Toro Toro, 1300 Lamar, will open at the Four Seasons Hotel Houston in fall 2021. This will be the sixth location for the concept. The hotel has partnered with Richard Sandoval Hospitality to bring his award-winning global Pan-Latin Steakhouse to Houston. It will open in the hotel’s revamped third floor restaurant space, replacing Quattro, the now-closed Italian restaurant known for its spectacular brunches..
Toro Toro is a combination of the Japanese word for tuna and the Spanish word for bull, representing a menu that will feature seafood and steaks. With vibrant Pan-Latin flavors from Rodizio-style Churrasco and creative shareable small plates, the new restaurant will also take inspiration from the convivial dining culture of Central and South America. The restaurant will feature an open kitchen with a wood-burning grill with meats presented and carved tableside. There will be family-style ceviche, tiraditos (a Peruvian raw fish dish) and Mexican street snacks called antojitos.
"This is an exciting opportunity to expand upon the success of our existing partnership with Richard Sandoval Hospitality to bring a new elevated and interactive dining experience to Houston," says Tom Segesta, General Manager of Four Seasons Hotel Houston. "Richard’s global reputation coupled with the continued success of his culinary partnerships with many of our sister Four Seasons properties will be the perfect addition to our city’s vibrant dining scene."
Toro Toro itself will feature a stunning art program curated with works of Houston-based female artists and layered with references to Latin America. Besides the main elegant main dining area, open kitchen and central bar, Toro Toro will also offer a large overflow banquet room, ideal for corporate events or special gatherings.
Toro Toro will be open daily serving breakfast, lunch, dinner and weekend brunch.
Da Gama Canteen, 600 N. Shepherd, opens May 15 at M-K-T Heights in Building 5. The Anglo-Indian concept comes from Rishi Hospitality which is owned and operated by Chef Rick Di Virgilio and wife Shiva Di Virgilio. The couple also owns OPORTO Fooding House and Wine at 125 W. Gray.
Named for Portuguese explorer Vasco de Gama, the modern cafe by day and wine bar by night is influenced by his spice route, with inspiration from the Portuguese-Indian territories of Goa, East Africa and Portugal. The diverse menu will offer fine-casual Indian canteen food with freshly toasted spices. House-baked breads include naan from a tandoori oven.
A look at the menu shows starters such as Three Chili Paneer and Masala Hummus. The Kali Dal is a dish of slow-simmered black lentils and there's also Caldo Amarelo, a soup of cauliflower, kale, potato and cashews. No Portuguese-inspired menu would be complete without salted cod and it shows up here as fritters. There's also seafood including a grilled whole mackerel and Goan Fish Curry. Meat entrees such as Pork Vinho de Alho, a braised pork curry, and Galhina Africana, a grilled Afro-Portuguese spicy half chicken are on the menu as well. Desserts include its Sticky Date Cake with ginger spice (not the girl band version), dulce de leche caramel and caramelized banana.
The wine list is even more diverse with natural, biodynamic and sustainable selections from well-known producers like France, Italy, Spain and California but also lesser known vineyards in South Africa, Greece, Slovenia and Georgia (the country, not the state).
The restaurant will open for dinner service only for now with lunch and brunch options planned for the near future.
Back Table Kitchen & Bar, 2301 North Millbend, will debut June 2 in The Woodlands. The new culinary concept from The Howard Hughes Corporation will open in the space formerly occupied by another Hughes restaurant, Robard's Steakhouse. Back Table will offer a casually stylish setting on the grounds of The Woodlands Resort with over 5,000 square feet of restaurant space and an 800 square-foot terrace that overlooks the 18th green of the Panther Trail golf course. The waterfront venue is designed to evoke the charm and feeling of the Coastal South. In The Woodlands.
Just as the bar at Robards was an expansive space for mingling, the bar area at Back Table will offer seating for 48 and will be a focal point of the restaurant. There are a dozen beers on tap, a curated wine list of New World varietals and handcrafted cocktails. Creative, colorful, and we assume, delicious, milkshakes will be available with or without alcohol. Once brunch is introduced, guests can expect tableside sangrias and Bloody Marys.
Back Table will initially be open daily for dinner beginning at 4 p.m. Lunch and brunch services will be added soon.
Omar Khan, President and CEO of Culinary Khancepts says, " I’m excited to share that and be a part of The Woodlands community. The Hughes Landing location is a first-class development that perfectly aligns with our brand and vision."
Gensler Houston, the same architect for State Fare Kitchen & Bar in Sugar Land, will lead the design of the new space.
The Roastery, all four locations, will close May 16 permanently, according to CultureMap Houston. With four famous New York restaurateurs behind the coffee concept, the first location opened in the two-story H-E-B grocery store at 5106 Bissonnet in 2018. With the name recognition of Four J Foods' partners, Jason Giagrande, Jonathan Waxman, Jimmy Bradley and Joey Campanaro, it seemed assured of success as three subsequent locations within Houston area H-E-Bs soon followed. The shuttering of the four locations was announced on Instagram. Part of the announcement read, " We'll be ceasing operations at our current locations and are looking to relocate in the near future to continue to serve our Houston family. " So, perhaps it's just a break-up with the grocery store chain.
The Roastery will be open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. with a limited menu until its closure.
Houston Farmers Market, 2520 Airline Drive, is nearing its final phase of completion but many of its vendors who have previously been working out of tents have now moved into the open air market itself. The market has been in operation since 1942 on the east side of The Heights from The Farmers’ Marketing Association of Houston Inc. which sold the property to MLB Capital Partners in May 2017. MLB committed to keeping the property as a farmers market, albeit with a number of upgrades to the infrastructure with climate-controlled spaces, shaded open-air market areas, restrooms, and common seating areas. The more organized parking and green landscaping will also make for a better customer experience. Dedicated green spaces will serve as a setting for community programming, such as chef demonstrations, wine tastings and live entertainment.
Todd Mason of MLB Capital Partners said, "As a visitor of this market for over three decades, this is a project I am very passionate about. Our goal is to maintain the cultural aspects that are synonymous with this great market, while enhancing the visitor experience and reinvigorating the Houston Farmers’ Market as a destination for all Houstonians." Mason's business partner, Chris Shepherd, is a project consultant for the market and his Underbelly Hospitality will open Wild Oats with Nick Fine soon, along with a yet-to-be announced fast-casual concept.
Joining Underbelly's concepts will also be Crawfish & Noodles which will open its second location at The Houston Farmers Market this fall. The 3,298 square-foot, full-service restaurant will overlook the market’s nearly one-acre green space. Crawfish and Noodles is known for its Viet-Cajun dishes, such as Viet-Cajun crawfish, and its more authentic Vietnamese fare. Owner and James Beard Award finalist Trong Nguyen said about the new location, " I have been coming to the Houston Farmers Market ever since I first moved to Houston 30 years ago. This is still the same market, just modernized. I’m excited to be a part of this project because open market concepts are exactly what Houston is about, community."
Original ChopShop, 5018 San Felipe and 3021 Kirby, will open this summer. The San Felipe location will open in August, making it the first in Houston and the sixteenth for the brand. It will be followed by the River Oaks store in September.
The healthy food concept began in Old Town Scottsdale, Arizona in 2013 but its debut in Houston is a natural expansion considering that one of its investors is Mac Haik of Mac Haik Enterprises LTD. Most Houstonians know Haik as a former wide receiver for the Houston Oilers and also his fleet of car dealerships. Haik is also an investor in bellagreen American Bistro which has five Houston locations.
Ready to Drink Pop-up, 1919 Washington, is now open and will be open for at least the next three months, taking over the private room off the patio at Alba Huerta's Southern-inspired bar, Julep. Huerta has partnered with Luis Villegas, a veteran bartender and owner of Big Ice HTX to create a 1,000 square-foot space devoted to the pleasure of cocktails.
While Julep was closed during the pandemic shutdown, Huerta began selling pre-made cocktails to go in order to keep her beloved concept and its employees afloat. Now, Julep is back open to the public who can drop in for one of her famous craft cocktails and then take a looky-loo at the bottled selections at Ready to Drink.
There are classic favorites and modern creations for every taste. The bottled cocktails are all made at Julep and include Negronis, martinis, Old Fashioneds, Bees Knees and more. Each pre-bottled cocktail has a shelf life of three weeks. The margaritas are also available in gallon or half-gallon sizes.
While Ready to Drink is currently a long-term pop-up, there are hints that it may have its own brick and mortar location in the future.
Dish Society at Finn Hall, 712 Main, reopened May 11. The farm-fresh concept has five larger locations around Houston. As pandemic restrictions have loosened and vaccination rates rise, food halls like Finn Hall are starting to gain steam again as their vendors, and customers, return.
The Finn Hall location will have limited hours for a short time as things get back to normal. For the time being, Dish Society at Finn Hall will be open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday through Thursday.
Founder and CEO Todd Graves began the chicken finger concept in 1996 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and it has exploded to more than 500 locations in the United States. Graves is now producing a streaming series on Discovery + called "Restaurant Recovery" in which Graves, along with industry professionals and celebrities, helps struggling restaurants to get back on track financially after the pandemic crisis. Houston's own Irma Galvan of Irma's Original is one of the restaurants featured, as reported by the Houston Chronicle.
The elegant American bistro softly opened in mid-February, as we reported here in the Houston Press. It comes from Kerry Pauly, an industry veteran who has worked at Houston restaurants such as benjy's, The Classic and Local Foods. Pauly, who lives in the Memorial area near the restaurant, wants it to be the type of neighborhood bistro where families and friends can enjoy American and Southern fare in a comfortable atmosphere with 2,079 square feet of indoor space and a 372 square foot patio for outdoor dining and relaxing.
The restaurant is currently still BYOB.
The first promotion is for Greg Peters as he moves up from his role as chef de cuisine at Georgia James to executive chef at both Georgia James and Hay Merchant. Along with Peters, will be Jeff Taylor, general manager at Georgia James who will now take on the dual role at GJ and Hay Merchant as well. The merging of management at the side by side concepts was a necessary one, according to Peters. "We understand that there are two different concepts here but one business to run." Georgia James will also have a new sous chef, Ben Snellenberger, a Houston native who attended the Culinary Institute of America in New York, eventually returning to Houston to work at restaurants such as Oxheart and Coltivare. Most recently, Snellenberger served as executive chef at Calle Onze.
Shepherd first served the sausage, which was originally made with lamb bellies, at his first restaurant, Underbelly. However, he found pork to be an even better base and is collaborating with Belville Meat Market to produce the sausage for H-E-B and wholesale. A sixteen-ounce package retails for $8.29.