Restaurant News

Openings and Closings: Little's Oyster Bar Opens, Th Prsrv Kemah Debuts

Oysters are the name of the game at Little's.
Oysters are the name of the game at Little's. Photo by Arturo Olmos

Little's Oyster Bar
, 3001 S. Shepherd, opened May 17 in the spot that previously housed Little Pappas Seafood House for over three decades. Still owned and operated by Pappas Restaurants, the building has received a major overhaul, created by the in-house design team and led by Design Director Evy Pappas. Indoors, there is space for more than 80 guests while the outdoor patio can accommodate an extra 50. The outside seating is all-weather thanks to a retractable roof. Chef Jason Ryczek leads the culinary team at Little's and his framed sketches of the new dishes line the walls near the entrance.
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Little's Oyster Bar has a Gulf Coast aesthetic.
Photo by Arturo Olmos
Ryczek, a California native, has worked closely with the research and development (R&D) team at Pappas to create a menu of raw bar favorites such as oysters, Gulf shrimp, Maine lobster and jumbo lump blue crab along with larger seafood dishes such as Lobster Gnocchi, Charcoal Grilled Octopus and Chicken Fried Snapper. Ryczek's longtime experience with California Caviar Company will mean a stellar caviar service including California white sturgeon Ryczek personally harvested for the restaurant.

Gulf fish, such as snapper, grouper and tile, is sourced using Pappas' own boats with sustainability an important focus of the restaurant's seafood program.
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The Garibaldi Spritz is a summer refreshment alongside charcoal-grilled octopus.
Photo by Arturo Olmos
The wine program at Little's is just as important with Robert Smith, Pappas Restaurants Fine Spirits and Expanding Concepts Wine Director, curating a list of mineral-laden varietals that pair well with the seafood-focused menu. Bar Manager Oliver Brooks has developed a cocktail program that draws on aperitivo spirits for light, bright drinks.

For now, the restaurant is open for evening service.
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Th Prsrv promises to be an immersive culinary experience.
Photo by David Skinner/Th Prsrv
Th Prsrv, 709 Harris, opened May 4 in Kemah, Texas. The collaborative concept will showcase indigenous cuisine by utilizing ancient techniques with a modern presentation. The stars behind the new restaurant are Chef David Skinner, owner of eculent, and Chef Benchawan Jabthong Painter, who, along with her husband Graham Painter, own and operate the much-lauded Thai restaurant, Street to Kitchen.

Skinner is a Choctaw native who grew up in Oklahoma. From an early age he learned about growing and preserving food from his grandmother, Mimi. She encouraged his passion for cooking with gifts such as a Sabatier chef's knife and the two volume set of Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking". He learned to embrace his Native American ancestry while also discovering different cultures and cuisines. He opened his first restaurant as a teenager in his grandmother's gourmet food store. He then opened Christopher's on Washington while in college. Though he left professional cooking behind for for a couple of decades, he traveled and explored the world while building a consulting firm.

In 2014, he opened eculent, an immersive, avant-garde restaurant that has received much praise from food writers around the country including The Washington Post's Tom Sietsema in a 2019 article.  Th Prsrv, or The Preserve as it is pronounced, will be located in the same building as eculent.
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Chef Benchawan Jabthong Painter has plenty to smile about.
Photo by Raul Margarito Casares
Chef Benchawan, or Chef G as she is called, grew up learning the culinary trade from her grandmother as well, in another part of the world. She began cooking in her grandmother's restaurant in Nakhon Sawan, a city in Northern Thailand known as the Heavenly City. That led to gigs at a number of Bangkok restaurants and pastry shops. She met her husband, Graham Painter, and moved with him to Houston five years later. That move led to stints at Justin Yu's Theodore Rex and Saltair Seafood Kitchen.

In 2020, the married duo launched Street to Kitchen. The success of her "no apologies" approach to authentic (and spicy) Thai cooking has not only earned loyal customers but also a number of awards and critical acclaim. Currently, Chef Benchawan is one of five finalists for the James Beard Award 2023: Best Chef Texas.
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Seasonal ingredients are an important part of the tasting menu.
Photo by David Skinner/Th Prsrv
Both chefs will explore their indigenous culinary heritage with the menu while incorporating the progressive ideas of contemporary cuisine. A statement from the chefs in a press release said, "From the pre-colonial era to the present, food has been largely dominated by European techniques and approach, leaving lots of native wisdom by the wayside. Ours is a journey of exploration, but also the reverse colonization of food."

Th Prsrv is reservation only. Good luck.
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The cocktails at Ojo de Agua transport guests to a tropical world.
Photo by Jennifer Hasbun
Ojo de Agua, 4444 Westheimer, opened May 17. Based in Mexico City, the casual healthy dining concept has 40 locations across the Mexican capital. After opening its first U.S. location in Miami in 2021, it has now entered the Houston market with its second.

The Tulum-inspired interior offers 3,200 square feet of lush space with greenery and native succulents amid a tropical-chic atmosphere. Beachy electronic music and brightly colored wicker chairs add to the laid-back yet energetic vibe. There is room for 110 guests inside with an additional 30 seats across the patio and terrace.
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The abstract mockingbird adds a colorful pop.
Photo by Alex Montoya
Local graffiti artist Daniel Anguilu has created a commissioned mural of a mockingbird to complement the juice bar and natural foliage. The fact that the mockingbird is the State Bird of Texas adds a touch of the Lone Star State to the space.
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Pick your chilaquiles of choice.
Photo by Jennifer Hasbun
Besides an extensive juice bar with smoothies and fresh, nutritional super juices, there is a menu of vibrant dishes such as its signature Acai Bowl, Chilaquiles Rojos or Verdes and a Chutney Mango Chicken Sandwich. The Pesto Bowl can be served with either parmesan-crusted salmon or tuna. There's also Ribeye Tacos with chimichurri or Lobster Tacos marinated in curry paste.

The cocktails at Ojo de Agua are wine-based and fruity including the Dragon Fruit Margarita and Lavender Martini. There are also beer drinks such as Michelada.
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Meduza Mediterrania is a new concept for Noble 33.
Rendering by Monochrome Designs
Noble 33 will debut two of its restaurant concepts, Toca Madera and Meduza Mediterrania at The Pavilion at The Allen over the next year. The lifestyle hospitality company is led by entrepreneurs Tosh Berman and Mikey Tanha with a number of concepts in the United States and abroad. Noble 33 operates brands Toca Madera, Casa Madera and Sparrow Italia in various cities such as Las Vegas, Toronto and London.

Toca Madera, 1755 Allen Parkway, is expected to open fall 2023. The modern Mexican steakhouse has locations in Toronto, Scottsdale, Las Vegas and Los Angeles. The Houston restaurant, located on the ground floor of The Pavilion, will seat 393 guests in over 11,000 square feet of space. It will offer multiple outdoor dining patios, a lounge, a speakeasy and a private dining room.

While the Houston menu may vary from the other locations, guests can expect starters such as Truffle Quesadilla and A5 Wagyu Tacos and a raw bar with items like Sashimi Mexicano. There are pricey steaks beginning in the $50 range all the way up to its signature 40-ounce Tomahawak + Bone Marrow for $325.

It also has an extensive wine and cocktail bible plus a Mexican twist on omakase with dishes such as Chicken al Pastor and Mayan Prawns.
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The rooftop terrace will be a respite from the city's hectic pace.
Rendering by Monochrome Designs
Meduza Mediterrania, 1755 Allen Parkway, is shooting to open in early 2024. It's a new concept for Noble 33 with locations planned not only for Houston but also New York City in late 2023. Its cuisine takes inspiration from the eastern Mediterranean. It will be located on the top floor of The Pavilion spanning 9, 732 square feet with room for 289 guests. A stunning rooftop dining patio will offer sweeping views of Houston.

PINCHO Burgers + Kebabs, 8828 Barker Cypress, opens June 23. The Miami-based burger and kebab restaurant has 10 locations across South Florida. The new Cypress store, the first in Texas, will be the one of six planned for the Houston area.

Pinchos are Spanish kebabs, inspired by Moorish cuisine and a popular dish in Puerto Rico. At PINCHO, guests will find steak, chicken and shrimp versions. However, much of the brand's popularity stems from its 100 percent fresh beef burgers. The PINCHO Burger gets topped with with American cheese, LTO, potato sticks and its signature and secret PINCHO sauce. Other burgers include Pipo's Choice with smoked gouda and applewood-smoked bacon and the Toston Burger which uses fried plantains as the buns. There are chicken sandwiches, kebab plates, salads and a kids menu, too.

The restaurant will host a special VIP night June 22 with giveaways and free merchandise.
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Courtney Colvin and Keena Dickerson help give away prizes for Raising Cane's Rodeo in New Caney.
Photo by Lynn Pennington
Raising Cane's, 109 Eagles Run, opened May 16 at the Valley Ranch Shopping Center in New Caney. To celebrate the opening of its 51st Houston area restaurant, the company hosted its first-ever  "Raising Cane's Rodeo" with carnival games, giveaways and live music.

Loyal fans of Raising Cane's have been named 'Caniacs' for their devotion to the chicken tender brand. Ryan Pruitt, Regional Leader of Restaurants for the company, said in a press release, " We are excited to open our fifty-first restaurant in the Houston market and celebrate with our New Caney-acs!"

The new location has a drive-thru, indoor seating and a large outdoor patio.
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Waygood Coffee has a way fun design.
Photo by Andrew Hemingway/Visual Ritual
Waygood Coffee, 2175 Old Max Court, celebrated its grand opening with $2 drinks May13 and free drinks for moms May 14. The Pearland coffee shop, owned by brothers Auri Jalili and Tamoor Jalili, has a variety of signature drinks such as the James Brown or Vietnamese Latte along with a lavender and honey beverage, Bees Knees. The Frozen White Walker is made with white chocolate truffle. All the flavors and syrups are natural.

There are matcha drinks, a selection of ice teas and plant-based energy drinks such as the Purple Rain or the cherry lychee-flavored Bayou Blast. The shop also partners with local businesses for food products including breakfast tacos from Tina's Mexican Cocina and baked goods from Kraftsmen Baking Co.

The design of the funky new coffee shop was led by Houston design firm Very Handsome Studio with a vibrant color scheme from Shelbi Nicole Design. The vibrant murals and graphics wrap around the building creating a quirky and fun hangout for coffee lovers.
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Andrew Geisel and Justin Giuffrida are becoming Citizens of Montrose.
Photo by Becca Wright
Citizens of Montrose, 907 Westheimer, is slated to open in early June across from the Montrose Collective. Citizens, the all-day Australian-inspired cafe, was founded in New York City in 2016 by native Aussies Justin Giuffrida and Andrew Geisel. The two best friends wanted to bring a taste of Australian cafe culture to the U.S. while still reflecting the neighborhoods in which they opened. The premiere Chelsea neighborhood cafe was followed by locations in Soho and Gramercy. The Montrose cafe will be the first for the brand outside NYC.

The seasonal menu features both healthy and hearty breakfast options including its house-made Banana Bread French Toast with miso butterscotch and its Cast Iron Chorizo Baked Eggs. The BBQ Pulled Pork Benny is served on its signature Cheddar Biscuit. The breakfast-focused menu is served all day but there are lunch options as well like the Smashed Double Brisket Burger and Fried Chicken Sandwich with yuzo aioli.

Of course, there is the Australian staple, flat white, plus a number of house coffee blends and nitro cold brews.

Thai Way 6, 8574 Highway 6 N., opened in early May. Its name is a playful twist on its location along Highway 6 and it serves Thai street food. Some of its most popular dishes are its Thai Catfish (bone-in), Beef Salad and chef's specials like the Tiger Cry.

The menu is extensive and offers traditional starters such as tom kha and tom yum soups, fried chicken wings, finger shrimp and chicken satay. There is also a wide selection of salads, curries, noodles and fried rice. Entree options include charcoal pork, pad eggplant, Thai basil chicken and grilled marinated chicken.

The Wacked Out Weiner
, 4730 Louetta, opened late April. The brand was founded in Foley, Alabama in 2016 and serves Nathan's All Beef Hot Dogs on steamed buns. The weenies can be ordered singly or as combo meals. The single-serve dogs come with two toppings while the combo dogs offer unlimited toppings.

The choices for toppings include homemade chili, shredded cheese, jalapenos, hot chow chow, bbq baked beans and even mac and cheese. More basic dressings like ketchup, spicy mustard, sauerkraut and mayo are available as well. Sides include Loaded Nachos and Frito Pie.

The brand's slogan is " I got my weiner wacked at The Wacked Out Weiner". There is plenty of merch with that motto for those so inclined to publicize the fact.
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Goode Co. Fish Camp has a new seasonal menu with Gulf Fish Zarandeado.
Photo by Caroline Fontenot

Goode Co. Fish Camp, 8865 Six Pines, launched its new seasonal menu May 15. Guests can expect new dishes such as Deviled Gulf Crab on the half shell, Gulf Seafood Skewers, chilled seafood towers and Whole Gulf Fish Zarandeado. The restaurant is also bringing back its Goode Bird fried chicken.

With summer just around the corner, there are new refreshing cocktails like its version of a Singapore Sling and Espresso Martini. 
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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.