Restaurant News

Openings & Closings: Welcome Back Kiran's

Local Foods downtown will feature a ceviche and raw bar.
Local Foods downtown will feature a ceviche and raw bar. Photo by Julie Soefer

Local Foods
opened its fourth store at 420 Main on January 12. The downtown location debuted inside the Joseph Finger-designed historical building at the corner of Prairie and Main. Local Foods is known for using freshly sourced ingredients and proteins from local farmers, ranchers and the Urban Harvest Farmer’s Market, but this fourth installment includes a new feature. According to a press release, a raw bar and ceviche program with gulf seafood highlights new items that are only available at the downtown location.

Gulf shrimp ceviche with jackfruit and spicy chili threads and oyster shooters with pepperoncini vodka and a bloody Mary vinaigrette are examples of features on the new menu. Local Foods salad and sandwich favorites are also available on the regular menu.

Last week, the Houston Business Journal reported the mysterious closure of Up at 3995 Westheimer in Highland Village. Signage outside the restaurant read: "Up Restaurant is CLOSED for Remodeling. We apologize for any inconvenience.” There is no additional information available at this time.

After six short months, The Blind Pig at 11920 Westheimer shuttered abruptly on Monday, January 9. A representative of the restaurant told the Houston Press that they (the management) encountered endless obstacles from obtaining the liquor license to financial issues with one of the partners. The gastropub had positive reviews for the quality of food and service, but as monetary issues persisted, staff started jumping ship. Many of its popular gourmet sandwiches disappeared from the menu and business suffered as a result.

click to enlarge Kiran's reopened on January 18 in its new location with old familiar favorites like the chicken tikka masala. - PHOTO COURTESY OF KIRAN'S
Kiran's reopened on January 18 in its new location with old familiar favorites like the chicken tikka masala.
Photo courtesy of Kiran's

The Houston Chronicle reported that Kiran’s is re-opening on January 18 at its new address in Levy Park at 2925 Richmond. The beloved Indian restaurant shuttered its location at 4100 Westheimer in April of last year after months of landlord and leasing issues. After 11 years at the River Oaks location, chef/owner Kiran Verma was excited about the move and the opportunity to build a restaurant from the ground up. According to the Chronicle, the new space is much larger, by at least 1,000 square feet, enabling Verma to expand her kitchen team, menu and cocktail and wine program. Look forward to more Indian street food starters and a new entree featuring Indian spiced duck confit.

Kiran’s special afternoon tea service will be available during the week and on weekends for groups of eight or more by reservation. Operating hours are Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. for lunch and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. for dinner and on Friday and Saturday from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.

EaDo will soon be the home to the newest hot spot to be in Houston, East Village. The 60,000 square foot mixed-use space will be pedestrian-friendly and house an array of restaurants, bars, private event venues and urban offices in an area spanning two city blocks in East Downtown.

Several restaurants have been confirmed to open within East Village, one of the most anticipated is NextSeed sourced Chapman & Kirby at 2118 Lamar. More than a year ago, the Houston Business Journal reported the arrival of the gastro-lounge and premium event space. The latest update on the NextSeed page published in September mentioned major hurdles and construction delays, but reassured that they were “optimistic about the road ahead and are as excited as ever to bring Chapman & Kirby to life in time for Super Bowl!”

Another restaurant opening in East Village is a poke joint called Poku Poke, which appears to be associated with the group who is behind Chapman & Kirby. Both include local entrepreneur and co-founder of the former Hughes Hangar, Hoang Cao as a partner.

Other confirmed East Village-tenants include Dallas-based Rodeo Goat Ice House, which was previously reported in November’s Openings & Closings article, an as-yet-to-be-named concept by Agricole Hospitality, the group behind (Eight Row Flint, Coltivare and Revival Market) and also Dallas-based food truck park, Truck Yard. Details about the space and layout of the new concepts were reported by Swamplot.

click to enlarge A variety of donuts is available at Pena's Donuts & Diner in Pearland. - PHOTO COURTESY OF PENA'S DONUTS & DINER
A variety of donuts is available at Pena's Donuts & Diner in Pearland.
Photo courtesy of Pena's Donuts & Diner

Although this second location has been open since October of last year, the Peña’s Donuts & Diner, 10555 Pearland Parkway, celebrated its grand opening for the Pearland location on January 14. The restaurant combines traditional American diner food with its award-winning donuts. The original store is located at 11601 Shadow Creek Parkway, also in Pearland.

A post on its Facebook page announced that the downtown location of Grotto at Avenida Houston officially opened on January 3. The new restaurant sports a different interior and exterior style than the location on Westheimer, but offers the same Italian menu and a selection of craft beers, grappa and wine.

A new franchise is coming to the Marq*Entertainment Center at 7620 Katy Freeway. The Chronicle reported that Get Fried, which presents French fries in the top billing spot on its menu announced plans to come to the Bayou City. The restaurant will offer a variety of fry-styles on the menu, including seasoned-waffle, curly, sweet potato and funnel cake. Yes, funnel-cake fries!

Come spring of next year, a new Alamo Drafthouse will open in LaCenterra at Cinco Ranch, as per CultureMap Houston. According to CultureMap, “the theater will also feature a bar and lounge area with an expansive selection of craft beers and handcrafted cocktails, and patio seating.”

In more news from Katy, a Facebook post this week questioned whether or not the dessert shop at 23501 Cinco Ranch had closed. A call to The Sweet Boutique Bakery in LaCenterra confirmed its closing on January 9. The location at Town Square in Sugar Land appears to still be in business.

Cooking Girl is closed temporarily, but diners can visit the Sugar Land location in the meantime. - PHOTO BY TROY FIELDS
Cooking Girl is closed temporarily, but diners can visit the Sugar Land location in the meantime.
Photo by Troy Fields

On January 17, Cooking Girl, 315 Fairview closed temporarily for maintenance. A server at its sister restaurant, Pepper Twins, told the Press that the City of Houston is repairing sewage lines/piping under the building space. He added that the closure should not last more than one or two months. In the meantime, diners can feed the spice need at Cooking Girl’s suburban outpost at 636 Highway 6, suite 100, in Sugar Land.

A Facebook post announced that Cypress area sweet shop Cake Swirl reopened in its new location on January 13 at 156 FM 1960, suite K off Interstate 45 near Cypress Creek Parkway. According to its website, Cake Swirl specializes in pastries, gourmet cupcakes and any occasion cakes.

The Chronicle reported that Pizza Cucinova Italian Restaurant will open in Lakeland Village Center in spring or early summer of this year. The Ohio-based restaurant features Neapolitan pizza, pasta and salads. The pizza parlor is one of many new places to open in the Bridgeland, 11,400-acre community at Fry Road near the Grand Parkway and U.S. 290 in Cypress.

Killen’s Barbecue plans to extend hours to offer dinner service starting January 19. Chef/Owner Ronnie Killen told CultureMap Houston that since they already have a wood-burning grill for the barbecue, “we could have steaks, we could have pork chops, stuff like that. People who want to have a steak at our steakhouse but it’s too expensive for them, we could give them a steak here.” Killen added that training the new crew and staff could potentially lead to a second barbecue location. Let’s hope it makes its way closer to town.

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