Restaurant News

Openings and Closings: Postino Katy Opens, Phat Eatery Woodlands

Sip and snack and relax at Postino.
Sip and snack and relax at Postino. Photo by Jenn Duncan

Postino, 23501 Cinco Ranch Boulevard, opened June 6 at La Centerra at Cinco Ranch. The Katy location makes the fifth for the Houston area. There are locations in the Heights, Montrose, Town and Country and Uptown.

Overlooking the plaza's green space and courtyard, the 3,900 square-foot restaurant has an open air layout that features rollaway glass walls and an expansive patio for sipping wine al fresco. The decor is mid-century modern with vintage Murano glass fixtures and a mural from local artist Robert Leroy Hodge along with artwork from Postino artist Josh Rhodes.
click to enlarge Let's play telephone at Postino. - PHOTO BY MICHAEL ANTHONY
Let's play telephone at Postino.
Photo by Michael Anthony
Each Postino restaurant's design is carefully thought out and draws upon the neighborhood in which it is located and its history.  For the new Katy spot, there is an homage to the town's "American Telephone & Telegraph Co.",which was founded in 1900, featuring a colorful wall of 185 antique rotary phones and a fully functional vintage telephone booth.

Popular for its bruschetta boards and $6 glasses of wine and  pitchers of draft beers before 5 p.m. daily, it also offers a menu of "Snacky Things", panini, salads, soups and charcuterie boards. It buzzes on the weekends with brunch available on Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. offering $6 mimosas and Bellinis to accompany menu items such as Umbria Egg Toast, Smoked Salmon Carpaccio and Meatball Shakshouka.
click to enlarge The open air layout is welcoming. - PHOTO BY MICHAEL ANTHONY
The open air layout is welcoming.
Photo by Michael Anthony
For vino, there is a carefully curated wine list from Advanced Sommelier Brent Karlicek. With the debut of its newest Houston location, the company is also launching its Postino Wine Cult, a membership-only wine club in which participants can pick up a box of four select wines per quarter at Postino locations. Membership is $60 per quarter or $220 per year. In addition to the specially chosen wines, there are member perks like discounts and exclusive invites.

Interested wine lovers should sign up now to receive a special gift.
click to enlarge There's more fun to come with beef hor fun at Phat Eatery. - PHOTO BY KIMBERLY PARK
There's more fun to come with beef hor fun at Phat Eatery.
Photo by Kimberly Park
Phat Eatery, 2290 Buckthorne Place, is headed to The Woodlands in early 2023. This is the second location of the Malaysian restaurant from chef and owner Alex Au-Yeung. The James Beard Award Semifinalist for Best Chef: Texas 2022 opened his first Phat in Katy four years ago. In a press release, Au-Yeung said that he has been thinking about expanding to  The Woodlands for a while. He said, "It's not easy to find good real estate in The Woodlands but we've found the perfect spot with room to do the menu I've always wanted."

That spot is situated in the retail center of The Woodlands Township village of Grogan's Mill.  Au-Yeung feels that his cuisine will appeal to the nearby residents, many of whom work in the energy sector and have traveled and done business in places like Malaysia and Singapore.
click to enlarge Beef will sizzle in The Woodlands. - PHOTO BY CHUCK COOK
Beef will sizzle in The Woodlands.
Photo by Chuck Cook
The restaurant will be freestanding and double the size of his Katy location with 7,800 square feet of space. It will have seating inside for 180 guests plus offer three private dining spaces. While some of the design elements will be similar to the original Phat Eatery such as the prominent use of wood and the iconic night market signage, the kitchen will be more open-concept, allowing guests to be part of the action.

There will be some familiar dishes from the Katy  Asian Town menu including Roti Canai, Satay Skewers, Curry Laksa, Sizzling Egg Tofu and of course, the famous Beef Rendang. However, Au-Yeung will expand the selection of dim sum and also offer bian dang during lunch service. Inspired by Japanese bento, Phat Eatery's bian dang will feature several variations with choice of barbecue or stir-fry dishes, paired with sides.

Au-Yeung is also using the new restaurant to showcase a passion project of his: Chinese-style barbecue. He learned the craft while training in Cantonese kitchens in Hong Kong. Patrons can expect to find his take on Chinese barbecue pork and Peking duck on the Woodlands menu.

Beverages will include soft drinks and tea plus beer, wine and sake. Currently, the team is working on a selection of Southeast Asian-inspired craft cocktails for its full-service bar.
click to enlarge Caviar service is available at Amrina. - PHOTO BY RICK FRANK
Caviar service is available at Amrina.
Photo by Rick Frank
Amrina, 3 Waterway Square, opens June 17 in The Woodlands. It is the first concept from Kahani Social Group, a luxury hospitality group from brothers Preet Paul Singh and Surpreet Singh. The brothers have Chef Jaspratap "Jassi" Bindra leading the kitchen. Bindra has been named in the "World's Best Indian Chefs" by Hindustan Times and received a Michelin Plate in the 2019 Michelin Guide.

The eclectic Indian princess-inspired restaurant takes an inventive approach to the food and cocktail menus with Chef Bindra fusing Indian and globally-inspired flavors, ingredients and techniques to create indulgent and adventurous dishes like Charred Octopus with pickled onion, zaffrani potato and chermoula vinaigrette or Red Wine Braised Lamb Steak. Side dishes like Tandoori Mac and Cheese and desserts such as Cardamom Chocolate Mousse, served with a 24-carat gold kiss filled with jaggery caramel, show a playfulness with luxurious ingredients.
click to enlarge Amrina's Cardamom Mousse is a decadent beauty. - PHOTO BY RICK FRANK
Amrina's Cardamom Mousse is a decadent beauty.
Photo by Rick Frank
Guests can begin their meal with the Holy Moly Breads, quintessential Indian breads with a twist. There are several flavors to choose from including Whiskey Naan, Savoy Spinach and Goat Cheese Kulcha and Butter Chicken Kulcha. Other starters include dips such as Channa Masala Hummus and Avocado Cilantro Chutney. There are oysters, a selection of caviar service and small plates such as the Poblano Pepper Vada or the Ostrich Seekh Kebab.
click to enlarge The Poblano Pepper Vada is coated in masala panko churma. - PHOTO BY MAX OTTER PRODUCTIONS
The Poblano Pepper Vada is coated in masala panko churma.
Photo by Max Otter Productions
For entrees, there are creations such as Jack Fruit Biryani, Achari Monkfish, Pulled Tandoori Leg of Lamb and Queens Duck, a whole roast duck with rumali pancake, tamarind hoisin and pickles. There is also a tapas menu with vegetarian and non-vegetarian options.

Along with craft cocktails, there is a wine list of over 800 labels curated by the on-site sommelier, chosen to complement the unique dishes coming from Chef Bindra.
click to enlarge Get your paddles ready for pickleball. - RENDERING BY LOE ORTEGA ARCHITECTURE
Get your paddles ready for pickleball.
Rendering by Loe Ortega Architecture
PKL Social, 1102 Shepherd, is opening in Houston this Fall. Just one block north of Washington Avenue, the new patio and sports bar comes from the owners of FM Kitchen & Bar which is located next door. The new concept is bringing four pickleball courts for one of America's fastest growing sports activities. Between 2019 and 2021, the social sport attracted 4.8 million players in the United States.

PKL and FM Kitchen operating partner Jason Mok believes that the approachability of pickleball makes it easier to learn than tennis or golf. The former Rice University tennis player says, "Making pickleball more accessible and combining it with the lively outdoor patio and sports bar atmosphere is something we felt the inner loop was missing and we can't wait to bring this new and unique concept to Houston."
click to enlarge Get some exercise or just watch others play at PKL Social. - RENDERING BY LOE ORTEGA ARCHITECTURE
Get some exercise or just watch others play at PKL Social.
Rendering by Loe Ortega Architecture
Along with the pickleball courts, there will be a covered deck space, big screen televisions, yard games and cabanas. The courts will be available on a pay to play basis with rates varying according to peak and non-peak hours. PKL will also host a variety of leagues, clinics and open play for players of all skill levels. A private patio/deck space can be reserved for private events.

PKL Social will also have fun cocktails like the PKL Cherry Limeade, Honey Deuce and Frozen Paloma in addition to draft and packaged beers, hard seltzers and non-alcoholic beverages. A menu of FM Kitchen & Bar's most popular dishes will be served with favorites such as the FM Burger, spicy fried chicken sandwich, wings, tater tots and breakfast tacos.
click to enlarge Get some street cred at El Venado. - PHOTO BY JENN DUNCAN
Get some street cred at El Venado.
Photo by Jenn Duncan
El Venado, 6502 Washington, will open June 13., El Venado, The modern comes from Alexander Noons and will offer a variety of tequilas and mezcals, craft cocktails, plus street-style tacos, nachos, elote and other Mexican favorites.

Located in the former Revolver space, Noons has been working on the project for the better half of a year. He wanted the bar and restaurant to be a destination, whether it is guests looking for a refreshing drink after running with their dogs in Memorial Park or just a place to hang out after dinner. 

Noons said in a press release, "We’re excited to offer a place where folks can kick back and enjoy themselves. Inside, it’ll feel like an upscale mezcal bar and outside will be an approachable space for familiar cocktails and bites with friends."
click to enlarge The Strawberry Sabor is a refreshing tequila cocktail. - PHOTO BY JENN DUNCAN
The Strawberry Sabor is a refreshing tequila cocktail.
Photo by Jenn Duncan
El Venado's antique door stands ready to welcome guests into a comfortable space with atmospheric lighting courtesy of rattan chandeliers and an interior meant to evoke a chic mezcal bar and  cantina-inspired icehouse. More seating on the patio includes booths painted in vibrant hues.  There are traditional cocktails like margaritas and palomas plus craft cocktails like the Cucumber Fresco, made with blanco tequila, lime, cucumber, mint and Topo Chico plus a Strawberry Sabor, the El Venado Old Fashioned and a Mexican 75, made with blanco tequila, lemon, raspberries and sparkling wine.  The Anna Maria, made with Dripping Springs Gin, manzanilla sherry, grapefruit, lemon, black pepper, and rosemary offers guests a non-agave option. A made-from-scratch Mexican Hot Chocolate, with a choice of spirits, will be offered seasonally.

To start guests off, there are favorites such as  queso, salsa, salad and fresh ceviche plus a menu of street-style offerings like tacos, tostadas, sopes and nachos. Individual plates include a choice of bases like grilled chicken, chicken tinga, bistek, chorizo, fish or crispy cauliflower.
click to enlarge Street-style nachos are on the menu. - PHOTO BY JENN DUNCAN
Street-style nachos are on the menu.
Photo by Jenn Duncan
Mexican-inspired desserts like the Tequila Sunday, an ancho chile brownie, or the spiked agave dulce de leche ice cream round out the menu. Brunch will be offered on Saturdays and Sundays until 3 p.m. with dishes like Latin Shakshuka, served in a cast iron dish. It's made with tomatoes, poblanos, bell peppers and topped with poached egged, avocado and queso fresco. Other brunch foods include tacos, French Toast and Chilaquiles.
click to enlarge Flame-grilled chicken can be customized for spice. - PHOTO BY GREG POWERS
Flame-grilled chicken can be customized for spice.
Photo by Greg Powers

Nando's Peri Peri is slated to open in Post Oak Plaza, 1751 Post Oak Boulevard, in spring 2023, followed quickly by a second Houston-area location in La Centerra, a mixed-use destination in Katy. The Houston market is its first major U.S. expansion in seven years for the brand and there are plans to spread across the state of Texas.

The spicy flame-grilled concept began in Johannesburg, South Africa in 1987 and now has locations across 24 countries. It launched in the United States with a restaurant in Washington, D.C. in 2008 and has since opened nearly 50 more in the U.S.
click to enlarge Nando's sources its Bird's Eye Chilis from African farmers. - PHOTO BY RICARDO FRANCO
Nando's sources its Bird's Eye Chilis from African farmers.
Photo by Ricardo Franco
Nando's spicy chicken is marinated for at least 24 hours in peri-peri, the African Bird's Eye Chili which is used throughout South Africa. It's then grilled over an open flames and basted with its signature Peri-Peri sauce according to the customer's spice preference. Its sauce has been available in the Houston market since 2014 in five different flavors along with two mayonnaise-based PERinaise sauces.

The all-important chilis are sourced through 1,400 local farmers in Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Malawi, and South Africa, with the farmers being given upfront access to funds, equipment and seedlings with a guaranteed commitment by Nando's to buy the crops at a fair price determined before the growing season.
click to enlarge Nando's will join Kenny & Ziggy's at Post Oak Plaza. - RENDERING BY LEVCOR
Nando's will join Kenny & Ziggy's at Post Oak Plaza.
Rendering by Levcor
The Post Oak restaurant will reflect the South African-style of other Nando's locations with earthy textures, vibrant colors and displays of original and contemporary South African art. Besides the seating for 80 in the main interior, the restaurant will have an L-shaped patio with seating for an additional 80 guests.

Cherry Block Craft Butcher + Kitchen, 1223 W. 34th, is shooting to open in early July at The Stomping Grounds at Garden Oaks. It began in an incubator space at Bravery Chef Hall in July 2019 with partners Felix Florez of Falcon Lake Farms and chef Jess DeSham Timmons in July 2019. The food hall space offered the duo and their team the opportunity to one day grow the restaurant into a brick and mortar space.

Due to the decrease in downtown activity during the COVID pandemic, the decision was made to exit Bravery Chef Hall this past January.  In addition to the upcoming digs in Garden Oaks, the Cherry Block butcher shop opened quietly in Katy at 5305 Highway Boulevard this past February.

However, Timmons is no longer involved with the concept. She left to join Bread Man Baking Company as Food Services Sales Manager in February 2021, then moved on to her own consulting company.

For The Stomping Grounds location, Florez has partnered with local developer, Revive Development to manage the project and also assist in business planning and capital funding. Revive connected Florez to a NextSeed campaign offering investors free cheeseburgers for life for investing at least $1,000. The NextSeed recruiting was successful and Cherry Block met its $400,000 goal.

The new steakhouse will offer a menu of creative food with the proteins coming from Florez's Falcon Lake Farms which sources responsibly-raised meats from animals raised throughout Texas. The seamless supply chain begins with Texas ranchers and ends with the animals being harvested, butchered, cooked and served by Cherry Block. The in-house butchery allows for cuts that many restaurants do not have access to and also gives Cherry Block the ability to keep prices at a reasonable level.

click to enlarge Classic foods gone wild at Poke Burri. - PHOTO BY POKE BURRI
Classic foods gone wild at Poke Burri.
Photo by Poke Burri
Poke Burri and Lifting Noodles Ramen, 1525 Lake Point Parkway, is expected to open late summer in Sugar Land.  Known for its poke, ramen, and infamous secret menu, this will be the second Houston location. The first opened in Midtown in 2020 . The double concept was founded in 2016 at the Atlanta food stall market, We Suki-Suki.

Shawn Varma and Vanshika Vicky Vipin, who have been residents of Fort Bend County for nearly two decades, are thrilled to open this location in the Lake Pointe Sugar Land neighborhood, after working to find the perfect spot after the past two years during the pandemic. The Sugar Land location will have a spacious dining room, an attractive outdoor patio and a bar.
click to enlarge Sushi by the slice. - PHOTO BY POKE BURRI
Sushi by the slice.
Photo by Poke Burri
Poke Burri offers artful award-winning poke bowls, sushi burritos, and build your own options. Its creative takes on familiar foods includes its sushi pizza, sushi donuts, and even a sushi corn dog. Lifting Noodle Ramen, part of the dual concept, features a variety of ramen including the 1-UP bowl with kale noodles in a creamy vegetarian broth with crispy tofu, and its Angry Zuko bowl with black mushroom and pork belly in a spicy pork broth.

Poke Burri will be open for dine-in, takeout, catering and will offer delivery.

Pacha Nikkei, 10001 Westheimer, is expected to open in late summer 2022. It's the first restaurant concept for Chef Masaru Fukuda whose resume includes Latin Bites, Kata Robata, MAD and most recently, his concept Nikkei at the now-shuttered food hall, Politan Row.

Nikkei is a cuisine created by Japanese immigrants who moved to Peru in the late 1800s during the Japanese Diaspora that occurred during the colonial period. Many Japanese emigrated to Brazil and Peru, bringing their culinary techniques to South America while using the peppers, seafood and other ingredients of their adopted nations.

While the cuisine has spread across Europe with innovators such as the Adria brothers opening their Nikkei concept, Patka, in Barcelona in 2013, then making its way to the U.S. with restaurants such as Sen Sakana in Manhattan, this will be the first Nikkei concept in Houston, a city bursting with diverse dining options.
click to enlarge Hunger Crush Cafe has something for everyone all day. - PHOTO BY ART FLORES
Hunger Crush Cafe has something for everyone all day.
Photo by Art Flores
Hunger Crush Cafe, 15250 Highway 105, opened June 6 in Montgomery on Lake Conroe. The all-day cafe is located in the Waterpoint center next to the marina and serves breakfast, brunch, lunch, happy hour and dinner daily.

With views over the lake, the casual restaurant offers a menu of comfort foods and classic dishes like its Hunger Crush Burger with caramelized cheese skirt, bacon, grilled onions and the house-made Sweet Thang sauce. There's also meatloaf, chicken fried steak, Cajun catfish, pesto chicken and pulled pork tacos. For starters, guests can enjoy the Fried Basket loaded with zucchini, mozzarella sticks and mushrooms. Besides hearty entrees, there are soups, salads and sandwich wraps. Desserts such as Peach Cobbler and Cookies N Cream Pie are just a couple of the sweet choices and there are hand-dipped milkshakes as well.

For breakfast and brunch, guests can indulge in dishes like the French Toast Galore, Chilaquiles and Avocado Pesto Toast, along with a full Espresso Bar.
click to enlarge The Hunger Board feeds guests and the community. - PHOTO BY ART FLORES
The Hunger Board feeds guests and the community.
Photo by Art Flores
Though the cafe is casual, it offers a curated wine list from owner Mike Kelton who brings 32 years of experience in the wine industry to the table. There are also local craft beers. The brews aren't the only thing local. Kelton and wife Mary commissioned artist Jodi "Shen" Goldman-Hallford to create a wall-sized art installation that represents the laid-back vibe of the Lake Conroe community.

And community is what the Keltons are all about. In addition to four-top tables and comfy booths, the restaurant has a large communal table with a "no phone zone" to encourage guests to interact and make new friends. The couple have also created Hunger Boards, family-style meals served on a large platter, in which a portion of the sales will go to the Montgomery County Food Bank.

Back Pew Brewing Company
, 26452 Sorters McClellan, launched its first Thursday opening June 9 at its taproom, The Sanctuary.  Now, fans of its brews don't have to wait until the weekend to hang out and imbibe. The new hours are 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday and Friday and noon to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. 
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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.