Restaurant News

Openings and Closings: Two Daphne's Mediterraneans, Chicken Salad Chick

Build your own colorful bowls at Daphne's.
Build your own colorful bowls at Daphne's. Photo by Alan de Herrera

click to enlarge Build your own colorful bowls at Daphne's. - PHOTO BY ALAN DE HERRERA
Build your own colorful bowls at Daphne's.
Photo by Alan de Herrera
Daphne's Mediterranean, 107 Yale, is celebrating its grand opening April 19 with free Gyro Fries that day, while supplies last. The California-based chain acquired Noon Mediterranean out of bankruptcy in December. 2018. Noon had seen a couple of previous incarnations, first as Vertskebap, then Verts, then Noon. Now, the former locations are being reopened as Daphne's, a small Greek and Mediterranean chain that has been around since 1991. It's popular for its hand-carved gyros and fresh, healthy ingredients.

The Houston locations will feature Build-Your-Own-Bowls which allow patrons to choose their base, protein, toppings and sauces. There are starters like spankopita and a mezze platter plus kale quinoa tabbouleh and lemon chicken soup. There are also classic pitas and desserts like tahini brownies and baklava, all at reasonable prices.

click to enlarge Colorful means healthy at Daphne's. - PHOTO BY ALAN DE HERRERA
Colorful means healthy at Daphne's.
Photo by Alan de Herrera

Daphne's Mediterranean, 1600 Louetta, will open April 26 in the Vintage Park area with the same grand opening special of free Gyro Fries. This will make 31 stores for the Daphne's chain in California and Texas. Two additional locations will open in late April and early May in Southern California, while a former Noon in Boston will be converted into a Daphne's in May of this year.

click to enlarge Chicken Salad Chick is now open in Vintage Park. - PHOTO BY LORRETTA RUGGIERO
Chicken Salad Chick is now open in Vintage Park.
Photo by Lorretta Ruggiero

Chicken Salad Chick, 10300 Louetta, held its grand opening celebration April 17. This is the second Houston area location, with the first in Spring. The chicken salad franchise was founded by Stacy Brown and her husband Kevin, who tragically passed away in 2015 from colon cancer. In his memory, the Chicken Salad Chick Foundation hosts fundraisers and events to raise money for local cancer centers, the American Cancer Society and also donates funds to local food banks.

The business started in Stacy Brown's kitchen and has bloomed into a Southern-inspired, fast casual chicken salad franchise, the only one of its kind in the country. When it comes to chicken salad, everyone has a particular requirement. Some prefer fruit and nuts, others like it more savory with herbs and spices. Chicken Salad Chick has a variety to fit everyone's cravings and each of them is named after a friend or family member of Brown's. You can try the Fruity Fran, the Cranberri Kelli, Jalapeno Holly or the Kickin' Kay Lynne, just to name a few. They can be ordered by the scoop or in a salad or sandwich.

click to enlarge Chicken Salad Chick is big on Southern warmth. - PHOTO BY LORRETTA RUGGIERO
Chicken Salad Chick is big on Southern warmth.
Photo by Lorretta Ruggiero
The restaurant's menu reads like a Southern potluck with pimento cheese, mac n' cheese, pasta salad and grape salad. There are daily soup specials like tomato bisque and chicken tortilla, but loaded potato soup is an every day feature. For a limited time, there's a Madame Curry chicken salad available.

The franchise has grown to nearly 120 locations throughout the South and Southeast.

Smoking Pot Coffee Shop, 8510 Long Point, will open, fittingly, on April 20. The coffee shop goes beyond caffeine and offers patrons the option of infusing their beverages with a water soluble CBD or hemp oil, according to the Houston Chronicle. Cannabidiol is a chemical compound of cannabis, but does not contain THC, one of the main psychoactive compounds in cannabis. The shop will also sell pastries, cookies, candy and chocolates with or without CBD. There will be free samples and discounts for the grand opening.

Breakers Korean BBQ, 16535 Southwest Freeway, began its soft opening April 14 in Sugar Land. Diners can grill at their booths with a choice of all-you-can-eat BBQ or the a la carte menu. The decor is sleek and contemporary.

The Toasted Yolk, 207 E. Shore Drive, celebrated its grand opening April 15 in The Woodlands. This makes the sixth Greater Houston area location for the breakfast, brunch and lunch cafe. Instead of eggs Benedict, it serves eggs Arnold, with a variety of toppings. Besides the breakfast menu of omelets, pancakes and churro-style donuts, there are sandwiches, burgers and salads. The Toasted part comes from the cocktail menu with mimosas made from a variety of fresh juices and Bloody Marias.

Big Star Bar, 1005 West 19th, may be on the brink of closing, if not now, in the near future, according to Houston Food Finder.  The owner, Brad Moore, announced that the lease for the popular Heights spot ends in May and that Big Star Bar will remain on a month to month basis until the landlord sells the property, which with the astronomical rise of real estate values in the Heights, should be a nice chunk of change.

Of course, the ever-changing face of the Heights means that locals and dive bars close permanently or move to less bougie areas. Big Star Bar, with its much revered jukebox, eclectic live music and laid-back atmosphere is popular with employees in the hospitality industry looking to unwind after a night of being in the weeds. For now, it is still going until the final last call. Moore plans on still having a tenth anniversary bash in May.

Bar Victor, 4321 Montrose, is closing its doors after this weekend. The swanky French cocktail lounge will have one last fete Friday and Saturday night, so go and say au revoir to its blue velvet chairs and glittering chandeliers. However, the owners are ready to carry on the music,fun and boozy brunch at its sister restaurant, La Villa next door.

Freddy's Frozen Custard and Steakburgers
, 12007 Grand Parkway East, opened April 16. Known for its cooked to order steakburgers and frozen custard treats, it was founded in 2002 and has expanded to 32 states with over 300 locations.

"The Grand Parkway retail corridor has a steady flow of traffic through the area and is home to a wide variety of retail businesses, restaurants and family-friendly entertainment venues that makes it a great fit for Freddy's", said franchise owner Padden Nelson in a press release.

Polanquito, 404 Shepherd, softly opened April 15. Chef Diego Navarro is bringing authentic Mexican food to Montrose with chicharrones, mole chilaquiles and picaditas, a corn masa cake that is usually topped with red or green salsa or refried beans.

For now, the restaurant has limited hours and is open for breakfast and lunch. It is also BYOB until it gets its liquor license.

click to enlarge Pei Wei is introducing create-your-own bento boxes. - PHOTO BY ZACH WELCH
Pei Wei is introducing create-your-own bento boxes.
Photo by Zach Welch
Pei Wei is now offering customizable bento boxes. Each box has five compartments. Diners choose their entree from chicken, vegetables or tofu. For an additional 79 cents, they can upgrade to steak of shrimp. They can then choose from white, brown or cauliflower rice. The third compartment is a choice of sushi, with the fourth being a choice of crab wonton or mini chicken potstickers. The fifth compartment can be either a miso side salad or edamame. The cost is $9.99 at the three Houston area locations.
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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.