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Local Group Brewing goes beyond gastropub fare.EXPAND
Local Group Brewing goes beyond gastropub fare.
Photo by Carla Gomez

Openings and Closings: Eighteen36 Debuts, Local Group Brewing Opens Soon

Local Group Brewing, 1504 Chapman, is set to open softly February 28 with a full food menu and abbreviated beer menu. A grand opening will follow within a few weeks. The 7,500 square foot brewpub comes from veteran brewer James "Huggy Bear" Wolfe, Michael Steeves and Todd Donewar. The trio has brought in Jeff Samoska, most recently of The Post Oak Hotel, as executive chef. With sous chef Pablo Varas at his side, Samoska's menu will be a refined take on American comfort food with fresh ingredients and locally sourced products.

More brews is good news.EXPAND
More brews is good news.
Photo by Carla Gomez

Menu items include a crispy chicken sandwich, a Texas Angus beef burger with house-made brioche buns and duck confit poutine with black pepper gravy. Expect a selection of Texas cheeses and house-cured charcuterie for the cheese and meat platter to pair with the assortment of house beers. The team has tested 131 beers to reach the four that will be available for its debut, increasing to eight brews for the grand opening, with more experimentation in the future. Beer aficionados can expect a stout, a New England Imperial IPA, an American sparkling ale and a German-style Hefeweizen to head the list.  For non-beer drinkers, there will be locally sourced ciders, sodas and Texas wines. The brewpub will also feature a nitro system for cold brew coffee which should be available by the grand opening.

There will be a bike rack and a pet-friendly patio with an order window. The brewhouse will also cater to families with high chairs and toy stations. AnnMarie Cantu will serve as Front-of-House Manager.

Eighteen36 offers an awesome patio.EXPAND
Eighteen36 offers an awesome patio.
Photo by Claire Coggins

Eighteen36 and Roadster Grill, 2221 W. Alabama, opened softly January 23 with a grand opening celebration February 7. Eighteen36 is located in a two-story house that has been remodeled to retain its charm. Owners Jason Scheinthal and Jake Stein have teamed up with Nick Semoudaris to bring back his former Roadster Grill, which closed its Bellaire brick and mortar in 2017. Now, Semoudaris will be serving his classic Greek and American food from the second story kitchen of the establishment.

Nick Semoudaris returns with the Roadster Grill.
Nick Semoudaris returns with the Roadster Grill.
Photo by Trish Badger

Previously occupied by Owl Bar, the new bar will offer comfortable booths, traditional bar seating and a newly-built outdoor patio. The patio is enclosed by walls adorned with murals from local artists that represent the Houston and Texas theme. Eighteen36 is named for the year Houston was founded. It also has an outdoor fireplace and there will be live music occasionally.

Guests of all ages are allowed until 4 p.m. for lunch. Afterward, the bar becomes 21 and up and there will be a special evening menu. There is a drive-thru window for take-out and delivery service through Uber and Postmates for the Roadster Grill.

Alma, 3974 Westheimer, opened late January 2020.  Owner David Guerrero closed his famed Andes Cafe January 5, as we reported here in the Houston Press. Now, a couple weeks later, Guerrero is back in action with Alma, serving South American cuisine with some hints of Asian inspiration.

A look at the menu online shows a variety of small and large plates, plus an abbreviated raw bar. On the raw side, there are oysters and ceviche. There are starters like Ajiaco, a Colombian Cornish hen soup, and chicharrones for sharing. Larger plates include a pork shoulder sandwich and Duck Canneloni.

The cocktail and bar programs are overseen by Chris Morris (Hunky Dory and MAD) and Rob Lares (FM Kitchen & Bar) with a decently-sized wine list and creative cocktails like the Pisco Sour made with Alma pisco blend, lime juice and gomme syrup (a simple syrup made with gum arabic) or the MosQuito Swizzle, which has more ingredients than we can list.

That's amore.EXPAND
That's amore.
Photo by Julia Keim

Home Slice Pizza, 3701 Travis, is slated to open in 2021 in Midtown. This will be the first location for the Austin-based pizza restaurant which was founded in 2005 by husband and wife duo Jen and Joseph Strickland and friend Terri Hannifin Buis. Currently, it operates a dine-in and take out spot on the North Loop and two locations on South Congress.

Openings and Closings: Eighteen36 Debuts, Local Group Brewing Opens Soon (4)
Photo by Kirsten Kaiser

Fittingly, it will be adjacent to The Continental Club, another Austin-based transplant. The pizza is New York-style pie served whole or by the slice. It also offers a Sicilian-style pizza as well. There are salads, calzones and antipasti, too. Diners can customize their own pizzas or go for the Tried and True Pies, which don't allow for substitutions because, well, they're tried and true. Options include the Eggplant Pie, described as eggplant parm on a pie (Are ya kiddin' me? I'm droolin' ovahere). There's also the White Clam Pizza which its menu claims has street cred in Naples and New Haven. I've had the white clam pizza at Pepe's on Wooster Street, so I am eager to compare.

Drake's Burgers & Shakes will be the end cap at The Centre at Greenwood.EXPAND
Drake's Burgers & Shakes will be the end cap at The Centre at Greenwood.
Photo by Stephen Stone

Drake's Burgers & Shakes, 6560 Greatwood Parkway, is shooting to open in the second quarter of 2020 at The Centre at Greenwood. Proprietor Kevin Rios, who also operates Veritas Steaks & Seafood in Sugar Land, has dreamed of opening a burger restaurant and this is the year that dream comes true.

Rios has signed a lease with KM Realty Management LLC for the spot which was previously two businesses, Gojira Japanese Fusion and Twisted Blends Espresso Bar and Cafe. The two spaces have been combined to create a 2,989 square foot home for the new burger joint.

The restaurant will offer gourmet burgers, tacos and sandwiches along with beer, wine and six variety of shakes. While there will be the traditional chocolate, vanilla and strawberry flavors, there will also be Nutella Pretzel and Salted Caramel Apple Pie.

There will also be an arcade for the kids or the kids at heart.

Houston, it's time to boil.EXPAND
Houston, it's time to boil.
Photo by Lone Star Seafood

It crawfish season, mes cheres, and Houston has some new spots to get your mudbug fix. Whether you like it Viet or Cajun, it's all good.

Lone Star Seafood, 10990 Fuqua, had its grand opening January 25 offering crawfish and beer specials. The seafod restaurant offers plenty of fried dishes, but its boils will really get your blood pumping. You can go all crawfish or shrimp or you can try the Texas Slam with crawfish, shrimp, and snow crab legs tossed in the restaurant's signature Star Sauce. When we asked for details about the special sauce, we were told it's a "savory garlic-butter with a tangy herbal twist". If that doesn't butter your cornbread, you can have the traditional boil instead.

Shrimp Fried Rice is always nice.
Shrimp Fried Rice is always nice.
Photo by Lone Star Seafood

The restaurant offers other Louisiana soul food like fried okra, boudin, gumbo and its special turkey necks. The Shrimp Fried Rice is also popular. The restaurant just debuted its fresh fish case, so guests can select a whole fish and have it prepared by the kitchen.

Who's your crawdaddy?
Who's your crawdaddy?
Photo by Bao Tran

Geaux Cajun Seafood, 13018 Woodforest, opened early January 2020.  It serves Viet-Cajun fare such as the Viet-Cajun crawfish boil and its popular seller, The Geaux Box which is a tasty mound of ten large, blackened shrimp sauteed in garlic butter atop shrimp and crawfish Cajun rice. It's served with a side of Geaux sauce, described by owner Bao Tran as a Cajun citrus butter sauce. Add this one to your sauce crawl as you search for your favorite boil mix.

Fusion is fantastic.EXPAND
Fusion is fantastic.
Photo by Bao Tran

Tran came to Houston from New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. He thinks Vietnamese-Cajun fusion works so well due to the French influences on both cultures' cuisines. That fusion shows up in the restaurant's menu which offers egg rolls, gumbo, etouffee and po-boys along with the seafood boils. There are weekday lunch specials from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

NJ Pho & Seafood, 10209 Veterans Memorial, opened the first week of February. It has crawfish boil for $7.99 per pound, pho, fried seafood plates, vermicelli, rice dishes and Vietnamese wings. It also serves beverages like  cafe sua da and Thai tea.

Cereal tops the smoothies at On Da House.EXPAND
Cereal tops the smoothies at On Da House.
Photo by Kristian Guntalilib

On Da House, 9405 S. Texas 6, opened December 28. The Filipino bubble tea spot serves boba, tapioca, juices and smoothies. It has a large Houston mural featuring an astronaut floating with a boba tea. The atmosphere is meant to be fun with Karaoke, open mike nights and video game tournaments, on occasion. It also offers cereal smoothies made with childhood favorites like Cap'N Crunch, Reese's and Fruity Pebbles. The family-owned shop plans to start serving snacks in the upcoming weeks.

Openings and Closings: Eighteen36 Debuts, Local Group Brewing Opens Soon (9)EXPAND
Photo by Ashlee Huff

Pressed Juicery, 714 Yale and 2437 University Boulevard, are expected to open April 2020. The company sites its facilities near its growers in order to get the juices made as quickly as possible in keeping with its farm to fridge mission. It offers a variety of healthy beverages including milk alternatives like oat and almond milk, juices and wellness shots, lemonades, premium waters and Cleanse and Fast bundles.

The company just launched free same-day delivery service which is available all over Houston and extends to Pearland, Sugar Land, Kingwood, Spring, Cypress and Pasadena. It is also offering a 15 percent discount if you order from its website and use the code: HOUSTON.

Bombshells 59 has room for all of your friends.
Bombshells 59 has room for all of your friends.
Photo by Travis Reese

Bombshells, 6888 Southwest Freeway, opened January 30. This makes the eighth and final location in the three-year-plan for the Greater Houston area. The military-themed sports bar and restaurant is meant to resemble an aircraft hangar with military memorabilia and waitresses outfitted to suggest the pin-up girls of WWII and the Korean War.

The Bombshells 59 location also features a giant 15.75 foot 4K LED video wall for watching the big games, free Wi-Fi , charging stations and more than 00 televisions. The atmosphere is meant for hanging out with friends and family while enjoying its full bars and extensive food menu. As in crazy extensive. It runs the gamut from wings, pizza and ribs to sandwiches, salads and seafood. There's also a 2,400 square foot patio.

Black Bear Diner, 8821 Metropark, opened the first week of February in Shenandoah. The California-based chain was founded in 1995 and has been steadily expanding eastward the past few years. The Woodlands location makes the 6th in the Greater Houston area, if you include Humble, Sugar Land, League City and Katy in the equation.

The diner is known for its bear-themed decor and good-sized portions of American diner favorites like omelets, scrambles, pancakes, burgers and sandwiches. It serves breakfast and lunch all day and has a dinner menu that includes some seafood and steaks.

Gauchos Do Sul, 405 Westheimer, is planned for mid to late March 2020. The churrascaria restaurant will be in a third story space at Westheimer and Drexel in Highland Village. This will be the second location for the Cypress-based Brazilian steakhouse. The original is located in Vintage Park.

It features Radizio-style service, offering beef, chicken, pork and lamb plus a gourmet salad spread. There will be a cocktail lounge, wine room and private dining rooms.

A new Raising Cane's, 7009 Gulf Freeway, is planned for March 24. It is now hiring for the location. Interested applicants can get more information at raisingcanesjobs.com.

This will make the 161st restaurant for the chicken fingers chain in Texas and the 502nd system wide.

Relish is going for brunch.
Relish is going for brunch.
Photo by Julie Soefer

Relish Restaurant & Bar, 2810 Westheimer, is now open for Sunday brunch service from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The classic American cafe discontinued its weekday breakfast to focus on Saturday brunch, but realized guests were also interested in a Sunday brunch as well.

Executive chef Dustin Teague has created a  brunch menu which includes avocado toast,  a smoked salmon bagel with cream cheese, and Belgian waffles with crispy chicken thighs. There are breakfast tacos, too.

There's a special Brunch Punch made with Bulleit Bourbon, guavaberry liqueur, pineapple, lemon and chamomile syrup or brunchers can enjoy a traditional Bloody Mary made with homemade mix and served with pickled green beans. Happy hour pricing is available all day Sunday with half-price cocktails and $8 select wines by the glass. To entice patrons to linger, the restaurant has evolved its counter service to allow ticket orders to be left open for additional bites and beverages.

See the world at Traveler's Table.
See the world at Traveler's Table.
Photo by Kirsten Gilliam

Traveler's Table, 520 Westheimer, is now open for lunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. It also has a new Happy Hour from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday. Diners can enjoy plenty of new options such a vegan Roti Canal with chickpea-vegetable dal curry, vegan Shiitake Edamame Dumplings, and Peking-style Duck Gyoza to start. There are four flatbread offerings plus Mexican Street Corn Soup, Bucatini all' Amatriciana and Korean Short Rib Rice Bowl.

Happy Hour includes $8 cocktails with clever names such as Beach,Please!, Thai Me Up and The Year of Living Dangerously. Happy hour select wines are $6 by the glass along with $4 local drafts and an international array of bottled beers. There will also be bar bites ranging from $6 to $10.

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