Restaurant News

Openings & Closings: Hugs & Donuts Is Now Open

The folks behind the H-Town Streats food truck and defunct The Bird House have opened their new donut shop. Hugs & Donuts is at 1901 North Shepherd right next door to Fat Cat Creamery. The small, cute shop has both sweet and savory options, but if you want to land one of the savory ones, like a Gatlin's BBQ brisket kolache, get there early. Hugs & Donuts opens at 7 a.m. We dropped in and loved the "everything bagel" with a cream cheese center topped with lox. There were also plain glazed, blueberry and chocolate-covered "birthday cake" donuts on our visit. The shop serves Katz Coffee to go alongside and plans to get three "milk taps" up and running with plain, chocolate and strawberry flavors.

Chef Randy Evans is leaving Houston to go work for H-E-B's corporate office in San Antonio, but he's left his touch on a few Houston-area projects before leaving. He was a consultant on Ocean Grille in Galveston, which just opened at 1228 Seawall. The chef there is Brian Peper and the managing partner is Brian Davis, Evans's general manager at his prior restaurant, Haven.

The restaurant takes full advantage of its coastal location, with lots of windows that overlook the Gulf and a back patio perfect for dining and drinking in the salt air. Evans says via a press release, "You won't see any salmon on the menu because, well, we don't have it in the gulf! You also won't see any tilapia -- or catfish, either for that matter!" Instead, look for an ever-changing menu based on what Peper finds fresh at Katie's Seafood Market, including red snapper and grouper when available. The restaurant is using seasonal, local produce as well.

According to the Houston Chronicle, Cullen's fast-casual burger place is opening on Friday, April 10 at 5 p.m. It's called 'Merica and is at 11500 Space Center Boulevard next to the new Cullen's Italian place Bravissimo. It's a "patriotic- and Western-themed bar" with more than 50 beers on tap.

Pizaro's Pizza has finally gotten its Montrose location up and running at 1020 West Gray. It's a bigger, more beautiful version of its original Memorial location and serves substantially the same beautifully charred Neapolitan-style pizzas that won so many fans at the original place. The Houston Chronicle has a slideshow of all the goodness, and to top it off (so to speak), Pizaro's is also BYOB.

That's not the only pizza place expanding. A press release says that CityCentre is getting a Grimaldi's Pizza, a fourth Houston-area spot for the chain. The restaurant will be located below Houston Texans Grille fronting Queensbury Lane. Aiming for a late summer opening, Grimaldi's is best known for making New York-style pizzas in coal-fired brick ovens. The new space will be 3,500 square feet and sport both private dining and an expansive patio area.

If you enjoy frozen yogurt, here's your chance to get a free cup of it. A new Menchie's Frozen Yogurt is now open at 2903 Woodridge. Visitors between 12 and 2 p.m. on April 11 will receive a free eight-ounce cup of the frozen treat. The shop is hosting giveaways and family-friendly activities to celebrate through April 17.

Mediterranean fast-casual concept Just Falafel has opened in the tunnel under One Allen Center downtown at 500 Dallas Street. The chain has other restaurants operating in New Jersey, the San Francisco Bay Area, and Toronto. Dishes include vegan falafel, Halal shawarma (in both chicken and beef) and mezzes.

Culturemap Houston reports that a 4,000-square-foot Starbucks is opening in the downtown Hilton Americas on 1600 Lamar. Expect more than just coffee, as in the evenings it will offer wine, beer, small savory options and desserts. It's expected to open in October.

Houston is getting a high-end Asian-themed restaurant and lounge, according to Greg Morago at the Houston Chronicle. It will be called Tarakaan and will be located at 2301 South Main. It will be modeled after popular existing concepts such as Buddakan in New York and Tao Asian Bistro in Las Vegas. Tarakaan is intended to be a "hip, upscale restaurant that segues into a lounge" at night.

Simone On Sunset at 2418 Sunset Boulevard in Rice Village unexpectedly shuttered in December after a dispute between the owner and landlord. Now, Culturemap Houston reports that the owner's former business partners are getting the place ready to reopen in May. All they're waiting on is the liquor license.

That's it for this week's Openings & Closings. What did we miss? Leave a comment or send us an email and don't forget to send in your info and tips throughout the week.

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Phaedra Cook
Contact: Phaedra Cook