Restaurant News

Openings and Closings: Hello Crack Shack, Goodbye Hubcap Grill Heights

Dip and dive in to The Crack Shack's chicken.
Dip and dive in to The Crack Shack's chicken. Photo by Natasha Mack/The Crack Shack

The Crack Shack, 23501 Cinco Ranch Boulevard, opens February 10 at Katy's La Centerra Shopping Center. This is the Texas debut for the fried chicken concept and its grand opening will do the Lone Star State justice with big prizes and big festivities. There will be live music and raffles for items such as Zac Brown tickets. Gift bags will be given to the first 300 guests. There will also be a donation of 10 percent of the day's sales to Kids Meals, which serves food-insecure children in both Harris and Montgomery counties.

With its proximity to The Central Park Green, the fast casual "coop" welcomes the whole family with a patio for pups and a 'L'il Cluckers' menu for the little flockers. Grown-ups can enjoy wine, craft cocktails and local beers from the full bar.
click to enlarge
It looks like chickens eating chicken.
Photo by Jordan Bree Photography
The company was founded in California and is committed to using local producers in the cities it operates, when possible. For the Katy restaurant, Crack Shack has partnered with nearby vendors such as Bread Man Baking Co., Brothers Produce and Amy's Ice Cream for its rotating shake flavors. For the launch, Crack Shack Katy will have Mexican Vanilla and Whoopie Pie.
The Hangover Burger at Hubcap Grill offers excess to soak up the previous night's excess.
Photo by Chuck Cook Photography
Hubcap Grill, 1133 W. 19th, has closed, as reported by CultureMap Houston.  Owner Ricky Craig told CultureMap's Eric Sandler that the property is being sold for a new residential development and the restaurant has been on a month-to-month lease for the past few months. He also cited the high rents within Montrose and The Heights as being prohibitive in opening another Hubcap location in those areas.

Hubcap Grill currently has two other restaurants in Pearland and Galveston plus a dining space at Bush IAH. Craig is planning a new location in Santa Fe, 45 minutes south of Houston. The new restaurant will be located at 12405 FM 1764 and is expected to open later this year. Craig also told CultureMap that he would like to start franchising the concept in the near future.
click to enlarge
Bun B, why are you such a tease?
Photo by Marco Torres
Trill Burgers will be wrangling customers at Rodeo Houston 2023, ahead of its much-anticipated brick and mortar planned for 3607 Shepherd. We are still awaiting a projected opening date but until then, rodeo-goers can take advantage of its extremely popular smashburgers at booth RP 130 in Rodeo Plaza at NRG Park.

Trill Burgers had its first rodeo appearance last year for Rodeo Houston 2022 and sold over 12,000 burgers during the three-week event. The burger concept was first founded in 2021 with international rap artist and local music legend Bun B (Bernard Freeman) as the face of the pop-up venture. He is a co-owner along with California restaurateur Andy Nguyen, Nick Scurfield (The Scurfield Group) and chefs Mike Pham and Fernando Valladares.
click to enlarge
Trill Burgers are crispy, oozy and tasty.
Photo by Becca Wright
Trill Burgers was not the only debut for Bun B at Houston's giant rodeo extravaganza in 2022. He was also a headliner the same year at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, making him one of the first rap artists to play in the 90 years that the rodeo has overtaken our city annually. Last year, his show was called Bun B's H-Town Takeover and featured Houston performers including Paul Wall and Slim Thug. He will take the stage again this year, March 3, with his Bun B's Southern Takeover. There was a social media push recently to encourage Bun B to drop the lineup of other artists who will perform with him that evening and apparently, it worked. Bun B has released the names of a couple of Louisiana artists including Juvenile and Mannie Fresh who will perform with him at the rodeo.
click to enlarge
Hattie B's fans will have to wait a little bit longer.
Photo by Joseph Woodley
Hattie B's Hot Chicken, 1808 N. Shepherd, has been canceled.  The Nashville hot fried chicken chain announced December 2021 that it planned to open its first Houston area location on Shepherd, resulting in a lot of buzz from loyal fans and Houstonians eager to compare the Hattie B's brand to one of our many Houston versions. Unfortunately, the planned opening for mid-2023 has been scrapped due to the construction costs and other issues for the ground-up build.

That doesn't mean the end for its foray into the Houston, however. The chain is currently seeking out another location as co-founder Nick Bishop Jr. announced in a press release. "While we have made the very difficult decision to not move forward with the project in The Heights, our commitment to finding a home in Houston remains strong. We love this city and have always imagined a Hattie B's here."
click to enlarge
The homestyle sides are another tasty reason to wish for Hattie B's.
Photo by Joseph Woodley
Bishop is not the only one imagining a Hattie B's in H-town. It has earned a national reputation since it was founded in 2012 by Bishop and his father, Nick Bishop Sr. in Nashville, Tennessee. It has four locations in Nashville with additional restaurants in Memphis, Atlanta, Birmingham, Las Vegas and Dallas.

The cayenne-spiced chicken is believed to have originated in Nashville with Thornton Prince's BBQ Chicken Shack in the 1930s. Andre Prince Jeffries, Prince's great niece, has continued the legacy for decades with Prince's Hot Chicken Shack.

Albi, 1947 W. Gray, is currently hiring, which means that the wait will soon be over for the restaurant from siblings Nano and Jimy Fakhoury and partner Aladdin Nimri. With the experience of running their family's restaurant Mary'z Mediterranean Cuisine, the Fakhourys' new restaurant will also serve upscale Mediterranean fare with dishes inspired by Lebanese, Turkish and Greek cuisines.

Jimy Fakhoury told the Houston Press that Albi will open the first week of March.
click to enlarge
A new micro-winery in Missouri City is opening.
Photo by Carrie Dugas
Wine Vibes, 9018 Sienna Crossing, will open February 7 in Missouri City. Owned by Sheri Lawal Price, Phelicia Colvin and Tamesha Hampton,  the winery and bistro will have more than 100 seats for guests to sip wine and nosh on flatbreads, paninis, charcuterie, salads and bigger bites such as Jerk Shrimp Skewers.

The knowledgeable staff of vintners are ready to introduce guests to new wines for various palates. Wine lovers will be guided through the hands-on experience of the wine-making process while learning the stories of wines from lesser-known winemakers.
click to enlarge
Fresh salads are part of the bistro menu at Wine Vibes.
Photo by Carrie Dugas
The new winery will have tastings as well as the opportunity for oenophiles to bottle wine and design custom labels. Along with bottle sales, wine bar service and bistro fare, Wine Vibes will also offer memberships for its wine club. Space at the winery can be reserved for special events.

Chef Phillip Hare will be the general manager. Hare has two decades of experience in hospitality including his co-ownership of Beaucoup Eats in New Orleans. Houstonians may recognize him as one of the creative minds behind Houston's Red Cat Jazz Cafe.
click to enlarge
The outdoor terrace mimics a seaside tiki bar.
Photo by Visual Influence
Tulum HTX, 903 Hutchins, is hosting its grand opening February 22 beginning at 4 p.m. Though it opened back in late December 2022, the destination bar and restaurant is ready for its close up now, on the same day as National Margarita Day.

With the tropical vibe of Tulum, Mexico pulsing through the multi-level space, guests can enjoy being transported virtually to a seaside resort with an outdoor patio offering a tiki bar, cabanas and chaise lounges ideal for relaxing with a margarita or rum-filled cocktail.
click to enlarge
Mexican Candy shots will be on special for the grand opening.
Photo by Visual Influence
For National Margarita Day and its grand opening, there will be special pricing on its signature cocktails and flights of specialty shots. Its menu of scratch-made favorites like Tulum Street Tacos, empanadas and wings will be available and attendees can expect a few complimentary samples. There will be live entertainment, giveaways and a 360 Photo Booth.

Cosa Nostra Cucina Italiana, 17485 Tomball Parkway, opened softly mid-January in the former home of Babin's Seafood. The wrought iron on the outside still hints at the previous restaurant's New Orleans theme but the new occupant is Italian through and through with a menu of traditional favorites such as Lasagna Bolognese, Mushroom Risotto and house-made Lobster Ravioli.

Guests can start with antipasti such as Sicilian Arancini, Fried Calamari and Beef Carpaccio. The dessert menu features tiramisu, cannoli and gelato. There is a selection of wine, beer and signature cocktails as well.

For Valentine's Day, the new restaurant has a three course meal for $45 which includes a glass of wine and live music.
Abbas Dhanani is smashing cancer with smash burgers this Saturday.
Photo by Michael Ma
Burger Bodega, 4520 Washington, is hosting a collaboration Smash Cancer fundraiser February 4 along with two other burger concepts, 7th Street Burger from New York City and Leon's Smash Burgers in Australia. The event begins this Saturday at 11 a.m. and runs until burgers are sold out. A portion of the proceeds will support cancer research at Houston Methodist Dr. Mary and Ron Neal Cancer Center.

The three principals of the burger concepts, Abbas Dhanani (Burger Bodega), Kevin Rezvani (7th Street Burger) and Leone Catalono (Leon's Smash Burgers) will be manning the kitchen while creating a collaborative Smash Cancer Burger that will be available on the menu along with other items.

Kami Ramen & Sushi, 19731 Highway 59 N., opened softly in Humble January 15. True to its name, there is ramen such as Spicy Chicken, Tonkotsu and Spicy Miso plus sushi rolls, both cooked and raw. It also has steamed buns including Pork, Vegetable and Chicken Karaage choices. For vegans, there is the Kami Vegan Harvest Ramen.
click to enlarge
B.B. Lemon's Salmon BLT is on the menu for Eat Drink HTX this February.
Photo by Jenn Duncan
Eat Drink HTX has gone live with its 2023 menus. The event begins February 15 and runs through February 28. It's the second year for the sister event to Houston Restaurant Weeks, produced by The Cleverley Stone Foundation. For two weeks, local foodies can enjoy specially-curated multi-course menus at Greater Houston-area eateries for wallet-friendly prices. Not only does this event offer Houstonians a chance to support local restaurants in a typically slow time of the year, but it also helps to raise funds for Houston Food Bank and CHILDREN AT RISK.

Some of the early signers on include B.B. Lemon, City Cellars HTX, Craft Pita, da Gama Canteen, Harold's Tap Room, Kin Dee Thai Cuisine, Mala Sichuan Bistro and Phat Eatery. It also gives Houstonians some new hot spots to try such as Lagniappe Kitchen and Bar, Low Tide Kitchen & Bar and Pecking Order at Finn Hall.  A full list of participants and menus can be found at EatDrinkHTX.

Restaurants Reported Open January 2023:

Bayou Heights Bier Garten, 3905 Washington, opened January 17
BB's Tex-Orleans, 515 Westheimer, opened mid-January
Cafe Express, 3091 College Park, opened January 30
CIEL, 4411 San Felipe, opened December 16, 2022
Clutch City Cluckers, 3210 FM 528, opened January 28
Crumbl Cookies, 12073 N. Grand Parkway, opened January 13
Dave's Hot Chicken, 21690 US Highway 59, opened January 13
Fat Boy's Pizza, 10445 W. Grand Parkway, opened January 17
Freebirds World Burrito, 9662 Highway 242, opened January 17
Gatsby's Grill, 2929 Navigation Boulevard, opened December 29, 2022
Golden Chick, 747 Louetta, opened January 10
Graffiti Raw, 1001 California, opened late January
Killen's Barbecue, 25618 Northwest Freeway, opened mid-January
Kriti Kitchen, 4010 Bissonett, opened January 17
Little Hen, 4444 Westheimer, opened January 4
Local Table, 24033 Cinco Ranch Boulevard, opened January 30
Money Cat, 2925 Richmond, opened early January
Outback Steakhouse, 6805 N. Grand Parkway, opened January 17
Shiba Liquor, 12634 Grant, opened mid-January
Sixty Vines, 9595 Six Pines, opened January 23
The Smoke, 712 Main, opened mid-January
Twenty Five Teishoku House, 21784 Katy Freeway, opened early January
Urban Bird Hot Chicken, 2162 Spring Stuebner, opened January 3
VinSanto, 12525 Memorial, opened January 14

Restaurants Reported Closed January 2023:

BB's Tex-Orleans, 2701 Montrose, closed January 9
Bodega Bellaire, 5202 Bissonnet, closed January 3
Cherry Block Smokehouse, 1223 W. 34th, closed December 31, 2022
Griff's Irish Pub, 3416 Roseland, closed indefinitely due to a fire
La Calle Tacos, 401 Gray, closed temporarily January 25 due to fire
Maize, 14795 Memorial, closed January 3
KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
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.