Openings and Closings: Pokeology Returns, Finn Hall Opens Next Month

Forget pumpkin spice, it's time to poke.
Forget pumpkin spice, it's time to poke. Photo courtesy of Pokeology
Pokeology, 2313 Edwards, will open November 18 at Sawyer Yards. The brick and mortar for this poke restaurant, which used to operate out of Doc Holliday's in Rice Village, has been a long time coming, since it shuttered its operation at the back of the bar last May. The new location, from chef Jason Liao and o-founder Charlie Chang, will offer an expanded menu, including West Coast trends like sushi doughnuts and sushi burritos, according to its NextSeed page, the crowd-funding platform where the concept has been recruiting investors.

Of course the Hawaiian poke will be the star and Pokeology has received plenty of warm praise for its renditions ever since it hit the poke scene with its pop-ups a couple of years ago. With the new Heights area location, diners will be able to enjoy their "sushi in a bowl" with sake or a cold beer.

Poke pros don't have to wait until November 18, however, to get your luau wow. Pokeology is beginning a week- long soft opening November 10, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

click to enlarge It is coming, restaurant junkies. - PHOTO COURTESY OF FINN HALL
It is coming, restaurant junkies.
Photo courtesy of Finn Hall
Finn Hall, 712 Main, will officially open December 3. The new food hall is located, according to its website, Downtown at Main and Rusk at The Jones on Main in the JP Morgan Chase and Co. building (whew!). The much-anticipated and long-awaited (cliche, but true) culinary hot spot will feature ten restaurants of varying cuisines and styles.

click to enlarge Whatta a nice pie! - PHOTO COURTESY OF FINN HALL
Whatta a nice pie!
Photo courtesy of Finn Hall
A sample of some of the vendors shows the quality of delicious eats awaiting visitors. From Mr. Nice Pie to Goode Co. Taqueria to Mala Sichuan, the bounty of choices will make it hard to decide. To add to the temptation, there will be two bars. St. Jac's is a casual place to have Houston-themed drinks while deciding which stall to visit and diners can bring the food back to the bar or one of the communal spaces. Swallow's Nest is an art deco cocktail lounge perched atop Finn Hall where patrons can place their food stall orders with a server and have it delivered to them with table service.

click to enlarge Sit-Lo is bringing Vietnamese street food to Finn Hall. - PHOTO COURTESY OF FINN HALL
Sit-Lo is bringing Vietnamese street food to Finn Hall.
Photo courtesy of Finn Hall
Finn Hall will open daily with each food stall having its own opening hours. The venue promises to be a place where downtown office workers can go for breakfast, lunch or happy hour and food nerds can wander from Italy to China to Mexico to Vietnam, all with a cocktail in hand.

click to enlarge You don't have to be a bride to enjoy a meal at Dukessa. - PHOTO COURTESY OF DUKESSA
You don't have to be a bride to enjoy a meal at Dukessa.
Photo courtesy of Dukessa

2840 at Dukessa, 2840 Chimney Rock, opened for lunch October 29. The event space at Dukessa is known primarily as a wedding venue, but also hosts corporate events and quinceaneras. With its bounty of wrought iron, floor to ceiling windows and luscious courtyard, the Spanish style mansion makes for beautiful bride photos, especially with the grand staircase.

For those who would like to taste a little luxury outside of a major event, the venue has opened its restaurant to the public for lunch, with chef Adrian De La Cerda, formerly of Weights + Measures and Cavo, at the kitchen helm. The food is described as classic American fare with an on trend twist, using local and seasonal ingredients. Dishes like shrimp remoulade over fried green tomatoes and baked goat cheese salad should please the luncheon crowd, while the more substantial 2840 Burger made with grass-fed beef and served with hand-cut french fries will satisfy heartier appetites.

click to enlarge Classic equals delicious. - PHOTO COURTESY OF DUKESSA
Classic equals delicious.
Photo courtesy of Dukessa

Owner Sara Bhatty, who also owns another event space, Citadel, saw an opportunity to use the venue's space when it is not being used for parties and special events. She has brought in another Weights + Measure alumni, Shannon Svetlik as General Manager.

Lunch will be served at Dukessa Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. From the looks of the place, you might want to doll yourself up a little and wear your fancy pants.

No more throwing metal while sipping an Orgasmitron. - PHOTO BY BOB RUGGIERO
No more throwing metal while sipping an Orgasmitron.
Photo by Bob Ruggiero
Howie's Tiki, 4334 FM 2920, closed November 3. It originally opened in February 2016, with owner Mark Voros creating authentic tiki cocktails with house-made syrups  and freshly squeezed juices. Voros first fell in love with the tiki culture after family vacations to Disneyland in the 1970s, inspired by the Tiki Room in the Adventureland part of the park, as reported here in the Houston Press. Voros named the tiki lounge after his grandfather, but many customers just assumed Voros was the "Howie" himself and the name sort of stuck.

Voros claimed that Howie's was the only tiki bar in a U.S. suburb that he knew of when it first opened. With tiki bowls and drinks like Thunderstruck, which was served in a volcano-shaped ceramic mug and lit on fire, Howie's appealed to folks on the Northside who didn't want to make the drive downtown for creative cocktails and fun.  Also a heavy metal fan, Voros hosted Heavy Metal Sundays at the bar, mingling two disparate genres together.

Unfortunately, the tiki fun has ended. Voros has sold the business to husband and wife Warren Broderick and Chanda Chaney, according to Houston Food Finder. The space will be remodeled and opened up as The Wet Leprechaun Tavern, a traditional Irish Pub. We'll keep you posted.

click to enlarge Eat the rainbow. - PHOTO COURTESY OF SWITCHOUSE
Eat the rainbow.
Photo courtesy of SwitcHouse

SwitcHouse Plates & Pours, 1200 Lake Plaza, will celebrate its grand opening November 15 in a new luxury hotel, Houston City Place Marriott at Springwoods Village. The new hotel and restaurant are located in Spring, just four miles from The Woodlands.

The new restaurant features an upscale rustic decor (this decade's shabby chic) and its menu is tailored to a Texas clientele who like their meat "smoky and oaky". However, it's not just the food that gets an infusion of flavor from smoke, but the cocktail program also includes a smoke box for infusing artisanal whiskeys, a trend that we are starting to see around town. The cocktail program includes railroad-themed drinks like the Amtrak old-fashioned and the rail car margarita. There is also a focus on small batch bourbons and local craft beers.

click to enlarge This is rustic? - PHOTO COURTESY OF SWITCHOUSE
This is rustic?
Photo courtesy of SwitcHouse
Under the direction of Peruvian born chef, Jorge Petterson, the restaurant uses meats from Rosewood Ranch and 44 Farms, including rib-eyes, sirloins and tenderloin. Rosewood Ranch's wagyu beef is used in the SwitcHouse Burger, which is also comprised of caramelized onions, red neck cheddar, pear chutney and foie gras on a pretzel roll. At $18, you get a lot of flavor for your dollar and it's less of a sting than some of the steak prices.

The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Twisted Acre Brewery, 16103 Grant, is hoping to open its taproom before Thanksgiving, but it is still waiting on certain permits. The family-owned brewery made an appearance at Blackwood Educational Land Institute's Harvest Hoedown, where this lucky writer got an opportunity to sample (okay, drink a pint) of its coffee stout. We will be keeping a close eye on its opening, especially since it's down the road from my house. That makes brewery number two in my neighborhood. After the stress of the mid-term elections, that's a good thing.

Vitality Bowls, 24120 Northwest Freeway, celebrated its grand opening October 25. Customers are finding this California-based chain of acai bowls and other healthy offerings a welcome addition to Cypress. Besides the acai bowls, there are other superfruits that can be used as a base, including pitaya, graviola, and acerola.

There are smoothies, fresh juices as well as panini, salads and soups.

click to enlarge Chilaquiles Rojo are a spicy start to the day. - PHOTO BY HAYLEY RICCIO
Chilaquiles Rojo are a spicy start to the day.
Photo by Hayley Riccio
Goodnight Charlie's, 2531 Kuester, is launching Brunch at High Noon, this Saturday, November 10. The brunch which features a Mexican-inspired menu will be served from noon to 4 p.m., Saturday and Sunday.

Look for tasty favorites like hot chicken and waffles, a dish of habanero fried chicken over blue cornmeal waffles. Or try the Tajin Redfish on the half shell, served with tortillas. There are also more standard taco offerings like scrambled eggs and pork belly. And since it's always high noon somewhere, there are brunch beverages like mimosas, bloody Marias (with tequila) and the Cowboy Punch, which sounds like a nostalgic Saturday night at the old Gilley's.

There will be music from singer/songwriter Eric Woodring  from 1 p.m to 3 p.m. Woodring plays a mix of original material and country standards.  He also plays gigs at the elevated honky-tonk with The Recollection.

Five new booths have been added to the space for additional seating, with views of the dance floor. After a couple of brunch cocktails and pork belly tacos, you might find yourself saying, " Goodnight, Charlie" and taking a nap on one of the new booths.

click to enlarge You can have a three day weekend at Union Kitchen. - PHOTO COURTESY OF UNION KITCHEN
You can have a three day weekend at Union Kitchen.
Photo courtesy of Union Kitchen
Union Kitchen, 6011 Washington, is expanding its weekend brunch to include Friday, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. There are spectacularly over the top menu items like the Elvis Belgian Waffle, which is topped with pecans, fresh berries, peanut butter,bacon and bananas foster sauce or  One Hot Mess, a biscuit topped with eggs, breakfast potatoes, bacon, sausage patties, sausage gravy, cheddar cheese and Roma tomatoes. Add a $12.99 mimosa with one cent refills and you will need the whole weekend to recover. Did we mention that happy hour on Friday starts at 2:30 p.m.? Taxi!

Someone should lay off the jalapenos a bit. - PHOTO COURTESY OF GR8 PLATE HOSPITALITY
Someone should lay off the jalapenos a bit.
Photo courtesy of Gr8 Plate Hospitality
Jax Grill, 1613 Shepherd, had a small fire in the parking lot, November 5, from a metro police motorcycle. Minimal damage was done to the patio, but the restaurant's service was not interrupted, except for restaurant employees attempting to extinguish the fire before the Houston Fire Department was on the scene.

A video was posted to Facebook by a witness with the caption, "Jax on fire yall." Fortunately, Jax Grill was never on fire, y'all. The metro bike, however, was lit.

click to enlarge The Field Trip Fries will have you trippin'. - PHOTO COURTESY OF BERNIE'S BURGER BUS
The Field Trip Fries will have you trippin'.
Photo courtesy of Bernie's Burger Bus
Bernie's Burger Bus, Bellaire, Heights and Katy locations, has three special treats until November 26. Chef Justin Turner likes to create a zany delicious burger every few weeks that may or may not make it onto the permanent menu, according to customer demand and feedback. The Field Trip Burger consists of two three-ounce beef patties, green chili chow chow, smoked gouda, creole aioli and steak sauce on Texas Toast. If you think that baby has a lot going on, you should see the Field Trip Fries. Bernie's smothers its popular hand-cut french fries with melted white cheddar, local cheese curds (for you local cheese nerds), slow-roasted beef, tipsy onions, red wine demi-glace, topped with crispy onions. Choose your size at $6.75 or $ 8.75. There's also a pumpkin spice milkshake. Come November 27, they are gone. Or maybe not. 
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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.