Restaurant News

Openings and Closings: Heights and Co. Opens Soon, Sonoma Heights Will Depart

Patio weather means cocktail weather.
Patio weather means cocktail weather. Photo by Alex Montoya

Heights & Co.
, 1343 Yale, will debut May 5. This will be the third concept for Brian Doke, owner of Savoir and the recently opened and adjacent speakeasy-style steakhouse, Patton's. The new neighborhood bar, located at the corner of Yale and 14th, will be located directly across the street from Savoir, keeping all three concepts within easy reach of one another.
click to enlarge Brian Doke makes a trio on Yale. - PHOTO BY ALEX MONTOYA
Brian Doke makes a trio on Yale.
Photo by Alex Montoya
Heights & Co. will be more casual than Doke's current ventures with an open-air atmosphere that welcomes guests in for bites and drinks. The new bar takes over the space that formerly house TAQO Mexican Kitchen and the 15,000 square-foot lot allows for an expansive dog-friendly patio that seats 100 and has large trees shading the space. A mix of seating offers patrons picnic tables and umbrella-covered tables for outdoors and seven spacious booths inside along with ten wooden seats along the bar.
click to enlarge A pergola lets in sunlight while the umbrellas offer some shade. - PHOTO BY ALEX MONTOYA
A pergola lets in sunlight while the umbrellas offer some shade.
Photo by Alex Montoya
While the comfortable booths and shaded patio invite guests to linger over cocktails, there's also a food menu and a full kitchen to keep the party going. Executive chef Eric Johnson leads the back-of-house operations and the menu includes bar bites such as Queso, Spinach & Artichoke Dip and Hush Puppies made with corn and sweet potato, served with a dill aioli dip. The Bruschetta at Heights &Co. gets a fruity twist with cherry tomatoes, apples, grapes and tarragon. Entrees like the Bordelaise Burger, Smoked Ribs, Pork Schnitzel and Steak Frites offer heartier dinner options. The Brisket Grilled Cheese with 12-hour-smoked brisket and house cheese blend on toasted brioche could be a new favorite calorie splurge.
click to enlarge The Bordelaise Burger is a decadent creation with Boursin cheese, grilled onions and Bordelaise sauce. - PHOTO BY ALEX MONTOYA
The Bordelaise Burger is a decadent creation with Boursin cheese, grilled onions and Bordelaise sauce.
Photo by Alex Montoya
The bar team at Heights & Co. includes some familiar faces. Jessica Wells (Tongue Cut Sparrow), Ricky Ramirez (Pastry War) and Rigo Aranguren ( Pass & Provisions) provide the mixology talent for a menu of libations like the Salted Watermelon, The Spritz and the Cafe de Olla Espresso Martini, the latter of which is made with house-made cafe de olla done in a clay pot. Refreshing drinks like the Heights Pink Lemonade with vodka, raspberry lychee and lemon will keep patio-philes cool on a warm summer Houston evening.

There is a happy hour Monday through Friday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. with select $6 wines and cocktails.
Wings are even better when stuffed with delicious fillings. - PHOTO BY JEREMIAH JONES
Wings are even better when stuffed with delicious fillings.
Photo by Jeremiah Jones

STUFF'd Wings, 401 Richmond, debuts its first brick and mortar April 29. The popular food truck from owners Jarrod and Prisoria Rector has found a home inside a space formerly occupied by Shipley's Do-Nuts. With 2,100 square-feet of space, the interior has been designed by well-known Houston designer Gin Braverman of Gin Design Group.
Prisoria and Jarrod Rector are ready to stuff Houston's bellies. - PHOTO BY JEREMIAH JONES
Prisoria and Jarrod Rector are ready to stuff Houston's bellies.
Photo by Jeremiah Jones
The Rectors launched STUFF'd Wings in 2019, serving bone-in chicken wings, covered in a signature sweet and spicy sauce then stuffed with fillings like dirty rice, seafood boudin, chicken boudin and mac and cheese. With the new location, there will be additions like theme nights with fresh-batched stuffings and seasonal holiday dishes like broccoli cheese casserole. While fries have always been on the menu, the new loaded Cajun fries will be covered in melted cheese, Sriracha, ranch and fresh boudin dressing.

For the weekend, STUFF'd will offer breakfast items like stuffed hash browns, maple bacon-glazed wings and a glaze funnel cake. The new spot will also have beer, wine and sodas.
click to enlarge Shaun King is playing with fire at Uchiko. - PHOTO BY HAI HOSPITALITY
Shaun King is playing with fire at Uchiko.
Photo by Hai Hospitality
Uchiko, 1801 Post Oak Boulevard, will open to the public May 23. This is the second location for the Hai Hospitality concept which first opened in Austin in 2010 as an offspring restaurant to Uchi, Tyson Cole's much lauded first sushi restaurant which opened in Austin in 2003. A second Uchi landed in Houston in 2012 with a third in Dallas in 2015. Uchiko Houston will join Uchi and another Hai concept, Loro, which opened this past February in Houston.

Shaun King is the chef de cuisine for Uchiko and the robust flavors will be infused with smoke and hints of char with the yakitori grill taking a place of prominence, using post oak and binchotan wood for smoking and curing, both hot and cold dishes. King's resume includes Momofuku in Las Vegas, Mina Group's Ramen Bar and The Dawson in Chicago.

The restaurant will offer two omakase menus at market pricing plus a menu consistent with Uchi that offers, Greens, Cool Tastings, Makimono, Hot Tastings, Agemono, Nigiri, Sashimi, Caviar and Dessert. Signature favorites from Uchi appear at Uchiko as well including the Hama Chili, Sunomono, Hotate Crudo and P-38 Roll. New dishes like the Dry Aged Duck and Charred Onion Bar N Ranch Beef showcase the expert use of smoke and char in the rich dishes.

Along with full-bodied red wines to pair with the bold flavors, there are Japanese whiskeys, beer and sake to complement the menu.
click to enlarge Farrah Cauley bids adieu to the Heights...for now. - PHOTO BY VJ ARIZPE
Farrah Cauley bids adieu to the Heights...for now.
Photo by VJ Arizpe
Sonoma in the Heights, 801 Studewood, will pour its last bottle June 26, after a ten-year-run. Negotiations with the landlord did not manifest the desired results so owner Farrah Cauley has decided to close the Heights location of her wine bar brand. There will a big try-before-you-buy wine sale the last day of service from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.

In an email, Cauley said she loves the Heights community and will miss it. "I loved being the spot that Santa would visit each year during Lights in the Heights and where our Paws for Wine charity tasting events raised thousands of dollars for local shelters and animal rescue groups. I'm proud to have been the small business the local schools and organizations could count on for support and donations year after year." Cauley went on to thank her employees, guests, family and friends for their love and support.

Cauley says that she is planning a new location not too far from the Sonoma Heights spot and loyal customers should keep an eye out for a future announcement. The other Sonoma locations at 2720 Richmond (Upper Kirby) and 9920 Gaston in Katy will continue to operate us usual.

click to enlarge Furrest Greenwood and Kennis Williams stick to their Sugar Land roots. - PHOTO BY MICHAEL ANTHONY
Furrest Greenwood and Kennis Williams stick to their Sugar Land roots.
Photo by Michael Anthony
Williams Smokehouse BBQ and Blues, 2105 Lone Star, will open in summer 2022 at Sugar Land Towne Square. Sugar Land natives Kennis Williams and Furrest Greenwood are the co-founders of the new concept which will offer traditional Texas barbecue with a Creole twist.

The duo will combine the pitmaster skills of Williams and the marketing expertise of Greenwood for a family-friendly and relaxed dining experience in a 5,500 square-foot space which will also feature an outdoor patio.

The menu will offer items like smoked turkey legs stuffed with dirty rice and topped with shrimp and sausage alfredo sauce. Smoked wings will be cold-smoked then fried and tossed in a homemade Creole candy sauce. Its version of armadillo eggs will be made with homemade sausage, wrapped around a smoked gouda-stuffed jalapeno that's been enveloped in bacon.

In addition to the barbecue and smoked meats, there will be live music and a small stage area to showcase local talent. Williams was first introduced to barbecue by his uncles Joe, James and H.K. Williams and he fondly remembers watching his Uncle Earl playing in a smoky nightclub in Wallis, Texas alongside Blues legend B.B. King. He said in a press release, " I started to become infatuated with the smell of pecan wood burning as my uncles would fire up the barbecue pits...I thought to myself, these two things that I love-blues music and barbecue-belong together."

La La Land Kind Cafe, 600 N. Shepherd, is currently in soft opening mode from April 29 to May 6. It will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. and will celebrate its grand opening May 7 with 50 percent off all drinks.

click to enlarge Lankford Grocery will bring its burgers to Bellaire. - PHOTO BY TROY FIELDS
Lankford Grocery will bring its burgers to Bellaire.
Photo by Troy Fields

, 5208 Bissonnet, is expected to open in September 2022, according to the Houston Chronicle. This will be the second location for the former grocery store which is known for its old-fashioned hamburgers and homey atmosphere. The Fourth Ward institution was first opened in 1938 as a grocery store by Nona and Aubrey Lankford. It has stayed in the family since then, passing down to daughter Eydie Prior who ran the business for decades before passing the baton fully to her son Paul Prior and his wife Jessica after Eydie retired last year.
click to enlarge The Grim Burger at Lankford will make the doctor frown. - PHOTO BY TROY FIELDS
The Grim Burger at Lankford will make the doctor frown.
Photo by Troy Fields
While Houstonians have known about the large and over-the-top burgers and Wednesday cheese enchiladas for years, the nation discovered the rustic gem in 2009 when Guy Fieri visited the restaurant for his Food Network series Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. Like many of Houston's restaurants that get the celebrity chef treatment, it saw a big jump in visitors beyond its regular diners.

The upcoming Bellaire location has dropped the Grocery and Market from its name, but will still feature much of the same menu with the addition of a full bar and some new dishes. The original location will continue selling Frito Pie burgers, belt-busting breakfasts and daily specials as usual.

Bellaire Broiler Burger, 5216 Bellaire, reopened the last week of April as first reported by CultureMap Houston. The restaurant's owner, Tom Daneman, closed the burger joint in June 2020. Daneman's family had operated the restaurant for nearly five decades.

Now, local restaurateur Jason Scheinthal, has purchased the structure and the rights to the recipes and the branding. Scheinthal most recently co-owned and operated Eighteen 36, which closed to the public this past February.

Currently, Scheinthal is running the burger business out of a food truck as the building undergoes renovations which include an upgrade to the kitchen and making the restrooms handicapped accessible. The menu at the food truck includes six burgers, crinkle fries and chocolate chip cookies. Due to rising food costs, longtime BBB customers can expect to pay a bit more for the burgers.

When the building reopens, the menu will be expanded and diners will also be able to enjoy beer, wine and cocktails with their meals.
click to enlarge Teachers deserve the Big Hat at Hat Creek Burger. - PHOTO BY CLAIRE MCCORMACK
Teachers deserve the Big Hat at Hat Creek Burger.
Photo by Claire McCormack
Hat Creek Burger is offering a free burger or sandwich to teachers who show their school identification May 1, as a show of support for Teacher Appreciation Week. The deal is available for dine-in only from 11 a.m. to close at all 26 locations in Texas, including three Houston area stores in Katy, Fulshear and Klein. There are plans for further expansion in Houston but a spokesperson told the Houston Press that there were no new details to share at this point.

Rocambolesc, 1101 Uptown Park Boulevard, opened April 21. The Spanish import comes from world-famous pastry chef Jordi Roca and wife Alejandra Rivas, who founded the gelateria and sweets business in Girona, Spain in 2012 to showcase the desserts at El Celler de Can Roca, the Michelin-starred restaurant owned by Jordi and his brothers Joan and Joseph Roca.

This is the first location for the brand in the United States and the Houston store is done in partnership with Ignacio Torras and Luis Roger, best known for their restaurants BCN and MAD, here in Houston. According to its website, the new shop will also partner with The Center for Pursuit in Houston to provide employment opportunities for people with IDD.

The company also operates two locations in Girona and Madrid, Spain

click to enlarge The lamb Shank Barbacoa joins the spring menu at Tonight & Tomorrow. - PHOTO BY REBECCA WRIGHT
The lamb Shank Barbacoa joins the spring menu at Tonight & Tomorrow.
Photo by Rebecca Wright

La Colombe D'Or, 3410 Montrose, has a new executive chef and food and beverage team for its restaurant Tonight and Tomorrow and its lounge, Bar No.3. The hotel and residential apartment building reopened in March 2021.

Taking on the head chef role is Jesus 'JB' Babaran who plans to add classic French techniques and flavors to the new spring and summer menus while maintaining the coastal European inspirations as well. New dishes include Cacciucco, a seafood stew of lobster, octopus, shrimp, clams, mussels and scallop in a red wine tomato broth. Other seafood specialties like Gulf red snapper with jumbo lump crab will keep seafood lovers happy while carnivorous appetites will be sated with entrees such as Lamb Shank Barbacoa, Rohan Duck, Grilled Rabbit and Beef Tenderloin.
click to enlarge Calvin Salemi and JB Babaran bring global inspiration to La Colombe D'Or. - PHOTO BY REBECCA WRIGHT
Calvin Salemi and JB Babaran bring global inspiration to La Colombe D'Or.
Photo by Rebecca Wright
For starters, guests can expect luxury plates such as seared foie gras and black truffle risotto. The French onion soup and crab ravigote will stay on the menu, joined by a selection of family-style sides.

There will also be a new bar bites and cocktail menu for Bar No. 3 with seasonal cocktails inspired by the outdoor sculptures on the grounds of the hotel. Some new bar bites include a duck carnitas tostada, steamed mussels and steak frites.

Overseeing the restaurant and bar operations will be Calvin Salemi, who brings global experience from five-star establishments such as New York City's Minetta Tavern and most recently,  Dusit Thani in Guam.

Reservations are strongly encouraged and may be made via OpenTable.
click to enlarge The pavlova at Bludorn will change with the seasons. - PHOTO BY JULIE SOEFER
The pavlova at Bludorn will change with the seasons.
Photo by Julie Soefer
Bludorn, 807 Taft, has announced a new executive pastry chef, Marie Riddle, though Riddle has been at Bludorn for a few months now behind the scenes. The North Carolina native has honed her pastry skills working at a number of New York City restaurants including three of celebrated chef Daniel Boulud's establishments. She also has sous chef experience from restaurant's like Eleven Madison Park at The NoMad Hotel and she helped to open Milk Bar NYC Flagship with owner/chef Christina Tosi.
click to enlarge Marie Riddle leads the pastry program at Bludorn. - PHOTO BY JULIE SOEFER
Marie Riddle leads the pastry program at Bludorn.
Photo by Julie Soefer
During the pandemic shutdown, Riddle returned home to North Carolina before accepting the stint as executive pastry chef at Bludorn, offered to her by longtime friend and owner/chef Aaron Bludorn. Riddle joins a team of culinary professionals from all over the country at the restaurant and she has already made her mark with desserts such as Almond Dacquoise Cake and Zeppole, made with sourdough and ricotta. A retro favorite gets a modern twist at Bludorn with Riddle's version of a Baked Alaska. It's layered with pecan mirliton and strawberry jam to give it a nutty and sweet flavor.

Openings reported for April 2022:

Black Bear Diner, 3497 E. Sam Houston Parkway S., opened April 12
Cheba Hut, 2150 Edwards, opened April 18
Crumbl Cookies, 20530 Interstate-45, opened April 1
Dave's Hot Chicken, 15245 Wallisville, opened April 8
Dutch Bros. Coffee, 2525o Highway 290, opened April 8
Eskimo Hut, 3815 Grand Parkway, opened April 9
Golden Chick, 7121 Cullen, opened March 24
Goode Co. Barbeque, 20102 Northwest Freeway, reopened April 1
Lees Den, 2424 Dunstan, opened April 7
Marmo, 888 Westheimer, opened April 6
P&J's Wich Shoppe, 401 Franklin, opened April 21
Patterson Park, 2205 Patterson, opened April 13
Peony & Crane, 626 W. 19th, opened early April
Prospector's Grill & Saloon, 6225 Washington, opened March 31
ReikiNa, 1817 Woodhead, opened April 18
Roberta's, 401 Franklin, opened late March
Spitfire Hot Chicken, 4232 Highway 6 N., opened January 24
State Fare, 1900 Hughes Landing, opened April 18
Taste of Spices, 2268 W. Holcombe, opened March 21
III by Wolfgang Puck, 6550 Bertner, opened late February
Uncle bean's Coffee, 12105 Jones, opened march 18
Urban Bird Hot Chicken, 12719 FM 1960, opened March 14
The Warwick, 5888 Westheimer, opened April 15
Zalat Pizza, 250 W. 20th, opened April 26

Restaurants Reported Closed for April 2022:

Fegen's, 1050 Studewood, closed April 12
Southside Espresso, 904 Westheimer, closed April 16
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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.