Openings and Closings: Hello Ethel Mae, Goodbye Pappa Charlie's

The extra-large pig hints at the porcine pleasures inside.
The extra-large pig hints at the porcine pleasures inside.
Photo courtesy of Ethel Mae Bourbon and Bacon.
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Ethel Mae Bourbon and Bacon, 10750 Barker Cypress, opened its doors this month to the Cypress area folks who have been curious about the goings on in a nondescript strip center. Once inside, however, the decor gives the feeling of a glammed-up barn, with comfy leather Chesterfield sofas, vintage signs, reclaimed wood and whiskey barrels making up the one-of-a-kind bar. Pig is the star meat here, with pork belly appetizers and fried pig shank. There is also a variety of Southern faves like chicken fried steak and fried green tomatoes. If you have a hankering for Southern butter biscuits, then you might want to check out the menu which uses the fluffy bread as a vehicle for delicious toppings such as brisket and house-cured or smoked pork belly. Owner Joe Duong is a fixture on the Cypress restaurant scene with his laid-back, rustic burger joints (three in total) that seem to have sprung out of Austin in its hipper, better days (Yeah, I said it. It needed to be said).

Photo courtesy of Ethel Mae Bourbon and Bacon

Ethel Mae’s is also taking orders for its homemade pies, bundt cakes, cinnamon rolls, and popular bread pudding for the holidays, with a 24-hour notice needed. For some family-friendly Christmas fun, there will be Christmas Jazz, December 22 from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. with carols and music.

Grazia Italian Kitchen is opening a third location in the spring of 2018, according to The Katy News. The newest outpost will be at Villagio Town Center, 22764 Westheimer Parkway, in the space formerly occupied by Three Olives. Jade Hospitality’s executive chef, Chris Loftis, brings wood-fired pizza, prime steaks, Gulf seafood and traditional Italian favorites to the menu. In 2016, Grazia won several awards at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo’s Roundup, including Lone Star Entree Grand Champion. The first two restaurants in Pearland and Clear Lake closed temporarily to the public during Hurricane Harvey in order to feed first responders and volunteers.

Redfish on the half shell.EXPAND
Redfish on the half shell.
Photo courtesy of Goode Co. Kitchen and Cantina

Goode Co. Kitchen and Cantina, 9005 Katy Freeway, opened December 18. After debuting the first of the Goode Co.’s Tex-Mex venture in the Woodlands, President Levi Goode is expanding the concept into the Memorial area in a remodeled building that once housed Mason Jar. With an interior of reclaimed wood and vintage pieces from the family’s collection, the restaurant also has an exposed kitchen showcasing the wood-fired grills.

The Goode Company has been in the restaurant business for forty years and the new concept features cuisine inspired by Levi Goode’s grandmother, Emma Longoria Goode, who was a Mexican immigrant.

Pappa Charlie’s Barbecue is closing its brick and mortar operation at 2012 Rusk, as reported by CultureMap Houston. The barbecue joint opened two years ago after its original conception as a successful Montrose food truck. Owner Wesley Jurena puts some of the blame on Hurricane Harvey, but also feels that a different location might be a better option in the future. For now, the business is still continuing its catering operations and it is also available for special events. Jurena spent ten years in the United States Army, seven of those years in the First Ranger Battalion.

Bobcat Teddy’s Icehouse, opened in the former space of Jimmy’s Ice House, according to CultureMap Houston. Owner Ted Baker wanted to keep the regulars from Jimmy’s happy with the same beer prices while bringing in new customers with beers on tap and spirits, with a focus on Irish whiskeys in honor of his Irish heritage. Alli Genoway from Revelry will be tending bar and creating new cocktails. After a soft opening on December 16, Bobcat Teddy’s hosted a friends and family night on December 21. Follow the shamrocks to this comfortable, cozy watering hole.

The Empanada Factory, 3833 Southwest Freeway, opened in early November. Part of the restaurant group that also includes Argentina Cafe and Che Inka, the new eatery offers over 25 different flavors of baked and fried empanadas, both sweet and savory. There are several sauces to use for dipping, including a chimichurri sauce. The small restaurant also serves unique pizzas in 8” and 12” sizes. There is a small selection of coffees, wine, and beer, including Quilmes, an Argentinian beer.

The prices are reasonable with most empanadas under $3. It is open daily from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Burgerim, 12230 West Lake Houston Parkway, opened this month, serving its signature 3oz. burgers in it 1-2-3 packs or the party box of 16 sliders. The first restaurant opened in 2011 and, with franchising, has expanded across the country with 160 restaurants.

Noon Mediterranean, 107 Yale, opened in early December. Part of the chain that used to be Vertskebap, there are nineteen locations in a handful of states. While some customers are bemoaning the loss of the donner-style meat options (me), the new concept offers healthier choices such as quinoa bowls and rice bowls. There is still beef and chicken, plus falafel and slow-cooked pork. Occasionally there are seasonal changes to the menu.

Viet Street Drinks and Snacks, 11209 Bellaire Boulevard, opened December 8. For those shopping at the Hong Kong Food Market, this little eatery has bubble teas, fresh fruit smoothies, plus snacks like fish balls and salted egg cupcakes.

Chris Shepherd is the King of Change.
Chris Shepherd is the King of Change.
Photo by Julie Soefer Photography

And finally, Chris Shepherd is making some major changes to his Houston restaurant empire, as reported here in the Houston Press. Shepherd will be closing his famed and much-lauded restaurant, Underbelly, and opening a new steakhouse, Georgia James, in its place at 1100 Westheimer. The steakhouse named for his parents is slated to open mid to late 2018. The adjoining Hay Merchant will begin serving lunch in April 2018.

Down the road, Shepherd is opening UB Preservat 1609 Westheimer, which he says will give him more freedom from Underbelly's adherence to mostly local ingredients. He is looking to use more global flavors and experiences from his travels abroad.

In September, Shepherd's concept restaurant One-Fifth will make its yearly rebranding debut September 1, 2018, as One-Fifth Mediterranean, 1658 Westheimer. He scrapped the original plan of One-Fifth Fish because he found it too limiting. The James Beard award-winning chef credits the One-Fifth concept for allowing him to have fun and play around with different restaurants.

That's it for this week's Openings and Closings. If you have any restaurants or bars that we have missed, hit us up in the comments section and let us know.

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