Restaurant News

Openings and Closings: One Fifth Southern Comfort Pops Up, Bao Bros. Bistro Opens

Hushpuppies as only One Fifth would do.
Hushpuppies as only One Fifth would do. Photo by Jacklyn Warren

One Fifth Southern Comfort, 1658 Westheimer, begins December 8.  Owner/chef Chris Shepherd is constantly innovating and experimenting with his One Fifth concept and he has Matt Staph, chef de cuisine, in charge of this holiday pop up menu. Shepherd's One Fifth restaurant has seen many iterations and the pandemic has spurred some creativity among the Underbelly Hospitality team in keeping patrons coming back for new and inspiring cuisine. Shepherd says that they loved One Fifth Mediterranean but "Southern food feels right for right now."

Staph himself said, " I want the food on this menu to remind our guests of being with their families at a time when that may not be possible."

click to enlarge Dip up the oyster liquor with a fresh baguette. - PHOTO BY JACKLYN WARREN
Dip up the oyster liquor with a fresh baguette.
Photo by Jacklyn Warren
With that in mind, guests can expect Gulf Coast-inspired dishes like the Boudin Plate with house-made pickles and mustard, raw or roasted oysters and Flounder Ponchartrain. Using the fresh pasta techniques perfected at One Fifth Romance Languages, the menu will feature plates like Oxtail Ragout with Crispy Gnocchi and Blackened Chicken and Crawfish Pasta. Shepherd particularly wanted Staph to create a version of crab-stuffed jalapenos, a dish that the James Beard Award Winning chef loves at The Monument Inn in La Porte. Patrons will also find desserts like Lime Pie Squares and Italian Cream Cake from Pastry Director Victoria Dearmond.

Bar Director Westin Galleymore is currently working on an in-house version of Southern Comfort while creating Southern-inspired cocktails such as Crescent City and his own twist on juleps, milk punches and Daisys.

click to enlarge Check out the spread at Bao Bros. Bistro. - PHOTO BY JAMES PRICE
Check out the spread at Bao Bros. Bistro.
Photo by James Price
Bao Bros. Bistro, 8574 Highway 6 N., celebrated its grand opening October 24. The modern Asian fusion restaurant serves bao, boba and beer according to its Facebook page. There is a variety of bao including Korean Bulgogi, Buffalo Chicken, The Texan with smoked brisket and The Jackie Chan, made with shredded jackfruit and house barbecue sauce. There's even a Peach Cobbler version for dessert or a fried bao with a choice of vanilla bean or green tea ice cream.

click to enlarge Bao Bros. Bistro offers unique flavors in a fun atmosphere. - PHOTO BY JAMES PRICE
Bao Bros. Bistro offers unique flavors in a fun atmosphere.
Photo by James Price
The locally-owned restaurant comes from Chris Garcia Sr. (COO), Chris Garcia Jr. (CEO) and Executive Chef Sopha Long. The owners hope to eventually give forty percent of its profits to employees and the community as a part of its 20/20 vision.

Besides bao, the casual cafe also offers dishes like Panko Shrimp, Sopha's Sticky Ribs, Asian Salmon Salad and potstickers. Beverages include a selection of local and imported beers, fruit and milk teas plus a variety of Slush, its version of smoothies.

Thirteen, a restaurant from Rockets superstar James Harden, is in the works for Houston. Currently, the potential restaurant is looking for staff, as reported by The job fair is open December 3 and 4 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.  at 1923 Washington Avenue. Positions available include managers, servers, mixologists, kitchen staff, bussers, barbacks and hostesses. It is also seeking staff for valet and security.

The restaurant's location isn't being announced as of yet, but it's rumored to be taking over the spot that once housed the long-shuttered steakhouse, Mr. Peeples, at 1911 Bagby, according to EaterHouston..

click to enlarge The Plato Soldado helps raise money for American veterans. - PHOTO BY BLAKE HOBSON
The Plato Soldado helps raise money for American veterans.
Photo by Blake Hobson
Gringo's Mexican Kitchen, 230 W. Grand Parkway S., had its grand opening November 10 in Katy. This is the fourteenth location for the locally-owned family business which was first founded in 1993 by Russell Ybarra in Pearland.

The announcement to open the Katy location was made back in March 2019. Heather McKeon, Chief Marketing Officer of Gringo’s Mexican Kitchen, said in a press release, “To be able to open a new restaurant during a pandemic has been quite an adventure! Through it all, we’ve stayed focused on making progress and moving the project along. Our GC, Kevin Thomas, has been extraordinary and we look forward to future locations with him. Katy, it’s time! We have hired a talented team from the community and are ready to serve up some fajitas & margaritas."

click to enlarge The Plato Soldado helps raise money for American veterans. - PHOTO BY BLAKE HOBSON
The Plato Soldado helps raise money for American veterans.
Photo by Blake Hobson
The new Gringo's features a vaulted ceiling in the entryway and custom murals plus hand-crafted Mexico-inspired art throughout with decor that gives a feel of the Old West with a modern flair. The restaurant will have a slightly condensed menu that will still offer many of its most popular dishes such as the Pollo Marisco, Burrito con Queso, Seafood Enchiladas and  a variety of fajitas. The Plato Soldado, a plate which includes a pork tamale, beef taco al carbon and a cheese enchilada, also helps raise money for charity. For each Plato Soldado ordered,  $2 is given to the PTSD Foundation of America, Camp Hope. 

The full bar menu is available including its guest favorite, The Cadillac Margarita. The restaurant also offers curbside pick up, some delivery options and catering. There are family meals and margaritas to go including its Mangonada Ritas.

Crumbl Cookies, 9915 Barker Cypress, opened its doors at the Boardwalk at Towne Lake November 12. The cookie and ice cream company was founded in 2017 by two cousins Jason McGowan and Sawyer Hemsley in Logan, Utah and has now expanded to numerous locations across the country with successful franchising.

The cookies come in flavors such as Red Velvet Cream Cheese, Biscoff Lava, Peppermint Bark and Chilled Cookies and Cream Milkshake. Some cookies are served warm while others are served chilled. Customers can also try the Crumbl Cream which is its signature ice cream with crumbled cookies mixed in.

The cookies are sold singly (in-store only) or by the box (4) or party box (12). The cookies and Crumbl Creams are available for delivery and curbside pick-up. There are shipping options as well. Due to the COVID crisis, the stores are no longer allowing in-store seating.

First Watch, 9915 Barker Cypress, opened at Towne Lake as well, November 16. The day-only restaurant has numerous locations across the United States and is open daily from 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. serving breakfast and lunch.

Breakfast items include omelets, frittatas, pancakes, French toast, eggs Benedict and more. The Healthier Side of the menu offers options like Avocado Toast and the A.M. Superfoods Bowl. For lunch there are soups, salads and sandwiches. Besides its Project Sunrise coffee, there is also a juice bar and day-friendly cocktails like mimosas, the Million Dollar Bloody Mary and the Pomegranate Sunrise.

Nekter Juice Bar, 9915 Barker Cypress, opened November 21. It will host a grand opening December 5 with $3 juices and smoothies (16 ounces) all day, plus giveaways and prizes. The Southern California-based juice chain offers fresh cold-pressed fruit and vegetable juices, smoothies and acai bowls. It also has a dairy-free frozen treat, Skoop, made from cashew milk. Many of its customers like its cleanse and detox plans but it also offers a healthy break from holiday overindulgence.

Customers who make it out to Towne Lake on December 5 will also find the Heart to Market Pop Up happening from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. which features local vendors and brands. The Boulevard at Towne Lake is decked with holiday decorations so it's a great day out with the family or pandemic pod friends.
click to enlarge Mai Tai brings Asian fusion to the burbs. - PHOTO BY LORRETTA RUGGIERO
Mai Tai brings Asian fusion to the burbs.
Photo by Lorretta Ruggiero
Mai Tai Express, 11800 Jones, opened in mid-November. The modern, clean neighborhood restaurant offers a blend of Thai, Vietnamese and Taiwanese flavors. Its current opening menu includes Pineapple Fried Rice, Salt and Pepper Calamari, Tom Yum Noodle Soup, Drunken Flat Noodles, Pad Thai, Pork Belly Bao and more. There's also a variety of banh mi sandwiches. On the beverage side, there's fruit and milk teas plus smoothies and boba.

click to enlarge Zydeco on the patio at Jax. - PHOTO BY VICTORIA CHRISTENSEN
Zydeco on the patio at Jax.
Photo by Victoria Christensen
Jax Grill, 1613 S. Shepherd, is bringing back live Zydeco music after a long hiatus due to the pandemic. The Shepherd location opened in 1994 and has been hosting Zydeco bands since 1996. The return of the fun and lively music begins December 5 with Keyun and The Zydeco Masters performing on the patio from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Admission is free but masks are required on entering. Early birds can take advantage of its Saturday happy hour from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. with $5 wells, beer and margaritas.

Rosati's Pizza and Sports Pub, 9814 Fry, had its grand opening November 2. It has numerous franchises across the country offering authentic Chicago pizza, including thin crust and deep dish. It also has its signature double dough crust which is somewhere in between.

The thin and double dough pizzas come in twelve inch to sixteen inch sizes while the deep dish is available in ten and fourteen inch. Guests who order the deep dish should expect a few extra minutes for cooking time. It must be worth it because the restaurant's Facebook page is lit up with ecstatic Chicagoan transplants expressing their joy over its Cypress arrival.

Besides pizza, there are appetizers such as fried cheese and breaded mushrooms plus its Dough Nuggets which are basically mini bites of pizza dough for those who can't get enough carbs. It also offers a small selection of pastas, boneless or bone-in wings and sandwiches such as Philly Cheesesteak, Italian Sausage and Gyro. There's an antipasto plate to start or salads for those wanting less bread. For dessert, Rosati's offers cannoli and zeppole.

The prices are reasonable unless one opts for the Rosati Monster, the kitchen sink of Chicago pizza. It is loaded with various meats and veggies and tips the scale at $29 for the large size.

Pling, 223 Westheimer, opened in early November. The Korean restaurant serves dumplings and bao with a focus on Korean flavors vs. traditional Chinese dumplings.  The restaurant was originally slated to open at the end of 2019 but construction delays kept that from happening, according to EaterHouston.

click to enlarge Doris Metropolitan has a new winter happy hour. - PHOTO BY KIRSTEN GILLIAM
Doris Metropolitan has a new winter happy hour.
Photo by Kirsten Gilliam
Doris Metropolitan, 2815 S. Shepherd, is celebrating its third anniversary in Houston with the launch this week of its highball machine. Choices include the 'Merica, made with Jim Beam Black and grapefruit plus the Creole Highball with Maker's Mark and Sweep the Leg Johnny with Roku gin. The highballs are $6 on happy hour and $9 in the dining room.

The upscale steakhouse's new winter cocktail menu offers drinks like the South for the Winter and the Spiced Nogg made with house-made nogg, Bacardi Spiced and cinnamon. Its winter happy hour runs Tuesday through Saturday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. and is available in the bar and on the patio.

Restaurants Reported Open for November 2020:

Antone’s Famous Po’Boy, 6618 Fannin, reopened November 2
The Bearded Baker, 518 W. 11th, opened November 21
Casa Do Brasil, 2800 Sage, opened October 22
The Catch, 7608 FM 1960, opened October 19
Cheerz Daiquirs-to-Go and Cajun Kitchen, 12925 FM 1960, opened November 7
Cinnaholic, 28920 Highway 290, opened November 20
Cowboy Surfer, 827 Frostwood, opened November 24
Dog Haus, 8422 Highway 6 N., opened November 21
Fatburger, 2616 Blodgett, opened November 23
Fat Cat Creamery, 1225 W. 34th, opened late October
Ginger Kale, 6104 Hermann Park Drive, opened October 30
Indianola, 1201 St. Emanuel, reopened November 5
Jersey Mike's Subs, 30129 Rock Creek, opened November 13
JLB Eatery, 8806 Stella Link, opened October 23
Jolene's Wings and Beer, 20030 Northwest Freeway, opened November 11
King Ranch Texas Kitchen, 1605 Post Oak, opened November 17
La Table, 1800 Post Oak, reopened November 18
The Lounge at MARCH, opened November 19
Masraff's, 9566 Katy freeway, opened November 12
Phat Kitchen, 2616 Blodgett, launched early November
Pier 6 Seafood and Oyster house, 113 6th Street, opened November 5
Radio Milano, 800 Sorella Court, reopened November 16
Senate Avenue Brewing Company, 16000 Dillard, softly opened September 25
Shake Shack, 1201 Lake Robbins, opened November 19
Tacos A Go Go, 910 Louisiana, reopened in November
Twisted Grilled Cheese, 5555 Washington, opened November 21
The Union Kitchen, 6011 Washington, reopened November 18
Upstairs Bar and lounge, 2356 Rice Boulevard, reopened November 2
Valencia’s Tex-Mex garage, 2009 W. 34th, opened October 29
Wing Snob, 3902 N. Fry, opened October 10
Yi Peng Thai Dining, 798 Sorella Court, opened October 28

Restaurants Reported Closed for November 2020:

Firehouse Saloon, 5930 Southwest freeway, closed November 2
Good Dog, 1312 W. Alabama, closed November 22
King's Biergarten, 1329 E. Broadway, closed November 29
Politan Row, 2445 Times Boulevard, closed November 17
Public Services Wine and Whisky, 202 Travis, closed mid-November
The Sugar Shop, 215 5th, closed in November
Wholesome Kitchen, 250 Assay, closed late November
Wholesome Pies, 250 Assay, closed late November
KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
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.