It's time again to check in on Houston's ever-dynamic food scene and see what's new and which places diners are gravitating to. This month, the list has brand-new spots, some holdovers and perhaps a slightly premature declaration, but we're betting we're right. We'll also take a moment to honor this month's Oldie But A Goodie which is once again a big topic of conversation.
Oh yeah, and The Heights is still hot for new restaurant openings. Still. Possibly forever, at this rate.
Cane Rosso, 1835 North Shepherd If people waiting on the sidewalk on Friday and Saturday nights is a symptom of hotness, then Cane Rosso is on fire. Speaking of being on fire: the Neapolitan pizzas bake in a mere 90 seconds in 900 degree ovens. That helps get diners in and out quickly, which helps with the wait, although it’s easy to linger over cocktails or a glass of wine. Oh, and, by the way, they have more than just pizzas, like that huge burrata ball pictured above. Check out our First Look article if you want to see a pizza (and you know you want to).
Conservatory, 1010 Prairie The addition of events such as Monday industry nights for bar and restaurant folks and “Not Another Pint Night” on Wednesdays is keeping Houston’s first food hall on our hot list for another month. Tonight’s, for example, features Southern Star brews paired with a specific special from each of the four food vendors, like Conspiracy Theory IPA with Myth Kafe’s lemon chicken and potatoes. Keep up with their Facebook page for all the goings-on.
Harold’s Tap Room, 350 West 19th The Heights General Store next door to Alli's Pizzeria and underneath the main Harold's restaurant was charming, but let's face it: with the building having formerly been a clothing store, the configuration was a little weird. Converting it into a pub works nicely and makes for a more appealing entrance. Look for local beer and wine on-tap as well as comforting, Southern-influenced bar snacks from Harold's chef Antoine Ware, such as thinly sliced country ham with biscuits, Steen's Cane Syrup and cultured butter.
Hopdoddy Burger Bar, 4444 Westheimer Burger fanatics are already fawning over this Austin import in the River Oaks District. The chain's claim to fame includes Angus, bison and lamb patties sourced only from humanely-raised animals. They grind meat in-house and buns are made from scratch and baked fresh daily.
Killen’s Burgers, 2804 South Main, Pearland Did someone say burgers? First the buzz was on Ronnie Killen's steaks, then it was on his nationally-recognized Texas-style barbecue and now it's all about his burgers. A quick look at the menu reveals that they are quite reasonably priced, too, especially considering that the patties made with 100 percent antibiotic- and hormone-free Angus beef. Lining up for barbecue is so last month.
Midtown BBQ, 2708 Bagby Hanging out on our hot list for its second month is chef Eric Aldis's—um, maybe third concurrent endeavor? We lose count, but as far as we know, he's also still running Corner Table in Upper Kirby and Agave Rio in Katy. We actually care less about his food than his time management know-how. TELL US YOUR SECRETS. Actually, we do care about barbecue, especially when the likes of pitmaster Brett Jackson, formerly of Louie Mueller's Barbecue, is preparing the meat and minding the smokers.
Morningstar, 4721 North Main We're back in The Heights again and it won't be the last time before this list is done. Patrons first lined up at Morningstar for its high-quality doughnuts, iced in flavors both ordinary (chocolate and strawberry) and unusual (matcha and pomegranate cream-filled). Now, though, the big draw seems to be the rice bowls, both sweet and savory. Suitable for breakfast or lunch, these include Black Rice with Coconut Milk, Fresh Fruit and Pistachio Crumble and the rave-worthy Crispy Rice Bowl with Kibbeh, Soft Egg, Feta, and Pistachio Pesto. Sorry, no rice bowls for dinner. Morningstar opens at 7 a.m. and closes at 4 p.m. Check out our First Look Article for more details.
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Ritual, 602 Studewood This new place from Delicious Concepts (the minds behind Pink's Pizza and Republic Grill & Sojubang) just officially opened its doors last night. Is it too early to declare it "hot?" We don't think so, because it's helmed by a dream team and the feedback from diners who had a sneak peek last week is very positive. The chef is Jordan Asher, who impressed us with his work at dearly departed Dosi, while co-owner Felix Florez of Black Hill Meats is putting both his meat know-how and sommelier background to work. Eric Ogershok (formerly brewmaster of Real Ale) oversees the beer program, Matt Lovelace (most recently of the defunct Pour Society and previously at Triniti) is sous chef. In other words, Ritual sounds like it's going to be a worthy reincarnation of the space that was once El Cantina Superior.
Stoked Tacos & Tequila, 2416 Brazos We were pretty crushed to hear recently that Chris Frankel will no longer be in charge of upstairs bar Spare Key. That said, hopefully he'll make regular guest appearances behind the bar. Regardless, having a place to chill and nosh on casual tacos and mezcal drinks in midtown is something we're still pretty stoked about.
Tejas Chocolate Craftory, 200 North Elm Oh, did we just say lining up for barbecue was so last month? Just kidding. If you missed this week's review of this haven of beer, chocolate and barbecue in Tomball—shame on you. Go read it right now. The pulled pork is the best we've had (pan-fry it the next day for a wonderful breakfast hash), the lightly sweet and spice seasoning on the pork ribs is perfect and if they have pastrami burnt ends when you visit, it's your lucky day. We also love the truffles made really, really from scratch, as in from cacao beans.
Oldie But A Goodie: Pizaro’s Now that Houston has not one, but two Neapolitan-style pizzerias certified by the organization Vera Pizza Napoletana, Pizaro's is once again a hot topic. Yes, we're now all in for months of comparison between them and Cane Rosso, but those are fun conversations. Don't forget that Pizaro's is BYOB. We never do.