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The smothered beef steak at Mikki's original location is on the Pearland menu, too.
The smothered beef steak at Mikki's original location is on the Pearland menu, too.
Photo by Gwendolyn Knapp

Openings and Closings: Mikki's Pearland Opens, La Vista 101 Closes

Mikki's Cafe, 9603 Broadway, opened June 14 in Pearland. This makes the second location for the popular soul food restaurant with the original at 10500 Belfort. Diners love the daily specials and homemade flavors in dishes like smothered fried chicken, candied yams and collard greens. One of its best sellers is the Oxtail Combo. At $18.50, the humble oxtail has become a bit of a coveted delicacy nowadays. Still, the price gets you three of the tasty side dishes plus a slice of cornbread. Specials range from day to day, just like a French bistro or Italian trattoria. 

For folks on a budget, the daily lunch specials from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. are $7.95. Expect a line for those deals. Dinner specials include lasagna, chicken fried chicken and fried pork chops. Each day could be something new, so double check if your heart is set on something particular, especially the oxtails. With the ever increasing prices on some of Houston's dessert menus, it's refreshing to see Mikki's still offering its peach cobbler ($2.75), pecan pie ($3) and decadent white chocolate bread pudding ($4) at dollar amounts for we regular folks. Who needs fancy foams and spun sugar glass anyway? Mikki's Cafe in Pearland also offers drive-thru service, but we suggest dining in and enjoying the fellowship of families tucking into good old-fashioned cooking. No one should eat ham hocks alone. It just ain't Southern.

Goodnight Hospitality is bringing together the best and the brightest for its new concepts.EXPAND
Goodnight Hospitality is bringing together the best and the brightest for its new concepts.
Photo by Nuray Taylor

Goodnight Hospitality has a new team for its upcoming triple concept. Rosie Canonball, 1620 Westheimer, and Montrose Cheese and Wine, 1618 Westheimer are planned for sometime this summer, perhaps by mid-August, according to a spokesperson. March, 1620 Westheimer, is planned for Winter 2019.

For Rosie Canonball, partners David Keck, Peter McCarthy, June Rodil and Felipe Riccio have recruited Rachael Pino as Service Manager and Adam Garcia as Chef de Cuisine. Pino has not only a degree in journalism, but also attended the Culinary Institute of America training to be a cook before changing her focus to wine and earning her second level certification from the Court of Master Sommeliers. Garcia is a master butcher and has served as chef de cuisine at Revival Market and executive sous chef at Coltivare. His recent stagings in Portugal, Spain and Italy will influence the menu which will include his favorite Basque dish, grilled oyster mushrooms with egg yolk and preserved lemon.

Stuart Humphries has left Tongue-Cut Sparrow to be Bar Manager at Rosie Canonball. Expect cocktails with Southern Italian and Mediterranean influences, plus fresh farm-grown ingredients like herbs from Goodnight Hospitality's farm in Bellville.

Shawn Gawle is Goodnight Hospitality's Executive Pastry Chef and will create distinctive pastry programs for the three concepts. Gawle will also use the farm's bounty to infuse the gelato he plans for Rosie Canonball. He will also feature five or six pastry options at Montrose Cheese and Wine, like Portuguese egg tarts or caneles de Bordeaux. Gawle will also create savory fare, including his take on foccacia di Recco, a flatbread with fresh cheese. Gawle adds mortadella to his version.

Gawle brings a boatload of experience from Michelin-starred restaurants like Quince and Saison in San Francisco, plus notables like Veritas and L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon. He was also named one of Food&Wine's Best New Pastry Chefs 2012.

Ryan Cooper has been pegged as Wine Director for Montrose Cheese and Wine. Cooper has served as sommelier for Del Frisco's and passed his Advanced Sommelier Certification in 2018. He describes himself as "the least dogmatic, least judgmental sommelier in the world." He has personally chosen 125 wines for the shop, including a strong selection of bottles $40 or less.

Shannon McCracken will serve as Cheesemonger and General Manager. McCracken has served in the U.S. Navy and graduated from the Art Institute with a Bachelor of Science in culinary management. She brings experience from stints at Just Dinner and years working at Houston Dairymaids.

La Vista 101 and its Grape Collins are no more.
La Vista 101 and its Grape Collins are no more.
Photo by Kate McLean

La Vista 101, 1805 W. 18th, has closed. Owner Greg Gordon announced the closing on its Facebook page July 8. The  restaurant originally was La Vista, located in the Briargrove area for 19 years before relocating to its current space in a renovated Pizza Hut. Gordon brought in chef J.D. Woodward (Southern Goods) and Jeb Stuart as general manager and wine program director. Less than three months later, both men departed La Vista 101 leaving Gordon solely in charge of the enterprise.

While lack of revenue has been cited for the closure, there are also legal issues concerning an alleged breach of contract from Amur Equipment Finance Inc., according to Houston Business Journal.

Is it ice cream or a hippie dream?EXPAND
Is it ice cream or a hippie dream?
Photo by Ibrahim Halawa

The DoughCone,  3 Greenway Plaza, opened July 8 at the NextSeed Space. It will offer vanilla bean ice cream with unlimited toppings in its proprietary fresh pastry cones, described as part doughnut, part churro. It replaces Tlahuac, the experimental Central Mexican concept from chef Nicholas Vera and pastry chef, Stephanie Valdez, which recently finished its three month residency. The Waffle Bus was the first business to reside in the Next Seed space and will soon open its brick and mortar at 1835 N. Shepherd in the Heights.

The DoughCone comes from former tech consultant and Houston native Avi Oberoi, who opened his first food truck in October 2016. It has a regular spot at the Buffalo Bayou Cistern at 105 Sabine. The business will operate at the NextSeed hub from July 8 to August 2. In a press release, Oberoi said, "The location inside Greenway Plaza offers a fantastic opportunity to get in front of a large number of people, build my customer base and really give me the chance to test a brick and mortar operation."

Twin Liquors, 12343 Barker Cypress, and 19964 Southwest Freeway, in Sugar Land, will both open July 26. The Cypress location will have a ribbon cutting at 11 a.m.with the Cy-Fair Chamber of Commerce. The Sugar Land store will have its ribbon cutting with the Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce at 1:30 p.m. Co-owners David and Margaret Jabour will be in attendance at both ceremonies. There will be special events and giveaways throughout the weekend.

The opening of these two stores brings the number to 95 locations for the Austin-based company. There are eight Twin Liquors in the Houston area.

The interior at Flower& Cream is sleek and modern.EXPAND
The interior at Flower& Cream is sleek and modern.
Photo by Gin Design Group

Flower & Cream, 2617 W. Holcombe, celebrated its grand opening June 29, with all of the proceeds from "pay what you want" donations going to the Ronald McDonald House Houston.

With the tag line, "Lick.Laugh.  Love," the cute and contemporary ice cream shop is serving up sweetness and charm with its small batch, artisan ice cream. The shop also makes cookies, macarons and blondies with premium ingredients, locally sourced when possible.

The shop offers some rotating flavors, including adult flavors with additions like Grand Marnier or Bailey's Irish Cream. Each month features a new ice cream. For July, it's pistachio baklava with housemade baklava and walnuts.

A seafood boil fit for the Heat Miser.EXPAND
A seafood boil fit for the Heat Miser.
Photo by Teddy Nieh

Crecia's Kitchen, 14237 E. Sam Houston Parkway, began its soft opening June 26. The Asian-Cajun restaurant is still working out a few kinks, but has remedied its short staff situation by doubling its employees to handle business, according to a Facebook post. The new eatery serves Vietnamese noodle favorites like beef pho and fried rice dishes, plus crab, shrimp and crawfish boils along with fried seafood combos. There are starters like wings and pork gyoza, too.

The combo beef pho has brisket, eye of round and meatballs for $9.99 and is one of its best sellers. The combo fried rice ($12.99) offers plenty of protein for the price. And we find the $19.99/lb. snow crab to be a great price considering what it costs at the grocery store. Add in some corn ($.89) and potato ($.59) and you are all set. The restaurant also serves beer, wine and sake.

End your feast with the funnel cake fries.

The Juicy Crab, 17278 Tomball Parkway, opened June 10, but celebrated its grand opening July 11. The first location opened in Duluth, Georgia in 2015 and there are locations throughout the state, with two in Florida. The Houston store is the first foray into the Lone Star State and there are locations planned for Tennessee and the Carolinas in the near future.

The restaurant serves a variety of  Cajun-style seafood boils from shrimp (heads on or off), crawfish, mussels, clams, oysters, lobster and of course, crab. Blue crabs are available in season along with Dungeness, snow crab and king crab legs.

The boils aren't the only thing on the menu. There are plenty of fried seafood items and snacks like onion rings and hush puppies. There are fruity drinks like the Rum Punch ($12) and Melon Blast ($10) to temper the heat of The Juicy Crab's secret sauce. There are daily lunch specials plus a happy hour Monday through Friday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Openings and Closings: Mikki's Pearland Opens, La Vista 101 Closes (3)EXPAND
Photo by Lorretta Ruggiero

Wunsche Bros. Cafe and Saloon, 103 Midway, is slated to reopen this fall, according to a banner hung across the front porch. The historic structure has sat next to the railroad tracks since 1902 and was designated a historic structure by the State of Texas in 1984. In 1949, it became the Spring Cafe. Spring residents will remember how rickety the cafe looked before it was renovated. Some of us are still nostalgic about the second story porch with its worn Victorian sofas. Safety issues took precedence and the second story porch was closed.

In the mid '80s, the building was renovated and it once again became Wunsche Bros. Cafe. Unfortunately, the cafe was damaged in March 2015 by a fire that primarily affected the relatively new addition which housed a bar and stage area. It hosted acts like Lyle Lovett and Vince Vance and the Valiants in the 1980s, when this writer was serving its delicious burgers, chicken fried steak and beer bread to the locals and tourists. I still have the T-shirt.

In 2017, the property was bought by husband and wife, Casey and Nancy Kosh, according to Community Impact. The duo also own Amerigo's Grille in The Woodlands. Construction is still ongoing and a time capsule was discovered under the stairs by the construction crew, dating back to 1983, according to abc13.com.

Get your walking shoes on and do a Best Bites tour of Houston.EXPAND
Get your walking shoes on and do a Best Bites tour of Houston.
Photo by Yash Singh/Banavenue Photography

Best Bites Houston, recently launched its Saturday afternoon tours. Founder, Star Gilani, came to Houston from Dubai at the age of 12 and now wants to show off her adopted city of Houston to foodies looking for a little Houston culture and a lot of Houston flavors. The weekly Saturday tours begin at 4 p.m. from Discovery Green. Gilani leads a group of no more than 16 guests on a walking tour of Houston architecture, such as the oddly placed Arthur B. Cohn House, and other Houston novelties like the mural by local artist GONZO247. Along the way, there will be stops at different restaurants and bars for food and refreshments. The line up will vary week to week. Some of the potential stops include The Rustic, Brasserie du Parc, Kulture and more. Each tour will conclude at Reserve 101 for a cocktail and dessert.

The tour is $65 and includes 2 beverage pairings. The VIP tour is $75 and includes drink pairings at each venue. Children 12 and under are $45. Gilani will offer Friday tours in the future and is available for private tours as well. For more information, go to bestbiteshouston.com.

Boomtown Coffee, opened July 8 at Understory, joining MONA Fresh Italian and Flip 'n Patties in the soft opening at the atrium food hall. Located in the Bank of America Tower, the food hall has a number of other vendors waiting in the wings. The Understory location is the third for Boomtown, which opened its first shop on W. 19th in the Heights in 2012. There's also a fairly new location on Main.

The single origin coffees range from classic brew like drip, espresso, cappuccino and macchiato to Boomtown's own concoctions like the Johnny Cash or Toddy Mocha. There is also a menu of various house lattes.

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