Editor’s note: The Houston restaurant scene is constantly changing, with new hotspots, must-try places and major food events coming along on a daily basis. Even the most dedicated foodie can have trouble keeping up. Don’t worry, PaperCity has you covered.
It’s only July, and it’s already been a banner year for Houston restaurant openings. But when you zoom into just these last few weeks — whoa. The new entries to the H-Town scene have been what you’d call game-changers, from hotly anticipated Spanish eateries to inspired Mediterranean spots.
Read on to find out what’s already open — and the unexpected ones you just can’t wait to try.
So, we may be cheating with this one. It’s not so much “Where to Eat Right Now” as “Where to Eat Six Weeks from Now, When Hopefully There Will be a Few Reservations.” In a series of short days, Houston’s new Spanish restaurant MAD has completely blown up, living up to the expectation of its BCN sister restaurant .
MAD is sensory overload, with a dramatic interior from renowned Spanish designer Lázaro Rosa-Violán and a daring menu River Oaks District regulars can’t get enough of.
Is it the assortment of authentic paellas? Jamon Imberico with Pan de Cristal flown straight from Spain? It’s hard to say, but everyone is MAD about this new spot to see and be seen.
Meat maestro Benjamin Berg’s chill seafood-meets-comfort-food tavern is so nice he had to do it twice. The original Washington Ave B.B. Lemon took off immediately thanks to its lively vibe and seafaring dishes like blue crab beignets and authentic lobster rolls. And the impressive “Lemon Hour” menu featuring irresistible craft cocktails didn’t hurt.
The new Montrose B.B. Lemon took over the old Pax Americana restaurant space, but you’d hardly recognize it from the inside. Think that airborne citrus sign and plaid deep green wallpaper. But the updates don’t end there.
B.B. Lemon is getting an injection of all new dishes, courtesy of chef Emily Trusler, like seared scallops with sweet corn puree and snapper crudo. When Berg hands you a Lemon, you’ve just gotta go.
The Original Ninfa’s Uptown
The Original Ninfa’s on Navigation is a Tex-Mex icon, rumored to have spurred the fajita craze with Mama Ninfa’s sizzling tacos al carbon. There’s more than enough queso and guac love to go around, so it was time for a tantalizing offshoot — in glorious Galleria area digs. And the word is out — The Original Ninfa’s Uptown lives up to the legacy.
The sleek Original Ninfa’s Uptown is all clean lines, crisp as the tortilla chips you’ll find circled around your hearty queso. The menu is one and the same, featuring all the favorite Ninfa enchiladas and tacos you can imagine — and the prices are the same, too.
In just a few short weeks, Lotti Dotti has indeed proven they like to party. This sprawling patio has quickly become the site for lazy evenings in the shade, sipping on a boozy bevy of jaw-dropping frozen drinks. Tucked in the old Brooklyn Athletic Club space, Lotti Dotti has definitely spiced up Richmond Avenue — just in time for summer. There’s definitely a good reason for this rhyme.
Chef Adam Dorris of Pax Americana and Presidio joined forces with Beaver’s and Goode Company’s Michael Riojas to create Lotti Dotti’s eight frozen drinks, from the Pain Don’t Hurt with rum, orgeat, passionfruit and more rum, to the Slime in the Ice Machine with tequila and matcha. That’s not all — Dorris has crafted a charcuterie menu like no other, with guinea hen liver mousse alongside some unexpected chicken wings.
La Marisquera Ostioneria
Conroe classic La Marisquera Ostioneria has opened up a location closer to Houston, bringing its renowned Mexican seafood dishes into our sphere. “Robust” barely begins to describe this extensive menu of traditional seafood dishes, from ceviche with mango to shrimp cocktails to succulent oysters.
Try them out with a side of roasted cactus as you look over the Heron Golf Course. The seafood is as fresh, cooked with love in the classic Mexican way — plenty of flavor with a whole lot of fun on the side.
Atlas Restaurant Group has splashed on the Houston restaurant scene with its contemporary spin on the traditional Mediterranean “kouzina.” Kouzina means kitchen — a nod to the fact that all of these show-stopping eats are made from scratch — but the layout is refined, spacious and airy with marble accents and hard wood.
All the better to enjoy hidden seafood gems, the types of fish flown in from the world over daily that you just won’t find anywhere else. Dover Sole fresh from Holland, Kona Kampachi straight from Hawaii to your plate. You can feast your eyes on the selection in the sumptuous display case.
Loch Bar is the key to Houston’s seafood bar scene, the sister restaurant to the smashing Ouzo Bay. It’s the laidback kind of spot where you can enjoy a live lobster made to order, a burger, caviar or crab cakes.
All while sipping any of their current 350 varieties of whiskey — soon to shoot up to 600, sourced from everywhere from Japan and Ireland to France and beyond. Local music sets the mood, with tons of rock and roll.
The iconic New York burger chain is finally shaking things up in Downtown Houston — and Bayou City buger-lovers are shook. Shake Shack is finally opening on Main Street, meaning whether you work or play Downtown, you can sink your teeth into a gourmet burger or cool down with an ice-cold frozen custard.
This new restaurant marks the fifth local Shake Shack in Houston, proving this burger warscombatant is here to stay. And with Shake Shack’s cult following dating back to the Madison Square Park original, it’s no wonder.
Take on a ShackBurger with ShackSauce and crinkle fries, and you’ll likely be a convert too.
Mico’s Hot Chicken
There’s a brand new mobile eatery heating up the food truck scene. The creators of Mico’s Ice Cream are at it again, this time with a hefty helping of Nashville-style spice. They run the gamut from fried chicken sandwiches and loaded animal fries to even chicken and waffles on a stick.
You can even try your hand at the five fried chicken wings challenge — if you’re not chicken, that is. Now, that’s what we call a hotspot.
Fat Ni BBQ
Bellaire Food Street is up and running — and wowing. You can thank Fat Ni BBQ for that, named for founder Guiqiao Chen who got her start in China as a teen and has spread her crispy, delicious barbecue sauce across the United States ever since.
Fat Ni BBQ does Chinese street food justice with hibachi chicken bones, grilled quail, jumbo shrimp and grilled green pepper. Each dish is as colorful and vibrant as the one before.