Restaurant News

Openings and Closings: Sixty Vines Debuts, Mala Sichuan at Finn Hall Closes

Wine, cheese and charcuterie will  transport you to Napa.
Wine, cheese and charcuterie will transport you to Napa. Photo by Infinite Agency

Sixty Vines, 2540 University Boulevard, opens October 14. The Napa Valley-inspired restaurant has two other locations in Plano and Uptown Dallas. The Rice Village restaurant and wine bar will feature some of the same elements that distinguish the brand such as raw woods, white walls, a live greenery area, modern furniture and a greenhouse patio. However, the Houston location will have the Sonoma Room, unique to our city. It will have a separate menu of shared plates, specialty cheeses, sandwiches and desserts offered in an intimate setting on the first floor. The main dining room will offer guests the chance to be part of the action with an open kitchen and charcuterie bar.

click to enlarge Cauliflower is still riding the food trend wave. - PHOTO BY INFINITE AGENCY
Cauliflower is still riding the food trend wave.
Photo by Infinite Agency
The seasonal menu includes wood-fired pizzas such as the Fig and Prosciutto or Spicy Sausage. The food menu is meant to be paired with wine and offers pasta dishes such as the Tonnarelli, made with cilantro and coconut infused noodles topped with Gulf shrimp, spinach and basil. Vegetables make a strong showing here with choices like the wood-fired cauliflower and Brussels sprouts with kung pao vinaigrette.

Besides the wine list of 100 varietals by the glass, there are 51 wines on tap. The pressurized steel kegs keep the wine from oxidizing and it also helps to limit the amount of wine bottles that end up in the landfills. There are  seven beers, cider and cold brew on tap as well.

click to enlarge Is this heaven? - PHOTO BY INFINITE AGENCY
Is this heaven?
Photo by Infinite Agency
Sixty Vines utilizes local artists in its decor and for Houston, it has chosen artist Christopher Vela to show the process of wine from seed to glass.

On its opening day, the restaurant will donate 50 percent of sales to Young Audiences Inc. of Houston, a chapter of the nation's leading arts-in-education program, Young Audiences Inc., which was founded in 1956 to encourage and educate children regarding the visual, media and performing arts.

Mala Sichuan at Finn Hall, 712 Main, closed this month, as reported by CultureMap Houston. This makes the second vendor to leave the European-style food hall since it opened in December 2018. Mr. Nice Pie shuttered in March. This past summer, however, Pizza Zquare took over the spot, selling its Roman-style square slices and pies.

Mala Sichuan has three other locations, including the most recent location which opened in Katy Asian Town September 1 at 23119 Colonial Parkway. Its other locations are in Chinatown and Montrose, so there are plenty of locations in which to get your red chili oil dumpling fix.

Alma, 3974 Westheimer, may open as soon as late November, according to the Houston Chronicle. The new Latin restaurant comes from Chef David Guerrero, owner of Andes Cafe in the East End. While the cuisine at Andes is more casual,  Guerrero plans a more elevated approach to South American and Latin flavors at Alma.

The new restaurant will be more upscale allowing the chef to experiment with South American flavors and also add in Mexican dishes as well. He plans to have a tasting menu and a raw bar which will also feature Peruvian raw fish dishes called tiradito.

Guerrero previously opened a restaurant called Alma Cebiche & Bar in 2012, but it closed a few months later. Now, this "soul" is coming back to life.

click to enlarge The Powder Keg is fun for all, including four-legged pals. - PHOTO BY DAVID TONG
The Powder Keg is fun for all, including four-legged pals.
Photo by David Tong
The Powder Keg, 1300 Brittmoore, opened September 23. The open air bar and dog park offers dog lovers a place for their pups to run around, but make sure to heed the rules so that everyone, be they human or canine, stays safe.

The bar also offers games like cornhole and ping pong, plus there are four sand volleyball courts that can be reserved for $50 an hour. There are plenty of televisions for game watching and food trucks are planned for the near future. Kids are allowed in until 9 p.m. every day.

There are a few beers on tap, wine and cocktails. A look at the drink menu shows creations like the Blazing Saddle ($9) made with Epsalon Resposado tequila, jalapeno (blazing), grapefruit and lime. There's also the Guns and Rosa ($10) with Nine Banded whiskey, Cocchi Rosa and lemon. Happy hour runs from open till 6 p.m., Monday through Friday.

click to enlarge The hard working volunteers for Southern Smoke 2019 are still smiling. - PHOTO BY ROBERT JACOB LERMA
The hard working volunteers for Southern Smoke 2019 are still smiling.
Photo by Robert Jacob Lerma

Southern Smoke Festival 2019 raised $573,394 last weekend, with $100,000 going to the Multiple Sclerosis Society in honor of local sommelier Antonio Gianola, who is living with MS. The remainder, $473,394, will go into the Southern Smoke Emergency Relief Fund which aids hospitality, restaurant and beverage workers in times of need. Over half a million dollars was distributed to victims of Hurricane Harvey in 2017. Other distributions have included help with medical bills, fires and natural disasters.

Since its founding in 2015, the Southern Smoke Foundation has donated $763,000 to the MS Society.

To read more about the Southern Smoke Festival 2019, check out our story from last week in the Houston Press.

Taste Sichuan Bistro, 5000 Westheimer, opened the first week of October. Master chef Liang Zhe Lin and assistant chef Tao Xia offer Sichuan dishes and some serious knife skills at this Galleria restaurant. The noodles are hand made by chefs who have thirty years of experience.

There are dishes at dinner like Beijing Duck, Pan Fried Lamb Ribs and Special Sliced Pork Belly Pyramid. Who wouldn't love a pyramid of pork belly?

Lunch specials run from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and include Szechuan Spicy Chicken ($10.95), Scallion Beef ($11.95) and Boiled Fish with Szechuan Spicy Oil ($11.95).

Mama's Kitchen, 3815 Richmond, opened September 16 in the Greenway Plaza area. The small cafe gets packed for lunch because its Sichuan cuisine is pleasing the patrons. There are appetizers such as green onion pancakes, housemade mochi in brown sugar, wasabi wood ear mushroom salad and soy tofu slices with ginger and garlic. Dumplings come in a wide variety here. There are also plenty of noodle choices such as Dan Dan noodles and Hot and Sour Clam clear noodles. Pepper heads will enjoy the spicy chicken cubes with rice crust. For the offal fan, there's the Dry-Fried Intestines with pepper and ginger.

There are plenty of vegetarian options, including fried eggplant with green beans and stir-fried bok choy. Fruit Soju, an alcoholic rice beverage, is available in a variety of flavors or enjoy one of the non-alcoholic milk teas and smoothies. There are several beer choices as well.

click to enlarge Kin Dee will offer a modern taste of Thai. - PHOTO BY MANDY LEE
Kin Dee will offer a modern taste of Thai.
Photo by Mandy Lee

Kin Dee, 1533 N. Shepherd, is slated to open in early 2020 at Market at Houston Heights, along with Flower Child. Both restaurants will anchor the mixed-use development which will include lifestyle tenants such as CycleBar and Salon Lofts.

Kin Dee comes from Thai native Lukkaew Srasrisuwan and New York transplant Miranda Leotkhamfu. They struck up a friendship five years ago while networking. Leotkhamfu is the owner of A Real Thai Massage in River Oaks. Once Srasrisuwan tasted Leotkhamfu's food, the two decided to partner to open a Thai restaurant in the Heights. Both women have experience in the hospitality industry. Srasrisuwan's experience comes from her family's hotel, Khanom Golden Beach in Nakhon Si Thammarat province in the Gulf of Thailand. Leotkhamfu was formerly chef and partner at Erawan Seafood and Steak, a Thai fusion restaurant in Bayside, Queens, New York.

The 2,500 square foot restaurant will have a full bar, seating inside for 77 and a patio with an additional 20 seats.

click to enlarge Pick a chef, any chef. - PHOTO BY CUC LAM
Pick a chef, any chef.
Photo by Cuc Lam
Bravery Chef Hall, 409 Travis, is hosting a grand opening celebration October 14 through October 20, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Each evening, one of the six restaurants and bars will be featured during the week with specials on drinks and food. Vendors include The Blind Goat, Cherry Block Craft Butcher & Kitchen, BOH Pasta & Pizza, Atlas Diner HTX, Kokoro, Lockwood STN and Secret Garden HTX.

The food hall softly opened July 23. Now, it's grandly opening.

click to enlarge Taste of the District offers some great shopping. - PHOTO COURTESY OF MICHAEL ANTHONY
Taste of the District offers some great shopping.
Photo courtesy of Michael Anthony

Taste of the Distric
t, 4444 Westheimer, will hold its second open air market October 20, benefiting Recipe For Success and Hope Farms. The River Oaks District will have local restaurants and retailers offering goods and chef demonstrations, so attendees can get a head start on their holiday shopping. Admission is free. Bring moola for buying.

Hope Farms will be selling its fresh produce while retailers such as L'Occitane, Geneva Cigars, Three Hearts Apparel will have their luxury wares available. River Oaks Plant House will be on hand with live plants for sale. Restaurants such as Bisou, Loch Bar, Sweet Paris and Cavo Coffee will be represented also. The vendor list has expanded to 60 participants this year, so check out for more information.

Besides some amazing shopping, there will be fitness classes from Equinox and DIY eco-conscious workshops.

Recipe for Success is a non-profit organization founded by Gracie and Bob Cavnar in 2005. The mission is to prevent childhood obesity and teach children about healthy food choices while also helping them learn about where the food comes from. Its Hope Farms is located in a food desert and hosts a farmers market offering its farm grown produce in an area sorely lacking in grocery stores and healthy food options.

Tout Suite, 1500 Fannin, is expected to open in March 2021 as the park cafe for the Southern Downtown Park. The Downtown Redevelopment Authority chose La Vie de St Concepts as the cafe operator. The company also owns Tout Suite in the East End and SWEET at CityCentre. The new counter service cafe will serve breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks plus a weekend brunch. The 2,400 square foot space will have seating for 56 guests with additional patio area.

Construction on the park itself will begin in March 2020 and is expected to be finished by March 2021. Designed by Lauren Griffith Associates, it will feature a flexible event lawn and tranquil seating areas, plus dog runs.
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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.