Restaurant News

Openings and Closings: Bernie's Burger Bus Rolls Into the Heights

Bernie's Burger Bus has more than  just burgers.
Bernie's Burger Bus has more than just burgers. Courtesy of Bernie's Burger Bus

Bernie’s Burger Bus is welcoming its third location at 2200 Yale in the Heights with a grand opening celebration slated for July 31, from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. At 11 a.m., the restaurant will give away “The Principal” burgers for free to the first 100 guests, limit two per table. If that’s not enough to tempt you to play hooky on Monday, there will also be a “Cut Class” happy hour all day on cocktails, boozy milkshakes, beer and wine, and giveaways of Bernie’s Burger Bus swag.

The original school bus will feature a new customized grill top mirroring the one on the original food truck (bus) and will be housed in the 3,300-square-foot space.There will be a cocktail area aptly named “The Teacher’s Lounge” and a pet-friendly patio, in case you’re in charge of the class hamster this week.

An expanded happy hour, exclusive to the Heights restaurant, runs from 3 to 7 p.m. seven days a week with $5 frozen drinks, $1-off boozy shakes, $4 drafts and $5 wines. We repeat, seven days a week.

Bernie’s Burger Bus makes its burgers with a blend of Black Angus chuck and brisket, ground in-house. It offers a vegetarian housemade falafel patty and a popular kids menu including homemade lemonade and, of course, non-boozy milk shakes.

The doughnut sliders are gut busters. - COURTESY OF TONY MANDOLA'S GULF COAST KITCHEN
The doughnut sliders are gut busters.
courtesy of Tony Mandola's Gulf Coast Kitchen

Put on your stretchy pants: Tony Mandola’s Gulf Coast Kitchen, 1212 Waugh, is serving a new brunch menu from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sundays. Executive chef, Juan Arellano, said in a press release, “This menu was fun to create,” and the offerings look pretty fun to us too: There are twists on eggs Benedict, or “Benis,” including a carnitas version with confit pork butt, pickled red onions and poached eggs on an English muffin, along with doughnut breakfast sliders, fried chicken and waffles, and a great bargain— the $5 buttermilk biscuits with
sausage gravy.

Spend another fiver on a Cajun Bloody Mary and you could have a happy Sunday morning for a ten-spot.
Bottomless mimosas and peach blinis will set you back $11.

For those who like to do breakfast all week, The Toasted Yolk had a soft opening at its third location at 6705 Grand Parkway on July 19. This new location in Spring will be the first to have a full bar, according to Facebook. The other stores serve beer and wine only.

The signature dish is the Toasted Yolk which consists of two slices of sourdough bread with an egg in the middle of each, cooked to order. They also have Eggs Arnold, instead of Benedict, a play perhaps on the infamous traitor’s name. Lunch is also served, and we’ve been tipped that the chicken salad is not to be missed. Open daily, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

To the northeast of Houston, Tosca Americana Italian Kitchen just released a new menu on July 25, according to HKA Texas. The popular Humble restaurant is located at 18321 West Lake Houston Parkway and will have new pastas such as orrechiette con salsicce (that’s “sausage” for the non-Italians) and new entrees including prosciutto-wrapped filet mignon with gorgonzola.

Community Impact reported that a new Vietnamese restaurant, CT Bahn Mi, opened at 9522 Huffmeister in Cypress in late June The menu consists of Vietnamese sandwiches, egg rolls, fried rice, milk teas, tapioca smoothies and other favorites. The official website describes the eatery as “Fresh and Healthy Executive Meals at a Student’s Price.” We aren’t sure exactly what that means, but for those in the area, a new budget-friendly dining option is always welcome.

courtesy of R&R Crafthouse Grill
Another new addition to the Cypress area is the long awaited R&R Crafthouse Grill, 12910 Malcomson, which opened in early July in the Kilburn’s Tavern space, a former cozy pub with devoted regulars who have been grieving over the loss of their local bar. The R&R Crafthouse Grill has a simple burger and sandwich menu with pub favorites including fish and chips and a few entree salads. Its Bubba Burger has been described on Yelp as “Frito Pie on a burger,” certain to please native Texans.

Besides craft and local beers, the restaurant also offers craft sodas and a kids menu, making it more family-friendly than the previous occupant. The large patio will be a great spot to relax once the dog days of summer have faded and Houstonians can once again venture out of the super-blast air-conditioning.

While summer still has us in her sweaty grip, there are businesses looking to help us beat the heat. Three Brothers Bakery has a new beverage line-up with frappes, including the Thunderdome— cold-brewed coffee, a double shot of espresso, and vanilla syrup blended with milk— along with lemonade sodas and house-made teas to quench your near-constant thirst.

For those who require thirst-quenching of a different kind, The General Public, 797 Sorella, has introduced its summer Happy “Hourly” on weekdays until Labor Day (Sept.1) with drink prices that are staggered according to the hour: Every drink on the menu will be $4 from 4 to 5 p.m. $5 from 5 to 6 p.m. and $6 from 6 to 7 p.m. The sooner you arrive, the cheaper you drink.
click to enlarge The grand opening at MidiCi includes free Margherita pizzas. - COURTEST OF MIDICI
The grand opening at MidiCi includes free Margherita pizzas.
courtest of MidiCi

MidiCi-The Neaopolitan Pizza Co. is opening a new Houston location soon at 2925 Richmond Avenue. The upscale pizza chain uses real wood-burning ovens that heat up to nearly 1,000 degrees to cook the Neapolitan-style pizzas in 90 seconds, with a slightly charred crust.

The grand opening weekend will take place Friday and Saturday, August 11-12, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., and Sunday, August 13, from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Each guest will receive a free Margherita pizza (one per customer, dine-in only) and additional toppings are $1 each.

MidiCi’s menu has a number of salads and appetizers as well as vegan and gluten-free options. There are gourmet coffees and teas, beer and wine, and desserts such as the Nutella calzone, but the Prisoner’s Pizza with ricotta hidden in the crust is the dish on our to-eat list.

El Tiempo Cantina is planning to open a new store in the Clear Lake/Webster area before Christmas 2017 at 20235 Gulf Freeway.

click to enlarge It's National Panini Month. - COURTESY OF D'AMICO'S ITALIAN MARKET
It's National Panini Month.
courtesy of D'Amico's Italian Market
In honor of National Panini Month (who knew?), D’Amico’s Italian Market, 5510 Morningside in Rice Village, is having a BYOP ( Build Your Own Panini) menu, starting at $8.99, during the entire month of August.

And in honor of National Oyster Day (guess they don’t get a whole month), all four locations of Liberty Kitchen are offering $1 Gulf oysters and $2 seasonal East Coast oysters on the half shell, from open to close on August 5, or opt for three grilled oysters with garlic-butter and parmesan for $5.

click to enlarge Liberty Kitchen has you covered on National Oyster Day. - PHOTO COURTESY OF POP RATIO
Liberty Kitchen has you covered on National Oyster Day.
photo courtesy of Pop Ratio
For home cooks in search of restaurant quality supplies, Ace Mart Restaurant Supply has opened its fifth Houston area store at 12151 Katy Freeway, near Dairy Ashford. Ace Mart has been family-owned since 1975 and is open to the public with no membership required.

Meanwhile in Rice Village, Savory Spice has just reopened at 2516 Times with an international variety of fresh-ground spices, hand-crafted seasonings and a multitude of specialty items including barbecue sauce, hot sauce, packaged demi-glazes, and even gift boxes. Now open Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

According to Facebook, the BonFire Grill at 425 W. Main in Tomball, has closed temporarily for construction of a new patio and other amenities. The owners say they are streamlining their lunch menu and hope to reopen in a couple of weeks. BonFire Grill opened in December of last year to good reviews, and is an American style restaurant with a wood-burning oven for pizzas, set in a renovated 1940s gas station.

Home of huge, colorful macaron ice cream sandwiches and more Instagram fodder, Stacked Ice Cream, now has a second location in Sugar Land. According to Eater Houston, the newest location had its grand opening on July 22. Stacked Ice Cream’s first location opened in Katy in November of last year with interesting flavors including jasmine milk tea and the very blue Cookie Monster.

There will be a special groundbreaking ceremony, August 2, for the new Houston location of the popular Dallas restaurant, The Rustic, 1836 Polk (next to the Toyota Center). Texas country artist and co-owner, Pat Green, will break ground with partners Kyle Noonan and Josh Sepkowitz on the planned 25,000-square-foot restaurant, which will have a large patio and retractable roof and will offer farm-fresh, homestyle dishes and 40 beers on tap, most of them Texas brews. There are also plans for a location in San Antonio as well.

Thomas Nguyen of PeliPeli (and a sometime contributor to the Houston Press) announced that the restaurant has signed a lease for the Mary Barden Keegan Center, 2445 North Freeway, better known to Houstonians as the End Hunger building, to serve as a commissary and catering kitchen, helping to reduce food costs and food prep labor. 

The PeliPeli brand has seen a lot of growth in the past year with its fast casual concepts PeliPeli Kitchen and Peli Deli opening in town, along with plans for its first restaurant outside of Houston, in Austin, and a potential product launch of South African inspired sauces and seasonings.

courtesy of The Virgata Property Company

That’s it for this week’s Openings & Closings. Hit the comments and let us know if we missed something in your neighborhood.

Now, here’s a review of the Openings and Closings that were reported in July.

Reported as open or plans to open:

85C Bakery Cafe, 9750 Bellaire - July 7, 2017
Big Paulie’s Pizzeria, 6420 FM 1463, Suite 100 - July 7, 2017
Blonde Biscotti, 1000 West Gray - late June 2017
Bombshells Restaurant and Bar, 14191 Northwest Freeway - July 17, 2017
Braman Brewery/Running Walker Beer, 3421 FM 359, Suite B - July 1, 2017
East End Hardware, 3005 Leeland - early July 2017
El Bolillo Bakery, 517 West Southmore, Pasadena - July 19, 2017
ENDless Bakery, 8312 Louetta - coming soon
Fire Ant Brewery, 308 Market - coming fall 2017
Five Guys,14303 East Sam Houston - coming soon
Fu Manchung, 3416 FM 2920, Suite 210- August 1, 2017
Golden Bagels and Coffee, 3119 White Oak - coming soon
The Halal Guys, 11700 Westheimer - July 14, 2017
Hard Rock Cafe, IAH, 3100 Terminal - mid July 2017
In-N-Out Burger, 8373 Westheimer - coming soon
Marco’s Pizza, 8350 Fry - July 23, 2017
Mustard Seed Kitchen 214 West Main, Tomball - June 20, 2017
Pappas BBQ, Pasadena, 2336 Oleander - coming soon
PeliPeli, 23501 Cinco Ranch, Suite R140 - mid July 2017
Pepper Twins, 3915 Kirby - July 7, 2017
Pho Hoa & Jazen Tea, 13280 Northwest Freeway - July 14, 2017
Schlotzsky’s, 18230 Highway 59 - July 13, 2017
Slim Chickens, 9850 Louetta - coming soon
South Bank Seafood Bar, 702 West Dallas - June 30, 2017
Whataburger, 8390 Fry- July 25, 2017

Reported as closed or plans to close:

Beaver’s, 2310 Decatur - closed temporarily summer 2017
Cajun Outlaws Bayou Grill, 11650 Jones - July 2017
Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse, 5061 Westheimer - closed temporarily
Kan’s Sushi and Steakhouse, 8021 Research Forest - July 2017
Laurenzo’s Bar and Grill, 1910 Bagby- June 29, 2017

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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.