Trattoria Sofia, 911 W. 11th, opens its doors November 26 for both lunch and dinner service. Originally, it was planned for November 19 but a gas line issue has delayed the opening. CenterPoint will not be able to replace the pipe until next week.
In a press release regarding the delay, owner Benjamin Berg said, "If it weren't for a LARGE electric and natural gas utility company that I won't name, we would have been open six months ago! We truly apologize for any inconvenience and we are obviously doing everything in our power to open our doors and start serving guests as soon as possible."
Guests can expect authentic Italian dishes, many with a Sicilian influence. Polpo Arrosto is a starter of wood-fired octopus with a Sicilan pesto. Pasta offerings include Cacio e Pepe, Bucatini alla Siciliano and Casarecce all Norma, a plate of fried eggplant in a spicy tomato sauce topped with ricotta salata and breadcrumbs. There are also several pizzas plus secondi, or mains, such as Pollo alla Parmigiana and Pesce Spada alla Sicilaina, a dish of pan-seared East Coast swordfish with olives, capers, red onions, pine nuts and lemon.
Cocktails also get an Italian touch with the Amaro Colada made with rum, Amaro Montenegro, coconut creme, pineapple juice and lime or the Tuscan Pipe, a drink with Rooibos Tea-infused whiskey. Laphrooiag 10 Scotch, honey and black pepper. Berg has recruited local mixologist and Julep owner, Alba Heurta, to serve as beverage consultant for Berg Hospitality, which will be opening two more restaurants in the next year.
Berg has also enlisted master bread baker Magnus Hansson to consult on the menu along with executive chef LJ Wiley.
As for the two new restaurants, they will open in spring 2022 at Autry Park, a 14-acre mixed-use development from Houston-based Hanover Company, in partnership with Lion Investments. Annabelle's will be an American brasserie serving breakfast, lunch and dinner with views of Buffalo Bayou. The second restaurant, Turner's Cut, will be a high-end steakhouse with a luxurious interior, serving rare cuts of meat from Japan and the Americas. Local architecture firm, Isaac Preminger, will design both concepts.
J-Bar-M Barbecue, 2201 Leeland, opened for lunch November 11. Taking its place in East Downtown, the new barbecue restaurant from owner and founder John Toomey has pitmaster Willow Villareal at the helm along with fiancée and chef de cuisine, Jasmine Barela. This isn't the couple's first rodeo, barbecue-wise. Villareal earned a following with his food truck Willow's Texas BBQ, including a write-up in Texas Monthly in 2018. Unfortunately, it closed the same year. This also isn't Toomey's first barbecue venture. He owned The Green Room in the 1970s, across from the Alley Theatre.
Now, Villareal and Barela get a much larger venue in which to showcase their smoked meats and tasty sides. And the equipment with which Villareal gets to work his pitboss magic is pretty tremendous. The pit room at J-Bar-M has four 1,000 gallon offset steel barrel smokers hand-built by Moberg Smokers out of Dripping Springs, Texas. There's also two direct-heat whole-hog smokers along with Houston's only coal preparation fireplace.
The restaurant is only open for lunch currently but things are progressing in phases. Dinner service is expected to commence after Thanksgiving with an expanded menu to include entrees like steak, chicken and prime rib. Live music will be introduced in the future. For now, guests can enjoy views of Houston's downtown skyline from the large outdoor patio as they enjoy a barbecue lunch.
Biderman's Deli, 110 Vintage Park Boulevard and 2031 Westcreek, are supposed to both open in November, according to the deli's website. However, we have reached out for more information and have yet to receive a response regarding the actual opening dates.
The first Biderman's Deli opened in 2016 in Austin. Founded by Zach Biderman, the Jewish-inspired concept is credited as a tribute to his grandparents, both Holocaust survivors who immigrated to Texas after World War II. They eventually opened a dry goods store where Biderman spent much of his time with his Nana and Papa.
The deli restaurant is open for breakfast and lunch serving bagel sandwiches and breakfast bagels plus classic sandwiches like pastrami, French dip and Philly cheesesteak. The Jewish Italian is a sandwich made with beef salami, corned beef, bologna, swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, mayo, mustard and vinaigrette served on sourdough.
There are also salads, matzo ball soup, potato latkes and breakfast tacos.
Some of the biggest news surrounding the new hotel is the fact that Justin Yu and Bobby Heugel, two of Houston's most celebrated hospitality professionals will lead the restaurant and bar program as food and beverage partners. Yu is a James Beard Award-winning chef and owner of Theodore Rex, Better Luck tomorrow and Squable, his collaboration with co-owner Heugel, best known for his Anvil Bar & Refuge which elevated the cocktail scene in Houston when it opened in 2009. This is the first concept within a hotel for the duo.
There will be a grand opening November 26 for those who would prefer a Sweet Friday over the chaos of Black Friday. In celebration, the shop will be offering Buy One-Get One Free scoops.
Leaf & Grain, 5525 Weslayan, opened in August but owner Deets Hoffman said he wasn't ready to announce the opening until the buildout was at a place where he felt comfortable and all the open items on the construction were closed out. This is the third location for the healthy-eating restaurant which first opened downtown four years ago. The new buildout upgraded the space by brightening it with a lot of natural light and a patio. Owner Deets Hoffman says there are plans to host pop-ups with other local businesses in the future as well as serving beer and wine in 2022. Currently, the restaurant serves tea and coffee with breakfast coming soon.
Its salads and grain bowls helped it to earn Best Healthy Restaurant in the Houston Chronicle's Best of the Best 2021.
The California-based sandwich and salad concept was founded by married couple Mario del Pero and Ellen Chen in 2003. The first restaurant opened in downtown Los Angeles in 2005. Its use of fresh, quality ingredients led to a booming expansion across California before making its way to Texas, the only other state thus far to be in its portfolio. There are two locations in the Dallas area and three here in Houston. The Heights location will make number four with another planned for Two Allen Center in spring 2022.
The new location will be better for dining in with a much larger space, seating 120 persons.
Teotihuacan Mexican Cafe, 3307 Irvington Boulevard, opened October 4. This is the fourth location for the Mexican restaurant which has had another location on Irvington for years plus its Airline and West Belfort spots. The menu is not yet online for the new location but we were told that it will be the same as the other restaurants including its happy hour specials Monday through Wednesday all day and Thursday and Friday till 6 p.m.
The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner serving fajitas, carne asada, tacos, quesadillas, seafood and a variety of enchiladas from mole to seafood to the popular La Tona Spinach Enchiladas.