Openings and Closings

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It's been an exciting past week for diners and restaurateurs alike, with a rash of new and planned openings to please pretty much any palate.

The biggest news, of course, was that our own Robb Walsh is working with Bryan Caswell and Bill Floyd -- the team behind restaurants like Little Big's and Reef -- to open a Tex-Mex restaurant in the old Tower Theater in January 2011. As our sister blog, Hair Balls, succinctly put it: the hunter will become the hunted.

In other Montrose-area news, look for two more restaurants on the horizon: Cafe Moustache and a Houston outpost of popular Austin sushi restaurant Uchi. Cafe Moustache is taking the place of So Vino, a wine bar that never quite lived up to its hype, under the same direction of owner Manfred Jachmich. If the name sounds familiar, that's because it's a reincarnation of the Cafe Moustache that Jachmich ran in the 1980s, albeit in a totally different area of town.

And those nervous about the supposed destruction of the old Felix building to make way for Uchi can rest easy: Uchi owner and chef Tyson Cole's publicist confirmed to Swamplot that those rumors were untrue. Instead, it looks like the team will be bringing in the same architect who is responsible for the stunning space at Sushi Raku in Midtown to redevelop the old structure. What's more exiciting, however, is the possibility of having yet another world-class sushi restaurant in town to keep Kata Robata company. But before any of this can happen, Cole will be focused on the opening of the "little sister" to Uchi in Austin: Uchiko, which opens its doors on July 6.

Hickory Hollow will have some young competition to contend with, now that Phil's Texas BBQ has opened at the corner of Heights and Washington Avenue. Early reviews from BBQ hounds who ate there yesterday -- the first day it was open -- were generally positive, focusing on the restaurant's fatty brisket and bananas foster bread pudding. The pit at Phil's is manned by Gilbert Arismendez, a life-long pitmaster from El Campo, and watched over by Robin Wollin, the restaurant's general manager and former overseer at Otto's Barbecue on Memorial, so we have high hopes for the barbecue joint despite its location.

The much-anticipated Houston location of Sprinkles Cupcakes had its VIP grand opening last night and will open to the general public on June 21. And if you're both a basketball fan and a cupcake fan, Shane Battier and his wife, Heidi, will be serving cupcakes from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on opening day. If you find a favorite cupcake flavor (and you quickly will), be advised that only certain flavors are available on certain days. To avoid potential disappointment, here's a handy guide.

The area of town anchored by Town & Country Village and CityCentre is growing like a Chia pet these days. It's latest culinary tenant is McCormick & Schmick, which opened on June 14. The upscale steak and seafood restaurant might be a chain, but it's a solid one and sure to fit in with the fabric of the West Houston dining community.

Fans of Azuma, Soma and Kata Robata have a new place to indulge their sushi tooth: Azuma on the Lake, which opened on June 12 in Sugar Land. If the success of the Azuma Group's other restaurants are anything to judge the future of Azuma on the Lake by, the new sushi joint will be immensely popular with southwest Houston residents who no longer have to deal with Highway 59 to get great fish.

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