JUN, 420 E. 20th, opened February 7. The new restaurant comes from two talented chefs, Houstonian Evelyn Garcia and native New Yorker Henry Lu. The duo each bring unique experiences to the concept, the first brick and mortar restaurant for both young chefs. For now, the restaurant is open for dinner only.
Garcia's star was already on the rise when she was chosen to be a contestant on Bravo's Top Chef. She made it to the finals and Houston held its breath as she came very close to winning the top spot. However, she was edged out by a worthy opponent, Buddha Lo. Still, her blend of Mexican and South Asian flavors made a huge impression on the judges.
The cocktail menu is equally eclectic with creations like The Pink Drink, made with nigori sake, elderflower, lychee, dragonfruit and coconut creme. JUN's Michelada gets an Asian kick from fish sauce and hoisin while the Thai One On has refreshing flavors such as Thai basil, ginger and cucumber tonic blended with junmai sake.
Bosscat will be open daily for lunch and dinner with a weekend brunch that is known for its fun Fruity Pebbles French Toast, Short Rib Chilaquiles and Loco Moco. Happy hour runs Monday through Friday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. with a menu of $6 bar bites plus select beers, wines and wells for $6.
Xalisko Cocina Mexicana, 1335 Lake Woodlands, will open February 11 in The Woodlands. The new restaurant is helmed by chef and co-founder Beatriz Martines. The menu reflects Martines' homeland of Jalisco, Mexico, thus the restaurant's name, Xalisko.
She was born and raised in Guadalajara before coming to the United States in 2000 at the young age of 18. She began her culinary journey working in school cafeterias for Cy-Fair ISD. At the same time, she started her own catering business on the weekends supplying taquizas (taco parties) with traditional flavors such as carne asada and trompo al pastor.
Martines enrolled in the Culinary School at the Art Institute of Houston in 2011, graduating with honors in 2013. She added a baking and pastry degree in 2014. While working toward that degree, she earned an apprenticeship with El Celler de Can Roca, a Michelin three-starred restaurant in Girona, Spain run by the Roca brothers. (The Rocas also own Rocambolesc Gelateria here in Houston). That experience led to her returning to Houston to work with H Town Restaurant Group as the culinary director, helping James Beard Award-winning chef Hugo Ortega with recipe development, staff training and more. She was eventually promoted to Corporate Chef at H Town and served in that role until 2022.
Now, she is opening her first family-owned restaurant with a menu that pays tribute the influential culinary heroes in her life, her mother and aunts. Guests can begin with antojitos, or snacks, like Panela Asada al Horno, a starter of baked, spice-rubbed panela cheese served with a charred tomatillo sauce and house-made corn tortillas. We're especially tempted by the Sopes de Birria, three masa cakes topped with beef birria. Oysters, ceviche and a shrimp tamal are highlights of the Antojitos Playeros menu. There's also a carnivore-friendly menu of ribeye, lamb shank, trompito al pastor and pork belly dishes plus pan-seared seafood items and two very different mole dishes.
Influenced by Martines' pastry experience, the postres menu offers tantalizing treats such as Churros Gordos stuffed with cajeta, a white chocolate guava cheesecake and an eggnog tres leches with cranberry compote, vanilla cream cheese whipped cream and orange zest. There's also a brunch menu with items with a selection of savory "muffins" on sourdough and a whimsically-named dish called Shaken Octopus tacos.
Ha, known as The Blind Chef due to her vision impairment, was the champion on Fox's Master Chef Season 3. She originally opened her concept, The Blind Goat, at Bravery Chef Hall in 2019. The Vietnamese gastropub was nominated for a James Beard Award in 2020 as Best New Restaurant in America despite being located in a food hall. That same year, Ha and her husband, John Suh, opened Xin Chao with chef and partner Tony Nguyen. Both Ha and Nguyen were James Beard Award finalists in 2022 for Best Chef: Texas. This year, the culinary partners are semi-finalists for the JBA Outstanding Chef.
Ha says that The Blind Goat Spring Branch will initially open for dinner only and will add lunch service in the coming months, eventually opening to 7 days a week.
MARCH, 1624 Westheimer, reopened February 8 with a new menu inspired by Greece. The tasting restaurant, which explores the many cuisines of the Mediterranean, closed for a month to make the transition from its most recent incarnation, the Balearic Islands of Corsica, Sardinia, Malta and Cyprus. It's the fifth seasonal switch for the restaurant similar to Chris Shepherd's One Fifth concept.
The sommelier team at MARCH has curated a list wines to go with the tastings, many of them Greek varietals made with native and indigenous grapes. Bar Manager Chad Matson has created a cocktail menu that draws upon Greek ingredients, with special attention made to seasonal changes in the availability of different herbs, flowers and produce.
Hopdoddy Burger Bar, 9945 Barker Cypress, opens February 20 at The Boardwalk at Towne Lake shopping center. The celebration begins at 11 a.m. with the first 100 people in line receiving a free burger. The new Cypress location will have 3,400 square feet of space with an indoor-outdoor bar and a spacious patio, allowing guests to enjoy the weekend free concerts. Parents can also keep an eye on their progeny as they play in the children's area at The Boardwalk.
Chicken Kitchen, 3011 W. Grand Parkway and 10505 Grand Parkway have both closed. We received a tip from a reader that the Richmond location looked shuttered and the Katy store was listed as closed online. We confirmed with an employee of the remaining location that the two Grand Parkway restaurants have closed, leaving one open location at 2516 Rice Boulevard for the Houston area. The other Chicken Kitchen locations are in Florida.
The healthy chicken concept is known for its Chop Chop Bowls, wraps and salads.
The collaborative effort will raise funds for the victims of the recent devastating earthquakes in Syria and Turkey. Guests can purchase the horchata-flavored shake and the limited t-shirt for $40 from February 11 through February 19.