Restaurant News

Openings and Closings: Casa Do Brasil Opens, Pier 6 Debuts, Fat Cat Expands

Bubba's Shrimp Palace has been replaced.
Bubba's Shrimp Palace has been replaced. Photo by Kimberly Park

Pier 6 Seafood and Oyster House, 113 6th, opened November 5 in San Leon. The waterside restaurant comes from Raz Halili, owner of Prestige Oysters. Halili is a second generation oysterman and first generation American. Helming the kitchen will be renowned executive chef, Joe Cervantez, most recently executive chef at Brennan's of Houston. The restaurant is situated between Red Fish Island and Prestige Point, giving guests a stellar view of the ocean and the fishing boats on Galveston Bay.

This is the first restaurant for Halili's family. Formerly Bubba's Shrimp Palace, the property was completely gutted (if you ever went to Bubba's, you know that's a good thing) with the build out of the 5,000 square foot area creating seating for 170 guests, including space for 30 at the wraparound oyster bar. The patio offers 75 additional seats on the main level with a floor-to-ceiling glass wall system that can opened and closed depending on the weather. There is another spacious covered patio lounge with its own bar, lounge furnishings and hanging rattan swings facing the bay.

click to enlarge We all need a nice, calming view of the water right now. - PHOTO BY KIMBERLY PARK
We all need a nice, calming view of the water right now.
Photo by Kimberly Park

The restaurant's design was created by Coeval Studio, combining modern, sleek elements with white-washed shiplap and wood tones, making good use of the ample natural light with greenery while hand-woven rattan pendant lights provide more illumination.

Halili is passionate about showcasing fresh Gulf seafood. In a press release he said, " Being able to offer the fresh bounty that comes from the Gulf, to highlight the area, Prestige, and what we do, all while leveraging Joe's expertise in the's a dream."

click to enlarge Crispy Red Snapper sits atop a bed of rice and Gulf shrimp. - PHOTO BY KIMBERLY PARK
Crispy Red Snapper sits atop a bed of rice and Gulf shrimp.
Photo by Kimberly Park
Executive Chef Cervantez has created a tide to table menu, using much of Prestige's Gulf Coast oysters and other local seafood plus incorporating bycatch into the restaurant's fresh fish program. There will be a strong Cajun and Creole influence, drawing on the chef's experience at Brennan's and the culinary preferences of Gulf Coast diners. However, there will be a few East Coast and Asian preparations on the menu as well like lobster bisque with cheddar drop biscuits and pounded tuna tostada with wakame and ponzu sauce.

Guests will find playful items like seafood corndogs and blue crab grilled cheese along with crudos, seafood towers and oysters on the half shell. In fact, oysters have a starring role with dishes such as Hot Blooded Oysters spiked with habanero. Cervantez admits that creating a new menu from scratch was challenging but he has created plenty of non-seafood choices such as a Nashville hot chicken sandwich, a double Akaushi smash burger and pan-roasted chicken for a well-balanced selection.

click to enlarge Pretty cocktails by the water create a perfect staycation. - PHOTO BY DRAGANA HARRIS
Pretty cocktails by the water create a perfect staycation.
Photo by Dragana Harris
Besides a seafood-friendly wine list and local craft beers, Halili has turned to Ladies of Libation, the mixology consulting duo of Kris Sowell and Lori Harvey, to create a craft cocktail program which will include drinks like a watermelon mezcal margarita and seasonal mules.

The restaurant is still continuing work on its marina which suffered delays due to the pandemic and busy hurricane season.

click to enlarge High class meat on a stick. - PHOTO BY QUY TRAN PHOTOGRAPHY
High class meat on a stick.
Photo by Quy Tran Photography

Casa Do Brasil, 2800 Sage, celebrated its grand opening October 22. This is the second restaurant for the fine dining churrasco concept which has another location in College Station.

The Brazilian steakhouse offers a wide-ranging selection of USDA Prime beef, fresh seafood and an expansive gourmet salad bar brimming with fresh vegetables, imported cheeses, cured meats, soups, salads and authentic Brazilian specialties.  The salad bar itself is wrapped in hand-cut mesquite wood, topped with a translucent onyx-surfacing and an expanded custom glass protection surround with LED lighting.

click to enlarge The salad bar is a munchie paradise. - PHOTO BY QUY TRAN PHOTOGRAPHY
The salad bar is a munchie paradise.
Photo by Quy Tran Photography

Guests may choose the "full experience" or just the vast salad bar. There are a la carte items as well. The full  churrasco experience includes a selection of meats such as beef ribeye, beef and pork tenderloin, New Zealand lamb and medalhoes,  chicken and steak wrapped in bacon.  It also includes the pao de queijo (Brazilian cheesebead) and sides such as polenta, mashed potatoes and caramelized bananas. There are reduced prices for children.

Houston-based Construction Concepts was chosen to transform the space and create a design that highlights the “cuisine of the gauchos”. The custom kitchen is fitted for cooking over open fire featuring a rodisio grill and a specialty refrigerated meat preparation room.

click to enlarge The bar offers a view to the impressive wine wall. - PHOTO BY QUY TRAN PHOTOGRAPHY
The bar offers a view to the impressive wine wall.
Photo by Quy Tran Photography
The bar features the same stunning surfacing and mesquite detailing as the center stage salad bar with a hand-crafted liquor display. The custom made glass wine wall showcases the extensive wine selections from floor to ceiling while separating the bar area from the main dining room. The award-wining wine selection was curated by Beverage Director, Regis Cerutti.  Craft cocktails include traditional caipirinhas in flavors such as lime, mango habanero, passionfruit and toasted coconut. There is also a large covered patio. The bar and patio area have a daily happy hour from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. featuring $7 appetizers and $7 select cocktails and wine.

Israel Casas, General Manager and co-owner of Casa Do Brasil said in a press release, “Our newest restaurant perfectly delivers on both dining and design. We understand many people are familiar with Brazilian steakhouses, but the ‘Casa Experience’ goes beyond the ordinary. We pride ourselves on offering the finest cuts of USDA Prime beef and preserving these classic cooking techniques. Our team is very excited to be a part of the Houston restaurant community.”

Casa Do Brasil is open for lunch, dinner and weekend brunch.

click to enlarge It's Dia de los Muertos every day at Valencia's. - PHOTO BY VALENCIA'S STAFF
It's Dia de los Muertos every day at Valencia's.
Photo by Valencia's staff

Valencia's Tex-Mex Garage, 2009 W. 34th, opened softly October 29 in Oak Forest.  The family-friendly restaurant comes from brother and sister duo, Ricardo Valencia and Vienna Valencia Bement. The two are no strangers to the Houston restaurant scene as their father, a former champion wrestler in Mexico, founded Cyclone Anaya's in 1966. They sold the six Houston locations in 2017, according to CultureMap Houston.

Valencia and Bement grew up in the Oak Forest area, attending Waltrip High School, so they are excited to be back in the neighborhood where they made many friends. The bright and colorful decor is further enhanced by the Dia de los Muertos accent wall while the neighborhood vibe is reinforced in the marquee lights spelling out 'Oak Forest'.

click to enlarge Valencia's Tex-Mex Garage will be a neighborhood hang out for family and friends. - PHOTO BY VALENCIA'S STAFF
Valencia's Tex-Mex Garage will be a neighborhood hang out for family and friends.
Photo by Valencia's staff
Cyclone Anaya's claims to be the home of the jumbo margarita and diners can expect some large ritas, palomas and more in the drinks department at Valencia's. As its name implies, it's a Tex-Mex restaurant serving all the favorites such as tacos al carbon, enchiladas, tamales, and several different quesos. What makes Valencia's stand out from the usual Tex-Mex joint is its use of black beans for its refried and charro preparations and its rotisserie chicken. Guests can order the chicken half or whole, served with chipotle smashed potatoes and roasted corn on the cob.

There are lunch specials with build-your-own plates Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and daily specials. Appetizers include seafood ceviche and Chipotle Deviled Eggs. There are six egg halves per order for $5.99. That makes this writer happy because it doesn't make since for deviled eggs to be served in odd numbers when each egg has two halves. Somebody's eating the other half that should be on my plate. 

There's an all day breakfast available offering chilaquiles and breakfast tacos. On Saturday and Sunday, the breakfast options expand to include brunch with choices such as huevos rancheros, hot cakes, French toast, migas and carne guisada and eggs. There are also bottomless mimosas and poinsettias available for brunch plus a Tex-Mex White Russian called Frank's Ruso Blanco.

Valencia's also has a specialty menu for vegetarians and for folks who stick to a gluten-free diet. There's a kids menu plus special peanut butter dog biscuits for canine companions accompanying their people on the dog-friendly heated patio. Due to the pandemic, the owners suggest making reservations through Open Table. There will be some availability for walk-ins but it's best to reserve to avoid disappointment.

click to enlarge All the pretty cones lined up in a row. - PHOTO BY CHUCK COOK
All the pretty cones lined up in a row.
Photo by Chuck Cook

Fat Cat Creamery, 1225 W. 34th, opened its second location quietly last week. There are plans for a grand opening November 14 which will debut Fat Cat's expanded menu of fourteen flavors, five of which are new. There will also be complimentary canned craft cocktails from Daiquiri Time Out, located in Galveston, for customers twenty-one and over.

The new location will be on the first floor of Stomping Grounds at Garden Oaks, a new urban complex offering 17,831 square feet of dining and drinking destinations around 8,000 square feet of green space. The ice cream shop will also have nearly the same amount of space on the second floor for its ice cream factory turning out small batch flavors like its Cat's Meow Mexican Vanilla, Milk Chocolate Stout and Amaya Coffee and Cream. There's also a dairy-free option, Chai Tea Coconut. This new factory space will allow for continued collaborations such as its Whiskey Butter Pecan made with whiskey from Yellow Rose Distilling and Pumpkinator, created with Saint Arnold Brewing Co.'s Imperial Pumpkin Stout.

click to enlarge Fat Cat Creamery has treats, too. - PHOTO BY MARK C. AUSTIN
Fat Cat Creamery has treats, too.
Photo by Mark C. Austin
Fat Cat uses milk and cream from Texas dairy farms, eggs from Ole Dad Farms and sources its figs, citrus and produce from Texas producers. It also uses eco-friendly materials for its pint and single serving packaging made with wheat straw and spoons made with bio-plastics and cornstarch.

The ice cream shop itself will offer sundaes, malteds, milkshakes, floats and old-fashioned sodas. In addition to the complex's green space, Fat Cat will have a 320 square foot patio.

Fat Cat Creamery was founded by Sarah Johnston in 2011. Johnston opened the first shop in Houston Heights in 2013. The new Garden Oaks store is its second partnership with Revive Development, the company behind Stomping Grounds.

click to enlarge Beef Rendang is a dish that travels well. - PHOTO BY CHUCK COOK
Beef Rendang is a dish that travels well.
Photo by Chuck Cook

Phat Kitchen, 2616 Blodgett, launched this week at Cloud Kitchen's Blodgett Food Hall. Owner Alex Au-Yeung had initially planned to open a second location of his popular Malaysian restaurant, Phat Eatery, but the pandemic and the resulting economic crisis changed his mind. When Au-Yeung saw Phat Eatery's to-go sales go from 10 percent of the restaurant's sales to half of the business, he adjusted his plans. Now, he is offering many of his best and easily transported dishes for take-away and delivery from Cloud Kitchen, including House Roti Canai, Curry Laksa and the newer dim sum menu.

"I really liked the idea of Cloud Kitchen and decided to give it a shot, rather than spending more time and money to build out a brick and mortar. In the Cloud Kitchen space, we can also put multiple concepts in one kitchen," said Au-Yeung.

One of those concepts is Yelo, an artisan banh mi restaurant with executive chef Cuc Lam. The duo plan to open the restaurant later this fall next to Phat Eatery in Katy Asian Town. The new concept gives Lam an opportunity to stretch her culinary muscles and create dishes that offer unique twists on traditional Vietnamese and Asian foods. The Pho-rench Dip is a banh mi baguette stuffed with star anise-scented brisket, hoisin and sriracha with an aromatic pho broth for dipping. Hungry customers can expect to see both chefs' signatures in dishes that combine their styles such as baguettes with chicken curry and beef rendang. For now, customers can order the dishes from Phat Kitchen's menu.

Au-Yeung is also planning to introduce another concept to his Phat Kitchen space called Pig + Duck, focusing on Chinese barbecue. It's almost like a mad scientist's laboratory.

click to enlarge A tray of fried deliciousness. - PHOTO BY DAVID WEAVER
A tray of fried deliciousness.
Photo by David Weaver

The Catch, 7608 FM 1960, opened October 19. The Cajun seafood restaurant was founded in 1985 and has locations around Texas and Oklahoma. The Champions location makes the fifth in the Greater Houston area.

The fast casual restaurant serves Texas and Louisiana seafood with plenty of fried baskets, seafood boils and Cajun specialties. Starters include boudin balls, fried pickles, shrimp etouffee and gumbo made with shrimp, crawfish and sausage. Besides baskets and platters of fried, blackened or grilled seafood, The Catch also offers poboys and tacos. For non-seafood eaters, there are salads and surprisingly good chicken tenders.

click to enlarge The Catch has a shark  coming out of the wall. - PHOTO BY DAVID WEAVER
The Catch has a shark coming out of the wall.
Photo by David Weaver
Side choices include red beans and rice, fried okra, green beans, coleslaw and Catch Fries. For dessert, there are OMG Beignets, Key Lime pie and banana pudding.

Currently, The Catch Willowbrook is offering free beer, margaritas and hurricanes with dine-in food purchase. It also has Family Packs to-go. For al fresco dining, there's a patio out front.

Celli Deli, 19227 Katy Freeway, began its soft opening in late August. The Vietnamese restaurant offers banh mi, vermicelli and rice bowls, eggrolls and pho. Beverage choices include Chai tea and Thai green tea.

Indianola is reopening again. - PHOTO BY JULIA GABRIEL
Indianola is reopening again.
Photo by Julia Gabriel
Indianola, 1201 St. Emanuel, reopened November 5 for dine-in service after having closed for the second time due to the pandemic. After being closed for a couple of months after the March restrictions, the restaurant reopened with a new Gulf Coast-centric menu May 30. Unfortunately, it closed again temporarily. Now, it is back to serving dinner Thursday through Sunday. Reservations should be made through Resy.

Snap Kitchen is closing fourteen retail stores across Texas, including seven stores in Houston. The location at 3600 Kirby will remain open for now. On its blog, CEO Anthony Smith cited the pandemic and its economic hardships for the closures. The company will be shifting from local deliveries and pick-up to online orders and shipping.

The Austin-based brand offers healthy prepared meals, juices and treats.

click to enlarge State Fare is pairing up with Saint Arnold's. - PHOTO BY JUSTIN YOAKUM
State Fare is pairing up with Saint Arnold's.
Photo by Justin Yoakum
State Fare, 15930 City Walk and 947 Gessner, is hosting a four course beer dinner featuring brews from Saint Arnold Brewing Co. for the week of November 6 through November 15. The dinner is available at both the Sugar Land and Memorial locations. It begins with a spaghetti squash fritter paired with SA's Headliner Blonde Ale. The second course is seared crispy duck skin and Fancy Lawnmower. The main course is a filet with grilled shrimp teamed with Santo Black Kolsh, followed by Pumpkin Pie Surprise coupled with Pumpkinator Pumpkin
Stout for dessert.

click to enlarge Buy a cookbook, eat a po'boy, help the furry friends. - PHOTO BY JESS TIMMONS
Buy a cookbook, eat a po'boy, help the furry friends.
Photo by Jess Timmons
Cherry Block Craft Butcher and Kitchen, 409 Travis, is having a used cookbook sale to raise money for Rescued Pets Movement which helps in the recovery and transportation of Houston's homeless cats and dogs. Each cookbook will sell for $5 and al proceeds got to the non-profit. The event will take place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. during Bravery Chef Hall's Sunday Farmers Market. During the event, hungry market goers can sate their appetites with Cherry Block's Po'boy for Paws ($9). It's a po'boy bun from Bread Man Baking Company with a tasty piece of fried catfish doused in a spicy oil, Nashville-style. Its creator Chef Jess Timmons says, "It's damn good!"

For those who need to clear out their shelves of unused cookbooks, they can be donated for the cause from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. at Cherry Block. There will also be a couple of foster pups on hand to represent. 
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Lorretta Ruggiero is a Houston Press freelance writer based in Cypress, Texas. She loves entertaining her family and friends with her food and sparkling wit. She is married to Classic Rock Bob and they have two exceptionally smart-aleck children.