It's October and the temperatures are finally dropping. The slight chill in the air awakens the senses and brings Houstonians outside again to enjoy the patios and terraces of our restaurants and bars. It also stirs the creative juices of local chefs and mixologists who create new fall menu items and cocktails to go along with the season. We've reached out to businesses around town to see how they are welcoming autumn. Creme de violette seems to be the liqueur de saison.
New Menus, New Foods:
BCK has added a $100 PB&J to its menu. That may sound over the top, but it's over the top in a good way. With the purchase of the special sandwich, guests can choose a $100 gift card to some local Heights area shops and businesses such as Kind Collective, SWEAT 1000, Dance House Fitness, Forth & Nomad and Mastrantos restaurant. The restaurant is looking to add other partners to the deal. Basically, you get a free sandwich with your $100 gift card purchase.
Chef Peter Petro has created a peanut butter and jelly sandwich that will appeal to the kid in you, but also to your more sophisticated adult taste buds. The sandwich is two slices of pain de mie from Bread Man Baking Co. that is battered and deep fried, then stuffed with Smuckers grape jelly and Jif peanut butter. It's garnished with powdered sugar and fresh berries. You might want to choose the SWEAT 1000 or the Dance House Fitness gift cards after that.
Co-owner John Reed says, " The idea is solely to do something good for the community, create strong synergy amongst businesses in the Heights area and have a little fun doing it."
This longtime Rice village restaurant chose to celebrate its 25 years in business by having designer Aaron Rambo update and redesign the interior and bring in Seth Siegel Gardner, formerly of Pass and Provisions, as a consulting chef. Gardner, along with longtime Levit executive chefs Mike Potowski and Maria Gonzales, have created a menu that includes more shareable plates and reflects the changing tastes and trends of contemporary dining.
The new menu has small plates such as Smoked Trout Roe with cauliflower cream and potato and beef chips. Medium plates include Sea Urchin Carbonara with leek, and squid ink bucatini. On the larger side there are dishes like Smokes Bone Broth with Blood Bros. BBQ dumplings. The new bar manager, Shannon Beehner, formerly of OKRA, has also created some delicious cocktails including the Safety Hazard, a frothy drink of fluffy orange juice, vodka and an Aperol float.
Benjy's reopens October 10 from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. with dinner starting at 5 p.m. Happy hour will run from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. The new Sunday brunch will begin October 13, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The restaurant will launch a Friday and Saturday brunch in a few weeks.
Bernie's Burger Bus
The big yellow bus in the Heights is extending its Friday and Saturday hours to 2 a.m. and it's calling the new late night fun Bernie's After Dark. To launch the new hours, Bernie's Heights is hosting a party October 10 in conjunction with a Eureka Heights pint night, beginning at 6:30 p.m. There will be cocktail specials and a rotating menu of bar bites. For the launch, Eureka Heights brews will $3.50.
The Burger Joint
The fast casual burger spot is offering a free milkshake to all patrons onsite during Astros games, if they make a home run. We suggest you go for the Crush City Dreamsicle shake, but there are plenty of other flavors, if orange isn't your thing.
The Burger Joint also has a new special Midnight Burger on Friday and Saturday after midnight for all the ghouls still roaming the Montrose streets late at night, many of whom are my old high school friends who still go to Numbers after thirty-plus years.
The Midnight Burger is Angus beef, smoked gouda, baby arugula, herb aioli and ghost pepper jam. There's probably garlic in the aioli, so vampires might need to be aware.
All Houston Locations
The upscale Houston-based steakhouse has debuted a limited-time only harvest menu which includes its Perry's Harvest Salad ($12) with seasonal vegetables, organic greens and apple cider flax seed vinaigrette. There's also a hearty White Bean Pork Chili ($11), Butternut Squash with bacon and maple syrup ($12) plus a new dessert, Pumpkin Cheesecake ($10). If you're feeling particularly indulgent, try the Lobster Risotto ($45). The hefty price tag includes black truffle shavings.
1701 W. Alabama
5895 San Felipe
The temps are dipping into the low eighties in Houston, so it's time to whip out the pumpkin spice and wooly sweaters. The Roastery is greeting fall with its pumpkin spice latte at all three Houston locations. It is flavored with homemade pumpkin spice syrup, real pumpkin, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, ginger and vanilla. That's a lot of spice going on. Hang on to your ear muffs: it's served with a homemade pumpkin spice mini donut. It's almost enough to make you feel like you're in New England. Almost.
New Happy Hour Menus:
Brennan's of Houston
The 7-7-7 happy hour is back in the Courtyard at Brennan's or at its bar and features $7 bar bites, $7 cocktails and $7 wines. It's a great deal for those who want the Brennan's experience on a lighter scale. For bar bites, there are tasty items like the Texas Shrimp Roll served with sweet potato chips and the Fried Oyster Po-Boy. If you're looking to fatten up for the winter, there's also the Pork Cracklins and Queso. Other Southern favorites include Pickled Fried Green Tomatoes and Natchitoches-style Meat Pies.
Cocktail offerings include the Autumn Maple Leaf made with Canadian Club whiskey, pure maple syrup and spiced apple cider. Or try the Last Bloom with Nue Texas vodka, creme de violette, lemon juice and seltzer.
On the $7 wine list are choices such as the Sparkling Sangria and Woodwork Cabernet.
3rd Bar at REEF
Chef Bryan Caswell's new happy hour is meant to be enjoyed dim sum-style with a 10 for $2 bar bites menu which includes the shrimp shooter, beef slider, shrimp and radish roll and Tempura 1015 Onions with Russian dressing. Each bar bite is $2 so guests can try as many as they like.
Special cocktails like the Purple Drank and Hemingway Daiquiri are $5 during happy hour, which runs from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday in 3rd Bar side or on the patio. There are $3 draft beers, $5 select wines by the glass or $25 wines by the bottle.
This sleek restaurant atop the water wall at John P. McGovern Commons is a hidden gem in Houston but those who have discovered it rave about its food. Now, the fine dining restaurant is rolling out a new happy hour menu.
Executive chef John Buchanan uses natural, sustainable and local ingredients for the restaurant's menu and the quality carries through to the happy hour bites as well. Munch on cheese or truffle fries ($6) along with the Angus beef slider ($6), fish tacos ($10), or panko-fried shrimp ($12). The pizza of the day ($12) and chicken wings are shareable with friends. For the wings, choose from gochugaru, buffalo, garlic-Parmesan or barbecue style.
Cocktail specials include an Aperol Spritz ($6), and a Maple Bourbon Old Fashioned ($7). For beer drinkers, there is a choice of Shiner Bock or Southern Star Bombshell for $4. The house wine is $6 a glass and there's also the McPherson Cellars Texas Sparkling for $8.
New (and Spooky!) Cocktails:
Frank's Americana Revival and White Star Bar
Frank's is bringing some "boos" to its new cocktails which will be available through Halloween. The Whiskey Jack is a tribute to owner Mike Shine's relative, Father Jack Shine (as in priest), and his Irish roots. It's made with Red Breast Single Pot Irish Whiskey, grapefruit juice, rosemary simple syrup, bitters and club soda. The Deathly Hallows is a refreshing drink of mezcal, cranberry juice, orange liqueur, lemon juice and real maple syrup with a ginger beer topping for all you Harry Potter fans.
There's also the Corpse Reviver with gin, Lillet Blanc, Cointreau, lemon juice and a dash of absinthe. A spirit made from wormwood fits the name perfectly.
Intercontinental Houston-Med Center
The Naturalist is a bright and sunlit bar in the lobby of The Intercontinental, but it gets dark and spooky when you and your pals channel your inner witches of Macbeth and gather around the Black Widow Smash, a cocktail of Rey Campero mezcal, Giffard creme de violette, lemon juice, agave nectar and fresh blackberries. You can pretend the rosemary sprig garnish is eye of newt. The dry ice effect gives it a witches' cauldron feel. The special drink is $14 and is available through October 31.
This colorful and fun hot spot delivers on atmosphere and delicious tropical drinks. Now, it has released a menu of Halloween-themed cocktails it is calling " Elixirs for the Recently Deceased". There's the Treat Yoself ($9) which is Tanqueray gin, creme de violette, lemon juice and housemade blackberry reduction. It's served with a sidecar of candy corn. And yes, candy corn is delicious. Ignore the haters.
The Juice of the Beetle ($10) is a concoction of Belvedere vodka, cucumber, Midori, lime juice and green apple Gatorade. That's a lot of ghastly green going on. The Ghost Fashioned ($11) is Johnny Walker Black Scotch, Midori, creme de violette and rhubarb bitters. Finally, there's the Headless Horseman ($10) made with Crown Royal whiskey, Fireball, coffee liqueur, pumpkin spice caramel syrup and lemon juice. That will probably knock your own block off.
October Comfort Food:
Kenny and Ziggy's
5172 Buffalo Speedway
2327 Post Oak Boulevard
Do you feel that? It's the temperature dropping. Really. And that means Kenny and Ziggy's Delicatessen is bringing back its tummy-warming chicken pot pie ($21.95). Ziggy Gruber's recipe has a touch of Eastern European influence and it's a hearty serving of chicken and vegetables topped with puff pastry. It is enough to feed two on a chilly (relatively) Houston night. You can share it in the lively restaurant or take it home and snuggle in front of the television with your boo.
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Molina's is a Houston Tex-Mex institution and many locals have enjoyed its chili con carne on top of the enchiladas and burritos for years. October happens to be National Chili Month, so this is a good time to try a whole bowl of the chili on its own. It's been around since 1941. The recipe that is, not the chili. Topped with melted cheese and diced onions, it comes by the cup ($5.95) or bowl ($8.95).
23501 Cinco Ranch
110 Vintage Park Boulevard
1201 Lake Woodlands Drive
For a South African twist on gumbo try Peli Peli's Chicken and Boerewors Gumbo ($8). The dish has okra, chicken and coins of boerewors, a South African sausage. Boerewors means "farmer's sausage" and it is usually beef spiced with coriander seed, cloves, black pepper, nutmeg and allspice.