Openings & Closings: An Unexpectedly Speedy Good-bye From Van Loc

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As reported Wednesday, Van Loc has unexpectedly closed much earlier than anticipated. The owners told us last week that it would close "before Thanksgiving." Well, that turned out to be last Wednesday. Van Loc opened way back in 1986 and was one of the first Vietnamese restaurants in Houston. While the city has lost a treasured classic, the owners are expected to enjoy a well-deserved retirement. Hopefully, loyal customers made it there in time for one last meal.

Reader Jay J. reported in last week's comments that Capriotti's Sandwich Shop in Sugar Land is now closed. Indeed, a call to the phone number reveals that it is out-of-service.

With those sad closings aside, there's a whole slew of new openings to catch up on.

Main Kitchen in the shiny new JW Marriott hotel downtown is now open for all your dining needs. Erin Smith, who most recently helped with menu concepts for Clumsy Butcher's Blacksmith coffee shop and The Hay Merchant gastropub, is executive chef. Watch for our Chef Chat with her next week.

Paul's Kitchen, the restaurant that took over Haven's old space at 2502 Algerian Way, opened on September 29. Paul Lewis, formerly of Osteria Mazzantini, is executive chef. According to a press release, Paul's Kitchen is "a chef driven scratch kitchen, which uses locally sourced ingredients to create a globally inspired seasonal menu, complimented by craft cocktails and a diverse wine list." It's open for both lunch and dinner. Customized dining experiences are available by way of a four-seat chef's table as well.

Eric Sandler of Culturemap just posted an extensive list of several recent and anticipated restaurant openings that is well worth checking out.

Thanks to "chicchiceats" for alerting us that Oh, no! Yaki Snack Attack has started taking out its brand new, Japanese-themed food truck. Yaki Snack Attack initially made waves serving fun, Asian-inspired dishes during pop-ups at places like Grand Prize Bar. Keep up with the truck's location on their Facebook page.

Photographer Gary Wise sent us a tip on a new place in the Energy Corridor. Verde Cali-Mex recently opened at 1275 Eldridge Parkway. The owners previously ran N'Dulge Catering and are promising "a unique blend of Tex-Mex, West Coast style, and New Orleans cuisine." What does that mean? Dishes include slow-roasted beef in pasilla chile sauce, blackened prime rib and guacamole hummus. Weekend brunch is available, as is a happy hour where nothing on the special food menu is more than six dollars.

JINYA Ramen opened on October 1, exciting ramen enthusiasts across the Houston area. (Thanks to reader "Mark W." for the reminder in last week's comments.) It's known for its "pumped up" tonkotsu ramen recipe. Their web site describes it as "pork broth which is pumped up with industrial quantities of dashi and dried fish--a broth that seemed to be trying to establish the record for the most umami per milligram." The restaurant includes special decor touches such as hand-blown glass lamps flown in from Japan. It's located near NASA and the town of Webster at 18299 Egret Bay Blvd.

On the horizon: Greg Morago at the Houston Chronicle reports that Pappas is opening its new "casual steak restaurant with a Southern flair" a mere week from now. The place is called Pappas Meat Co. and the menu reads like "Houston's Greatest Hits" with offerings like chicken fried chicken, chicken fried steak, Gulf crab cakes, pot roast with mashed potatoes and a biscuit and fried green tomatoes, amongst other potential delights.

Morago also reports that Dish Society is about to bring its casual, farm-to-table concept to Katy. It's expected to open in January and will bring a much-needed independent operation to the area.

Reader "mcchenault" posted in last week's comments that Michael's Coffee & Wine Bar will be opening in Humble in the Fall Creek area on October 18. They'll be serving specialty coffee, Texas Craft beer and a great selection of wines."

Did we miss any openings or closings? Let us know in the comments section and we will be sure to include them in next week's report.

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