Openings & Closings

No time to waste this week! Too much news to share! Straight to it!

Newly hired chef Michael dei Maggi left Dragon Bowl late last week, as reported by Eater Houston. This marks too many moves by dei Maggi to count in the last two years (sound familiar?) and gives me pause about both Dragon Bowl and dei Maggi. Regardless of who is to blame in the partnership that fell apart, Jason Gould-and-Stella Sola-style, it's getting increasingly frustrating to see so many promising restaurants backsliding just as they were building themselves back up. See also: Yelapa Playa Mexicana's break with chef Brandon Fisch.

Moving on to better news, Moon Tower Inn has announced plans to open a food truck of its own, although this truck won't be selling MTI's signature hot dogs. Perhaps still feeling burned that places like Sammy's Wild Game Grill have "stolen" their ideas, the MTI boys are currently keeping mum on what the truck will be selling. I'm hoping for grilled cheese sandwiches, personally.

Also upcoming is, of course, Uchi. If you haven't been by the old Felix restaurant on the corner of Montrose and Westheimer lately, go check it out: The framing out of the new Uchi restaurant is coming along quickly. So quickly, in fact, that Uchi has announced that it's hiring for Houston waitstaff and cooks. Get your bids in now...

Just down the street, Chris Shepherd's planned Underbelly is also coming along swiftly. A press release that came out this week had a wealth of information about the new restaurant: Expect a full house, with interior seating for more than 180 (including a private dining room and a communal chef's table) and patio seating for 20. More exciting is the immense butcher shop that will be attached to the kitchen, which Shepherd told me will accommodate breaking down half a cow. And if you're still unsure about what kind of culinary direction "The Story of Houston Food" is supposed to imply, the press releases breaks it down quite nicely:

Underbelly is the perfect title to tell "the Story of Houston Food," and when it comes to Houston, there is no better storyteller than Chef Chris Shepherd. Chris' upcoming restaurant shares his journey as a chef in a city he describes as "the most secretive and dynamic culinary destination in the country." Beneath the well-known gritty surface lies an endless array of local ingredients and cultures that shape Chris' unique perspectives on food.

While we eagerly await Underbelly and Uchiko's openings, Hubcap Grill has already had its long-awaited opening on 19th Street in the Heights. The grand opening this past Monday of the burger joint's second location was met with long lines and happy customers, at least judging by our Twitter stream.

And over in Midtown, Majorca Bistro & Tapas finally opened after a long construction and renovation transformed the old This Is It space into a classy tapas bar complete with some funky bull sculptures out front on the broad patio. If you want to check out more about Majorca, I recommend hitting its Facebook page instead of its under-construction website, which features possibly the worst auto-play "soundtrack" of "crashing waves" since that Ocean Expressions CD I bought from a truck stop in Kentucky (true story).

In closings, Expressions Fine Chocolate closed this past week, according to B4-U-Eat. And brewpub fans across Houston were chagrined to discover that Freetail Brewing isn't coming to downtown after all, with the owner of the San Antonio-based chain citing a lack of capital in his decision to call the whole thing off.

But that's one of the things beer is best at, after all: drowning your sorrows. I suggest a visit to Petrol Station and a growler to go.

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