Cheese, Potato Salad with creamy Creole dressing and Collard Greens, slow-braised with smoked turkey.

The family-friendly restaurant has a kids menu plus a list of beers, wines and champagnes for adults. Gatlin says it's nice to have somewhere in the neighborhood for fresh seafood. "I also think everybody remembers who had the best fried chicken in their town when they were growing up-maybe it was their own grandma. We want to tap into that and make you feel the same way when you eat ours."

Gatlin's Fins & Feathers is located in Historic Independence Heights, the neighborhood where Gatlin’s father and family grew up. It has 3,000 square feet of space and accommodates 80 guests. It serves both lunch and dinner Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. with plans for a Sunday brunch beginning in September. The restaurant is closed on Monday.

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The dance floor is open!
Photo by Michael Anthony
South Beach, 810 Pacific, reopens July 15 after shuttering more than four years ago. The LGBTQ+ dance club opened in 2001 in the space where its predecessor, Club Heaven, had operated as one of Houston's most popular Montrose gay bars since it was founded by owner Charles Armstrong in 1985. Unfortunately, Heaven was destroyed by a fire in 1997. The original South Beach catered to a crowd that wanted to dance all night under a spectacular laser light system. It closed in 2018 for renovations, but as renovations were finished, the COVID pandemic shut down all bars and nightclubs across the country. Armstrong decided to keep South Beach closed for public safety during the pandemic. Now, with Houston's party people more optimistic about the future and ready to mingle and swingle once again, the nightclub is celebrating its grand opening Friday beginning at 9 p.m. and everyone is welcome to be part of the inclusiveness.
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The bar is elegant with Carrera marble and black granite adding to the posh vibe.
Photo by Michael Anthony

Loyal customers will be glad to know that the nitrogen cooling system will still be in effect.  The unique lighting includes a huge 8-foot rotating chandelier over the dance floor and waves of blues and reds from the color-changing LEDs. While the previous South Beach was more industrial, the new renovations from John Robinson of Robinson & Associates give the space a more high-end feel with mahogany wood, Carrera marble and black granite bar tops. On the outdoor patio, the sign from another Armstrong concept, Meteor, adds a little nostalgia. Meteor closed in 2016.
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The patio at South Beach will be even more popular when the cool weather returns.
Photo by Michael Anthony
The bar will offer happy hour from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. tonight. Later, starting at 11 p.m., there will be a special effects cover charge. DJ Mel Frausto will be providing the dance music which will go until 3 a.m.
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Benjamin Berg and La Table general manager, Valerio Lombardozzi, stand in front of the soon-to-be revamped French restaurant.
Photo by Jenn Duncan
La Table, 1800 Post Oak, closed July 2 but this is not the end for the upscale French restaurant. Two heavy hitters in the restaurant industry are taking over the two-story space uptown to create and collaborate on two new concepts.  Berg Hospitality Group and The Bastion Collection announced a new joint venture to revitalize La Table and to also open an upscale Italian restaurant, Tavola. Benjamin Berg's Houston-based hospitality group is joining forces with the culinary experts from the Bastion Collection, the group behind Michelin-starred and award-winning concepts that include Le Jardinier at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston and L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon. 

Berg is the CEO & Founder of Berg Hospitality Group, which owns and operates eight restaurant concepts in Houston and Fort Worth, including Turner’s and The Annie Cafe & Bar, both of which are located in the same Post Oak retail center as La Table. With the new partnership, the team will remodel the nearly 9,000 square-foot space adding new interiors, lighting and furnishings designed to transport guests to the Italian and French rivieras. Sean Mohammed, Senior Vice President of Concept Development at Berg Hospitality says the design will pull inspiration from Milan to Paris "and everywhere along the way."

Tavola will be located on the first floor and will serve both lunch and dinner in an upscale and vibrant environment complemented by a lively brasserie-style bar. La Table will be revamped with a new look and menu, taking over the entirety of the second floor plus a newly activated outdoor terrace.

The new La Table and Tavola are slated to open in spring 2023.

The Preserve at Eculent is expected to open in December, according to CultureMap Houston. Located in the same Kemah property, 709 Harris Avenue, as David Skinner's acclaimed tasting restaurant, Eculent, the new Thai tapas-style restaurant is a collaboration between Skinner and Street to Kitchen chef and co-owner Benchawan Painter. The Preserve will blend Painter's Thai fare with Skinner's culinary creations, some inspired by his Choctaw heritage.

The duo are both fans of each other's cooking and both Skinner and Painter, or Chef G as she is usually called, have each earned accolades from critics and the dining public. Skinner has been called a "real life Willy Wonka" by Tom Sietsema of The Washington Post because of his avant-garde and playful approach to food. Chef G was named Rising Star Chef of the Year by the 2022 CultureMap Tastemaker Awards and she and her husband, Graham Painter, also took home the award for Restaurant of the Year.

With these two talents combining their culinary points of view, Houston diners will soon be making the drive to Kemah, if they are lucky enough to get reservations.

Counter Common Beerworks & Kitchen, 5413 Bellaire Boulevard, opened softly in the Bellaire Triangle July 8. The first brewpub in Bellaire, it serves a rotating list of beers and also has a full kitchen rolling out elevated pub fare.

The starters include Chicharrones seasoned with a smoky honey-habanero dust and served with creamy avocado dip and pico de gallo. There's also its signature K-So, a cheese dip with a gochujang glaze, chorizo and roasted jalapenos. Guests can order wings (chicken or cauliflower) with a choice of sauce plus there are several salads from which to choose.  A Snapper Mango Aguachile pushes the envelope for bar food.

There are beer-friendly sandwiches like the Korean Fried Chicken and The Common Burger, made with two 44 Farms smashed beef patties plus larger shareables plates such as CCBK Fried Chicken and CCBK Pork Shank. There is a variety of tacos and several different bao on the menu, so there is something for everyone, including the kiddos, who have their own special menu.

Some of the beers that guests can expect include Munchin' Bier, Nein Schadenfraude and an American Pale Ale called Thanks A Lot, Erchick. There is also a list of wines and ciders plus non-alcoholic beverages.
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Ironclad pizza gets a crispy, cheesy crust.
Photo by Avery Padilla
Betelgeuse, Betelgeuse, 2101 Washington, opened softly a couple of months ago. The neighborhood bar and pizza joint comes from veteran restaurateur Chris Cusack and brings a little quirkiness, along with gourmet pizzas, to Houston's Sixth Ward daily from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m.

The new concept occupies 1,700 square feet of space and also boasts a 2,000 square-foot patio for mingling in sun and shade. It's named for the giant red super star in the Orion constellation and its whimsical design includes the Octagon Room with a miniature museum of oddities like ethically-sourced taxidermy, faux-stained glass and surreal art, along with the Solarium Room, abundant with natural light. The Sci-Fi Hallway is lined with infinity mirrors and solar system walls lit by hand-built LED UFO light fixtures. Cusack worked with Brittany Vaughan of Garnish Design to make the space a little weird and funky with brightly-colored murals that fill the space from floor to ceiling.
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Even burgers get the pizza oven treatment.
Photo by Avery Padilla
The food on offer is a mix of elevated pub nosh with a heavy accent on the 14-inch pizza pies, which are baked Ironclad-style in a cast iron pan, influenced by Detroit-style pizza, though the pies at Betelgeuse will be round, allowing a crispy cheese finish on every slice. The dough and sauce are made from scratch, in house, as well as the sausage.

Pizza choices include Pepps, with natural-cased pepperoni, Sausage-Feta and the meaty Hercules Hercules, with pepperoni, sausage, pancetta, and Genoa salami. Make My Millenium will make heat lovers happy with spicy Scorpion peppers, blueberries, whipped ricotta, and oregano. A Veg Supreme offers a vegetarian pie with confit onions, sautéed peppers, mushrooms, feta cheese, and oregano.  Anthony Calleo of Pi Pizza and Rudyards served as consulting chef for the menu.

The unique pizzas are not the only creative menu items. There are snacks like Space Balls, Garlic-Parm Fries and The Wings, an order of 6 large wings, Buffalo-style with ranch or bleu cheese on the side.
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Creative cocktails are part of the quirky fun at Betelgeuse.
Photo by Avery Padilla
Cocktails on offer include The Fun and Flavorful section with drinks like Mommy, What’s a Funkadelic?, made with tepache, Ilegal Mezcal, lime, pineapple and vanilla. There's also the Rummin’ with the Devil and the Hellfire Margarita plus, as an ode to its name, the Red Star, with Ilegal Mezcal, dark rum, Carpano Antica, Aperol, Campari, agave, and hellfire shrub. There's a selection of standout martinis and a menu of frozen drinks along with beer and an extensive wine list that showcases a number of natural varietals.

Golden Chick, 10206 N. Houston Rosslyn, opened its tenth Houston location July 6. The new store comes from first-time Golden Chicken franchisee Salim Muman and will offer the same crispy fried chicken tenders and Southern-style sides that its customers crave. There is also the new hand-breaded Big and Golden Chicken Sandwich and, for a limited time only, the Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwich which is available through August 21. Considering the popularity and crazy demand for Nashville Hot Chicken, the company might want to reconsider the limited-time-only offer.
Cinnaholic has vegan goodies.
Photo by Cinnaholic
Cinnaholic, 27630 Interstate- 45 N., had a grand opening July 8 in The Woodlands/Conroe area. The sweets shop serves 100 percent vegan cinnamon rolls, brownies, cookies and edible cookie dough. The treats are free of dairy, lactose, egg and cholesterol.

The Cookshack, 21640 Kuykendahl, opened its sixth Texas location July 4 in Spring. It offers a variety of crispy fried chicken including tenders, sandwiches and bites. Diners can also get chicken and waffles and chicken tacos. The restaurant offers five spice levels and a variety of sweet and spicy sauces. In addition to the chicken menu, there are Applewood-smoked Baby Back Ribs and a Kale Salad. Sides include French fries, sweet potato fries, coleslaw, mac-n-cheese and Texas caviar.

There are beverage options like soft drinks, beer, wine and margaritas.

A Katy location is planned for this summer at 233 Mason. It is expected to open August 8.

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Elektra awaits coffee orders.
Photo by The Lucky Italian
The Lucky Italian, 414 Travis, opened July 8 in downtown Houston. Its founder, David Ans is excited to bring the authentic experience of Italy to Houston, offering Italian fare in a traditional warm and comforting environment . The star of the restaurant, the Elektra, is a limited edition hand-built coffee machine that some call the Rolls Royce of coffee machines.
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A sample of the pastries at The Lucky Italian.
Photo by The Lucky Italian

Located across the street from Ans' coffee shop of the same name, the new restaurant will serve traditional pizzas and some of Ans' family recipes along with its specialty coffee drinks and cocktails. Antipasti includes bruschetta, calamari fritti and Panzanella Toscano while fresh pasta options such as Penne alla Norma, Cacio e Peppe and Linguini Gamberi e Zucchini are authentic Italian fare. The Lasagne Emiliane is made with pork and beef ragu plus bechamel in a more traditional version of lasagna. There's a mozzarella bar plus a variety of Pizza Napoletana including Margherita and Quattro Formaggi.

Cocktails continue the Italian thread with libations such as the Espresso Martini, its version of Negroni, the Italian Paloma and The Sopranos, a drink made with Absolut Elyx, Aperol and elderflower.
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Local products will be showcased at Chefs for Farmers this year.
Photo by Chefs for Farmers
Chefs for Farmers will come to Houston for the first time October 2 at the brand new Autry Park. What began as a small farm to table dinner series in Dallas in 2010 has now blossomed into one of the most sought out annual food and wine events in Texas.

For its first year in Houston, there will be a powerhouse lineup of the city's top chefs and culinary personalities who will serve curated, locally sourced dishes for the all-inclusive tasting event. With a mission to support Texan family farms, the event will be an immersive culinary journey, combining culture, music and art, while celebrating the agricultural diversity of the state. Chefs for Farmers will also be partnering with Houston Food Bank this year to support its efforts in combatting hunger in the city and nearby regions.
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Henry Lu and Evelyn Garcia, shown here at the recent James Beard Foundation's Taste America Houston, will be part of the lineup for Chefs for Farmers.
Photo by Lorretta Ruggiero

Some of the chefs on board include Aaron Bludorn,  Alex Au Yeung, Austin Waiter, Brandi Key, Chris Shepherd, Drake Leonards, Hugo Ortega, Evelyn Garcia and Henry Lu, Leonard Botello, Marcos Leal, Niki Vongthong, Ryan Pera and many, many more.

For those who want to get in on the early bird pricing, discounted tickets are available through July 15 for both General Admission at 2 p.m. and VIP Access at 1 p.m., which gives attendees an extra hour to nosh, sip and mingle with the chefs.

The event lasts until 5 p.m. and is for 21 and up only. For more information and to purchase tickets, go to chefsforfarmers.com.
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The Nash has Yellowfin Tuna Crudo on its HRW dinner menu.
Photo by Kirsten Gilliam

Houston Restaurant Weeks, which runs from August 1 through Labor Day September 5, goes live July 15 at 9 a.m. with the menus from participating restaurants. The site houstonrestaurantweeks.com will be updated as more restaurants join in for the popular city-wide event.

Participating restaurants will offer multi-course prix-fixe meals for lunch, brunch and dinner ranging from $25 to $55 for two, three and four course meals according to each restaurant's offerings. A portion of the proceeds will go to aid Houston Food Bank in their mission to feed people in need around the Greater Houston area and beyond. 
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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.