Openings and Closings in Houston: Ruggles Green Returns

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Ginger and Fork, the new Cantonese concept from top-shelf bartender Mary Li, will have its grand opening on Tuesday, March 15 at 4705 Inker. Li spent more than ten years at Tony Mandola's Gulf Coast Kitchen as a bartender and bar manager, but it seems she's got culinary skills, too, as the menu is all of her own creation. Don't worry; Li's fabulous craft cocktails will be making an appearance at the new concept, too. It's in the midst of its soft opening, so if you want to swing by before March 15, check out the Facebook page for each day's hours.

Chef Shannen Tune made national headlines this week when he won Chopped, a competitive cooking show on the Food Network, at around the same time that his new food truck, Craft Burger, hit the Houston streets. His specialty is decadent Southern food, and the burger-centric truck is no exception, with offerings like the Morning After Burger with candied bacon, potato hash, eggs and bacon-cheddar waffles. The grand opening celebration was set for earlier this week, but was delayed because of weather concerns. Keep an eye on the truck Facebook page for more updates.

Japanese mainstay Kubo's, 2414 University in Rice Village, is closed, although, according to signage on the door, the restaurant will try to relocate and reopen. Meanwhile, the concept's sister restaurant, Café Kubo's at 9889 Bellaire, is still open.

The scoop on new Hospitality USA concept Restless Palate, coming soon to 2643 Commercial Center in the old D'Amico's spot, is that Eatsie Boys chef Matt Marcus will be developing the menu for the casual, healthy-eating restaurant, but he says the fare will be anything but bland. The anticipated opening date is early April. Check out Phaedra Cook's article on Restless Palate for more details.

Houston's downtown cajun and creole diner is now open for dinner; Zydeco Louisiana Diner at 1119 Pease will be offering evening meals from 5 to 9 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday, with offerings like gumbo, jambalaya and, of course, crawfish.

Ruggles Green has reopened at its new location, 2305 West Alabama in River Oaks. Ruggles uses local and organic ingredients to create top-notch options that adhere to gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian and other dietary restrictions – but we think the fare is great for omnivores, too!

Greg Morago of the Houston Chronicle reports that Current is now in the midst of its soft opening inside of The Westin at 2 Waterway Square Place in The Woodlands. The sophisticated restaurant officially opens on March 18, and the menu focuses on fresh, seasonal fare, like salads made of green and yellow beans with couscous and baby grape tomatoes.

Johnny McElroy's Irish Pub & Patio is now open at 1223 Waugh with a great deal of beer taps, including offerings from many local favorites. This is the third pub concept from McElroy's; the other two are McElroy's Pub at 3607 South Sandman and Shay McElroy's at 909 Texas, all fairly similar concepts. The kitchen at Johnny McElroy's has yet to open, but Syd Kearney, also of the Chronicle, says it will be opening soon.

Preamble Lounge & Craft House at 20801 Gulf Freeway has its first day in business on Friday, March 11; the prohibition-era lounge will specialize in cocktails, including barrel-aged drinks and cocktails on tap.

Eric Sandler of CultureMap reports that Eric Aldis of The Marque and Corner Table has partnered with pitmaster Brett Jackson, formerly of Louie Mueller Barbecue, to create Midtown Barbecue, which will occupy the former Bourbon on Bagby location at 2708 Bagby. The new barbecue concept is set to open in mid-April.

Health food haven H.S. Green is open at 5092 Richmond (near the Galleria), where you'll find filling salads and light yet flavorful pizzas. The establishment also offers smoothies and cold-pressed juices, and there's a beer and wine bar for when you don't mind being slightly less health-food-oriented.

Swamplot says that the Canyon Cafe, 5000 Westheimer, is closed for good, and signs advertising the space have appeared in the windows.

There's a new icehouse and food truck combo concept open 823 Dumble in EaDo called Invasion Ice House and Tako Box, respectively. The food truck serves mostly authentic Mexican fare, and the icehouse is fairly beer-centric. Be sure to check out the giant flying saucer mural on the outside if you're in the neighborhood.

If you're in the UH or TSU area and you need a caffeine boost, swing into The Library Coffee and Wine House at 2612 Scott, which has opened just in time for every student's favorite time of the semester: midterms.

Pizza and burger chain Mellow Mushroom is getting closer to opening at 1919 North Shepherd, although the space still pretty much looks like a car dealership. However, that didn't stop the restaurant from applying for a TABC license.

As the weather warms up, you might find yourself longing for something cold and sweet. There's a place itching to satisfy that craving – Miss Bea's Shaved Ice has 50 flavors of shaved ice at 5208 Bellaire, and they're sure to help cool you off as the temperatures climbs.

Many of the forthcoming restaurants in the new River Oaks District, 4444 Westheimer, have set opening dates, so here's a rundown of what to expect when you're expecting these swanky new eateries:

The first newcomer will be Toulouse Café and Bar; the French bistro will be open on March 23. Can you say brunch?

Taverna, a rustic Italian restaurant with seasonal flair, has committed to opening in mid-April.

A number of restaurants have said that their openings are set for late spring, including Hopdoddy, the burger giant from Austin; Le Colonial, which offers swankier French-Vietnamese fare; The Porch, a more casual American eatery; and Steak 48, a steakhouse with unusual offerings, such as a raw bar.

That's it for this week's restaurant openings and closings! Did we miss something? Leave us a comment or send us an email to let us know.

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