Restaurant News

Openings and Closings: Uli's Kitchen Opens, One Fifth Pivots Again

You don't have to be a cowboy to enjoy the bone-in ribeye at Uli's.
You don't have to be a cowboy to enjoy the bone-in ribeye at Uli's. Photo by Victoria Christensen

Uli's Kitchen, 8021 Research Forest, softly opened May 19 and celebrated its grand opening May 25 in The Woodlands. This is the first concept for Luna Hospitality owned by husband and wife Bonnie and David "Ulises" Alcaraz. Bonnie will serve as the general manager while David (Uli) will lead the kitchen as executive chef, as we reported previously here in the Houston Press.

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Elote De Calle at Uli's is topped with a lime aioli.
Photo by Victoria Christensen
Born in Orizaba, Mexico, Chef Alcaraz brings authentic touches to many of his creations including Mole Almendrado, a bone-in turkey leg simmered in an almond mole sauce. There are confit brisket tacos (Tacos De Suadero) and Tacos De Birria, a dish that Houstonians can't get enough of. The Cowboy Steak is a hefty sixteen-ounce bone-in ribeye while the Aguachile Negro De Ahi Tuna offers a little lighter option amid all the meat. There are starters such as Veracruz-style Shrimp Cocktail,  Campechana and Elotes De Calle. Specialty items include a butterflied red snapper and an osso buco served Orizaba-style.

The restaurant also offers beer, wine and cocktails like the Red Mariposa made with Tanqueray gin, ancho chile liqueur, hibiscus, lemon and cava.

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The Seven Vegetable Salad at Georgia James Tavern is a feast for the eyes.
Photo by Julie Soefer

One Fifth Southern Comfort, 1658 Westheimer, will end June 5. Then, from June 8 through June 26, the restaurant will serve as a three-week pop-up for Chris Shepherd's upcoming Georgia James Tavern, a more casual offshoot of his acclaimed steakhouse, Georgia James.

While Shepherd and Nick Fine may have a few more surprises up their sleeves for One Fifth, the pop-up will allow Georgia James Tavern's chef de cuisine, Matt Coburn, the opportunity to execute potential dishes for the upcoming restaurant and the experience of working with a wood-fired oven, a feature at One Fifth that will also be an important part of the cooking process at GJ Tavern. Plans are that the pop-up will coincide with staff training and the launch of Georgia James Tavern.

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The Georgia James Tavern club sandwich. Will it make it to the new menu?
Photo by Julie Soefer
Meanwhile, fans of One Fifth Southern Comfort have a week to try it for the last time, probably. But with Shepherd, who knows? This week could include unexpected surprises. Last weekend's special was Triple Tail Fish with Alabama white sauce, pickled collard greens and Southern-fried okra. Fine and Shepherd may have even more unique dishes in store for the last weekend. Be there or miss out.

The live music on the Lexus Patio will still happen every Thursday with happy hour specials from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. until One Fifth closes for good. Or will it?

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Pick a noodle, any noodle.
Photo by Christina Autry

The Noodle House, 13433 Tomball Parkway, will celebrate its grand opening June 3 through June 6. The Asian comfort food restaurant comes from the Kim family, known for the Asian-Mexican fusion restaurant, Matt's Fast Food, which patriarch Chung Kim took over in 2000. The restaurant won Best Vietnamese-Mexican Restaurant by the Houston Press in 2001. Unfortunately, the restaurant closed in 2002.

Married to a Mexican wife, Kim was born in Cambodia and is of Chinese and Vietnamese heritage. The menu at Matt's offered two menus, one of Mexican favorites and the other of Vietnamese dishes. Now, daughter and co-owner Kimberly Kim, wants to take a more minimalistic approach to the menu. In a press release she said, " I don't want to have a large menu with mediocre food. I want to serve one thing and for it to be the best." Her brother, also Chung Kim, has been cooking since the age of 12 and will serve as chef at The Noodle House.

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Beef Lemongrass Soup is a signature dish at The Noodle House.
Photo by Christina Autry
The menu includes its signature Bun Bo dish "Beef Lemongrass Soup" with a choice of four different noodles.  Guests can also opt for the filet mignon choice, the no-meat choice or the carb-friendly option. There will be Homestyle Pan Fried Dumplings, Vietnamese coffee, mixed jelly with basil seed and creamy Thai tea.

For the grand opening, the restaurant is offering free samples of its Pandan coconut dessert, pan-fried dumplings and a flight of four drinks. You read that correctly. Free.

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Who can resist a juicy cheeseburger?
Photo by Vandelay Hospitality Group

Hudson House
, 1984 W. Gray, is slated to open in November 2021 in the River Oaks Shopping Center. The restaurant was founded in 2017 in the Highland Park neighborhood of Dallas. It comes from the Texas-owned Vandelay Hospitality Group which operates Drake's Hollywood, East Hampton Sandwich Co., Lucky's Hot Chicken and more recently, Brentwood and D.L Mack's.

Hudson House takes its inspiration from NYC's West Village neighborhood joints mixed with a little New England style which is why diners will see East Coast oysters, flown in fresh daily, rather than our own Gulf oysters on the menu. Lobster rolls and The Bouquet, a seafood tower of oysters, shrimp cocktail, snow crab claws and tuna tartare add to the East Coast feel while American items such as The Cheeseburger with Hudson Sauce (a secret in-house recipe) and Hudson's Avocado Dip are a couple of non-seafood options.

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Hudson House will bring East Coast flavors to River Oaks.
Photo by Vandelay Hospitality Group

However, it is seafood that draws many guests in with a large sit-down raw bar where guests can interact with the shuckers preparing their oysters. The restaurant also boasts its "World's Coldest Martinis", a perfect accompaniment to freshly-shucked oysters.

The 4,500 square foot space will offer a large wrap-around bar, an outdoor patio and cozy leather booths in a casual atmosphere, albeit Martha Stewart/Ina Garten casual. Happy hour runs from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. and the weekend brunch offers Eggs Benny with a choice of country ham or lobster, Berry Pancakes, French Toast and its signature Velvet Chicken and Waffle, a dish made with a red velvet Belgian waffle topped with double-fried chicken and maple syrup.

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Louisiana flavor meets sports bar ambiance at Walk-On's.
Photo by Taylor Oliver

Walk-On's Sports Bistreaux, 23213 Grand Circle Boulevard, is shooting to open in July next to Katy Grand Shopping Mall. The 8,000 square foot restaurant is currently hiring for 170 positions. Franchisee Paul Alfonso said in a press release, "We're confident that Walk-On's will be the perfect addition to the Katy community! It's the perfect restaurant for teams to go after their game and our delicious Louisiana-inspired dishes served in a fun, family-friendly atmosphere are sure to be a big hit. Our next step is to hire an exceptional All-American team to join us in introducing the Taste of Louisiana to everyone in this vibrant community."

Interested parties can apply online or visit its hiring trailer, next to the new location, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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Neon lights and familiar faces line the walls at Cherry.
Photo by Michael Anthony
Cherry, 308 Main, opened its portal to the 1980s May 7. For those of us who lived the era in Cyndi Lauper petticoats and Robert Smith eyeliner, the club offers plenty of visuals and tunes for reminiscing. For the younger generation who are discovering that Gen-Xers had the most fun, it's a chance to go "baaack in tiiime" when music ranged from New Wave and Hair Metal to bubblegum Pop and old school Hip-Hop.

This micro club is located under Captain Foxhearts. Behind the building's turn-of-the-century facade lies a world of Glam Rock and MTV. Carson Hager, President of Hospitable Viking, the group behind the new venture, says that the club is "an ode to a wild time of garish excess. It's the perfect escape at a juncture when people are finally able to reconnect." Hager hopes that Cherry is part of Houston's downtown nightlife being vibrant once again.

As club-goers enter the venue, they are immersed in a David Lynch world of red walls and zebra-striped flooring. Boy George, Madonna, George Michael, Joan Jett and even Bob Dylan stare down from the neon heavens. The intimate first level offers round banquettes with tables shaped like LP records and a shotgun-style bar where vintage televisions give you the MTV you want and classic '80s T.V. shows. A unicorn disco ball hangs over the dance floor waiting for Voguers and Moonwalkers to do their thing.

The mezzanine is for VIPs who get a bird's eye view of the club while sitting next to the DJ booth. There are also grab and play electric guitars for your inner Slash. Champagne service is available on both floors and cocktails like the Raspberry Beret, made with whipped vodka, muddled raspberries and pineapple juice, can be sipped ever so sexily as you are transported back to a pre-pandemic time when girls just wanted to have fun and boys didn't cry.

Cherry is open Friday and Saturday from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m.

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It's been around for 75 years, so you know it's good.
Photo by Handel's Homemade Ice Cream
Handel's Homemade Ice Cream, 4495 Riley Fuzzel, is expected to open in The Woodlands this August. This will be the second Houston area location for the Ohio-based ice cream chain. The first Houston shop opened at 8715 Spring Cypress November 2020.

Handel's was founded in Youngstown, Ohio in 1945. Using quality ingredients and making the ice cream fresh daily has resulted in a fan base that has allowed it to open 60 franchised locations nationwide. There's a wide variety of flavors including Blueberry Cobbler, Strawberry Cheesecake, Coffee Heath, Banana Cream, Mud Pie and dozens more. For those who cannot decide, there's a four-scoop sampler for $5.50. Handel's also offers waffle cones that can be dipped, shakes, ice cream sandwiches and its Hurricanes which are similar to DQ's you-know-what with a selection of candy and cookie mix-ins.

The lease was secured by Robert Bernard of SRS Real Estate Partners. The ice cream shop will join Regal Cinemas at the Regal Benders Landing development off Grand Parkway and Riley Fuzzel.

Island Tingz Caribbean Grill
, 8790 FM 1960 Bypass, celebrated its grand opening at its new brick and mortar May 8. The Jamaican restaurant originally opened in the Foxwoods Plaza convenience store in December 2020. Now, it has its own space and is serving Island favorites such as curry shrimp, oxtails, curry goat, fried plantains, beef and chicken patties, jerk chicken and Brown Stew Fish.

Fegen's, 1050 Studewood, launched lunch, brunch and happy hour May 22. The restaurant from F.E.E.D Restaurant Group has been dinner service only since it opened April 6, 2021. With the new services, Houstonians will have more of an opportunity to try chef Lance Fegen's Southern-Italian dishes.

Lunch at Fegen's runs Wednesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. with items such as Grilled Italian Sausage Sandwich, Vegan Mushroom Bolognese and Stuffed Peppers with beef, Italian rice, tomato gravy and Pecorino. Brunch is served Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and dishes include Chicken Cutlet Benedict and Chicken Fried Ribeye with two eggs and fried baked potatoes.

The restaurant has also launched a happy hour Tuesday through Friday from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. and Sunday 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. There will be $8 cocktails, $5 beer and $2 off wines by the glass. A $5 bar bites menu includes Pepperoni Bread, Cheese Pizza Pie and Clam Chowder Fries.

Latin Restaurant Weeks
will run June 1 through June 14. Here are several restaurants that are participating with special menus:

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The special trompo tacos at Tacos Del Julio.
Photo by Boris Zarate/Bzfilmpro
Tacos Del Julio, 10719 Airline and 6701 Spencer Highway, will offer a three course menu ($19.99) which includes an agua fresca beverage. Guests can choose between guacamole or queso with chips as an appetizer. For entrees, there's a choice of street tacos, either trompo, bistec or chicken or the Ta-Combo with the Gringa, Pirata or Guera options. Guests also can choose the Enchiladas De Julio in chicken or cheese. For dessert there's tres leches, flan or choco-flan. With each LRW menu purchase, guests will receive a special gift as well.

Juanita's Mexican Restaurant, 29110 US-290, has a $30 pre-fixe menu for LRW. It begins with Juanita's Combo of queso and guacamole for the appetizer. It's followed by Enchiladas Del Rancho, three enchiladas stuffed with pork and cheese, topped with salsa verde, white cheese, two sunny side-up eggs, chorizo, onion and cilantro. For dessert, if there's still room, there's a slice of tres leches.

Los Ranchitos, 7687 Clarewood, has been serving its Salvadoran cuisine in Houston since 1983. It has an LRW lunch and dinner menu for $14. For the first course, there's a choice of Beef Pastelito or Fried Yuca with Chicharron. The second course offers two Pupusas with one Tamale (chicken or sweet corn) or two Pupusas with Fried Yuca and Chicharron. For dessert guests will have to decide between a fried plantain empanada, platanos con crema (plantains in cream sauce) or arroz con leche (rice pudding).

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A new distillery is launching two spirits for retail.
Photo by Thoroughbred Spirits Group
Fox & Seeker Distilled Goods, 5750 Sam Houston Parkway E., has launched two of its products into retail stores, bars and restaurants. The Texas Vodka is made with 80 percent dent corn and 20 percent soft winter wheat, grown in Denton, Texas. It's light and offers tones of vanilla and citrus. The London Dry Gin also begins the same way but botanicals are added like juniper, coriander and angelica root, resulting in subtle hints of lemon and berry along with just the right amount of spruce from the juniper. Fox and Seeker also makes a Meridian Gin and will soon be distilling a grain to glass whiskey.

Founders Sean and Michelle Anger have chosen to locally source ingredients rather than resort to the bulk purchasing of pre-made neutral grain spirits that some distilleries begin with. Sean Anger says, " We refuse to shortcut our passion, so we source grain from Texas farmers to mash, ferment and distill everything in-house."

The distillery began mashing in October 2020 with bottles being sold at the distillery a couple months later. Now, the Texas Vodka and London Dry Gin are available at Total Wine and Spec's Liquor Stores around Houston. Spirit lovers can also schedule tours of the distillery to see the process and pick up some juice.

Taste Bar + Kitchen
, 3015 Bagby, is hosting Cocktail Warz June 2 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Owner and executive chef Don Bowie has been flooded with bartender applications for his restaurant Taste and his upcoming concept Rare. To add a little fun to the process, Bowie is hosting a competition with a group of talented applicants. The mixologists will have to prove their mettle with a signature cocktail. Each cocktail will be judged by a panel of spirits enthusiasts, local influencers and media, along with Bowie himself. The first three places will be awarded positions at either Taste or Rare along with monetary prizes.

The event is open to the public and there will be live entertainment.

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Five Nine Lounge has a new patio.
Photo By Kyle Flaniken/2 Dope Perspectives
Five Nine Lounge, 11786 Wilcrest, has new summer hours beginning June 3. The bar and hookah lounge will be open from 2 p.m. to 2 a.m. daily. In addition to the new hours, the lounge has done renovations including new wallpaper, lighting and a new covered patio.

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The hookah trend keeps on trending.
Photo by Kyle Flaniken/2 Dope Perspectives
It has a bar bites menu with items like the Voodoo Burger, chicken wings, fried shrimp, street tacos and Blackened Chicken Salad. Cocktails include mojitos, margaritas and fruit forward drinks like the Jolly Rancher or shots such as Mexican Candy made with Jose Cuervo, Sky Raspberry, Watermelon Schnapps and sweet and sour.

The hookah menu offers regular head, orange head and pineapple head. Guests can enjoy their hookah and cocktail experience with live music from local DJs. Five Nine Lounge also offers Section Packages ranging from $400 for the Bronze, which serves six and up to $1,000 for the Platinum which serves eight, including entry, hookah, liquor and a bottle of champagne.

" We have done a lot to make the lounge even better, " says co-owner Sam Momi, "It's time for people to get out, have some fun and get back to enjoying the life they love."

We couldn't agree more.

Restaurants Reported Open May 2021:

Bayou Seafood and Wings, 10123 Hammerly, opened April 12
Bow's Taste of Belize, 9406 Highway 6 S., opened March 5
Cosmo Cafe, 5927 Almeda, opened April 22
Da Gama Canteen, 600 N. Shepherd, opened May 15
Dish Society at Finn Hall, 712 Main, reopened May 11
Famous Dave's of America, 19820 Northwest Freeway, opened late April
Hoodadak, 11191 Westheimer, opened April 10
Howdy Hot Chicken, 3520 S. Shepherd, opened April 13
Juanita's Mexican Restaurant, 29110 Highway 290, opened May 3
Le Jardinier, 5500 Main, opened May 18
Masones Pub & Grill, 24441 Highway 249, opened April 23
Mudslinger's Drive-thru Coffee, 14123 Grant, opened April 19
Philipose's Kitchen and Bar, 32823 FM 2978, opened late March
Poke Yana, 17400 Spring Cypress, opened April 12
Raising Cane's, 4055 Little York, opened May 18
Rakkan Ramen, 600 N. Shepherd, opened May 3
Ready to Drink Pop-up, 1919 Washington opened mid-May
Romano's Pizza, 1528 W. Gray, reopened May 24
Teriyaki Madness, 25705 Katy freeway, opened April 1
Theodore Rex, 1302 Nance, reopened May 23
Van Leeuwen Ice Cream, 2565 Amherst, opened May 8

Restaurants Reported Closed May 2021:

Saigon House, 3645 FM 1960, closed May 12
The Roastery, all four locations, closed May 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.