Restaurant News

Openings and Closings: Jun Debuts in the Heights, Bosscat Opens in The Woodlands

Henry Lu and Evelyn Garcia celebrate JUN in February.
Henry Lu and Evelyn Garcia celebrate JUN in February. Photo by JIA Media
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.
click to enlarge
The staff at Jun are like kinfolk.
Photo by JIA Media
Lu  was raised in New York City, helping out in his family's Chinese restaurant in the Bronx before earning his stripes in NYC restaurants such as Pearl and Ash and Llama Inn, before becoming the executive chef for Four Men Hospitality. He made his way to Houston in 2020 during the COVID pandemic, soon partnering with Garcia for their catering company By Kin HTX. The pair kept themselves busy doing pop-ups and a number of food events around town like Chefs for Farmers and the James Beard Taste  America Culinary Series.
click to enlarge
Gin Design Group puts its unique stamp on another new Houston restaurant.
Photo by Claudia Casbarian/Julie Soefer Photography
The menu at the new restaurant is influenced by both chefs' culinary points of view. Describing their concept as New Asian American, the chefs have created a slim menu of dishes such as Lamb Curry with pickled daikon and pistachio and  Fried Chicken with shrimp paste, ginger, Thai chili and herbs. A whole fish entree makes use of guajillo pepper, onion and charred lime while a vegetarian dish of cauliflower with kombo coconut, soubise and mint oil mixes sweet and savory flavors. Garcia's expertise with aguachile shows up in a Gulf shrimp version with avocado, taro and chile oil.

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.
click to enlarge
The interior at Bosscat Woodlands invites guests to lounge and linger.
Photo by Dylan McEwan
Bosscat Kitchen & Libations, 9595 Six Pines, opened February 9. It's the second Houston-area location for the California-founded brand from Daily Dose Hospitality, co-owned by Leslie Nguyen, chief designer, and CEO John Reed.
click to enlarge
This is our kind of library.
Photo by Dylan McEwan
Located at the intersection of Market Street and Six Pines Drive, the new Bosscat has 5,000 square feet of space along with a spacious covered patio looking out onto Market Street. Designed by Nguyen and Jeffrey Abel of Abel Design Group, the glamorous interior offers a clubby whiskey library and a champagne wall, offering guests a visual feast along with its menu of upscale comfort food. The food menu offers dishes such as Pork Belly Poutine, 12-hour Beef Short Ribs and Carolina Barbecue Salmon.
click to enlarge
As if French toast wasn't sweet enough, this one adds Fruity Pebbles.
Photo by Kirsten Gilliam
As with its other three locations, one in Houston and two in California, the Woodlands restaurant will also feature the Whiskey Room, a private dining space housing hundreds of whiskeys from around the world.

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.

The new year is a busy one for Christine Ha.
Photo by Julie Soefer
The Blind Goat, 8145 Long Point, is shooting to open at the end of February, if everything stays on track, according to owner Chef Christine Ha. The James Beard Award nominee for Best Chef 2022 and 2023 told the Houston Press that the restaurant is currently having its meter installed and the exact date for opening is still to be determined. On Twitter this week, the restaurant announced that it is currently seeking staff, primarily talented line cooks.

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.
click to enlarge
MARCH has a caviar service.
Photo by Zach Horst

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.
click to enlarge
The Loup de Mer is a vegetarian take on chicken avgolemeno.
Photo by Zach Horst
The Spring 2023 season will explore Greece from land and sea with a culinary team led by Chef/Partner Felipe Riccio and Culinary Director Amber Burling, aided by Marigold Club Chef/ Partner Austin Waiter. Guests will find some familiar Greek flavors but, as with most of MARCH's vision, a deeper dive is taken into the diversity of the ingredients and the various cultures that have influenced the cuisine.
click to enlarge
The bread service is part of the 9-course menu or can be ordered a la carte in the lounge.
Photo by Zach Horst
Guests begin their tasting adventure in The Lounge with crispy kataifi filled with shrimp, dill and orange, topped with Kaluga caviar, accompanied by Halloumi with grape and fresh cheese. Yes, there's souvlaki but MARCH's version is made with grilled A-5 Wagyu served with lemon potatoes and nepitella yogurt. Nepitella is a type of calamint often used in Tuscan cooking. The restaurant offers either a 6 or 9-course option. Whichever one chooses, there will be a strong presence of olive oil, central to Greek cuisine. There is also a vegetarian tasting menu.

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.
click to enlarge
The El Diablo Burger has roasted habaneros and serrano peppers.
Photo by Hopdoddy

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.
click to enlarge
Frosty cocktails can be sipped on Hopdoddy's outdoor patio.
Photo by Hopdoddy
The burger concept was founded in Austin, Texas in 2010 and its menu offers ethically-raised meats and mindfully-sourced ingredients. Some of its protein items include burgers made with Certified Piedmontese Beef or Force of Nature Bison that is grass-fed in a regenerative environment. There's also sandwiches with cage-free chicken from Red Bird Farms. For vegans and vegetarians, there are Beyond Meat options or its vegetarian black bean and corn patty. There is also a dedicated gluten-free menu.

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.
Burger Bodega owner Abbas Dhanani and Donkeeboy slurp shakes for a cause.
Photo by Jordan Smith/Shine Management Company
Burger Bodega, 4520 Washington, is hosting a launch for its collaborative shirt and shake fundraiser with Houston artist Donkeeboy (Alex Roman Jr.) February 11 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The artist will be live painting the Burger Bodega truck along with the Young Art Pros, a group of art students who also worked with Donkeeboy to create the New York street art mural inside of Burger Bodega.

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. 
KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
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.