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Carbs and coffee start the day off right.EXPAND
Carbs and coffee start the day off right.
Photo courtesy of Carla Gomez

Openings and Closings: Kolache Shoppe Expands, Jack and Ginger's Opens, The Harp Closes

The Kolache Shoppe, 1301 Heights Boulevard, is expected to open in early December. This will be the second location for the kolache bakery. The original is located at 3945 Richmond in the Greenway Plaza area. It opened in 1970 and was owned by Erwin Arhens, until Randy Hines, who started visiting the shop in 2001 began a friendship and apprenticeship with Arhens, leading to Hines and his wife Lucy acquiring the business in 2014.

The couple has kept to the original recipe except for changing to butter instead of margarine. We all know that's a good thing. The new shop will be part of the Heights Central Station which will include various businesses, including a fifth location of Dish Society. The Heights location will also include a drive-thru, making the morning kolache run more convenient.

However, for those who want to relax and enjoy a leisurely meal or snack, the new space will feature gray and blue hued geometric patterns as a modern spin on Czechoslovakian art. The pastry case, designed by Cory Wagner of Heights-based, Dumptruck Design, will be the focus with its reclaimed wood, white clad steel and glass, showcasing the bounty of pastries like cinnamon rolls and the seasonal Drunken Texas Pecan kolache made with Blue Heron Farm's bourbon cajeta, a Mexican caramel sauce. 

Customers can choose a klobasniky for a savory and a sweet fruit kolache for a dessert. Accompanied by a cup of  Boomtown Coffee from the coffee bar or a cold glass of milk, it could be a meal.

A bowl of goodness at Coterie.EXPAND
A bowl of goodness at Coterie.
Photo courtesy of Coterie

Coterie: Coffee Wine and Cafe, 737 Preston, opened October 30 in the Market Square Tower. The breakfast, lunch and dinner cafe is on the first floor of the luxury apartment building, which also features the famous rooftop sky pool that even my pen pal in France knew about. The new spot comes from Sean William Marshall, owner of Southside Espresso on Westheimer and Chaz Lusk. Chris Wesley, formerly of Oxheart, will serve as chef, according to CultureMap Houston. Michelle Dinh, formerly of Dish Society, will take on the duty of bar manager.

Coterie is open to the public as well as Market Square Tower residents.EXPAND
Coterie is open to the public as well as Market Square Tower residents.
Photo courtesy of Coterie

The 25-foot ceilings give a sense of space to the small restaurant, which features a glass walk-in wine tower. The menu is limited during its soft opening, but breakfast options include its version of eggs Benedict over chive biscuits and a potato hash served with mushrooms and Brussels sprouts. Dinner options lean toward the Italian side with pizzas and pasta, plus a Wagyu burger. And for brunch, there's fried chicken and French toast. It's about time. Why should waffles get all the love?

There are scones, cinnamon rolls and kolaches for office workers on the go. The coffee is from Fusion Beans, which is also used at Southside Espresso. There's also a full bar, craft beer and wine.

Chicken Salad Chick, 21630 Kuykendahl,  will have its grand opening festivities November 14 through 17. If you love chicken salad, this is the place for you. Stacy Brown, a stay at home mom, created a cottage business making chicken salad out of her home. With its growing demand, she and her husband decided to open a carry-out only restaurant which now is a chain of 95 restaurants across ten states with five more planned by the end of the year.

The different flavored salads come by the scoop or sandwich. For the more traditional flavors, there's the Fancy Nancy with Fuji apples, pecans and grapes. Add some pineapple and you have the Fruity Fran. If you must have dried cranberries in your chicken salad, there's the Cranberry Kelli. And for those who can never get enough buffalo sauce-flavored everything, the Buffalo Barclay is the way to go.

The menu also offers sandwiches, soups and pimento cheese. The buttercream frosted flower cookies are a must.

The cheddar waffle BLT is served with waffle fries.EXPAND
The cheddar waffle BLT is served with waffle fries.
Photo courtesy of Jack and Ginger's

Jack + Ginger's, 2416 Brazos, opened in Midtown, November 14. The opening was originally planned for October 25. Now, the Irish pub has opened, ready to serve up some craic to the Bayou City by way of the Emerald Isle.

The original Jack and Ginger's opened in Austin in 2015 and comes from Union Venture Group owned by Jeff and Darren Van Delden. Jeff Van Delden said in a press release, "Jack and Ginger's is as much a place to come for people as it is to come for a pint."

The pub will serve traditional Irish fare like Guinness-battered fish and chips and there's even a special Bangers on Hump Day with ten sausage on bun choices or diners can opt for Banger However You Like (blush) which lets you build-your-own for five bucks.

The new location will also have some menu items geared toward Houston taste buds including an avocado hummus and an Irish-style burger with Irish cheddar and crispy smashed potatoes. There will be more than 80 beers on tap, lots of whiskey and craft cocktails. Happy Hour is Monday through Friday, 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.

The Sunday Irish Brunch, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. will feature an Irish coffee bar, perfect for this chilly weather and a bloody Mary bar, for when the temps rise unexpectedly.

The Harp, 1625 Richmond, is closing yet again for updating and re-branding, according to the Houston Chronicle. Irish native Declan Plunkett opened The Harp in 1999 and as we reported here in the Houston Press, sold it to Ted Baker, owner of Revelry and Bobcat Teddy's Ice House, last year.

There are plans to reopen the pub as another Irish concept in January. There will be updates to the patio and the restrooms and some tweaking of the beer and cocktail offerings.

Have some cake with your pancakes.EXPAND
Have some cake with your pancakes.
Photo courtesy of New Spot Eatery

New Spot Eatery, 12102 Westheimer, opened November 3. The hip and kid-friendly restaurant serves burgers, wraps and salads plus breakfast and brunch dishes. Sinful items like the Red Lipstick pancakes are red velvet pancakes with a piece of cake on top. You read that right. Pancakes with cake-cake. There are omelets and scrambled eggs for breakfast, plus a surprisingly varied menu of grits.

New Spot is THE spot for delicious burgers.EXPAND
New Spot is THE spot for delicious burgers.
Photo courtesy of New Spot Eatery

The burgers range from the classic AIG (America is Already Great) to the Saigon Pig, which is beef, Vietnamese fried pork, aioli, mint sauce and Swiss cheese. These are the burgers to make your Instagram followers jealous.

There are also coffee drinks, freakshakes, and craft beers. The decor is cute and fun and the restaurant offers several different options like farm table seating or smaller tables with comfortable chairs.

The restaurant has live music occasionally. Check out its Facebook page for buy one, get one free specials.

Mango Tango Ice Cream, 12218 Suite B Jones Road, opened October 17. A mix of ice cream and snack shop, customers can go for a banana split, Frito Pie, flan or chicharron. They have a snack called dorilocos- Doritos with pickled pork skin, bean and jalapenos. Apparently, it's all the rage in Mexico, though it sounds like something your stoner college roommate would concoct. If you're going to dive in to the deep end of junk food, there's plenty of options which include Hot Cheetos as well.

For wiser folks, there are fresh fruit slushies.

Fajitas and fixin's at Fajita Pete's.EXPAND
Fajitas and fixin's at Fajita Pete's.
Photo courtesy of Fajita Pete's

Fajita Pete's, 2611 FM1463, opened November 10 in Katy. This most recent franchise from the Houston-based chain comes from Ft. Bend Fajitas,LLC who have expanded their agreement with the company to open three new locations, including the newest store in Katy. Noble Restaurant Group, which operates a location in Pearland will open four more, including one at 2600 Travis in Midtown in January 2019.

The restaurant chain uses 100 percent certified Angus beef for its steak fajitas and freshly prepped sides like pico de gallo, guacamole and hand-rolled flour and corn tortillas from scratch.

Fajitas and margaritas
Fajitas and margaritas
Photo courtesy of Fajita Pete's

The fajita restaurants offer dine-in, but much of the company's business comes from delivery and catering. There are now ten locations across Texas with six more planned for the first part of next year.

There are enchiladas, quesadillas and chicken platters in addition to fajitas. Some locations offer margaritas to go.

The G and T at Miss Carousel.EXPAND
The G and T at Miss Carousel.
Photo by Julie Soefer Photography

Miss Carousel, opened November 10, the third of Agricole Hospitality's concept trio, which also includes Vinny's, a pizza place that opened November 4 and Indianola which opened November 6.

Named for the Townes Van Zandt song, "Miss Carousel", the cocktail lounge offers an eclectic mix of comfortable seating from leather chairs to upholstered sofas to vintage style basket chairs. The cocktail program from Morgan Weber will include hand-crafted originals, old-fashioned favorites and some zero-proof cocktails for non-drinkers or designated drivers so that they aren't stuck with just sodas or juices.

Crispy duck wings are a tasty and spicy snack at Miss Carousel.EXPAND
Crispy duck wings are a tasty and spicy snack at Miss Carousel.
Photo by Julie Soefer Photography

The food menu will be small and cocktail friendly with choices like crispy duck wings or carrot and beet tartare.

Olive Garden, 6955 N. Grand Parkway West, will open November 19, with a ribbon-cutting at 10 a.m. Wade Jones, a veteran of the restaurant industry for forty years,  has worked with Olive Garden for 22 years, helping to open 15 restaurants nationwide.

While some foodies may disparage the Italian-American chain as inauthentic and bland, its parking lots on the weekends are jam-packed with people who love those freaking breadsticks and the rest of the food as well.

Dunkin', with locations all over Houston, is launching its new espresso line with free samples November 16 and 17. On Friday, participating locations will give out samples of its caramel-flavored iced latte from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., while supplies last. On Saturday, it's white chocolate-flavored iced latte.

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