Restaurant News

Openings and Closings: ReikiNa Debuts, Concura and Shoot the Moon Open Soon

The opening dishes at ReikiNa are stunning.
The opening dishes at ReikiNa are stunning. Photo by Kat Ambrose

ReikiNa, 799 Town and Country Boulevard, will open at CityCentre July 15. The new tasting menu concept comes from Thomas Stacy, a former prep cook at the high-end sushi restaurant Uchi. The idea began as a series of private home dinners which Stacy hosted during the COVID-19 pandemic. While working at Uchi, a group of friends asked him to prepare a meal at his home. That 10-course meal became a weekly tasting dinner at his Montrose apartment, leading to the Houston native opening ReikiNa eight months later.

click to enlarge Chef Thomas Stacy is a man of taste. - PHOTO BY KAT AMBROSE
Chef Thomas Stacy is a man of taste.
Photo by Kat Ambrose
ReikiNa means "divine snacks" and Stacy's tasting menu will offer guests will a multisensory experience of food, art, music and design. The eight-course tasting menu will change every six weeks and space will be limited to 20 guests per seating. The concept is open for dinner only Wednesday through Saturday so reservations in advance are a must.
click to enlarge The Matcha White Chocolate Mousse is a delicate beauty. - PHOTO BY KAT AMBROSE
The Matcha White Chocolate Mousse is a delicate beauty.
Photo by Kat Ambrose
Joining Stacy at ReikiNa is sous chef Jacob Larimore, formerly of MAD, BCN and The Garden Co. at Roundtop. Pastry chef Carla Briseño, also formerly of MAD and BCN plus Roka Akor, joins the team as well.

The opening menu hints at what to expect from this young chef and his crew. The eight-course tasting begins with an oyster with sake mignonette emulsion and cilantro oil and a petite plate of yellowtail tuna with pineapple vierge and Lemondrop melon. Other tasty tidbits, like chicken liver mousse with lychee reduction and radish kimchi and smoked buttered eggplant with goat cheese, follow. CharSiu pork is served with cherry bao and pickled fennel while the sweet ending is a matcha white chocolate mousse with nectarine sorbet.

The restaurant was designed by Cat Matthews of FOUND For the Home and features a 105-foot gallery wall of artwork from local artists. As each tasting menu changes very six weeks, so will the art, which is available for purchase. The artists keep 100 percent of sales from their work. For the opening, ReikiNa's gallery wall will showcase Houston artists Terry Suprean, Stephanie Gonzalez and Alex Larsen. For the music, an important part of the ReikiNa experience, Stacy will use his personal collection of more than 400 vinyl records to provide a unique musical accompaniment for each dinner.


click to enlarge Food, art and music are combined for a tasteful experience. - PHOTO BY KAT AMBROSE
Food, art and music are combined for a tasteful experience.
Photo by Kat Ambrose
The food and the music are not the only personal touches the chef has brought to his new concept. Stacy is also responsible for the limewash walls and the 11-foot farmhouse table he built from 200-year aged white oak barn siding. Upcycled decor and dinnerware are other personal touches as well as a handmade longleaf pine bar counter that seats eight people.

For now, ReikiNa’s tasting menu will be available by reservation only. Stacy plans to add a second seating time soon, along with two options for walk-in guests.

click to enlarge Chef Cuppone's version of vitello tonnato is a pretty one. - PHOTO BY MATTHEW ROOD
Chef Cuppone's version of vitello tonnato is a pretty one.
Photo by Matthew Rood
Concura Italian Bites, 4340 Westheimer, will open this summer. For those who were wondering where Chef Angelone Cuppone would end up after he recently left Roma, this is it. The contemporary Italian restaurant comes from Jessica Biondi, an Italian fashion and design consultant who hails from Fano, Marche, a heritage that she shares with Executive Chef Cuppone. Concura is a passion project for Biondi who was raised with Italian cooking and traditional family gatherings. The name Concura means  "with care" in Italian.

The restaurant's menu explores the less discovered regions of Italy and will offer a sophisticated atmosphere reminiscent of a modern restaurant you would find tucked away in Italy.  Both small and large plates will allow guests to share, or not.

click to enlarge Share a meal like the Italians do. - PHOTO BY MATTHEW ROOD
Share a meal like the Italians do.
Photo by Matthew Rood
Cuppone's chef's menu will feature a selection of rotating dishes influenced by Italy’s Adriatic Coast, where the Marche region is located. Contemporary dishes include a variety of tartare and charcuterie featuring an array of cured meats and salamis sliced extremely thin and made to order. There will also be traditional, authentic plates like  Pappa al Pomodoro, Vitello Tonnato, Carbonara di Pesce, and Polpo e Patate con Olive Taggiasche.

The curated Italian wine list focuses on verticals to highlight the effect of age on a particular varietal. The list showcases a selection of the best wines from Italy and a variety of other regions in the United States, France, and South Africa. Italian-inspired cocktails will be part of the bar program including a few variations of Negroni and Aperol Spritz. Signature cocktails like La Vita é Bella with vodka, cappelletti, raspberry, lemon, and orange will transport guests to the sandy beaches and seaside resorts of The Adriatic.

Concura will feature an intimate open kitchen concept and a dining space with lime-washed walls. In keeping with Biondi's fashion and design background, the restaurant will have iconic Italian designer pieces like the Sesann sofa by Tacchini and a black and white piece by Ferdinando Scianna.

click to enlarge Chef Angelo Cuppone, owner Jessica Biondi and manager Marcella Arreaga. - PHOTO BY MATTHEW ROOD
Chef Angelo Cuppone, owner Jessica Biondi and manager Marcella Arreaga.
Photo by Matthew Rood

Concura has been a dream project for Biondi for the past decade and is a tribute to the Italian way of life, something that is in Biondi's blood. "You’ll see once you enter the restaurant, but the intimate atmosphere will be unique to us. From the seating arrangements to the way you can interact with the kitchen – everything. I wasn’t willing to cut corners on what some might consider small details," she said. "Think of Concura as a place you come to gather with friends. The inviting atmosphere will make you feel comfortable and right at home. Eat, drink, and feel Italiano – that’s our motto."

click to enlarge You are the master of your own pour at Shoot the Moon. - PHOTO BY AMY SCOTT PHOTOGRAPHY
You are the master of your own pour at Shoot the Moon.
Photo by Amy Scott Photography
Shoot the Moon, 8155 Long Point, will open July 26 in Spring Branch after a year's delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its challenges. It comes from STM Hospitality LLC, a group made up of some well-known industry professionals. Kevin Floyd is STM's executive director and is also the co-founder of Underbelly Hospitality and Anvil Bar and Refuge. Dax McAnear, who has experience working with chefs like Chris Shepherd at The Hay Merchant and Ryan Hildebrand at Triniti, will serve as executive chef. Jonas Herd, who has owned and operated Cecil's Pub in Montrose since 2017, rounds out the trio. Herd has also worked with Houston-based Collaborative Projects and its build firm Collaborative Projects Construction on restaurant designs around the city since 2006. STM Hospitality is operated by Floyd Ventures LLC.

Collaborative Projects completed the build-out of the 4,000-square-foot space early this summer. The restaurant is located in the 66,000-square-foot Spring Branch Village shopping center which was redeveloped by Braun Enterprises in 2020. Letterset Houston designed the playful signage and graphics, displayed inside and outside the restaurant space.
click to enlarge Shoot the Moon is contemporary, playful and fun. - PHOTO BY AMY SCOTT PHOTOGRAPHY
Shoot the Moon is contemporary, playful and fun.
Photo by Amy Scott Photography
STM Hospitality has created Shoot The Moon as a fast-casual, chef-driven restaurant concept with a "first-in-Houston" tap wall that allows guests to serve themselves cider, beer, wine, cocktails and spirits. There are special mechanisms and monitoring in place to prevent over-pours and over-consumption.

"The pandemic and the economic climate over the past year have been exceptionally difficult for just about everyone, including people like us who are crazy enough to completely reinvent the restaurant experience," says Floyd. "We are absolutely stoked to be able to share our innovative concept with the people of Houston, especially the residents of our Spring Branch neighborhood, who have been cheering us on all along."

Shoot the Moon's tavern experience will include diverse food and drink choices served in a casual, comfortable atmosphere. McAnear developed the well-rounded menu which offers small plates, pizzas and healthy fare to suit a variety of tastes.

click to enlarge Pizzas please kids and adults alike. - PHOTO BY AMY SCOTT PHOTOGRAPHY
Pizzas please kids and adults alike.
Photo by Amy Scott Photography
The extensive automated tap wall will offer self-service beverage delivery systems new to Houston. Guests of drinking age will get to pour themselves beer, cider, wine, straight spirits and cocktails from the easy-to-navigate tap system. Guests can test and taste small pours or opt for a full serving of 80 beverage selections along with a choice of ice. There are non-alcoholic choices and coffee drinks as well.

Floyd says that the STM experience eliminates the frustration of waiting for a bartender or server to place an order, giving guests a high level of control in the process. However, there will be staff available for those who need help in making a beverage decision. He explains the system.  "Guests will check in, show IDs, open a tab, place their food order, and get a special card that activates the tap system. They’ll be able to select and pour their own drinks at their leisure, while their food is prepared and promptly delivered from our from-scratch kitchen, led by Chef Dax McAnear."

The dining menu offers fare that pairs well with the playful and family-friendly atmosphere. Pizzas are always a welcome favorite and Shoot the Moon has a choice of three different crust styles plus a gluten-free/Paleo option. Guests can keep it simple with just cheese or try one of the signature pies like the Taco Pizza with zesty beef, black beans, taco sauce, black olives and chipotle cream. The Dr. Strangelove has white sauce with pineapple, bacon and green olives. There are kid-friendly items like chicken fingers and beer-friendly choices such as chicken wings, fried cheese curds and baked sweet potato tots. For Keto followers, the Keto Shrimp and Grits is made with uncured sausage and cauliflower grits.


click to enlarge Soaring ceilings, massive windows and a Bocci lighting installation create a dramatic atmosphere. - PHOTO BY FELECIE MEDELLIN
Soaring ceilings, massive windows and a Bocci lighting installation create a dramatic atmosphere.
Photo by Felecie Medellin

JOEY Uptown, 5045 Westheimer,  will open July 28 at the Galleria. This is the first foray into Texas for the  JOEY Restaurant Group which operates 30 JOEY Restaurants across Canada, Washington, California and now, the Lone Star State. Because everything is bigger in Texas, the Galleria location will be one of the largest one-story restaurants for the Canadian hospitality company. Besides its 10,288 square feet of interior space, the restaurant boasts a large outdoor patio with a retractable roof, making it an inviting spot for lingering martini lunches or a sultry Houston happy hour. Lush, green plants create a welcoming oasis in the climate-controlled outdoor space.

The interior is lined with natural finishes of wood, textured concrete, brushed brass, terrazzo, stone and leather, softened by more greenery and a living ceiling.  The custom glass wine wall is filled with bottles and the Bocci lighting illuminates the ceiling sculptures, along with tons of natural light from the multitude of windows. Artwork from Texas-based Jon Flaming  and portraits from Julian Opie ornament the walls.

click to enlarge A climate-controlled patio awaits Uptown guests at JOEY. - PHOTO BY FELECIE MEDELLIN
A climate-controlled patio awaits Uptown guests at JOEY.
Photo by Felecie Medellin
For the cuisine, Executive Chef of JOEY Restaurants, Chris Mills, and Executive Director of Culinary, Matthew Stowe, have formed a team of culinary professionals to create a global menu with dishes like Roasted Corn Guacamole and Flame-Seared Salmon Sushi. Stowe was the winner in Season 3 of Food Network's Top Chef Canada and joined JOEY in 2018. Mills has years of experience cooking internationally and has been a guest chef at the James Beard House several times, according to GlobeNewswire. Guests can expect some of the menu items to be sourced locally as well.

click to enlarge Winnie's Mississippi Beef Debris will not disappoint. - PHOTO BY EMILY JASCHKE
Winnie's Mississippi Beef Debris will not disappoint.
Photo by Emily Jaschke
Winnie's, 3622 Main, is shooting for a mid-September 2021 opening but as partner Graham Laborde told the Houston Press in an email, "You know how those things are." And we certainly do as the restaurant scene gets rolling again. Pandemics, hurricanes, recessions can take their toll but Houstonians love a good meal and a good time. And that seems what this new project from a trio of industry veterans aims to provide. Benjy Mason, owner of Johnny's Gold Brick is partnering with his old pals from Bernadine's, Chris Roy and Laborde, to open a new patio bar in the spot which formerly housed another casual dining and drinking spot, Natachee's Supper 'n Punch. During the pandemic, Natachee's owners approached the trio with an opportunity to take over the space with a new concept.

click to enlarge What the world needs now is a Peacemaker. - PHOTO BY EMILY JASCHKE
What the world needs now is a Peacemaker.
Photo by Emily Jaschke
Winnie's gets its name from one of the daughters of the developer who named the street Winbern after his daughters Winifred and Bernadette. Located in a vintage building that takes its place among hipster/oldster hangouts like The Continental Club and Double Trouble, the cocktail bar will be full of retro ambiance from the exposed wood ceilings to the rebuilt period storefront.  With local builder Jarred Pruitt in charge, there are thoughtful new changes like two large bay windows to let in natural light and a new reclaimed wood bar top and back bar from acclaimed local sculptor Patrick Renner to give the space some revamping. The reunited trio has brought in Garrett Lendermann from Johnny's Gold Brick to develop the cocktail program and highlights include a cafe sua da twist on the Frozen Irish Coffee from Erin Rose in New Orleans. For those of us still reeling financially from the pandemic, Winnie's will have $5 house cocktails daily until 5 p.m. There will be snacks, too.

click to enlarge A frozen Negroni and lemon pepper wings-these are a few of my favorite things. - PHOTO BY EMILY JASCHKE
A frozen Negroni and lemon pepper wings-these are a few of my favorite things.
Photo by Emily Jaschke
Previously, the the wonder trio had done pop-ups as a creative outlet during the pandemic and also a work-up for the menu at Winnie's. The opening menu will feature eight sandwiches but not just any sandwiches. Classics like the Shrimp and Oyster Peace Maker Po-Boy and the Mississippi Beef Debris with ranch-braised beef, pepperoncinis, beer queso, roasted carrot ranch dressing and Cool Ranch Doritos get playful, modern touches that will keep the hipsters and the oldsters happy.

click to enlarge The Fat Boy Sundae is a cup of caloric yumminess. - PHOTO BY HARRIS COUNTY BBQ
The Fat Boy Sundae is a cup of caloric yumminess.
Photo by Harris County BBQ

Harris County General Store BBQ Co., 5434 Lawndale, celebrated its grand opening with a ribbon cutting July 14. It has been softly opened since mid-May when it began doing sneak previews. The revival of the restaurant, which was originally located under a railroad overpass on Navigation, is a much-anticipated event for its loyal fans. Its new space will offer over 3,000 square feet indoors and an expansive back yard with nearly twice the room as the interior. The covered patio looks out over an attractive green space with wooden tables and benches to relax with a plate of smoked meats and cold beer while watching the wild parrots that alight in the surrounding trees. The backyard will also be a place to play, with live music and other events to come. The owners have created a family-friendly space with the laid-back vibe of a Texas juke joint. And there's plenty of parking, a fact we all can appreciate nowadays.

The partners and shepherds of the next chapter of Harris County BBQ are pitmaster and operator Daniel P. Hinojosa and Houston restaurateur Al Flores, who will serve as legal advisor as well. Flores said in a press release, " We have deep roots in this neighborhood and we're determined to bring authentic Texas barbecue with East End corazon to all of Houston.. celebrating with a grand opening feels right. We are back and we are here to stay."

click to enlarge That's one helluva a brisket sandwich! - PHOTO BY HARRIS COUNTY BBQ
That's one helluva a brisket sandwich!
Photo by Harris County BBQ
Hinojosa's new menu has Central Texas-style favorites like beef brisket (of course) and pork spare ribs plus pulled pork, pork belly, turkey breast and house sausage. Lovers of loaded baked potatoes can pair their tubers with their choice of meat and sides like Mamma's Beans, Raspberry Cole Slaw, Mac 'n Cheese and East End-Style Elote. Hinojosa has also created his signature Housemade Banana Pudding, a must for any good barbecue joint. Guests might get lucky and find the Capriotada (Mexican bread pudding) available during their visit. The specials include the Cheeken Fuego Sandwich, brisket tamales, tacos and more. A variety of craft beer and wine is on the beverage list along with iced tea, soft drinks and MexiCokes.

For those who have given up on bikinis and have surrendered instead to elastic-waist britches, the Fat Boy Sundae is a concoction that will knock out even the biggest appetite. It's a cup o' baked potatoes, mac 'n cheese, brisket and sausage, topped with a pork rib. If you always wanted to be called Roly-Poly, here's your chance.

Cafe TH, 2108 Pease, closed its doors July 15 for good, according to a post by owner Minh Nguyen. The Vietnamese restaurant first opened in the 1980s when Asian restaurants were still destination spots in Houston rather than the commonplace eateries they are now. In 2007, Chef Minh bought the restaurant. His welcoming personality and attention to detail, like great baguettes for sandwiches, made his restaurant a cozy spot for what many in Houston considered the best banh mi sandwiches. The Houston Press declared the restaurant to have the Best Banh Mi in 2013 as well as putting it on the list of 10 Best Vegan Friendly Restaurants in Houston in 2014. Minh was accommodating with his menu offering dishes that were gluten-free and dairy-free plus options for diners who were vegan or eating Paleo.

In the post, Minh said, " I have put forth almost 14 years of my life to make my vision of a Vietnamese cafe come true and it has been the best decision ever. From a financial crisis to a pandemic, it has been a wild roller coaster. Many of you have become my friends, family and beyond...The future is blurry but I will be back."

According to its Facebook page, the last couple of days have brought out numerous loyal customers to express their sorrow for the restaurant's closing and their appreciation for the years of good food and hospitality that Minh provided.

click to enlarge We're keeping our eyes open for an opening. - PHOTO BY LORRETTA RUGGIERO
We're keeping our eyes open for an opening.
Photo by Lorretta Ruggiero

Simply Greek, 11702 Grant, has a sign out front that says it is opening soon. We have reached out for more information about a definite date but have yet to receive a response. According to its website, there are also two more locations planned for Westheimer and Copperfield in addition to the new Cypress spot. It currently operates three restaurants in Spring Branch, Katy and Midtown. The halal restaurant serves gyros, burgers and unique hot dogs plus Greek and Mediterranean specialties.

click to enlarge Strawberries and balsamic vinegar make a delicious pair at Craft Creamery. - PHOTO BY STEPHANIE LAM
Strawberries and balsamic vinegar make a delicious pair at Craft Creamery.
Photo by Stephanie Lam

Craft Creamery
, 1338 Westheimer, will officially open July 18, which also happens to be National Ice Cream Day. The locally-owned, chef-driven ice cream shop in Montrose will celebrate the launch of its official store and new brand identity by offering a free scoop to customers between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Sunday, July 18th. Craft Creamery offers both savory and sweet flavors with weekly specials. It will feature several creative flavors July 11 through July 18 leading up to National Ice Cream Day including Oaxaca 'Hot' Chocolate, BBQ Brisket, Cacio e Pepe, Jalapeno Cornbread, Tomato Tarragon and Balsamic Strawberry.

"We are excited to officially launch our scoop shop and our new look to the city – we wanted to create an authentic space that offers the most creative flavors of ice cream, while offering guests an even more delightful experience through the magic of ice cream," explained owner Steve Marques.

There will also be a new website along with the re-branding, headed up by local branding agency, Design by Principle. Neutral colors reflect the authenticity and purity of the ingredients. The refreshed look is soft and warm giving a sweet welcome to customers.

click to enlarge Cacio e Pepe is one of the unique savory flavors at Craft Creamery. - PHOTO BY STEPHANIE LAM
Cacio e Pepe is one of the unique savory flavors at Craft Creamery.
Photo by Stephanie Lam
Craft Creamery originally opened in late 2020  as a test kitchen and incubator space for Marques to focus on partnership opportunities with local restaurants. While working with restaurants, he also wanted to create a neighborhood scoop shop that provides customers with a unique ice cream experience, unlike anything Houston has seen.

Besides the shop, Craft Creamery ice cream is available at places such as BOH Pasta and Pizza, The Briar Club, The Pit Room and State Fare Kitchen & Bar, to name a few. The concept focuses on small-batch, French-pot-method ice cream made with a handful of  ingredients, many of them locally-sourced. Classically trained in Europe, Marques has worked with some of the culinary world's biggest players including David Chang at Momofuku and Eric Ripert at Le Bernardin. Locally, he was the chef owner of The Burger Guys and executive chef for The Tasting Room and BRC as well as a sous chef at Eunice.

Marques and wife, Kim Kaase, dubbed the Chief Tasting Officer, created Craft Creamery with the idea of eating more "intentionally". The ice cream is made with Mill-King cream, farm eggs, sugar and real flavors. There are no gums, starches or concentrates. The ingredients, which are kept to a minimum, are sourced from the local region whenever possible.

click to enlarge Japanese Wagyu might be one of Chef Hori's omakase dishes. - PHOTO BY JULIE SOEFER
Japanese Wagyu might be one of Chef Hori's omakase dishes.
Photo by Julie Soefer
Kata Robata, 3600 Kirby, relaunched its omakase July 15. Guests can once again take part in one of the best tasting menus in the city from the skillful hands of Chef Manabu Horiuchi, or Chef Hori as he's known in Houston. Chef Hori opened the sushi restaurant in 2009 and has been going strong ever since, becoming one of the most highly regarded sushi chefs in Houston and beyond. Born in Japan, Chef Hori sources the fish for his omakase from Japan daily so the chef's menu varies according to the products he receives each day. Even the restaurant's choice of soy sauce, Yuasa, is sourced from Japan. It's made at the country's oldest soy sauce brewery. While Chef Hori's omakase menu will vary, there will always be a selection of hot and cold dishes.

click to enlarge Chef Hori is ready to wow with his omakase again. - PHOTO BY JULIE SOEFER
Chef Hori is ready to wow with his omakase again.
Photo by Julie Soefer
The omakase service was put on hold for a while during the pandemic as take-out orders became a major part of its custom. Even when the dining business returned, Chef Hori waited to bring back the omakase until take-out orders lessened and more guests returned to dine-in.

Chef Hori limits the omakase to eight guests per night and reservations are a must. The price varies from $150 to $200 per person depending on that evening's menu. It is not available Sunday or Wednesday. Guests can make reservations through Resy and add a request for the omkase. The restaurant will contact the guest for confirmation. Reservations may also be made by calling the restaurant directly.

bellagreen, 5018 San Felipe, will open August 2.  Last month we reported that the healthy and sustainable concept would be opening in the Galleria area this summer, here in the Houston Press. It is currently hiring for the new location.

click to enlarge Cuc Lam's Tiger Cry sauce gives a Thai pop to enchiladas. - PHOTO BY SUMMER ANNE DOLLAR
Cuc Lam's Tiger Cry sauce gives a Thai pop to enchiladas.
Photo by Summer Anne Dollar
Enchiladapalooza begins this weekend. Each Sunday through mid-August, a new restaurant will offer a unique enchilada dish to help raise funds for The Ballard House, a non-profit that provides housing for families and individuals who have loved ones receiving medical treatment in the Katy/West Houston area. Each restaurant will create their own twist on enchiladas with 20 percent of the $16 dish going to The Ballard House.

First up this Sunday is Yelo. Chef Cuc Lam is offering Chile Verde Chicken Enchiladas topped with her renowned Thai-inspired Tiger Cry sauce and served with cilantro rice.  It is available for order online or in person for pick-up Sunday July 18 only. Other upcoming participants include Brett's BBQ Shop which will offer 44 Farms Beef Cheek Enchiladas with homemade red chile sauce and cotija cheese July 25. Phat Eatery will have Curry Chicken Enchiladas August 1, made with a roti tortilla. Next up will be Frankie's Italian Kitchen with Lasagna Enchiladas made with Italian sausage, four cheeses, basil and Alfredo sauce, available August 8. The last enchilada special will be from Scholars and Scoundrels August 15. Its Pinche Gringo version will be made with short rib and Oaxaca and cotija cheeses, topped with house-made ranchero sauce.
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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.