Restaurant News

Openings & Closings: Royal Oak Ends While Sylvia's Enchilada Kitchen Reopens

Sylvia's Enchilada Kitchen
, 6401 Woodway, reopened on August 16 after an early morning fire caused the restaurant to temporarily close its doors just over two weeks ago. According to a press release, a passerby reported the smoke coming from the roof area. It was later determined that the fire originated from the wood-burning grill. The restaurant is making plans to thank the firefighters for their bravery and fast action that prevented the restaurant from being destroyed. 

Eric Sandler of CultureMap Houston reports that Royal Oak Bar & Grill, 1318 Westheimer, will close on September 11. After five years on lower Westheimer, the popular hot spot is throwing an "End of an Era" weeklong closing party as a final hurrah. There are plans to renovate for a new concept that will take Royal Oak's place. In the meantime, owner Shawn Bermudez wants to move the "Sunday Funday" party to Pistolero's (another of his bars, just a few blocks away on Westheimer) by expanding the patio area and running specials for margaritas and mimosas.

Local food blogger Pilar Hernandez posted on Facebook that Bombay Brasserie, 2414 University, served its last meal on August 3 after ten years in Rice Village. A call to the restaurant confirms that it has indeed decided to close this location. The 3005 West Loop location in the Galleria remains open and is listed as Narin's Bombay Brasserie. A manager there said that an increase in the leasing cost for the Rice Village space caused the closure. 

Maggiano's Little Italy
 is opening a new location inside Memorial City Mall at 602 Memorial City Way in west Houston. A press release shares that the popular Italian restaurant will be celebrating its 25th anniversary on August 29 with "made-from-scratch classic Italian-American recipes. The new restaurant is 8,864 square feet, including a patio and two "flex rooms."

The Kirby/West University neighborhood is losing a longtime favorite bar. A tip from a reader says that Kay's Lounge, 2324 Bissonnet, is closing its doors on September 3. The semi-preppy dive bar has posted a good-bye message on its Facebook page, "a heartfelt "thank you" [to] all of Kay's customers for your years of loyal patronage."  Calls to the bar were unanswered.

La Bikina, 4223 Research Forest closed at the end of June. Yelper Dean T. says that there were locks on the doors and calls to the restaurant reached an automated disconnection message. La Bikina opened in late August of 2014 and served Mexican-inspired dishes and hand-crafted margaritas and cocktails. (It also received an unfavorable review from the Houston Press last year.)

There is a new hookah lounge in Westchase. Sahara Tales, 11138 Westheimer, has moved into the space between Molly's Pub and the Nippon Daido Japanese Market. It offers a variety of flavored tobaccos and Middle Eastern pastries. Hours are 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. every day, and it's closed on Mondays.   

A new Central Texas barbecue venue is coming to Montrose. The owner of The Pit Room, 1201 Richmond, Michael Sambrooks, tells the Press that the restaurant has plans for a grand opening this weekend.  Having acquired the bar next door, Jackson's Watering Hole, 1205 Richmond,  Sambrooks plans to create a special neighborhood icehouse when he opens The Patio of Richmond in its place. In a recent interview with Eric Sandler of CultureMap, Sambrooks shares extensive details about the construction, renovation and future plans for both the restaurant and the bar space.

Employees working downtown now have a cheesy option in the tunnels. Swamplot has discovered The Cheese Course Bistro & Cheese Market, 1001 McKinney, has moved into the old Subway nook. This is the third location to open outside the chain's native Florida home (there are other locations in Boulder and The Woodlands). The tunnel shop will not be offering wine pairings as do other locations, and hours will be 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The City of Webster has announced that the popular, Austin-based taco chain Torchy's Tacos will officially open on August 31. The new restaurant can be found at 19431 Gatebrook Drive near Baybrook Mall. According to, Torchy's Tacos has also selected a new location in west Houston. The Westchase Shopping Center,  10953 Westheimer, is currently home to the newest Whole Foods in the Houston area (the grocery store giant moved across the street into a larger space a couple of months ago), Kirklands and Five Below. No specific opening date has been released.

A new restaurant and sports bar is coming to Kirby where O'Yeah's Chinese Cafe used to reside. Swamplot reports that temporary signage for On the Kirb, 5004 Kirby, is up and can be seen from Kirby. A search for #onthekirb on Facebook reveals job openings for all restaurant positions as well as a poster that describes On the Kirb as a "sports bar with a twist" featuring "upscale bar food and Mediterranean thin crust pizza cooked in a wood-fired stone oven."

Sterling House, 3015 Bagby, finally opened on August 6 in Midtown. The long-anticipated bar is located in the historical home of the Sterling family (Rod Sterling was a former Texas governor). According to a news segment on, the owners of the bar wanted to preserve as much of the old home as possible and kept the wide front porch in place. 

Oui Banh Mi, 1601 Richmond, has opened in the former Lucky Burger spot. The owner told the Press that he plans to have a grand opening within the next two weeks. The restaurant has been running soft openings over the past week to work out any final issues and is expected to be open regular hours soon. Those will be 10 a.m. to midnight Mondays through Fridays and 10 a.m. to 3 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. There'll also be a drive-through for late-night banh mi cravings.

A new Denver-based, fast-casual Indian restaurant is coming to Pearland. According to a press release, Taja Indian, 2510 Smith Ranch Road, Suite 108, is planning for a grand opening on August 29.  Taja means "fresh" in Hindi, and the philosophy at Taja Indian is to provide food that is "pure and made fresh from quality ingredients" while crafting dishes in less than ten minutes for under $10 each.

Only a few days after the beloved Rice Village bar Hans Bier Haus closed up shop, a new sign was seen in its place. According to Swamplot, ChristoMio Coffee Bar, 2523 Quenby, has announced that it's coming soon. Its Facebook timeline doesn't provide any additional information about the actual opening date.

Galiana's Bakery and Cafe,  24110 Northwest Freeway, Suite 500, has plans to open this winter in Cypress. A press release reveals plans for a Mexican-inspired menu featuring "artisan breads, international pastries and desserts, and an exceptionally fresh, made-to-order breakfast and lunch menu." 

Signage for the Texas Shrimp Shack is in place at former Mexican restaurant Maria Selma, but the exterior and interior remain the same, according to Yelper Faye P. The menu has changed to offer more seafood dishes, but it remains Mexican-influenced.

A report from Swamplot reveals that The Bombay Indian Grill, 706 Main, quietly moved out of the space last Monday. Calls to the restaurant were unanswered and Yelpers have reported it closed.

That's it for this week's restaurant openings and closings. Do you know of something we missed? Leave us a comment or send us an email to tell us about it.
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Cuc Lam is a freelance food writer for the Houston Press and local pop-up chef. She enjoys teaching cooking classes and hosting dinner parties when she is not writing.