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The Days Are Numbered for Acclaimed Latin Restaurant Piqueo in Cypress

If you love Piqueo’s Latin American fare, hurry over because there are only a few weeks left to indulge in it. Owner Gerry Sarmiento says the acclaimed restaurant is closing and reopening as an American concept called 429 American Grille. He says that even after four years, Piqueo just never caught on with the residents of Cypress. “It breaks my heart because this is my food,” he said by phone. “I’m Peruvian. But we have to be able to make a profit.”

Sarmiento says the closing-and-reopening schedule is as follows: "Piqueo's last week of operation will be the week of February 15. We will close down after service on Saturday, February 20, and will reopen as 429 American Grille on Thursday, Monday,  February 29 24." 

Piqueo initially opened as a Peruvian restaurant. In an attempt to make the concept more approachable to those unfamiliar with the cuisine, the Sarmientos adjusted the menu to be more generally Latin American. Unfortunately, that didn't provide enough of a chance to make the concept work in the suburban area. 

Sarmiento, who with his wife, Adriana, runs both Piqueo and the more popular, enduring restaurant Mezzanotte, essentially plans to give the people what they want. He believes that an American restaurant will do much better in the area. The focus will be on approachable fare such as steaks, burgers and double-cut pork chops. Where Piqueo was heavily wine-focused, the new place will have a wide variety of craft beer.

The Sarmientos might be onto something with that idea. Just down Louetta, Black’s Market Table generally seems to do a booming business with its upscale Southern focus, and the drink program is about 50 percent wine and 50 percent craft beer.

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Piqueo has consistently been one of the most adventurous, sophisticated restaurants in Cypress. It was the No. 1 pick for 10 Best Restaurants in Cypress in 2013. Houston Chronicle restaurant critic Alison Cook included Piqueo in her Top 100 Houston Restaurants for two years in a row. It was number 68 in 2014 and moved up one notch to number 67 in 2015.

Sarmiento did promise to keep the chicken chicharrón, number 22 of the 100 Favorite Dishes of 2015. However, in keeping with the American concept, it will be made with wings instead of more rustic chunks of meaty chicken.

As for the Sarmientos' other restaurant, Mezzanotte — don't worry. The Italian concept and lively wine program are doing just fine and not going anywhere. 

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