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Molina's Cantina has fajitas and more.EXPAND
Molina's Cantina has fajitas and more.
Photo by Kimberly Park

Openings and Closings: Molina's Fulshear Opens, Sweet Paris Sugar Land Soon

Molina's Cantina, 6300 FM1463, opened September 3 in Fulshear. This is the third location for the Tex-Mex  empire which began with Raul Molina's first Mexican restaurant in 1941. For nearly eight decades, it has been owned and operated by the Molina family with Raul and Mary Molina's grandsons Ricardo, Raul III and Roberto running the business today.

Ricardo, Raul III, Raul Jr. and Roberto Molina are keeping the family business strong.EXPAND
Ricardo, Raul III, Raul Jr. and Roberto Molina are keeping the family business strong.
Photo by Kimberly Park

Molina's was the first tenant to sign on at the Shoppes at Cross Creek.  The expansive 5,800 square foot restaurant was designed by architect Craig Schuster of H3D Hospitality Design with a modern Western ambiance including tomato red and turquoise accents, leather chairs and comfortable booths plus family photos lining the walls. A wagon wheel chandelier greets guests in the entryway as more wagon wheels decorate the outdoor water feature. The matador mosaic, which once graced the wall at the former Beechnut location has found a home at the new restaurant along with a mural by artist Stylle Read.  Schuster also led the remodeling of the other two locations at 3801 Bellaire and 7901 Westheimer.

The family closed the Molina's Cantina on Washington Avenue in 2017 when they decided not to renew the lease. Instead, they sought out a new spot in the vicinity of the Katy and Fulshear corridor, near where Ricardo and Roberto live with their families. Their daughters will enter the family business for the first time as hostesses at the Fulshear location.

Molina's new decor puts the Tex in Tex-Mex.EXPAND
Molina's new decor puts the Tex in Tex-Mex.
Photo by Kimberly Park

The full service bar has plenty of seating with bar stools, high tops and more tables which combined with the dining room creates seating for 249 indoors. The outdoor patio next to the breezeway offers an additional space for 58 guests.

Molina's Cantina has plenty of standard Tex-Mex favorites including sizzling fajitas, a variety of enchiladas, grilled seafood and of course, cold beer and frosty margaritas. Jose's Dip is a must order starter and copycat recipes for it can be spotted online. It was inspired by a Molina's waiter who added taco meat to a customer's chili con queso. His name was Jose.

Milkshakes at Sweet Paris are Instagram-worthy.EXPAND
Milkshakes at Sweet Paris are Instagram-worthy.
Photo by Alex Montoya

Sweet Paris Creperie and Cafe, 15911 City Walk, is planned for a fall opening in Sugar Land Town Square. It will be the eleventh location for the crepe cafe from Allison and Ivan Chavez. There are seven Houston area locations, one in College Station, one in Nueva Vallarta, Mexico and a very recently opened store in Austin, at The Domain. The new Sugar Land location will offer 2,257 square feet of dining space with an expansive patio, an important feature of the French-inspired creperie and cafe.

What s'more could you want in a crepe?
What s'more could you want in a crepe?
Photo by Alex Montoya

Founded in 2012, in Rice Village, the cafe offers a variety of sweet and savory crepes plus paninis, salads, seasonal soups and waffles. Over-the-top milkshakes come in flavors such as Tiramisu, Nutella Graham, Reese's, Oreo and Very Berry. There are coffee drinks, hot chocolate and chai tea. It also serves beer and wine so guests can enjoy a Parisian ambiance sipping a cool glass of rose, with a croque madame breakfast crepe watching passersby from the wicker bistro chairs.

Diane and Willet Feng have plans for burger-chan.
Diane and Willet Feng have plans for burger-chan.
Photo by Troy Fields

Burger-Chan, 5 Greenway Plaza, announced it is shuttering operations at the food court permanently, as reported by EaterHouston. The Hub food court depends largely upon the complex's employees which make up a majority of the lunch crowd. Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 restrictions, many employees are working from home or have been furloughed, leaving the restaurants within the food court with very few customers.

The popular lunch spot was originally opened as Kuma Burgers by husband and wife Diane and Willet Chang in 2016. In 2017, the burger spot changed its name to burger-chan due to a trademark infringement complaint from out of state, as reported here in the Houston Press. Willet Chang was a former sous chef at Oxheart and brought some international twists to the burger kiosk with his experience as head chef at The Grumpy Pig in Shanghai.

Burger-Chan has a new plan.
Burger-Chan has a new plan.
Photo by Chuck Cook Photography

In a Facebook post, the Fengs thanked their fellow vendors at The Hub including Feges BBQ, The Rice Box and Greenway Coffe Co. plus the legion of loyal customers. The post went on to say, "This is not the end. But we do need to reset and transition to a different model in order to survive. If you're sad because you never got to try our food...um, get some when we re-emerge."

That re-emergence will hopefully take place soon at 5353 West Alabama as a full service restaurant. The Fengs were already planning an expansion to the 53 West development for 2020. It now looks as if the new burger-chan will open in early 2021, according to CultureMap Houston.

Ninfa's Uptown is serving seafood enchiladas and margaritas again.EXPAND
Ninfa's Uptown is serving seafood enchiladas and margaritas again.
Photo by Cooper + Ricca

The Original Ninfa's Uptown Houston, 1700 Post Oak Boulevard, reopened August 29. The Tex-Mex restaurant from Legacy Restaurants Group closed briefly August 25, as we reported here in the Press. The staff found the doors locked by the landlord, Whitestone REIT, amid lease negotiations that Legacy CEO Niel Morgan thought were progressing positively. The landlord seemed to have a different opinion.

Now, an agreement has been reached  and Ninfa's Uptown is back in business, a fortunate thing for the numerous employees whose jobs were in jeopardy. This pandemic sucks.

The Woodshed Smokehouse is ready for smokin' business.EXPAND
The Woodshed Smokehouse is ready for smokin' business.
Photo by Tim Love Restaurants

The Woodshed Smokehouse, 3728 Wakeforest, reopened September 2 at Levy Park. The menu here revolves around wood-grilled, roasted, steamed, braised and slow-cooked meats, fish and vegetables, using a variety of woods such as pecan, hickory, oak and mesquite and other fire sources. The rotating menu includes a selection of beef, chicken, pork, wild game, fish, shellfish and also daily specials featuring an animal of the day such as locally sourced pig, lamb, goat, deer and antelope. There's a custom smoke room, rotisseries and wood grills for all that meaty goodness plus vegetables and desserts. There are even special dishes for dogs visiting Levy Park's doggie area.

The Woodshed is refiring.EXPAND
The Woodshed is refiring.
Photo by Brittany Baerwald

Dishes include Smoked Beer Cheese Fondue, Lamb Brisket, Bulgogi Salmon Tacos and Tomahawk Prime Rib. Even the seasonal cobblers get the smoke treatment from Love. There are also new items unique to the Houston location such as Smoked Gumbo, Fire-Roasted Jambalaya, Pekin Duck and a Smoked Banana Cream Pie.

Chef Tim Love, owner of Love Management Inc., opened his three Houston concepts at Levy Park March 12, 2020, just five days before the pandemic shutdown and restaurant restrictions ordered by Governor Abbott's office which allowed for restaurants to only offer to-go service. Because restaurants were reopening at a certain capacity then changing due to upticks in COVID-19 cases, Love began using The Woodshed as a ghost kitchen for his take-out concept Burritos, Fajitas and 'Ritas, according to CultureMap. He instituted the to-go concept at several of his other Texas restaurants. A spokesperson for the restaurant told the Press that the Tex- Mex ghost kitchen concept will also continue.

Now, all three Levy Park concepts are back to business. The Woodshed Houston is the second location for the smokehouse which was originally founded in Fort Worth, where Love has several other concepts including Love Shack, White Elephant Saloon and Lonesome Dove Western Bistro.

The Love Shack is a little ol' place where we can get some burgers.EXPAND
The Love Shack is a little ol' place where we can get some burgers.
Photo by Tim Love Restaurants

The Love Shack, 3709 Eastside, has also reopened. It's Love's version of an American burger joint, which debuted in Fort Worth in 2007. It serves made-to-order burgers, hot dogs and nachos with root beer on tap, freshly squeezed lemonade and beer and wine all from a kiosk located next to the dog park. It also has treats for canine companions.

Side Dough is rolling again.EXPAND
Side Dough is rolling again.
Photo by Tim Love Restaurants

Side Dough, 3709 Eastside, is housed in a 1972 Bristol Lodekka double decker bus offering daytime concessions like coffee drinks, breakfast tacos, sandwiches and pastries. It's adjacent to The Woodshed Smokehouse and runs alongside the Levy Park Community Garden.

Einsteins Bros. Bagels will expand into King Fuel convenience stores.EXPAND
Einsteins Bros. Bagels will expand into King Fuel convenience stores.
Artist's rendering by Einstein Bros. Bagels

Einstein Bros. Bagels, 15605 Aldine Westfield, opened in August 2020 inside King Fuel. This is the first convenience store location for the largest bagel retailer in America. It currently has more than 700 locations across 40 states and the District of Columbia (that's Washington D.C., y'all). Einstein Bros. has a development deal with King Fuel to open in five stores altogether with the second kiosk opening at 108 W. Greens Road in November 2020.

The convenience store operations will feature an easier to operate breakfast platform serving its famous bagel and whipped shmears, egg sandwiches and cold brew coffee.

Enjoy a flick and a cold Crawford Bock from the safety of your own vehicle.EXPAND
Enjoy a flick and a cold Crawford Bock from the safety of your own vehicle.
Photo by Jason Ostrow

Star Cinema Grill, 8920 Fry, opens its first drive-in theater at the Cypress location. The outdoor screens are an answer to customer's requests, according to Jason Ostrow, Vice President of Star Cinema Grill. " Being able to put together a drive-in theater and show new release is really exciting," Ostrow said in a press release. "We heard the demand from our guests and responded, as we always do."

The cost of admission is $18 per vehicle and reservations can be made through the Star Cinema app. The drive-in will operate Thursday through Sunday with shows at 8:15 p.m. There will also be late night attractions at 10:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Upcoming films include the highly anticipated thriller Tenet from Christopher Nolan, Bill and Ted Face the Music and Wonder Woman 1984.

The drive-in will also offer its menu items, concessions and a full bar. Star Cinema Grill is partnering with Karbach Brewing and Silver Eagle Distributors to offer drink specials in the evening.

Sticky's Hot Chicken SandwichEXPAND
Sticky's Hot Chicken Sandwich
Photo by Ben Sassani

Sticky's Hot Chicken Sandwich, 2313 Edwards, has responded to customer requests with a new Sticky's Hot Chicken Sandwich, its take on Nashville hot chicken topped with house slaw and dill pickles. Co-owner Patsy Vivares said it was time. "We thought it would round out the menu perfectly and the response so far has been fantastic."

Along with the new hot sandwich, the little restaurant at Sawyer Yards has also introduced a new Bacon Cheddar Ranch Sandwich and is currently tweaking a chicken sandwich featuring its signature Sticky's sauce created by Ceferino Vivares, father of Patsy and brother Benson who first opened Sticky's as a food truck in 2014.

Due to the pandemic, it is offering to-go service only by phone, online ordering and delivery platforms, UberEats, DoorDash and GrubHub. If you can make the drive out to Sawyer Yards, it will save everyone a couple of bucks.

Sticky's is open Tuesday through Saturday from noon to 8 p.m. and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.

The Karaage Chicken Ramen offers crispy chicken with ramen.EXPAND
The Karaage Chicken Ramen offers crispy chicken with ramen.
Photo by Takahiro Yamauchi

Jinya Ramen Bar, eight Houston area locations, has two new Chef's Menu Specials created just for the fall. The Karaage Chicken Ramen is made with chicken soup, thin noodles, shio dare, chicken oil, j-mix, green onions, bamboo shoot, crispy chicken, karaage sauce, a seasoned egg and nori. The SPAM Musibi dish is SPAM with Furikake rice, wrapped in dried seaweed and garnished with cilantro. The new specials are currently available  through November 30, 2020.

The ramen chain was founded in 2010 by Takahiro Yamauchi and operates 32 U.S. locations plus two in Canada.

Kenny and Ziggy's dessert platterEXPAND
Kenny and Ziggy's dessert platter
Photo by Anthony Rathbun

Kenny & Ziggy's New York Delicatessen Restaurant, 2327 Post Oak Boulevard, is currently taking orders for Rosh Hashannah and Yom Kippur meal packages and Break the Fast Platters, a tradition the delicatessen and restaurant has been carrying out for the past 21 years. There are also plenty of a la carte options and dessert platters.

Rosh Hashannah begins at sundown September 18. Orders must be made by September 11 for pick up September 18 between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. The restaurant will close at 2 p.m. for the holiday and also close September 19. For Yom Kippur, orders must be made by September 21 for pick up September 27 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Again, K&Z will close for the high holiday at 2 p.m., reopening Tuesday, September 29.

The Erev Yom Tov dinner is $195 and serves four to six persons. It includes chicken soup, matzo balls, chicken liver, tzimmes, one round challah (plain or raisin), and a choice of entree. Options include apricot roasted chicken, brisket with gravy, stuffed cabbage or a combination of chicken and brisket. The package also comes with a choice of two sides such as mini potato pancakes, shmaltz potatoes and string bean almandine. There's a choice of one kugel, carrot, sweet noodle or Heimishe potato, plus a choice of two desserts like ruggalah, bobka or honey cake.

The Break the Fast platter($210) also serves four to six and includes Nova lox, whitefish salad, tuna salad, egg salad, plain challah, one dozen bagels, one sweet noodle kugel, one dozen ruggalah and one chocolate bobka. It also comes with three cream cheese, plain, shallot and vegetable.

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