Restaurant News

Openings and Closings: Studewood Cantine Opens, Toukei Debuts

Perfectly cooked fajitas shine at The Studewood Cantine.
Perfectly cooked fajitas shine at The Studewood Cantine. Photo by Gisele Parra Photography

The Studewood Cantine, 1111 Studewood, opened September 16.  The restaurant serves Texas scratch fare which leans toward Tex-Mex and American cuisine. There are typical starters like queso or nachos, but we look forward to seeing if Lety's Pork or Chicken Tamales are the real deal. Fajitas, tacos and combo plates round out the menu along with a few seafood and chicken dishes. The salsa, chips, queso and margaritas are getting great reviews, so that's always a wonderful way to start.

The Studewood Cantine also offers hand-crafted cocktails and ice cold beer to sip out on the cute and dog-friendly patio. There's also a big screen television for watching sporting events. Bring a group of friends and try the Family Appetizer ($14.99) which offers beef fajita nachos, chicken quesadillas, flautas, chicken-stuffed jalapenos and chile con queso.

click to enlarge That looks delicious.  The margarita, we mean. - PHOTO BY GISELE PARRA PHOTOGRAPHY
That looks delicious. The margarita, we mean.
Photo by Gisele Parra Photography

The restaurant will celebrate its grand opening October 12 with specials like $10 draft pitchers, $3 draft pints, $4 margaritas and $24.95 fajitas for two. However, there will be specials leading up till then including free samples of wings during lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The first 150 customers who follow The Studewood Cantine on Facebook or Instagram will get a free queso.

Toukei, 9630 Clarewood, opened October 1, according to CultureMap Houston. The Japanese Izakaya-style  pub comes from local restaurateur, Mike Tran, and joins his other concepts, Ishin Udon, Night Market Thai, Mein and Ohn Korean Eatery in the same shopping complex.

Izakaya is similar to a tapas bar, where patrons congregate for a drink, conversation and some nibbles. The snacks on offer at Toukei might include fried chicken skin or soy-braised snails. There are some raw fish preparations such as sashimi, crudo and ceviche and a variety of yakitori skewers from the wood-burning grill. Tran seems to be having fun with the menu as Toukei's Facebook page shows snacks like Spam katsu and cocktail weenies.

There are larger dinner plates including lamb chops and miso-marinated black cod. There will be plenty of Japanese whiskies and various shochu to pair with the menu items. If your table mates are particularly interesting, the restaurant is open till 2 a.m., with the kitchen closing at 1:30 a.m.

Chila's offers refreshing cocktails and authentic Oaxacan  cuisine. - PHOTO BY HERNAN DOROTEO
Chila's offers refreshing cocktails and authentic Oaxacan cuisine.
Photo by Hernan Doroteo
Chila's Kitchen, 3422 FM 2920, opened August 29 in Spring. The family-owned restaurant serves Mexican food from Oaxaca and Mexico City, so a couple of authentic moles are on the menu.  Owner and chef Lucila Romero (Chila) offers diners dishes like Fajitas Oxaquena with grilled cactus and Chuleta de Peurco, pork chops with tomatillo sauce,  while Granny Celia Sosa makes homemade, freshly cooked tortillas from scratch.

The extensive menu includes a variety of fajitas, tortas, enchiladas and seafood dishes plus hearty soups and stews such as asado de res, posole and menudo. The restaurant serves breakfast from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. during the week and until 1 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Lunch specials run 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and are very reasonably priced. For something a little different, try the Pambazo. It's grilled Mexican bread with red salsa, stuffed with chorizo, potato and Mexican cheese.

Lucila Romero  welcomes diners to try her delicious recipes. - PHOTO BY HERNAN DOROTEO
Lucila Romero welcomes diners to try her delicious recipes.
Photo by Hernan Doroteo
The aguas frescas are made in house with fresh fruit and there are dessert choices like Platanos Fritos (fried sweet plaintains). There is a kids menu and live music on Friday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Poke in the Bowl
, 6611 Main, opened September 13 in the Medical Center. The first location opened at 515 Westheimer in 2017. The clean and contemporary poke restaurant offers build-your-own poke bowls and burritos. Guests start with a base , then add sides, protein, mix-ins, sauces and toppings. The regular bowls begin at $10.95 and the large at $12.95.

Corky's Ribs & BBQ, 25618 Northwest Freeway, opened September 16.  This is the second Houston-area outpost for the Memphis barbecue chain. The first Texas store opened in Katy this past February. There are locations throughout Tennessee, with a few in Arkansas and Mississippi.

While barbecue devotees are some of the most passionate (and stubborn) food connoisseurs when it comes to technique, sauces, rubs and wood, we're here to tell you that you should eat whatever style barbecue you prefer. It's a free country. Even Texas barbecue nuts get into knock-down, drag-out arguments among themselves. While some folks might wonder why we need more barbecue joints in Houston, others might enjoy having a choice of regional barbecue options. Variety is the spice of life, even in the world of smoked meats.

Corky's is known for its Memphis-style ribs and diners can choose the wet, dry or muddy (wet and dry) option for the half slab ($13.99) or full slab ($24.99) with sides. The prices are decent for meat by the pound, combo plates or sandwiches. The Sweet Tea Fried Chicken Sandwich is an especially good bargain at $5.99. Corky's appetizers would make Elvis drool with not-so-healthy choices such as fried pickles, fried okra and the Onion Loaf.

Corky's also prides itself on its bourbon and whiskey program and there are 45 to pick from. In keeping with the Tennessee theme, there are cocktails like the Lynchburg Lemonade ($8) and moonshine offerings.

The Cypress location has a large patio where you'll often hear live music. Happy Hour runs 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday. There are lunch specials during the week and a Wednesday lunch buffet. There's also a drive-thru for take-out orders.

click to enlarge So many yummy tacos to try at Liberty Taco. - PHOTO BY CUC LAM
So many yummy tacos to try at Liberty Taco.
Photo by Cuc Lam

Liberty Taco, 1333 Old Spanish Trail, opened September 16. This makes the second location for the fast casual taco spot.  There are tacos to fit every taste, including Texas Brisket, Baja Fish or Shrimp, Caribbean Chicken and the Summer Roasted Veggie with zucchini, summer squash, red bell pepper, onions, avocado queso fresco and sour cream. Most tacos range from $3.50 to $4.50 each. There are starters like queso and guacamole plus a kids menu which features quesadillas and tacos served with rice and beans. Breakfast tacos run from the basic egg and cheese for $1.75 to the Texas Brisket for $3.25.

click to enlarge Listen to Led Zeppelin while eating a bread zeppelin. - PHOTO BY TROY CHARHON
Listen to Led Zeppelin while eating a bread zeppelin.
Photo by Troy Charhon

Bread Zeppelin, will open at CityPlace Springwoods Village in Spring 2020. The elevated salad chain was founded in Dallas by high school pals Troy Charhorn and Andrew Schoellkopf in Las Colinas in Irving, Texas. It has since expanded to six locations in the DFW area. The CityPlace store will be the first for the concept in the Houston area.

Customers can choose from the signature salads such as the NOLA, with fried shrimp, or the Tejano Caesar with cotija cheese and jalapenos. The choices range from Asian and Greek to Tex-Mex and California, depending on the ingredients you choose. There are over 20 different scratch-made dressings such as French remoulade, creamy wasabi and cranberry-poppyseed.  There are gluten-free and dairy free choices, too.

Diners can also build their own bowls or Zeppelins. The Zeppelin is a locally-baked demi-baguette which is toasted, then hollowed out and stuffed with the chopped salad ingredients. The protein choices range from grilled chicken and steak to fried shrimp and tofu.

click to enlarge Momo House has the momos. - PHOTO BY ASHESH RAI
Momo House has the momos.
Photo by Ashesh Rai

Momo House, 6121 Hillcroft, opened September 15. The Nepali restaurant serves items like goat thali, momo (steamed dumplings) and chicken chow mein, plus specials which include feasts such as daal bhaat (lentils and rice) with kasi ko masu (mutton curry).

The restaurant was started by a group of friends from Nepal who put their skills together to offer authentic Nepalese cuisine, which includes fusion cuisine ranging from Chinese to Indian, using Nepali spices. Momos are a traditional street food dumpling and Momo House offers different versions, including halal chicken and soya-based vegetarian momos.

The restaurant is BYOB and the fun is turned up on the weekends with pop up jam sessions and an open mic. The restaurant is open till midnight, so it's great for a late night chow mein run. It's also family-friendly.

Taglia Fresh Italian, 3115 Dixie Farm Road, celebrated its grand opening September 24 in Pearland.  The family-owned restaurant makes everything from scratch, including its fresh pastas. Diners can chooses dishes like Campanelle alla Panna with parmesan, prosciutto and mushrooms or the sun-dried tomato pesto. For heartier appetites, there's the option of adding a protein like chicken, shrimp, salmon or meatballs at an additional cost. There is a variety of salads and starters such as manicotti bites. For a real Italian antipasta, The Board ($14.99) offers prosciutto, mortadella, capicola, salami, parmigiano, fresh mozzarella, ricotta, grilled zucchini, Kalamata olives, grilled bread and fig jam.

There are signature cocktails like the Spritz Classico with Aperol or the Blackberry Mojito. The restaurant offers beers on tap and by the bottle, plus a reasonably priced wine list of primarily Italian varietals.

The pizzas come in either a 10" or 16" version. Customers can build their own or try one of Taglia's creations. For $2.50 more, the pizzas can be made with gluten-free cauliflower or sweet potato crust.

Trattoria Pizza and Pasta, 10211 Cypresswood, opened August 31. Located in a small shopping center, the family-owned restaurant features chef Elderin Berisha's take on Italian classics like eggplant parmesan, cannelloni, lasagna and more. The restaurant also serves subs, calzones and pizza. There are $8.95 to $9.95 lunch specials, Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

click to enlarge Bryan Caswell is doing happy hour right. - PHOTO BY POP STUDIOS
Bryan Caswell is doing happy hour right.
Photo by Pop Studios
3rd Bar at REEF, 2600 Travis, launched its new happy hour September 30 and it's a good one. Chef Bryan Caswell has created a dim sum-like menu of individual servings for $2 each and there are ten different bites to go along with happy hour drink specials. Options include a shrimp radish roll with honey-ginger, golden fried chicken with XO sauce, 2 Gulf oysters and a chicken samosa with cilantro raita. The menu also includes a couple of REEF throwbacks like the shrimp shooter and beef slider. Not only are those available during the regular happy hour for $2, but they are only $1 on Monday.

The drink specials include $5 signature cocktails like the Purple Drank, made with gin, lime and grape soda. There's also the Hemingway Daiquiri with rum, maraschino, lime and grapefruit. Select wines are $5 a glass, $25 per bottle. If you just want a cold beer with your oysters, there are $3 select drafts. The happy hour deals run Monday through Friday from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. The special menu is available in the bar and on the patio.

Heights Mercantile, 714 Yale, debuted its monthly Farmers Market September 29. The market will be open the last Sunday of every month, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Vendors include some Urban Harvest regulars such as Atkinson Farms, JSH Microgreens, Sustainable Harvesters and Rio Grande Organics.

Sixty Vines, 2540 University Boulevard, will have a grand opening October 14. The Napa-inspired wine-centric restaurant has two previous locations in Plano and Uptown Dallas. It features 51 wines on tap and the food menu includes wood-oven pizzas, seafood and pasta. We will have more next week in the Houston Press on the opening of the new Rice Village location. 
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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.