Restaurant News

Openings and Closings: Guard and Grace This Fall, Three Brothers Bakery Turns 70

Guard and Grace brings more beef to Houston.
Guard and Grace brings more beef to Houston. Photo by Marc Piscotty

Guard and Grace, 500 Dallas, is slated to open in fall 2019 at One Allen Center. Troy Guard, executive chef and owner of TAG Restaurant Group, opened the first Guard and Grace Steakhouse in Denver, Colorado in 2014. The modern steakhouse takes a fresh approach to the genre with seasonal and locally sourced ingredients. The  prime, certified Angus or grass-fed steaks, are available in different cuts and sizes from 4 ounces to 22. There's also plenty of seafood options, plus some vegetarian choices as well.

The Houston location will be the second for the concept and Guard's first foray into the Texas landscape, already bursting with steak-centric restaurants. It will cover 15,000 square feet of space at Allen Center, with 9,000 of it designated for the main dining area. There will also be a mezzanine for private dining.

click to enlarge Guard and Grace is more than beef. - PHOTO BY MARC PISCOTTY
Guard and Grace is more than beef.
Photo by Marc Piscotty
Guard, born in Hawaii, has lived and traveled all over the world, working with powerhouse chefs and restaurateurs such as James Beard Award winning Roy Yamaguchi and Richard Sandoval, whose first Texas venture was Bayou and Bottle in Houston. Guard owns and operates a dozen Denver restaurants such as TAG, Los Chingones and FNG.

As an introduction to the city of Houston, Guard has already done two of his Kitchen Kollabs, including a March event with Chef Drake Leonards of Eunice and an April collaboration with Chris Davies of Uchi. Now, Chef Levi Goode will host a Texas-sized " Meat and Greet" with Guard on May 22 at 6:30 p.m at Goode Co. Armadillo Palace, 5015 Kirby. The ticketed event ($85 per person) includes live cooking demos from both chefs who will be grilling their specialties in the outdoor area. Attendees will get to watch the superstar chefs create their signature dishes. There will also be appetizers, mains and desserts, plus two drink tickets for cocktails, wine and beer. Live music will add to the fun of the backyard blowout.

click to enlarge The last finishing touches are put on Wolfie's Famous Victory Layer Cake. - PHOTO BY ZIGGY GRUBER
The last finishing touches are put on Wolfie's Famous Victory Layer Cake.
Photo by Ziggy Gruber

Kenny and Ziggy's Cakeworks, 8147 Longpoint, has opened as a wholesale bakery from Ziggy Gruber, of Kenny and Ziggy's New York Delicatessen. The demands of the dessert side of the business has outgrown the space at the K&Z locations, so the new bakery will have a permanent staff including Bakery Manager, Marilu Cortina, formerly of Take the Cake. The new space allows for the creation of 30 different cakes, four pies and other specialty desserts that are served at Kenny and Ziggy's, plus other restaurants around town. There's the multi-layered Wolfie's Famous Victory Cake and the OMG Cheesecake, a brownie-based dessert with Snickers, chocolate mousse and whipped cream for starters. The size of the desserts alone demands more space.

In the future, the new bakery may take on the job of producing the cookies and breads for the delis, plus there are ongoing discussions with a New York company to set up a bagel-making operation as well. To try one of the decadent and over-sized treats, Kenny and Ziggy's has two Houston locations at 2327 Post Oak and 5172 Buffalo Speedway. Bring a healthy appetite or a friend.

click to enlarge The Rockfish Special can be ordered with salmon or a crab cake. - PHOTO BY CHRIS WAGUESPACK
The Rockfish Special can be ordered with salmon or a crab cake.
Photo by Chris Waguespack
Rockfish Grill, 5500 FM 1960, has launched a brunch menu for Saturday and Sunday. The Champions-area seafood restaurant will be serving oysters on the half shell, shrimp cocktail and grilled oysters Hollandaise on the starters menu. There are dishes like the Rockfish Special, with grilled salmon, a fried egg, jalapeno cheese grits, all topped with Hollandaise, served with roasted asparagus and breakfast potatoes. For crab lovers, there is the Oscar Omelet. For non-seafood eaters, there will be migas and the breakfast feast. With Rockin' Bloody Marys ($4.50) and $2 mimosas, your weekend just got lit.

Cielito Cafe, 1915 Dunlavy, softly opened April 26. The Mexican cafe offers a comfortable, homey decor of dove-gray walls, sea green chairs and even a fireplace. It makes a pleasant spot in which to savor an iced caramel coffee or indulge in a bowl of menudo. Breakfast dishes like cajeta toast and divorciados are on the menu.

Chimac, 10860 FM 1960 W., opened the first week of April. The Korean-American fusion restaurant serves snacks like chicken wings with the option of a dozen different sauces, including KBBQ, Houstalanta and Super Hot. There are also American favorites like Philly cheesesteak, burgers and chicken tenders. There are Korean BBQ bowls as well. Look for interesting art on the walls.

click to enlarge Brian Ching is opening a bar in the East End. - RENDERING BY NEXTSEED
Brian Ching is opening a bar in the East End.
Rendering by NextSeed
East End Backyard, 1105 Sampson, is coming in fall 2019 from former Houston Dynamos forward, Brian Ching, who also owns Pitch 25 Beer Park. The large space will include a 20,000 square foot patio, a community garden and plans to add additional food and beverage tenants in the future.  The neighborhood bar will be dog-friendly, with live music, food trucks and lawn games. It is still seeking investors through the Houston-based crowdfunding site, NextSeed.

Ching saw a need for a sustainable outdoor space in an area that is rapidly becoming one of the more desirable areas of Houston for new restaurants and bars. Ching said in a press release, " We want this to feel like the biggest backyard in Houston ".

click to enlarge La Marisquera is already opening a second location. - PHOTO BY CLARENCE ESTES
La Marisquera is already opening a second location.
Photo by Clarence Estes
La Marisquera Ostioneria Seafood and Oyster Bar, 7900 Sam Houston Parkway N., opened April 30. This makes the second location for the concept from the Cabrera family, founders of Los Cucos Mexican Cafe. The opening of the new location comes hot on the heels of the first La Marisquera in Conroe, off I-45, which opened in February of this year.

The restaurant serves seafood specialties like ceviche, grilled fish platters, aguachiles, oysters and shrimp dishes. True to its Mexican roots, there are also dishes from its parent restaurant, Los Cucos, like fajitas and tacos, plus the Tejano Corner menu for those who need a Tex-Mex fix. There's an extensive happy hour menu, which should make the golfers at the Heron Lakes Golf Course happy, along with more than 20 televisions for watching sports events.

click to enlarge Mastranto's offers global and seasonal flavors. - PHOTO BY ISAAC BENCID
Mastranto's offers global and seasonal flavors.
Photo by Isaac Bencid
Mastranto's, 927 Studewood, is now serving lunch. The Heights restaurant opened in January 2019 with owners Mari and Xavier Godoy putting their European travels to good use with a menu of Latin, French and Italian flavors. They also chose Tony Castillo, formerly of Tiny Boxwoods, as executive chef. The restaurant is already making news as Patricia Sharpe chose Mastranto's as her "Pat's Pick" for the May 2019 issue of Texas Monthly.

click to enlarge Tony Castillo is creating seasonal dishes as executive chef at Mastranto's. - PHOTO BY ISAAC BENCID
Tony Castillo is creating seasonal dishes as executive chef at Mastranto's.
Photo by Isaac Bencid
The new lunch menu, which had yet to be launched when Sharpe visited, will include starters like posole verde, yucca tots and quinoa poke. For entrees, there will be a variety of flavor profiles such as a Cubanh sandwich, a cross between a Cuban sandwich and a banh mi, plus dishes like pecorino spaghetti verdi and OMG brisket tacos. Mastranto's, in keeping with its seasonal philosophy, has also launched a spring menu centered around its handmade pastas and includes new dishes like Bolognese bianco and caserecce Pad Thai.

Challah was one of the first things Bobby Jucker learned to make. - PHOTO BY MOLLY DUNN.
Challah was one of the first things Bobby Jucker learned to make.
Photo by Molly Dunn.

Three Brothers Bakery just celebrated its 70th anniversary and was also chosen as Family Owned Business of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration Houston District. The Jucker family celebrated at its oldest location, 4036 S. Braeswood, which is also the location that took on 4 1/2 feet of water during Hurricane Harvey, according to the Houston Chronicle. The damage from Harvey followed previous flooding from 2015 and 2016 that plagued the Meyerland area. The damage and losses were great and the family had to make decisions to keep the doors open. Unfortunately, one of those decisions has led to the loss of its Kosher certification, according to its Facebook post. The owners were notified the evening before its 70th anniversary that the Houston Kashruth Association had rescinded its Kosher license, due to the fact that the business remained open during Passover. Because of the losses sustained during Harvey and disaster loans that still needed to be paid, the owners made the financial decision to remain open. In its Facebook post the owners said:

"The Kosher clientele in Houston, Texas, has changed over the years. For 55 years, Three Brothers Bakery was considered Kosher for all, but then a “not Kosher enough” movement came to town, and slowly the bakery lost a large part of the Kosher business. Couple the previous with the fact that many younger people do not keep Kosher. Additionally, since Harvey, many of the Kosher institutions are having to make some tough financial decisions, and the Bakery cannot compete with lower quality, machine-made, and high-volume competitors which are now selected due to cheap pricing. Three Brothers Bakery is a scratch bakery making everything by hand using the best quality ingredients.
We are very sad about this decision. It was a gut-wrenching decision, but we employ sixty-five people and have to think about the mouths they feed. Thank you for your patronage in the past and we hope to see you again in the future - Bobby and Janice Jucker."

Of course, social media is bursting with opinions about the loss of the Kosher certification, with some customers very disappointed, while others are supporting the Juckers unconditionally. For a family whose business began with three brothers who survived the Holocaust, this is a thought-provoking twist.

Besides the Braeswood store, Three Brothers also operates bakeries at 12393 Kingsride and 4606 Washington.

Restaurants we are watching closely:

Photo by Lorretta Ruggiero
Your Pie Pizza, 13126 FM 1960 West, is coming soon. This will be the second location for the small pizza chain. The first Houston location opened three years ago at 1625 Main. It's known for its 10-inch pizzas, with build-your-own and signature options. There are panini, salads and craft beer and wine, too.

Trattoria Pizza and Pasta, 10211 Cypresswood, will open soon. The owners told the Houston Press that they  are hoping to be ready the last week of May or first week of June.

click to enlarge The Annex is coming soon to Vintage Park. - PHOTO BY LORRETTA RUGGIERO
The Annex is coming soon to Vintage Park.
Photo by Lorretta Ruggiero
The Annex Crafthouse, 122A Vintage Park, is set to open any day now. From a look at its social media, the bar and restaurant will serve wings, burgers, quesadillas, tacos and craft cocktails like kombuchini. There will also be lots of Texas beer.

Photo by Lorretta Ruggiero
Tuscany Italian Bistro, Grant Road, seems ready to go, but we could not find any information about the business. The interior is finished, tables are set with white cloths and it looks ready to open any day. Still, for all our sleuthing, we could not find any clues to its debut. We'll keep you posted.
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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.