Restaurant News

Openings and Closings: R-C Ranch at Houston Farmers Market, Fajitas A Go-ing Go-ing Ghost

Ryan Cade and Blake Robertson on opening day.
Ryan Cade and Blake Robertson on opening day. Photo by Jody Horton
R-C Ranch Butcher Shop, 2520 Airline, opens December 17 at Houston Farmers Market. This is the first storefront for the direct-to-consumer provider of Texas-raised Wagyu beef. The 3,000 square-foot-butcher shop will sell the meat from its 2,800 acre ranch in Brazoria County where the animals are raised.
click to enlarge Know where your meat comes from. - PHOTO BY JOSH OLALDE
Know where your meat comes from.
Photo by Josh Olalde
The ranch itself has been in operation since 2010 when owners Blake Robertson and Ryan Cade (the R and C in the ranch's name), set out to provide high quality food for their loved ones. The duo considered Wagyu the absolute best meat to raise and sell and the cows come from three Wagyu bloodlines, each from a different region of Japan and with a certain genetic trait. The Kedaka was chosen for its large size, the Tajima for its marbling and the Shiname breed for its maternal traits. The three bloodlines are brought together in  a sandwiched breeding process that helps to deliver a perfect, sustainable product with excellent marbling.
click to enlarge The meat case at R-C Ranch is a carnivore's dream. - PHOTO BY JODY HORTON
The meat case at R-C Ranch is a carnivore's dream.
Photo by Jody Horton
The focus on quality, processing and execution extends beyond the ranch itself. The team at the butcher shop have just as much a hands-on approach, drying steaks in-house, curing the charcuterie and making and smoking sausages on a J&R Oyler. Trevor Cook will lead the shop's culinary efforts as director of operations and culinary innovation while Easton Sadler, a former UB Preserv line cook, will be the shop's full-time butcher. Emily Rivas, formerly of Bludorn, will be the front of house meat cutter.

The shop will also be selling house-smoked briskets, hind shanks and bones, plus marinated meats and freshly-prepped meal packages for busy folks to take away for cooking at home. Matthew Coburn, a former chef de cuisine at Georgia James Tavern, will manage the prepped foods program.
click to enlarge Pescatarians and seafood lovers are welcome, too. - PHOTO BY JODY HORTON
Pescatarians and seafood lovers are welcome, too.
Photo by Jody Horton
The shop will also offer products from like-minded producers whose commitment to quality and sustainability align with those of R-C Ranch. Shoppers can expect to find items from Holmes Poultry, Lonestar Seafood and Copra Foods. There will also be a tank with live Maine lobsters.

click to enlarge You can order and go with Fajitas A Go Go. - PHOTO BY KIRSTEN GILLIAM
You can order and go with Fajitas A Go Go.
Photo by Kirsten Gilliam

Fajitas A Go Go
, 5404 Kirby, will transition to the upcoming Tacos A Go Go location at 3773 Richmond as a ghost kitchen. It will close its Kirby store December 24 and reopen for to-go and delivery at the new tacos A Go Go a few days later. The fajitas concept opened as a to-go spinoff of the popular Tacos A Go Go in 2016. It offered delivery, takeout and catering services. Led by head chef Mallory Buford, the beef fajitas are made with top quality sirloin instead of the usual skirt steak.  The rotisserie chicken is cage-free, hormone-free and antibiotic-free and the margarita mix is made fresh daily.

With the new ghost kitchen, orders can be made online or by phone for delivery or curbside pick-up. There will be beef, chicken, shrimp and grilled vegetable fajitas plus hand-made tortillas and fresh guacamole. Margaritas will be available to-go by the half or full gallon.
click to enlarge The new Tacos A Go Go will be a hip joint to grab tacos. - RENDERING BY IAN BROWN/FLATIRON GROUP
The new Tacos A Go Go will be a hip joint to grab tacos.
Rendering by Ian Brown/Flatiron Group
According to co-founder Sharon Haynes it only made sense to operate the ghost kitchen out of the new location of Tacos A Go Go which has more parking, easier access and new ordering technology. While the Fajitas A Go Go ghost kitchen looks to open at the end of December, the new Tacos A Go Go will open a bit later in early 2022.
click to enlarge Get ready for the maple leaf invasion. - RENDERING BY TIM HORTONS
Get ready for the maple leaf invasion.
Rendering by Tim Hortons
Tim Hortons, is coming to Houston in summer 2022. The coffee shop was founded in Canada in 1964 by legendary professional hockey player, Tim Horton. In less than six decades it has grown to more than 5,000 shops across the world, with more than 4,000 in Canada and over 600 in the United States making it one of the largest coffee restaurant chains in North America.

The company revealed its plans for the Houston expansion at the end of a commercial starring Canadian pop star, Justin Bieber, December 12 after the Houston Texans game. In November, Tim Hortons and Bieber partnered to launch three new flavors of its Timbits called Timbiebs and also Timbiebs merchandise. The Biebs is a longtime fan of the coffee shop and breakfast spot.

To begin the Texas expansion, Tim Hortons has partnered with TH of Texas, LLC a company owned by the manager of CSM Group, a Houston-based, family-owned business. The companies have entered into an exclusive Area Development Agreement for the Houston market.

The Houston shops will each be approximately 1,600 square feet with a drive-thru and dine-in seating. Most will have double drive-thrus and the company will also have mobile pre-order and pay service plus delivery options.

Besides its guaranteed fresh original blend coffee, Tim Hortons offers Cold Brew with cold foam, its signature Iced Capp beverages, iced and hot lattes plus a number of other specialty coffee drinks and teas.  Doughnuts and baked goods are on the menu along with breakfast items, sandwiches and wraps.
click to enlarge A Hawaiian restaurant is on the horizon. - PHOTO BY KATHY TRAN
A Hawaiian restaurant is on the horizon.
Photo by Kathy Tran
Hawaiian Bros., 6522 Westheimer, is shooting to open in early 2022, taking over the space which formerly housed a Taco Cabana. This is the first Houston location for the fast-casual company which serves Hawaiian-inspired dishes like Molokai Chicken, a sweet and spicy grilled chicken dish and SPAM Musubi,  a plate of rice and seared SPAM glazed in teriyaki sauce and wrapped in seaweed. Other popular items include Huli Huli Chicken, Luau Pig and Macaroni Salad with its signature blend of spices. For dessert, there's Dole Soft Serve, the frozen tropical soft serve that has a cult following.
click to enlarge Molokai Chicken mixes sweet with heat. - PHOTO BY KATHY TRAN
Molokai Chicken mixes sweet with heat.
Photo by Kathy Tran
Hawaiian Bros. first opened in Texas in Kyle in the spring of 2021 and has since opened 10 more Texas stores in the Austin and Dallas areas. Its president Scott Ford said about the expansion to Houston, "Houston has a deep and diverse food scene and you have to offer both great and unique food to break through. Opening a location in Houston demonstrates confidence in the distinctiveness of our brand, our proven service model and our fresh take on island comfort food."

All of the food is fresh-made daily and the plate lunches are available in small, classic and large sizes.
click to enlarge Little Pappas plans a big return. - PHOTO BY PAPPAS RESTAURANTS
Little Pappas plans a big return.
Photo by Pappas Restaurants
Little Pappas Seafood House Oyster Bar, 3001 S. Shepherd, is planning to reopen in early 2021, though the exact date is dependent on the hiring process in January. For the return, it is adding an Oyster Bar to its name and its space. The Pappas restaurant closed in June 2020 during the COVID pandemic. It's the only one of its kind in the family of Pappas Restaurants, with a focus on fresh fish and seafood, including fish directly from the Gulf of Mexico when possible. Fish like grouper, snapper and redfish are often caught on Pappas Restaurants' own boats.

The new oyster bar will offer Gulf and East Coast oysters plus appetizers like crispy calamari and asparagus, a baked jumbo lump crab cake and seafood gumbo. The Pappas Greek Salad, a popular item for years at its family of restaurants, is prepared tableside for a little drama. There will also be a small menu of Crispy Seafood with fried shrimp, catfish and a fried grouper sandwich. Besides seafood, there will be entrees such as quail brochette and filet mignon.

The wine list from Pappas Restaurants beverage director Robert Smith will feature nearly 60 selections with a number of Champagne offerings and European whites that pair well with seafood. Light and medium body reds like Pinot Noir and Burgundy will round out the list.

Prior to its pandemic closure, the space had been newly renovated with black and white mosaic tiles and updated countertops. The bar has also been refreshed with new light fixtures and bar stools. The patio will also have new furniture and planters plus a new railing, awnings and a freshly repainted exterior.
click to enlarge The buche de noel at Rustika is a seasonal favorite and is available now. - PHOTO BY MARCO REZNICK
The buche de noel at Rustika is a seasonal favorite and is available now.
Photo by Marco Reznick
Rustika Cafe and Bakery has signed a franchise development agreement with Olabode "Victor" Ajayi to bring its pastries, treats, breakfast and lunch to Katy in May 2022.The gourmet bakery features Jewish-Mexican fusion and is known for having some of the best cakes in the city.

Founded in 1994 by pastry chef, Francis Reznick, Rustika currently operates four family-owned establishments across the Houston area. Reznick was born in Mexico and is of Jewish-European descent and her background is reflected in the offerings on the bakery's menu from chilaquiles and empanadas to scratch-made cakes and cookies. The pastry chef sources quality ingredients from all over the world using only the best all-natural and preservative-free products for the bakery and cafe's menu items.

The partnership with Ajayi will help to further expand Rustika's footprint. A resident of Katy, Ajayi was born in Nigeria. His first food industry experience was a job at McDonald's in 2005 which gave him insight into food quality, facility upkeep, management and customer service. A fan of Rustika's food and treats since 2015, he looks forward to sharing a welcoming smile with customers and the concept's unique culinary brand. The new franchise will be the fifth in the Rustika portfolio serving breakfast, lunch and lots of baked goodies.

click to enlarge These macarons are gluten-free with no artificial ingredients. - PHOTO BY ANGEL SANTIAGO
These macarons are gluten-free with no artificial ingredients.
Photo by Angel Santiago
Le Macaron, 130 Vintage Park Boulevard, is shooting to open in late December/early January. A spokesperson told the Houston Press that the exact date is still a moving target. This will be the third sweet shop for the brand, founded in Sarasota, Florida in the Houston area. There are two others in the Galleria and Cypress.
click to enlarge Le Macaron has pastries other than macarons as well. - PHOTO BY ANGEL SANTIAGO
Le Macaron has pastries other than macarons as well.
Photo by Angel Santiago
The franchisees for the Vintage Park location are husband and wife, Angelica Covarrubias and Moni Mau. Mau is a software engineer and Covarrubius previously managed her own dry cleaning business. The couple also tried their hand at running a taqueria food truck for a while. Now, they are excited about the newest venture because it allows them to operate a family-owned business that allows them to bring their young daughters to work.
click to enlarge The Heights location is brand new. - PHOTO BY DAVID M. GIANNAMORE
The Heights location is brand new.
Photo by David M. Giannamore
Mendocino Farms, 1200 Smith, is expected to open in the spring of 2022 at Two Allen Center, making it the fifth Houston location for the California-based brand. Its M-K-T Heights location recently opened December 14. The restaurant chain is known for its variety of hearty and healthy sandwiches and entree salads such as Mama Chen's Chinese Chicken and the Avocado and Quinoa Superfood Ensalada. There are vegan options such as the Vegan Banh mi and vegetarian delights like the Impossible Taco Salad or Impossible Burger, both made with the plant-based protein. Many of the menu items can be customized to be vegan or gluten-free.

Clean Juice, 2811 Grand Parkway, softly opened December 6 and will have a grand opening December 18 January 8. This is the first Katy location for the USDA-certified juice bar, which operates over 100 stores nationwide. It was founded in 2016 by Landon and Kat Eckles in Charlotte, North Carolina. It has since sold over 140 franchises across 23 states. There is an upcoming location planned for 7115 Katy Gaston in Fulshear which is expected to open in January.

The juices and food are made fresh daily with organic ingredients. It offers fast foods like acai bowls, wraps, toasts, sandwiches and salads plus cold-pressed juices and healthy smoothies. It also has superfood add- ons, wellness shots and bottled juices to-go. Customers can also pick up fresh, organic spices.

The new Katy juice and smoothie bar is owned by franchisees Melissa and Josh Bonesteel who became passionate about nutrition and wellness after Melissa was diagnosed with Celiac disease.

Freebirds World Burrito, 2825 Riley Fuzzell, had a grand opening December 15. The first 25 customers in line (and it was a long line) received Free Burritos for a Year, which entitles them to one burrito a week for the year. There were also free samples and games for the opening.

Headquartered now in Austin, the customizable burrito company first began in 1987 in California. The majority of its restaurants are now in Austin, San Antonio and Dallas with a dozen or so in the Greater Houston area depending on where the Greater Houston area actually ends.

Guests can create their own burritos with various protein options including steak, prime rib, white meat chicken, slow roasted pork and Beyond Meat. Vegetarians can stick to its wide variety of vegetable fillings and there are bowls for those looking to avoid carbs or gluten. There are also nachos, tacos and sides like queso and guacamole. 
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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.