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Openings and Closings: Tres Amigos Arrives, Julep Returns

Tres Amigos will fill your belly and fund St.Jude.
Tres Amigos will fill your belly and fund St.Jude.
Photo by Ken Bridge
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Tres Amigos Cafe y Cantina, 3402 N. Shepherd, will open April 22 in the space which formerly housed Shepherd Park Draught House. The new restaurant comes from Delicious Concepts Restaurant Group. It's the vision of CEO Ken Bridge who got the idea years ago when he approached his friends Stewart Skloss, founder of Pura Vida Tequila, and ZZ Top frontman Billy Gibbons about finding a place to showcase his extensive collection of ZZ Top memorabilia. Bridge has been collecting items from the Houston band since childhood and has amassed a number of items that pay tribute to one of his favorite bands.

In a press release Bridge described how the restaurant idea came about. "The three of us have tinkered with the idea of doing a "hole in the wall" Tex-Mex cantina that could house some of my and Billy's favorite pieces in a casual atmosphere that serves classic Tex-Mex, while benefiting the St. Jude Foundation." The restaurant plans to donate 75 percent of its proceeds in honor of the three men's friendship to the foundation which funds research for childhood cancers and provides no-cost medical care to children and families at St. Jude Children's Hospital.

Somebody's a mega ZZ Top fan.
Somebody's a mega ZZ Top fan.
Photo by Ken Bridge

The menu at Tres Amigos will be classic Tex-Mex favorites of the trio with combo plates, tacos, burritos and chips and queso. The bar will feature exclusive Pura Vida tequila-fueled margaritas along with tried and true Texas cervezas. Guests can also expect a spotlight on Skloss' upcoming Luckenbach Road Distillery's offerings.

Bridge plans on adding live music in the future. Gibbons and Skloss are not owners but along with Bridge, the three plan to make Tres Amigos a regular haunt and they promise more surprises to come.

Bridge says he and his wife Christina are thrilled to support an amazing organization like St. Jude and have the opportunity to give back to those in their company who have contributed to its success over the years. Delicious Concepts also operates Robot Noodle, Ready Room and Millie's Kitchen and Cocktails. Bridge announced another new concept, Mapojeong Galbijib, expected to open in mid to late May, as we reported here in the Houston Press.

Craft cocktails and old-fashioned elegance are back at Julep.EXPAND
Craft cocktails and old-fashioned elegance are back at Julep.
Photo by Julie Soefer

Julep, 1919 Washington, will reopen for Derby Day, May 1. The Southern-inspired cocktail bar has been keeping its brand and its employees afloat by rolling out Julep To-Go trucks and its boozy popsicles while the bar has been closed due to the pandemic. Now, owner Alba Huerta is ready to bring back the elegance and gentility of the bar just in time for the Kentucky Derby, an event that the bar celebrates annually.

Beginning at noon May 1, the party will run till 6 p.m., though the bar itself will remain open until 2 a.m. There will be four satellite bars. Two will be main bars, one will be a spirit-free cocktail bar and there will be a mint julep cart along with the Julep-To-Go truck.

Alba Huerta reopens her critically acclaimed bar.EXPAND
Alba Huerta reopens her critically acclaimed bar.
Photo by Julie Soefer

The Derby Day menu includes BBQ and smoked oysters from Blood Bros. BBQ and Feges BBQ. For refreshment, there will be boozy popsicles, a Topo Chico station and a Spritz bar. For fun, there will be lawn games, a live DJ (not a dead one) and a T-shirt pop-up shop from Vinyl Ranch. And of course, the Derby will be livestreamed. Tickets are $10 pre-sale or $15 at the door.

The COVID-conscious event will also require masks indoors, temperature checks and there will be sanitation stations. Valet parking will be available but responsible ride-sharing is also encouraged. Attendees should don their best spring lawn attire and cocktail casual dress. Fascinators, bowlers and bow ties are optional but much appreciated.

Julep will offer its Derby Day menu May 1 and May 2. It will debut its reopening bar menu May 3 and will be open daily from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. The Julep To-Go truck will run from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m..

Garden Oaks has a new healthy option.EXPAND
Garden Oaks has a new healthy option.
Photo by Arisha Sial

Salata, 3201 N. Shepherd, will open April 15 in Garden Oaks. The grand opening will offer customers a chance to win free Salata for a year with purchase. The 2,700 square foot store is the fourth that Supreme Greens Franchise Group has opened since the start of the pandemic in March 2020 and the fourteenth owned by Joe Piro and his partners. Nationwide, the built-to-order salad chain has 78 stores.

Spring into Salata for a healthy, tasty meal.EXPAND
Spring into Salata for a healthy, tasty meal.
Photo by Tracey Barker

Guests can choose from five salad bases, more than 50 toppings and 11 different house-made, gluten-free dressings. The vegetables, fruits and proteins are chopped fresh daily.  Besides built-to-order salads, Salata also offers wraps, soups and organic teas and lemonades.

Geoff Hundt and Daut Elshani will bring a new restaurant to Garden Oaks.
Geoff Hundt and Daut Elshani will bring a new restaurant to Garden Oaks.
Photo by Daut Elshani

d'Alba Craft Kitchen and Cocktails, 3715 Alba, has tentatively floated the possibility of a July opening, as first reported by CultureMap Houston. The Garden Oaks restaurant will take over the space that once housed Liberty Kitchen, which close in November 2017. It will be the first restaurant owned by Daut Elshani, a veteran of the local hospitality industry, whose previous experience includes founding Salt N Pepper Group and also serving as Vice-President of Hospitality at Buffalo Bayou Brewing Co.

Elshani said it is his frequent visits to friends who are Garden Oaks residents that made him realize that the neighborhood needed a family-friendly restaurant which offered reasonable prices and a community atmosphere. He has brought in executive chef Geoff Hundt, a Garden Oaks resident himself, to create the menu. Though d'Alba is the name of a town in Italy and the menu will offer some Italian dishes like pizzas with freshly made dough and house-made pastas, it will not be an Italian restaurant per se. While the Italian philosophy of fresh ingredients will guide the menu, there will also be Texas meats and Gulf seafood plus fare that is also vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free as well. Elshani told the Houston Press that the menu is still in development and that Hundt, known for his work at benjy's and Local Foods, will be in charge of creating and maintaining the restaurant's menu.

While the specifics remain to be seen, Elshani expects to offer a backyard and patio area that is family and dog-friendly to draw in locals with a relaxed atmosphere. Wanting it to be a regular spot for dinner dates, family meals and private events, Elshani and Hundt are working on a menu that will also be reasonably priced.

Elshani had been scouting for an ideal location for his restaurant, though the pandemic put some of his plans on hold, especially after having opened Underground Hall weeks before the COVID-19 crisis hit. Stars have aligned now as the space at 3715 Alba became available and Elshani's brother returned from New York. He has also brought in two close cousins from NYC who have extensive experience in fine dining in the Flatiron District, to help. For Elshani, it truly is a family business that he hopes brings in other families in the Garden Oaks neighborhood.

Cider makes a refreshing drink when the temperatures rise.EXPAND
Cider makes a refreshing drink when the temperatures rise.
Photo by Rebekah Flores

Houston Cider Co., 1125 W. Cavalcade, has reopened its taproom Friday from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday, noon to 5 p.m. The cidery will still have online and to-go orders as well. There's also an outdoor space for enjoying one of its four core ciders or sampling a small-batch release on tap. The Cider Flight ($12) offers four different types of cider which could include its traditional Dry Cider, Rose with Jamaican hibiscus, Pineapple Ginger or Orange Blossom Honey. The Cherry Cider is made with tart Montmorency cherries. The pints run about $5 to $6.

There's no food menu but it does offer a few snacks like the Nut Jar ($4) or its Jar-cuterie ($7.50) with either salami or prosciutto. Cider can also be ordered by singles, six-packs and mixed six-packs to go.

Raising Cane's, 4055 Little York, will open in May and the restaurant is currently hiring for 80 positions. This will be the fortieth Houston area location for the chain, known for its ONE LOVE chicken finger meals. Founded in 1996 by Todd Graves in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, it has grown to 540 restaurants in 29 states and the Middle East. The brand has its eyes on 20 new markets for 2021.

Jeff Jordan, Area Leader of Restaurants says, "We love Houston, so we can't wait to bring another Cane's and more great jobs to the city." Raising Cane's recently earned a spot on Glassdoor's " 100 Best Places to Work in the U.S."

Frost Town Brewing, 100 N.Jackson, is hoping to open in the fourth quarter of 2021. The new brewery and taproom comes from owner John Sorenson, his wife Hannah Schaible and brewer Kyle Tennyson, according to Houston Business Journal. Schaible will also serve as creative director for the brewery.

Located in a bygone neighborhood once called Frost Town, the brewery will offer a spacious beer garden with rotating food trucks, a taproom and a second story mezzanine for private events. In addition to its signature beers, there will be local wine, cider and other beverages.

Sorenson said the focus will be on sessionability, meaning the beers will have lighter ABV, allowing for easy drinkability. The brews, which will come in a variety of styles, will also reflect Frost Town and downtown Houston's history of housing the city's first breweries.

Ichiro Sapporo Ramen, 9393 Bellaire Boulevard, opened in late March. Its soft opening menu includes a variety of traditional ramen like Tonkatsu, Spicy Miso and Shoyu (chicken broth). There's also a Tom Yum ramen for a taste of Thai and a Tan Tan ramen for Chinese-style noodles.

The usual snack offerings include edamame, gyoza, chicken karaage and takoyaki. There's also Japanese Potato Croquettes and Steamed Buns with BBQ Pork Belly.

Thirteen offers a seafood tower atop gouda grits.
Thirteen offers a seafood tower atop gouda grits.
Photo by Touche Studio

Thirteen by James Harden, 1911 Bagby, will begin brunch service April 17. The weekend brunch will run Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Reservations are not required. In addition to the 75 seats in the restaurant, there is also patio seating, a hookah lounge and a private VIP room.

The new brunch menu offers decadent dishes like Deep Fried Strawberry Cheesecake French Toast and Churro Chicken and Waffle. Its Steak and Eggs is made with a ten-ounce Hawaiian-marinated ribeye and guests can also try its crab-stuffed omelettes. In keeping with its Southern inspiration, the restaurant offers several different preparations with grits including oxtails or fried catfish. However, it's the Thirteen Cajun Seafood Boil and Grits that takes it over the top. It is a tower of sausage, crawfish, shrimp and lobster tail in a Cajun seafood broth crowning a bed of creamy gouda grits. It also includes a poached egg and a jalapeno-cheddar cornbread muffin, if you're still feeling peckish after all that deliciousness.

There's a specialty cocktail menu for brunch that includes its Step Back Mimosa made with Don Julio 1942.

Vibrant's Charcuterie Board is on the healthy side.EXPAND
Vibrant's Charcuterie Board is on the healthy side.
Photo by Angel Atherley

Vibrant, 1931 Fairview, began its new happy hour April 15. There's special pricing on cocktails like its new Blood Orange Bourbon Sour, plus the Paloma and Garden Margarita. The gluten-free vegan and vegetarian-friendly restaurant has also added some new fare to its happy hour bites. The taco menu includes a choice of locally-sourced chicken, Gulf Fish or mushrooms on house-made corn tortillas. The new Charcuterie Board consists of macadamia-cashew cheese, house-made sausage, beet-cured lox, jammy egg, Bird Bread, romesco and veggies. For dessert there are two new doughnut flavors: mango cashew and coconut caramel.

The patio at Vibrant offers some sunshine and shade.EXPAND
The patio at Vibrant offers some sunshine and shade.
Photo by Kelli Durham

Besides the happy hour cocktails, there is the new Vibrant Mocha made with homemade cacao syrup and almond cashew milk. Guests can order it iced or hot and with or without a shot of espresso. Vibrant also offers a comfortable patio area for al fresco chilling.

Does your maman make samosas like these?EXPAND
Does your maman make samosas like these?
Photo by Tracie Luong

Ember & Greens, 9403 Katy Freeway, began its new happy hour menu April 12. It runs Monday through Friday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. There are several classic cocktails like the Paloma, Moscow Mule and Old Fashioned for $6. There's also a selection of house wines for $5 and beers are half-price during happy hour.

The happy hour bar bites menu from chef/co-owner Nadereh Ahly offers inexpensive options from $3 to $9 like Parmesan Truffle Fries, Spinach Cilantro Hummus, Sriracha Cauliflower Bites, Classic Wings and Maman Shookough's Samosas in meat or veggie version.

There is seating in the modern dining and bar area or on the front patio.

I'm not drooling. You're drooling.EXPAND
I'm not drooling. You're drooling.
Photo by Jim Buchanan

Dozier's BBQ, 8222 FM 359, has introduced a Sunday brunch for the first time in its 64 year history. With its new 2,200 square foot patio, the barbecue joint is welcoming guests for Sunday brunch from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Pitmaster Jim Buchanan said in a press release, "There are very few places that have brunch with outdoor seating seven to eight miles of downtown Fulshear. We are excited to get this going on our beautiful new patio which has been a big hit so far with guests."

Early risers can get the day going with The Red Eye, a half pound of espresso-rubbed pork ribs served with a sweet cream waffle and two eggs. If you, like this writer, really dig biscuits and gravy, Dozier's has one that will make your toes curl with pleasure. The Brisket on a Biscuit is two biscuits served open face with cream gravy and chopped brisket. Smoked Monkey Bread is perfect for those who like a sweet start to a lazy Sunday. It gets even better with Brunchy Libations such as mimosas, prosecco and micheladas. Make your michelada complete with the addition of a $4 espresso pork rib. 

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