Restaurant News

Openings and Closings: Killen's TMX Opens, Frenchy's Original Relocating

Adobo short rib empanadas at Killen's TMX.
Adobo short rib empanadas at Killen's TMX. Photo by Kimberly Park

Killen's TMX
, 9330 West Broadway, opened softly December 29, in Pearland. The newest concept from chef and restaurateur, Ronnie Killen, puts a fresher and more upscale stamp on Tex-Mex cuisine, though queso can still be had, with choices like smoked brisket or pulled pork added to kick it up a notch.

click to enlarge Ronnie Killen offers his take on Tex-Mex. - PHOTO BY KIMBERLY PARK
Ronnie Killen offers his take on Tex-Mex.
Photo by Kimberly Park
Campechana Acapulco with Gulf shrimp and crab claws or the scallop ceviche stay true to the coastal seafood heritage of Mexico, while the predominance of smoked meats reminds diners whose restaurant this is. Killen's steakhouse, burger and barbecue restaurants keep Houston carnivores happy and Killen's TMX will do the same. From short rib empanadas to smoked brisket enchiladas to chicken tinga, meat makes a strong showing.

Most Texans have sampled chicken mole in their lives, but when have you seen it with duck leg confit? Well, you'll see it at Killen's TMX, a nod to chef Killen's Le Cordon Bleu training. And tamales are taken to a new level with homemade masa and barbecue brisket, according to CultureMap Houston.

The lighting, linens, dishware and uniforms have all been sourced from Mexico. Executive chef Killen will be supported by chef Louis Lopez and business partner Deanna Killen will be the beverage director.

For now, the restaurant is open for dinner service only and making reservations through Open Table is recommended, though not required. Lunch and brunch services will follow soon.

click to enlarge Tex meats Mex in a spectacular way at Killen's TMX. - PHOTO BY KIMBERLY PARK
Tex meats Mex in a spectacular way at Killen's TMX.
Photo by Kimberly Park

King Killen of Pearland will be bringing a new steakhouse to The Woodlands at 1700 Research Forest, according to Community Impact. Sorry, cows. Texas is not a safe place for bovines.

click to enlarge Leslie Krockenberger will lead the bar at Decatur Bar and Pop-Up Factory. - PHOTO BY SUNG JOON KOO
Leslie Krockenberger will lead the bar at Decatur Bar and Pop-Up Factory.
Photo by Sung Joon Koo

Decatur Bar and Pop-Up Factory
, 2310 Decatur, will debut January 11. The collaboration from chef Monica Pope and Adam Brackman, of Axelrad Beer Garden, originally bore the temporary moniker, Vinegar Hill. The new concept has big plans with a mission to create a community space for highlighting small businesses, up and coming chefs and entrepreneurs from all walks of creative life. There will be classes and workshops on everything from cooking and cocktails to flower arranging and terrarium making.

There will be pop-ups with local chefs and purveyors and a chef-in-residence program, with chefs rotating every four to six months. Decatur's first resident chef will be Evelyn Garcia, winner of Chopped, season 14. There will be dinner seatings on Friday and Saturday evenings and a bar menu Tuesday through Sunday, featuring items like crispy potatoes and kuih pie tee, a dish of root vegetables, roasted mushrooms and caramelized beets. Garcia's take on Southeast Asian cuisine is influenced by her staging at restaurants across Thailand.

The program is meant to be a stepping stone for chefs working their way up to owning their own restaurants and the partners at Decatur hope to provide an investment platform in which patrons can participate.

Beginning January 18 at 10 a.m., Decatur will offer Free Coworking Fridays with free coffee and wifi. Saturday and Sunday brunch will start January 26 and 27 at 11 a.m.

Shawn Busch, formerly of Underbelly Hospitality will serve as General Manager. Leslie Krockenberger, most recently of Aqui, which shuttered last month, will lead the bar with her cocktail menu reviving some old favorites from the Original Beaver's, like the Forecast, from Houston's Bobby Heugel, who once served as Beaver's bar manager. Expect a frozen version with habanero-infused vodka, cucumber and Thai lime, perfect for pairing with Chef Garcia's Thai-inspired flavors.

Photo by Jeff Balke

Frenchy's, 3919 Scott, was supposed to close its original location January 1, in order to make way for the expansion of Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church. However, the fried chicken restaurant will remain open until January 4, when it sets up its temporary location at Scott Street, according to The razing of the original building is planned for January 7. The new Frenchy's will be located a couple of blocks away and is slated to open in the summer.

Percy " Frenchy" Creuzot, a New Orleans native, came to Houston in 1965 and on January 3, 1969, he and wife Sally, opened Frenchy's Po-boys. Soon, fried chicken was added to the menu to entice Houstonians to try some of the creole flavors like dirty rice and gumbo, but the crispy chicken soon became the star. However, the sides of collard greens, red beans and hot sausage are also a big draw. Not to mention peach cobbler and sweet potato pie at nostalgic prices. Its proximity to the nearby campuses of Texas Southern University and the University of Houston have led many students to gain the inevitable Freshman Fifteen, courtesy of Frenchy's.

click to enlarge Frenchy's chicken makes Houstonians nostalgic. - PHOTO BY JEFF BALKE.
Frenchy's chicken makes Houstonians nostalgic.
Photo by Jeff Balke.
Frenchy's became an institution and a flagship for African-American owned businesses in Houston. After some bankruptcy issues during the 1980s, Frenchy's eventually went into franchising, with nine locations around Houston and Beaumont, but the original is still under ownership of the Creuzot family, according to its Wikipedia page.

Patrons are crossing their fingers that the menu and the food remains the same, with some of the current employees sticking around for the new store. While many may miss some of the quirks of the old location, a refreshed Frenchy's may be even better.

Cane Rosso in the Heights will still turn out this deliciousness. - PHOTO BY TROY FIELDS
Cane Rosso in the Heights will still turn out this deliciousness.
Photo by Troy Fields
Cane Rosso, 4306 Yoakum, closed December 30, according to Eater Houston. The company plans to transfer as many employees to other locations as possible, including the Heights restaurant,1835 North Shepherd, which will remain open.

The Neapolitan-style pizza restaurant was first founded in Dallas in 2011 and there are stores in the DFW area, one in Austin and now, unfortunately, just one in Houston. Its pizza was declared the best in Houston by the Houston Press and has received a lot of love from loyal pie fanatics. The wood-burning ovens from Italy cook the pizzas at 900 degrees in 90 seconds, leaving a light char on the crust, which is made with "00" flour for the perfect chew.

Buff Burger, 10550 Westheimer, softly opened December 22. This Westchase location makes the third spot for Sara and Paul "Buff" Burden. The burger restaurant sources the beef for its burgers from 44 Farms, freshly-baked buns from Slow Dough and goat cheese from Pure Luck Farm.

The hand-cut fries and house made tots are not to be missed. If red meat is not your friend, there are burgers made with shrimp, Ahi tuna, chicken and falafel. Something for everyone. And everyone can agree on ending the meal with Buff Burger's ice cream cookie sandwiches.

Try a new brew for the new you in 2019. - PHOTO BY NICOLE BROGDON
Try a new brew for the new you in 2019.
Photo by Nicole Brogdon
Twisted Acre Brewery, 16103 Grant Road, celebrated its grand opening December 8. The new brewery in Cypress comes from couple, Nicole and Robert Brogdon, who have realized their dream of opening a tap room and craft brewery. There is a variety of different styles, including a hefeweisen called Go "Heff" Yourself, and Bumble Tree, a honey IPA.

The tap room has occasional food trucks, so check out its Facebook page or call ahead for more information. Due to its recent opening, some beers might not be available, so you should be open to trying what's on tap that day. The lakeside scenery should make for a nice patio afternoon, if the weather turns out as lovely as promised this weekend.

Twisted Acre is open Friday, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday, 12 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday, 2 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Mastrantos, 927 Studewood, opened December 13 for breakfast, with dinner service beginning December 19.
The restaurant has its own Dough Lab for making fresh pastries and house-made pasta. Diners can enjoy watching the action in the open kitchen.

The global menu offers dishes like Ohhmy Arepas for breakfast, a gluten-free dish of corn patties with house scramble, avocado and Venezuelan cilantro salsa. Cachitos, a sort of Venezuelan kolache, are also on the menu, along with house made croissants.

For dinner, there are pasta dishes like sweet purple agnolotti and ragu Bolognese, plus entrees like espresso rub tri-tip. Starters like the European plate of artisan cheeses and cured meats are meant for sharing.

click to enlarge Get an early start on Mardi Gras at Cajun Town Cafe. - PHOTO BY KATHARINE SHILCUTT
Get an early start on Mardi Gras at Cajun Town Cafe.
Photo by Katharine Shilcutt
Cajun Town Cafe, 2240 Navigation, opened November 16, making this the third location of the Cajun/Creole restaurant. The original is located on West Little York and the second is on Greens Road. The new spot is located at The Shops on Navigation and serves Louisiana specialties like crawfish etouffee, boudin and blackened fish. There are plenty of fried options like shrimp, alligator and frog legs, plus po-boys, all served with French fries. However, you can add sides like dirty rice, Cajun corn and coleslaw.

For those not into Cajun or Creole dishes, there are salads, burgers, and oddly enough, beef or chicken fajitas. Specialty sodas and a beer menu offer refreshing beverage options.

The gumbo at Cajun Town Cafe has gotten plenty of high marks from the Houston Press over the past few years, so we recommend you chase away the post-Christmas doldrums with a hot bowl of seafood heaven. If gumbo ain't yeaux thang, there's always the crawfish bisque. The Mardi Gras is just around the corner.

click to enlarge Chef Angelo Cuppone and owner Shanon Scott are bringing a taste of Rome to Houston. - PHOTO BY AL TORRES PHOTOGRAPHY
Chef Angelo Cuppone and owner Shanon Scott are bringing a taste of Rome to Houston.
Photo by Al Torres Photography
Sud Italia,2347 University, closed January 1 and is expected to reopen January 11 as a new concept called Roma. Owner Shanon Scott and wife Wende opened the upscale ristorante, with its Southern Italian cuisine, in 2015. The new restaurant promises to be more affordable with a focus on Roman trattoria dishes like the spaghetti trinity, carbonara, amatriciana and cacio e pepe, the latter of which will be prepared tableside.

Other Roman favorites like deep-dish pizza and saltimbocca will add to the more casual experience, with the new decor representing the couple's travels to Italy. The wine list will feature big reds like Barolo, Barbaresco and Brunello with some Chianti and Super Tuscan blends, as well.

Though the trattorias of Rome are the inspiration for the new restaurant, regional favorites like osso buco from Milan and seafood risottos popular in Venice will round out the menu.

click to enlarge Peli Peli Kitchen does Peri Peri chicken. - PHOTO BY THOMAS NGUYEN
Peli Peli Kitchen does Peri Peri chicken.
Photo by Thomas Nguyen
Peli Peli Kitchen, 9090 Katy Freeway and 101 N. Loop W.,  is revamping its menu, which will make its debut January 14. For peri peri fans looking for a sneak peek at the menu, PPK will be holding pop-ups around town, every Friday evening in January at Kirby Ice House, 3333 Eastside, starting January 4, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., with dishes like peri peri wings, chicken quarters and flat fries made with biltong seasoning. There will also be a pop-up at Glitter Karaoke, 2621 Milam, January 17,with one of Houston's top pastry chefs, Dory Fung.

Peli Peli Kitchen has a new chef, Ryan Stewart, from Johannesburg, whose family operates Mozambik, a chain that specializes in peri peri chicken and has 13 locations around South Africa. This will be the first menu in the Peli Peli  brand created by someone other than executive chef and partner, Paul Friedman.

Peli Peli Kitchen is the fast-casual offshoot of Peli Peli restaurant which has garnered major awards and rave reviews for its creative South African fusion cuisine. A press release stated that the new menu will focus on legitimate peri peri chicken and seafood. We will see what that means for the naan tacos or Huguenot pork belly that are popular faves on the current menu. 
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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.