Restaurant News

Houston Getting Two More Tacos y Tequila Joints

Fresh off the news from earlier this week that El Gran Malo is opening a second location downtown comes word that Pistolero's -- the restaurant replacing Nabi on Lower Westheimer -- celebrated its grand opening last night. Owner Shawn Bermudez is best known for his other Montrose-based projects such as Boondocks, Royal Oak and food truck Koagie Hots, but Pistolero's marks his first full-scale restaurant.

Or is it?

"It's a tequila and taco bar," Bermudez told Darla Guillen at CultureMap. But, he clarified, "there's constantly food here, and I think that's going to help us have that balance."

Eater Houston has a first look inside the remodeled space which, true to its name, features a portrait of a pistolero above the bar. If the "'Mexican pop-art' aesthetic" described by Eater Houston editor Eric Sandler looks a little familiar, it's because it plays to the same design sensibilities as El Gran Malo -- albeit with more polish and pizzazz.

El Gran Malo, meanwhile, is expanding on its successful "gastrocantina" concept and moving into big-boy territory. The restaurant will be moving into the old Cabo's space on Travis, although it won't be entirely new ground for owners Steve Sharma, Shaun Sharma and Lea McKinney. They also run the wildly popular, equally dive-casual Dirt Bar on Caroline -- a bar that's usually filled up with rockers and their fans post-concert, whether from nearby Toyota Center or the House of Blues across the street.

The two-story Cabo's space represents an increase of five times the square footage of the original El Gran Malo on Ella, a cozy two-room cantina with a plant-covered patio. This doesn't seem to worry Steve Sharma in the least, as he confirmed to Eater Houston that the second location of El Gran Malo "will be open relatively quickly."

In addition to its menu of modernized tacos and infused tequilas (which make some of the best margaritas you've ever tasted), the grown-up El Gran Malo will also serve lunch -- the original location is dinner-only -- and a few new menu items.

El Gran Malo won't be the only new restaurant offering lunch service above ground downtown. Tunnel denizens will also be happy to hear that noodle-and-wings shop Goro & Gun -- just around the corner -- started serving lunch this week. No more waiting until 4 p.m. for your ramen fix (although you may still want to wait on the super-strong cocktails).

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Katharine Shilcutt