Openings and Closings: The Pit Room is Bringing Tex-Mex to Montrose, Hopdoddy Heights

Tex-Mex is coming from The Pit Room.
Tex-Mex is coming from The Pit Room. Photo by Jack Opatrny

The Pit Room, is bringing Tex-Mex to 4306 Yoakum, replacing the former Cane Rosso, which closed December 30 and is just down the road from The Pit Room itself. Sambrooks Management, which also operates Star Fish, Sam's Fried Chicken and Donuts and Pi Pizza, will will integrate smoke and fire and fresh ingredients to deliver its spin on one of Houston's favorite cuisines.

The menu, which will contain favorites like fajitas and enchiladas, is being developed by Lyle Bento, Culinary Director for Sambrooks Management. Bento is the former owner at Southern Goods, which shuttered permanently after a fire last year. Bento also worked with Chris Shepherd's team at Underbelly Hospitality, so he knows meat.

The large patio at the former Cane Rosso was a huge draw for Montrose residents and their pups and Michael Sambrooks plans to use the huge outdoor area for the new restaurant. We'll let you know if doggies are still allowed.

click to enlarge Michael Sambrooks and Steve Breaker are bringing their spin on Tex-Mex. - PHOTO BY VICTORIA CHRISTENSEN
Michael Sambrooks and Steve Breaker are bringing their spin on Tex-Mex.
Photo by Victoria Christensen
Sambrooks said in a press release, " We have been wanting to do Tex-Mex "The Pit Room" way for sometime and could not be more excited to start down this path in the perfect space at 4306 Yoakum".

The name of the new concept has yet to be released but is expected to open in about six months.

click to enlarge There's more than beef at Hopdoddy. - PHOTO BY JANE BAUDOUIN
There's more than beef at Hopdoddy.
Photo by Jane Baudouin
Hopdoddy, 449 W. 19th, will open January 21. What began as a burger bar on South Congress in Austin in 2010 has now become a small chain across six states, with 18 locations in Texas. The newest restaurant at the Houston Heights Waterworks makes the sixth for the Houston area.

Hopdoddy offers counter ordering with table service to get the line going. The buns are made fresh, in-house while the Angus beef is hormone-free and humanely raised. Many of the craft beers are local and there are also specialty cocktails. Hand-cut Kennebec fries and hand-spun shakes create a happy burger experience. For non-beef eaters there are turkey, chicken and veggie options.

click to enlarge El Diablo for all you spicy little devils out there. - PHOTO BY JANE BAUDOUIN
El Diablo for all you spicy little devils out there.
Photo by Jane Baudouin
To keep in line with your New Year's budget, Hopdoddy does happy hour specials Monday through Friday, 3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., with $5 specials on select shareables, house wines, signature sips and also the Brewer of the Month drafts and the Brew Burger for the month.

Porto's Peri-Peri
, 2625 Town Center Boulevard, opened its first Houston location December 19 in Sugar Land. Based in Chicago, the restaurant serves Portuguese peri peri flame-grilled chicken, made with the African Bird's Eye Chili pepper that Portuguese sailors brought home with them from Africa.

The peri peri chicken can be ordered by the quarter, half, or whole. There's also a peri chicken burger and pita. Small bites like the potato chips with peri salt, cassava fries and falafel make delicious accompaniments.

The new restaurant was recently certified as fully Halal by the Halal Foods Standards Alliance of America.

click to enlarge We're pretty sure these weren't swimming in Caddo Lake. - PHOTO BY DANIEL VILLANUEVA
We're pretty sure these weren't swimming in Caddo Lake.
Photo by Daniel Villanueva
Flying Fish, 1815 North Durham, opened December 26 in the Heights area. Inspired by the East Texas fish joints around the Caddo Lake area, the seafood restaurant has an extensive menu featuring plenty of fried goodies like catfish, shrimp and oysters. There are also crab legs, po-boys and burgers.

There's a patio with picnic tables for outdoor dining and barstool seating at long tables indoors,with a few tables. The Liar's Wall features patrons who have submitted some of their "fish stories" to the company.

click to enlarge It's oyster slurpin' time! - PHOTO BY DANIEL VILLANUEVA
It's oyster slurpin' time!
Photo by Daniel Villanueva
The menu states that fried items are cooked in 100 percent peanut oil, which is a plus for some folks, but a warning to those with allergies.

There are eight location in Texas, plus two in Arkansas and one in Tennessee.

Big City Wings, 1522 Kingwood Drive, is slated to open mid-January. This will be the eighth location for the Houston wing restaurant, which has locations in Pearland, Spring and Humble, as well as the Big City. Kingwood residents have had to make the drive to the Atascocita location for their wing and beer fix, until now.

Besides wings, there are plenty of other munchies and entrees to knock you off your fad diet du jour. Loaded spuds, half-pound burgers and pulled pork nachos ease the sorrow of the recent Texans play-off loss as you cry in your beer. Blame your tears on the Firehouse wing sauce, if you must.

Bryant Up In Smoke BBQ, 10142 Jones in Linh Dao Plaza, is turning its barbecue food truck into a brick and mortar restaurant. Construction is still in the works for the mom and pop spot, but we are keeping our eagle eye on it, because people say its barbecue is heavenly. We are prepared to check it out.

Some dreams are temporary. - PHOTO BY SCOTT TRANWEAVER
Some dreams are temporary.
Photo by Scott Tranweaver
Dream Tacos TX, 3773 Richmond, closed over the holidays, but a Facebook post on January 6 states that the taco concept has shuttered for good after only six months. The restaurant opened in June 2018, after replacing an outpost of Jenni and Scott Tranweaver's popular Vietnamese restaurant, Jenni's Noodle House. While the three other locations are successful, the Greenway Plaza store just didn't get the same traffic and neither did Dream Tacos TX.

The Tranweavers are considering a new concept that can draw in the surrounding office employees, according to CultureMap Houston. That might mean a breakfast and lunch concept or reopening Jenni's Noodle House in the space.

click to enlarge Chris Shepherd stands by his Pitmaker smoker. - PHOTO BY CATCHLIGHT PHOTOGRAPHY
Chris Shepherd stands by his Pitmaker smoker.
Photo by Catchlight Photography
Southern Smoke's custom Pitmaker Smoker was stolen by a pair of idiots who made off with the iconic trailer after stealing it from Chris Shepherd's One-Fifth restaurant on January 7, as reported by the Houston Chronicle.

The trailer is used at Southern Smoke's charity events, which have helped to raise over a million dollars  combined for The National Multiple Sclerosis Society and Southern Smoke Emergency Relief Fund, which has given hundreds of thousands of dollars to hospitality employees devastated by Hurricane Harvey and also to the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund itself.

There is surveillance footage showing a late model red pick-up towing the trailer away and a black Ford Mustang as the possible look-out car.

To paraphrase Mr. T, "We pity the fools" once they are caught. We're not saying Houston chefs and pitmasters are like the Mafia. We're just saying, " Don't mess with the Family".

Fadi's Eatery, 1801 Binz, opened January 2. The Mediterranean restaurant group has four Fadi's Mediterranean Grill locations in the Houston area besides the new spot in the Museum District. The eatery caters to the employees and visitors to the nearby hospitals and offices, plus museum goers. For now, the hours are Wednesday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

The restaurant offers a salad bar with two different plate sizes for loading up on Mediterranean favorites like hummus, baba ganoush and tabouli. There are also wraps and gyros to choose from, along with entrees like sayadieh, a turmeric rice dish with baked fish.

click to enlarge The vegan burger at New Spot Eatery on a pretzel bun. - PHOTO BY SEAN SHAH
The vegan burger at New Spot Eatery on a pretzel bun.
Photo by Sean Shah
New Spot Eatery, 12103 Westheimer, has launched a new menu for the New Year. Dishes like the macaroni and cheese burger or the red lipstick waffles will keep comfort food fans comforted, but now, there are vegan options like the vegan burger with a grilled vegan patty, avocado, mushrooms and grilled onions or the vegan mushroom grits.

You can enjoy some of the new menu items along with live music and open mike on Thursday evenings from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. and it's kid-friendly, too. Check out its Facebook page for more information about the music and the kids eat free specials.

click to enlarge Chef Robert Graham is pairing great wines with great food. - PHOTO BY JULIE SOEFER
Chef Robert Graham is pairing great wines with great food.
Photo by Julie Soefer
Royal Sonesta Hotel, 2222 West South Loop, is offering a weekly wine and entree pairing at both its ARA Restaurant and Axis Lounge beginning February 4 and concluding April 21. Executive chef, Robert Graham and Director of Outlet Operations, Jeff Bowden, are introducing 11 new wines with the eleven-week event. Each week will feature one of Graham's entrees paired with a new wine. And here's the best part. The paired wine will be $5 a glass with the purchase of the featured entree. The pairings are available for lunch and dinner.

The first week's entree is crispy rock shrimp with scallions and sriracha aioli, paired with J Lohr Riverstone Chardonnay. Subsequent weeks will offer short ribs, filet mignon and braised Berkshire pork among other dishes. The final week, April 15-21, will be 44 Farms NY strip with heirloom tomato panzanella and chimichurri.

For diners not staying at the hotel, there is self-parking, which can be validated. Or you can treat yourself and bae to a room for the evening.

Sprouts, 13550 University Boulevard, will open January 16, for all you sweeties out in Sugar Land.

Roma, 2347 University, opens January 11. That's today. It opened for a soft lunch service, January 10. As we reported here in the Houston Press last week, owners Shanon and Wende Scott closed their much-lauded Sud Italia Ristorante on January 1 in order to reopen as Roma, a more casual trattoria. We will have more on the opening of Roma next week, along with yummy photos hopefully,  but we got a sneak peek at the new menus for lunch and dinner.

Expect starters like meatballs with mozzarella, basil and pecorino over marinara and a fritto misto of Gulf shrimp and calamari served with marinara and artichoke dips. For lunch, there will be pizza alla Romana, a Roman style pizza of the day and carafes of red, white or rose house wines go for $19.

Dinner service offers more fish options including pesce al forno, a whole fish of the day carved table side and zuppa de pesce, a traditional Roman seafood soup. For veal lovers, the saltimbocca alla romana,  with its veal scaloppine, prosciutto di Parma, sage in a white wine sauce with sauteed artichokes will jump in the mouth.
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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.