Executive chef Dustin Teague and wife Addie are adding some new menu items to the Mediterranean-inspired American menu at their comfortable neighborhood eatery with the heat of Houston summer in mind. Dishes like the Summer Tagliatelle is perfect for vegetarians and those who want a light, summery dish. The pasta is topped with blistered tomatoes, basil pesto, pine nuts, Parmesan and goat cheese.
For a little more Cajun meets Italia taste, there's the Spaghetti Nero with crawfish and corn maque choux. Other Louisiana-inspired dishes are on the summer menu, including New Orleans-style BBQ Shrimp. The dish of blackened shrimp is served with a Creole-inspired pan sauce, crispy leeks, and charred okra served over a creamy polenta. For a light seafood offering, there's the Snapper Crudo with seasonal fruits, jalapenos, hazelnuts and lime zest.
Ryan Lachaine's unpretentious Montrose restaurant is expanding its happy hour to include all night Monday specials in the bar and the restaurant. The specials will also run Tuesday through Friday from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
With the prevalence of industry professionals on Monday evenings, Riel has chosen to offer the new food specials and happy hour drink prices all night. There are seven new menu items such as the $5 crawfish rolls, served for a limited time while crawfish season lasts. There's also tempura cauliflower ($9) for those who are on that veggie bandwagon, plus chicken skin yakitori for a mere $4. The 44 Farms beef mini dogs with egg yolk, fried rice and gochujang is $10. Try something new like Gator Karaage for $9.
During happy hour, select beers are $4, select wines $7, classic cocktails $8 and signature cocktails come in at $9.
This popular wine bar in the Heights draws in residents with its charcuterie and cheese boards, plus its 5 til 5 wine and beer specials which offer $5 select glasses of wine and pitchers of beer for $5 everyday until 5 p.m. Day drinking needs some fortification and Postino has added several new items to its Snacky Things menu including two carpaccio choices of either tuna with Persian cucumber, pine nuts and lemon aioli or beef with bistro filet, Taggiasca olives, red onion, arugula and Parmigiano-Reggiano. Both are served with foccacia crostini. There are also the new meat skewers with grilled petite beef filet and chicken with Sicilian garlic yogurt and olive oil. Sweet potato wedges make for an easy, one-handed snack while sipping your vino.
Alba Huerta's Southern-style bar has garnered lots of love and critical acclaim for its New Orleans decor and carefully crafted cocktails. Her success has now led to a much lauded book Julep: Southern Cocktails Refashioned. Huerta is offering some of her newest concoctions for summer sipping along with new bar bites and small plates to keep drinkers on an even keel.
The new drinks menu includes two sections. The From the Book side offers creations like the Cherry Bounce Sour made with bourbon, cherry bounce, lemon and egg white. Other cocktails like the Creole Crusta, made with rum, chile-infused shrub, turbinado sugar and lemon reflect the thought and care put into each beverage. Huerta collaborated with Rachel Fisher and the rest of her beverage team for the From the Bar offerings which include the potent Proceed with Caution, made with aquavit (a Scandinavian distilled spirit), apple compote, pineapple, lemon, verjus and egg white.
The snacks and small plates menu are another collaboration, this time with consulting chef, Alvin Schultz. Bar patrons can nosh on snacks like campechana, watermelon poke and hatch green chile pimento cheese. The small plates menu includes the Kentucky Hot Brown Frito Pie, which is a bag of Fritos corn chips topped with smoked turkey, bacon, cheddar cheese mornay sauce and roasted tomatoes. And even though the temperatures are creeping up in Houston, the "Nashville-style" Hot Duck Confit will tempt folks who cannot resist the call of the pepper. It's only available Fridays and Saturdays, however.
Decatur Bar and Pop Up Factory
Chef Evelyn Garcia is serving up a Viet-Cajun crawfish boil every Saturday and Sunday through mid-June as the season starts to fade. From 2 p.m. to 7 p.m., the juicy red mudbugs are only $5.99 per pound. Couple that with some beer specials on Eureka Heights Brewing Company brews and you'll still have enough green for those summertime vacation plans.
This Heights eatery opened in January and Venezuelan natives, Xavier and Mari Godoy have brought their global travels to a carefully constructed menu of handmade pastas and simple, fresh flavors. Executive chef Tony Castillo, formerly of Tiny Boxwoods, is at the helm in the open kitchen.
The intimate space and the friendly owners have made Mastrantos a new favorite among the foodie crowd. The restaurant recently launched its lunch service, which runs from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. with reasonably priced dishes from $12 to $15, including Chicken Arepa Tostadas, a nod to the couple's Venezualan roots, and Shopska Salad made with Bulgarian feta, cucumber, tomatoes, red onions, hojiblanco, lemon juice and balsamic vinegar. It's a nice light lunch on its own, or diners can add grilled salmon for a heartier meal. There's also Pomodoro Gnocchi and Ragu Bolognese. For an appetizer, try the Tequenos, melted white cheese in Venezuelan Hawaiian-style dough. It's served with a cilantro lime sauce and a barbecue-style sauce for dipping.
Mastrantos also has a new spring menu with items like the Curry Scallop Crudo and Port de Catalunya, a feast of saffron spaghetti, Spanish chorizo, clams, Calabrian pepper and pomodoro.
This writer does have a suggestion about the lunch service. On a recent visit, it felt rather uncomfortable to enter as a singleton and not know if I should seat myself or wait for someone. The bartender pointed me to the menus and told me I could order at the bar. Payment and tipping are done upfront, before one finds one's own table. This seems to be a trend in service nowadays and the patrons who came in after me found it confusing as well. If you would like to order another drink or item, you will have to hope that someone comes by for you to snag, because you do not have a designated server. I also had to leave my table and walk up to the kitchen to get a to-go box. The staff were very pleasant, but the ambiance of Mastrantos seems too nice for counter service, even at lunch. Rant over.
The Dandelion Cafe
Sarah Lieberman opened this small Bellaire cafe in August 2016 as a comfortable coffee shop, but began incorporating more food items over the next couple of years. In the fall of 2018, she brought in chef J.C. Ricks, whose experience at Houston's UB Preserv and River Oaks Country Club brought a creative twist to the cafe's culinary offerings.
While dishes like venison and grits and other special chef-driven dishes can be found on the weekends, Ricks' new spring/summer menu includes options like homemade yogurt and granola. There are breakfast tacos, avocado toast, special power bowls and the Bellaire Bahn Mi.
Lieberman also brought in Houston-based artist, Vy Hopkins to redo the space in keeping with its garden theme. Diners can enjoy their meal while gazing at the cheerfully colorful flower installations. Lieberman is also planning garden-themed workshops, including Succulents 101 hosted by Plants HTX June 9. Check its Facebook page for more information.
Bernie's Burger Bus
5407 Bellaire Boulevard
2643 Commercial Center Boulevard
6324 Highway 6 in Missouri City
Bernie's Burger Bus is continuing its Field Trip series, rolling south of the border with pupusa burgers. There is a choice of two burgers with house-made green chili cheese pupusas standing in for the usual burger buns. The pepper jack cheeseburgers come with either spicy guacamole, shredded lettuce and pico de gallo or homemade curtido and salsa roja. There's also the Field Trip Fajita Fries ($7.99/10.50) and the Spicy Mayan Mocha Milkshake ($7).
23501 Cinco Ranch
Sushi chef extraordinaire Mike Lim has been busy turning out a bounty of spring dishes lately at this top Katy sushi restaurant. The Korean-born Lim came to San Francisco at the age of 14 to work in his uncle's sushi restaurant before apprenticing under Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto and then becoming the corporate sushi chef for Roka Akor.
New dishes include a Wagyu tartare ($24), the honey miso pork belly (sous vide with pickled vegetables, $13) and Oysters Two Ways, a half dozen East Coast oysters served with cucumber-champagne vinaigrette, Japanese Tabasco, wasabi chive oil and trout roe ($15). The colorful Tokyo City Lights Maki ($15) has peppered tuna, serrano, asparagus, honey wasabi, avocado ponzu, spicy tuna, sunchoke chips and wasabi tobiko. That's a lot of goodness in one roll.
2042 E.T.C. Jester
EggHaus has launched some new brunch cocktails to go with its new menu items. For hardcore carnivores, there's the steak, egg and cheese sandwich, which, paired with the Bacon Bloody Mary, will be a happy meaty memory. For lighter eaters, try pairing a Bird of a Feather, made with sake, fresh strawberry, lemon and lime with the Ranchero or Chicken Salad Toast. There is also a classic mimosa with fresh orange juice and champagne or a sparkling rose made with rose wine, lemon and housemade cordial.
2044 E. T.C. Jester
828 West FM 646
Both the Heights location and the recently opened League City franchise are ringing in summer with a weekday happy hour from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday. Specials include $5 bites like the Giant Bier Pretzel and Gourmet Deviled Eggs. There are also $5 Haus wines, $5 signature drafts and $5 Haus cocktails like the Munich Punch and the Haus Old Fashioned.