Openings and Closings: True Anomaly Brewing Opens, Veegos Mexican Vegan Debuts

There's a new brew in town.
There's a new brew in town. Photo by M. Duckworth

True Anomaly Brewing Company
, 2012 Dallas, opened its doors to the public February 20. The new brewery has one of the largest barrel rooms in Houston which is adjacent to the tap room. What started out as four guys in a garage, albeit rocket scientist, space suit-developing, mission-managing  type of guys, has come to fruition in East Downtown. In this case, brewing beer is truly rocket science.

click to enlarge Brew barrels are things of beauty. - PHOTO BY MICHAEL DUCKWORTH
Brew barrels are things of beauty.
Photo by Michael Duckworth

The men on a mission are creating traditional and experimental beers, focusing on IPAs, wild, sour and Belgian-style ales. The beers on offer are rotated regularly, so beer fans can get out of their comfort zone and into another orbit. The beers are served directly from the gorgeous space-age tanks in the taproom.

click to enlarge The future is now at True Anomaly Brewing. - PHOTO BY MICHAEL DUCKWORTH
The future is now at True Anomaly Brewing.
Photo by Michael Duckworth
The four guys, Michael Duckworth, Thomas Ahlstrom, Ben Stahl and David Lantz are creating brews that are "original, delicious and just a little (or a lot) off the mean trajectory".  All four are former or current NASA employees who met a decade ago as interns.

As of now, there are no food trucks, but there may be in the future. So, make sure you eat a nice, filling meal before spending the afternoon enjoying a pint on the dog friendly patio. Expect beers like a Berliner Weisse (a sour German-style beer), a Belgian Dubbel cleverly named Dark Matter and an IPA.

click to enlarge Jesse Hernandez is bringing Mexican flavors, vegan-style. - PHOTO BY ERIC VISETIN @SOUTHSIDEHTX
Jesse Hernandez is bringing Mexican flavors, vegan-style.
Photo by Eric Visetin @southsidehtx
Veegos, 11191 Westheimer, began its soft opening February 5. The vegan Mexican restaurant serves 100 percent plant based food. If you've never had vegan tacos al pastor, now's your chance. Using jackfruit and meat substitutes, Jesse Hernandez has turned his pop-up restaurant into a brick and mortar for vegans, vegetarians and other diners who want to try meatless dishes while still getting solid, hearty flavors. We didn't even know vegan pozole was a thing, but you can find it at Veego's, along with nachos, tacos and even vegan cheesecake.

click to enlarge Jesse Hernandez and mom Claudia offer traditional Mexican flavors for vegans. - PHOTO BY CRYSTLE AUSTIN
Jesse Hernandez and mom Claudia offer traditional Mexican flavors for vegans.
Photo by Crystle Austin

Hernandez began the vegan lifestyle three years ago for health reasons, but soon grew to embrace the meatless diet for ethical reasons as well and is on a mission to create delicious foods that are cruelty-free. Hernandez brought in his wife Denisse and sister Crystle to convince his mom, a native of Morelos, Mexico, to veganize some of her traditional Mexican dishes. The red corn pozole was one of those items, still using hominy, but adding baby bella mushrooms as a hearty alternative to the traditional pork.

We had to know how the tacos al pastor were made and Hernandez told the Press that they are made with soy flour which is marinated in Mom's chile sauce for five to six hours to give the characteristic trompo flavor. From internet reviews, diners are loving them.

click to enlarge Have a Mediterranean feast at Kenz. - PHOTO BY GENO
Have a Mediterranean feast at Kenz.
Photo by GENO
Kenz Mediterranean, 5000 Westheimer, opened February 8. Formerly Brothers Gyro, the owners, Sherry and Abdalla have rebranded with a homier decor and some changes to the menu. The owners want the restaurant to be welcoming to family and friends who want healthy and creative cuisine. Kenz is named for the owners' daughter, Kenzy.

click to enlarge Kenz offers homemade cooking in a homey setting. - PHOTO BY ABDALLA
Kenz offers homemade cooking in a homey setting.
Photo by Abdalla
The menu is 100 percent Halal and features the usual Mediterranean dishes one would expect. There are gyros, rice bowls, and salads served with gyro meat, chicken or falafel and topped with a choice of Kenz's secret sauces. There's even Mediterranean style tacos and quesadillas. Wife Sherry creates much of the menu and also the art on the walls.

The restaurant is open daily from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. It offers online ordering and delivery.

Jennifer Thai offers healthy and awesome bites. - PHOTO BY CHELSEA PHAM OF REVERBERATE MARKETING
Jennifer Thai offers healthy and awesome bites.
Photo by Chelsea Pham of Reverberate Marketing
Awesome Bites Co., 2101 Winter,  is coming to Sawyer Yards in April as reported here in the Houston Press. Founder and baker Jennifer Thai worked for ten years in corporate America before choosing a career creating baked goods made with ingredients that were safe for people with food allergies, like her daughter Aurora. After discovering that many allergy friendly foods simply replaced allergens with chemicals and other unhealthy alternatives, Thai began making her own "super muffins" after apprenticing at an artisan bakery for a summer. Using vegetables and fruits, she eliminates the use of butter, milk and eggs in her baking.

Her creations are made with non-GMO ingredients, no preservatives, no cholesterol and are dairy-free, soy-free, peanut and tree nut-free, except for the use of coconut. There are also gluten-free options.

For now, customers can find her awesome bites at the Memorial Villages Farmers Market every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and every first Saturday at the Friendswood Market from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. There are also a handful of coffee shops and restaurants around Houston where her healthy treats are available including Kona Haven, Fix Coffee Bar and Roostar Vietnamese Grill.

Awesome Bites will also have allergy-friendly ice creams, vegan sandwiches and nitro cold brew from Boomtown Coffee.

Asia Market Thai Lao Food, 3620 N. Main, opened January 27, relocating from its original spot on Cavalcade. The family-owned restaurant and grocery has been in operation for many years.

There are appetizers like Ka Ree Curry Puffs and chicken satay plus soups such as tom saep nuea, a Thai-style menudo (beef tripe). There are also stir-fried noodles like pad Thai and pad see ew which seems to be a favorite of diners. Patrons can choose a spice level to fit their tolerance, from mild, medium, hot, Thai hot and Raging Volcano.

click to enlarge June Rodil enjoys laughing heartily with her friends. - PHOTO BY MATT HARRINGTON
June Rodil enjoys laughing heartily with her friends.
Photo by Matt Harrington

Goodnight Hospitality is bringing in a new partner, Master Sommelier June Rodil. She will be joining Master Sommelier David Keck, Chef Felipe Riccio and Peter McCarthy as the fourth partner. Goodnight Hospitality operates the upscale honky-tonk Goodnight Charlie's and is currently planning the openings of three new concepts, Montrose Cheese and Wine, Rosie Cannonball and March. Both Rodil and Keck will be curating and creating the beverage and wine programs for the new ventures.

Rodil was born in the Philippines and raised in Texas. Her most recent role was Vice President of Operations at McGuire Moorman Hospitality out of Austin. She is one of only 26 women to earn the Master Sommelier title in the Americas. Her arrival in Houston will give our most awesome town six Master Sommeliers, which makes the Bayou City one of the densest groupings in the country, according to Food and Wine.

Rodil will remain a partner at her namesake Austin restaurant, June's All Day, which was named as one of Food and Wine's Restaurants of the Year in 2017. She will also continue with her private wine label, June's Brut Rose, in collaboration with Austrian winemaker, Markus Huber.

Cafe Bustelo, 3615 Montrose, will pop up in a brightly colored shipping container for its grand opening March 12. The Latin cafe will feature coffee-based drinks such as cafecito, colada, cortadio and cafe con leche. There will also be pastry items to munch on while listening to lively music and gazing upon local art. The pop-up will end May 25.

Cafe Bustelo is a Cuban-style espresso coffee that has been around for ninety years. It began in the Bronx, New York with native Spaniard and Cuban immigrant Gregorio Bustelo creating a roast that would become a favorite among immigrant communities from Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, according to the Tenement Museum.

click to enlarge Broken Yolk Cafe is open and hiring. - PHOTO BY LORRETTA RUGGIERO
Broken Yolk Cafe is open and hiring.
Photo by Lorretta Ruggiero
The Broken Yolk Cafe, 16803 Stuebner Airline, opened February 11. The breakfast and lunch restaurant began in California in 1979 and after its national exposure on the Travel Channel's  "Man vs. Food", the restaurant began franchising and now has 28 locations across the country. It opened its first Houston location on Barker Cypress in 2018. The Spring store makes the second in the Greater Houston area.

Known for its variety of Eggs Benedict and large portions, there are also $4.99 breakfast specials available before 8 a.m., so it's a bonus for early risers. Unfortunately, for those looking for a late, boozy breakfast, the Spring location does not serve mimosas or bloody Marys due to its proximity to Klein High School across the street.

Crawfish and Beignets, 9600 Bellaire, began its soft opening stage this past week and will have limited evening hours while the restaurant gets into its groove. It first opened in Hong Kong City Mall in 2000 and closed in 2016, with Nick's Crawfish taking its place. Now the owners are getting back in the game with the booming trend of Viejun crawfish and cuisine.

Starters include shishito peppers or fried calamari. There are po' boys, fried rice dishes, etouffee, gumbo and wings with a variety of sauces. Of course, there's also boiled crawfish and crawdad suckers can choose their favorite flavor. For an extra dollar, Thai citrus is the way to go.

The Blonde Pantry makes healthy eating easier. - PHOTO BY KATHLEEN O'RYAN
The Blonde Pantry makes healthy eating easier.
Photo by Kathleen O'Ryan

The Blonde Pantry, 2800 Kirby, opened its first retail shop March 2. Founder Marla Murphy is a registered dietitian and lifestyle blogger who created the business after seeing the pitfalls of various other subscription food delivery services, mainly because most require food prep and cooking on the customer's part. The Blonde Pantry delivers dishes and treats ready to be eaten or quickly reheated for added convenience.

The meals are gluten and dairy free and are made in house, as are the various snacks, salads and soups. The items range in price from $7 snacks to family size casseroles at $42, with most single serve dishes coming in under $11, as reported here in the Press.

Patrons can choose between delivery or pick-up at the Kirby location or at The Villages Gym off Interstate 10. The new shop also offers retail items from local partners such as T-shirts, kitchen goods and even succulent plants to add a bit of zen into your new healthy-eating lifestyle.
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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.