Openings and Closings

It's been a busy week in Houston's restaurant scene, with just as many closings as openings. And some of the closings are certainly blows to the small ethnic dining scenes to which they belonged.

Miguelito's Venezuelan Restaurant (5506 Richmond) and Addisaba (7668 De Moss Drive) both closed in the last few weeks, further reducing the ranks of two already tiny culinary scenes in Houston: Venezuelan and Ethiopian. In addition, several Mexican restaurants bit the dust: Pollo Riko, Fonda Dona Maria, Rancho del Viejo and El Sol de Mexico.

The Montrose outpost of Dean's Credit Clothing is no more, technically. The bar has changed its name to The Fairview (315 Fairview). A nice side patio has been built up, too, and the Fusion Taco truck has been known to set up shop there in the evenings from time to time.

As Ruthie Johnson pointed out recently, Burns BBQ has indeed moved to a new location at 7117 N. Shepherd, close to Little York. Not to be deterred by a few mandatory fixes to their old 'cue shack, the Burns guys simply opened this secondary outpost to keep serving up their beautiful barbecue.

Cafe Layal, a Mediterranean restaurant, has moved in to the old space that previously housed This Is It! Soul Food on West Gray. Readers have noted that Cafe Layal shares the same address with the restaurant next door -- Lemon Tree -- in the old old This Is It! space, which housed the soul food restaurant before it built new digs directly next door. Both restaurants are at 207 West Gray. Are they missing a suite number, perhaps?

This Is It! has moved permanently to 2712 Blodgett, in between the University of Houston and TSU campuses. When I drove by last week during lunch, the restaurant was as busy as ever and parking -- even in the new spot -- still appeared to be an issue.

Also open this week in the previous location of a very popular eatery is Latin Bites, which took over the old Ray's Franks building on 1302 Nance. B4-U-Eat says in their weekly newsletter that Latin Bites -- run by Carlos Ramos, the same man who owns Latin Bites catering -- will feature Peruvian-American cuisine and a ceviche bar. I'm sold already.

And back over in Montrose, a new late-night eatery has opened on 2310 Converse: The Muffin Man. Commence with all the "Do you know the Muffin Man?" jokes....now. Run by Jason Perry, a Montrose native and St. Thomas alum, the restaurant is housed in a restored Victorian home and hopes to provide good, inexpensive food to the dinner and after-hours crowd in the area. It's open Wednesday to Sunday, starting at 5 p.m. and closing "after the bars close." This place could get rowdy...in a very good way.

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