Lunch

Openings and Closings: Los Tios Number Five, 77 Degrees This Spring

Enchiladas, a puffy queso, margaritas and a siesta make for a perfect day.
Enchiladas, a puffy queso, margaritas and a siesta make for a perfect day. Photo by Leah Wilson
Los Tios, 5161 San Felipe, is expected to open in the former Ciao Bello space this spring. The Tanglewood location will be the fifth and largest Los Tios in the Houston area coming in at 6,000 square feet. Adair Concepts, owned by siblings Katie Adair Barnhart and Nick Adair, operates four other Los Tios restaurants, plus three Skeeter's Mesquite Grills, which was founded in 1988 by their father, Gary Adair.

In a press release, patriarch and owner Gary Adair said, “I had my first meal at Los Tios in 1975 with my mother and father. It was beyond comprehension at the time that I would be lucky enough to one day own Los Tios and even further beyond my imagination that I would one day be opening a flagship Los Tios with my own children."

click to enlarge The Adair family is opening a grande Los Tios. - PHOTO BY LEAH WILSON
The Adair family is opening a grande Los Tios.
Photo by Leah Wilson
Los Tios first opened in 1970 and many give it credit for bringing the first margaritas to Houston in 1975. Classic favorites like puffy queso, combo platters and pralines will be available, but new offerings reflect the expansive restaurant with an expanded menu of seafood and grill options, plus a weekend brunch.

The redesign of the space will be done by Aaron Rambo, who most recently oversaw the remodel of Hotel Amparo in San Miguel de Allende. Inspired by classic Mexican haciendas, the interior will feature vibrant colors and terracotta tile. There will be a large patio for chip dipping and rita sipping al fresco.


Adair Concepts' most recent venture, Betsy's at Evelyn's Park, opened this past fall. There is another concept in the works for the Wells Fargo Plaza downtown set to debut in fall 2019.

click to enlarge It's five o'clock and 77 degrees somewhere. - PHOTO BY GET ME FRIENDS
It's five o'clock and 77 degrees somewhere.
Photo by Get Me Friends
77 Degrees, 2416 Brazos, is slated to open early March on the rooftop of Jack and Ginger's. Both concepts are from Union Venture Group, a hospitality business founded by brothers Jeff and Darren Van Delden nearly 20 years ago in Austin, where the original Jack and Ginger's pub and 77 Degrees are located.

The laid-back vibe of 77 Degrees will be evident in the four levels of cabana-style seating and Caribbean-inspired tapas and cocktails. The spectacular view of the Houston skyline will remind guests where they are. A glimpse at the menu shows red snapper ceviche with plantain chips and Guacamole 77, made with avocado, diced mango, lime and pomegranate seeds.

click to enlarge 77 Degrees has delicious Caribbean-style tapas on the roof. - PHOTO BY GET ME FRIENDS
77 Degrees has delicious Caribbean-style tapas on the roof.
Photo by Get Me Friends
Expect refreshing cocktails such as Norman's Cay made with Bacardi Coconut, Bacardi Mango Fusion, Bacardi Pineapple Fusion and coconut water. That's a lot of fusing going on.

click to enlarge Jack and Ginger's will have a rooftop friend next month. - PHOTO BY LORRETTA RUGGIERO
Jack and Ginger's will have a rooftop friend next month.
Photo by Lorretta Ruggiero
Meanwhile, its bottom half, Jack and Ginger's, will be hosting its first annual Saint Patrick's Day party on March 17 starting at 10 a.m. and ending at 2 a.m., with live music beginning at noon. There will be DJs and local bands like The Slags and Big Richard. There will also be a cover charge for all the fun.

click to enlarge Create-Your-Own katsu. - PHOTO BY LORRETTA RUGGIERO
Create-Your-Own katsu.
Photo by Lorretta Ruggiero

Katsu Bar and Noodle, 15556 Cutten, opened January 22. The build-your-own katsu and noodle concept comes from California and has taken over the space that was once the Poke Bar and Vertskebap, two other build-your-own restaurants.

Diners choose their protein (chicken, pork, beef, fish or shrimp) and the katsu is then fried to order. The noodle bar offers hot or cold udon and, oddly enough, spaghetti Bolognese or Alfredo. Curry rice and onion rings make for a diverse menu, as well.

The beverage options include milk teas, fruit teas, slushes and smoothies, plus boba.

Kokoro, 409 Travis, is a new Japanese sushi concept from former Uchi chefs Patrick Pham and Daniel Lee. They are expected to open their sushi counter at Bravery Chef Hall, when it finally opens. The much anticipated and long-awaited chef-driven food hall and dining destination has a possible opening curtain of late February to early March, according to Eater Houston.

We're waiting.

Izakaya WA, 2015 West Gray, softly opened January 11, with a grand opening January 18. The new River Oaks restaurant is the second location for the Japanese tapas-style restaurant. There are shareables like tako wasabi, a dish of spicy marinated raw octopus, and panko fried oysters. The skewered meats can be ordered fried or grilled and make a perfect pairing with the selection of Japanese beer and sake on offer.

Lunch specials run Tuesday through Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. with sushi combos and teishoku, which consists of a small dish, miso soup and rice.

True Texas Boil House
, 10100 Beechnut opened January 25. The seafood restaurant is attached to an H-E-B grocery store. You can grab a crab or shrimp boil to take home after shopping or dine-in with some fried shrimp or catfish.The boil house is open Friday through Monday.

click to enlarge Brighten up your day with Tex-Mex at Maria Rita's. - PHOTO BY ALEX SALAZAR
Brighten up your day with Tex-Mex at Maria Rita's.
Photo by Alex Salazar
Maria Rita's Tex-Mex, 8445 Gulf Freeway, opened January 31. Alex and Ramon Salazar are business partners and brothers, so this is a family business. The duo are native Houstonians and graduates of the University of Houston.

The Tex-Mex restaurant has the usual favorites like fajitas and enchiladas, but things get colorful here with the red-shelled Diablo tacos and the ultra-blue Shark Bite cocktail. Margarita fans can even add a Jarritos soft drink to their margarita for more color (and sugar).

click to enlarge You can be El Romantico if you take La Princesa to Maria Rita's. - PHOTO BY ALEX SALAZAR
You can be El Romantico if you take La Princesa to Maria Rita's.
Photo by Alex Salazar
Starters like queso con chorizo (in a puffy, fried tortilla bowl!) and enders like churros stuffed with sweet cajeta round out the menu. Cajeta is a sweet specialty, similar to dulce de leche, from Celaya in the Guanajuato region of Mexico.

The restaurant serves both red and green salsa, which makes everyone happy. To be even happier, try Maria Rita's happy hour, which runs Monday through Friday from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. That will tempt you to the south side of town.

Poke Fresh, 507 Dallas, opened five weeks ago in downtown Houston. The decor is contemporary and clean at this new eatery, with comfortable, white upholstered chairs and bar stools set around single and communal tables, with banquettes along the wall.

It offers create-your-own poke bowls and sushi burritos, plus ramen if you don't want to poke. The desserts might tempt you to extend your lunch hour, or you can take one to go. Just don't put it in the office fridge. You know how Sharon is, the little thief.

The laddie rode off into the sunset. - PHOTO BY COLLEEN SEXTON
The laddie rode off into the sunset.
Photo by Colleen Sexton

Irish Cowboy, 2300 Louisiana, closed January 1. The pub/ice house took the place of Celtic Gardens in 2016. Its popularity waxed and waned with the highlight being its large outdoor beer garden and its low point being the sometimes surly service. Tina Bammel, Director of Operations at Salt N Pepper Group (Pub Fiction, Shot Bar), said that another concept is in the works, according to CultureMap Houston.
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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.