The Houston restaurant world has high hopes for The Heights. The neighborhood exploded a while back, transitioning from a quaint little spot with bungalows to a land bursting with upscale apartment complexes and every kind of restaurant imaginable.
Just when you think it couldn’t get any bigger, it is. The Heights is in the midst of a slew of new restaurant openings — we’re looking at you, Truth BBQ, La Vibra, Dish Society, Kolache Shoppe, Hopdoddy and Flying Fish — and there are even more new spots on the way.
The Heights has a whopping 14 new restaurants generating buzz, plus a now-open pop-up factory that’ll keep the fresh concepts coming.
PaperCity has rounded up the best new Heights restaurants, everything from popular farm-to-table spots to buzzy burger chains and downright mysteries that even the most dedicated foodie sleuth can’t quite decipher. Read on and save that appetite.
This first one’s a delicious doozy, sure to build anticipation all over Houston. Dynamic duo Justin Yu and Bobby Heugel, the masterminds behind The New York Times-approved Better Luck Tomorrow, are revitalizing the old Southern Goods space on 19th Street. PaperCityfirst wrote about this new Heights restaurant back in October.
Cocktail aficionado Heugel and James Beard Award-winning Yu (of Oxheart fame) have now released a few more details, but plenty of mystery remains.
Mark Clayton, veteran of Yu’s Oxheart, and Drew Gimma, former head baker of Common Bond, will prepare American-influenced European fare. Think fresh pasta, smoked grouper and pork neck schnitzel. For his part, Drew will have the restaurant rolling in dough — like Dutch baby pancakes and pastries.
Terry Williams, former Better Luck Tomorrow bar manager, will take on the role of Squable GM and sommelier Justin Vann will dream up a list of specialty cocktails and an extensive selection of natural wines.
In case you’re wondering, it’s pronounced like “squabble” not “able.” But you’d better believe there will be some squabbling over the pronunciation and spelling at first. Regardless, the much-anticipated restaurant is expected to open this spring.
Coltivare’s Cryptic Cousin
Agricole Hospitality — the restaurant group behind Coltivare, Night Heron, Eight Row Flint and more — has swooped in and scooped up a space for an all-new restaurant. Business partners Ryan Pera and Morgan Weber are coming off the heels of the smash hit debuts of Indianola, Vinny’s and Miss Carousel.
And they’re still on the move. Their exact plans for the former Blue Line Bike Lab space — which was known for an inventive mural of cycling skeletons and sits right next to Coltivare — are unclear. Stay tuned.
Decatur Bar & Pop-Up Factory
The Beaver’s on Decatur went through the ringer after a tentative closing, reopening and eventual shuttering. But the space’s culinary road doesn’t end there. The building at 2310 Decatur has been reborn as the Decatur Bar & Pop-Up Factory, an ambitious restaurant incubator of sorts.
Creative chefs-in-residence will rotate through the factory, each working to prove themselves and prep for opening permanent restaurants down the road. Current chef-in-residence Evelyn Garcia has cooked up a Mexican-meets-Salvadoran four-course chef tasting menu for $65, not including beverages.
Expect oysters with chili pearls, ceviche in ginger vinaigrette, Thai-flavored fried chicken, rose water milk cake and more.
Bartender Leslie Krockenberger, who brings the experience of working at Canard bar, Moving Sidewalk and Triniti, will serve up complicated, curated cocktails inspired in part by the original Beaver’s. The Cosmonaught is a cosmo with citrus-infused aperol and rhubarb molasses, and the Banana Stand has banana chip-infused Jack Daniels and Angostura Bitters.
You can trust Decatur to mix things up.
This new upscale Heights restaurant, headed up by Tiny Boxwoods’ Brian Doke, will have digs every bit as impressive as its eats. It’s taking over a 1930s warehouse on the corner of Yale and 14th Street. Doke plans to add some color to the exposed brick interior, but keep a lot of the old school flair.
The main dining room will seat 70, the less formal Garden Room area can fit 30, and there will also be a U-shaped bar and plenty of banquettes.
The food will be European with a modern, approachable American finish. Details are scant, but seasonally focused dishes and house-made pastas are on tap.
La Grande Rue
Savior is just one of Doke’s elegant upcoming projects. He’s also teaming up with William Meznarich, who will spearhead the beverage program at Savoir, to create a wine bar and shop nearby called La Grande Rue in another part of the same building.
This 100-percent-vegan paradise comes courtesy of the roving Ripe Cuisine, a longstanding food truck famed for its pulled jackfruit carnitas, beet falafel and quinoa and lentil bistro burgers. Soon, you will be able find it in Heights Waterworks, a hotbed of new restaurants on the rise, including recently opened new Hopdoddys.
Owner Stephanie Hoban makes the move to 449 E. 19th Street sometime this month, if everything goes according to plan. She’s spreading the word that meals can be dairy, meat-free and super satisfying.
Verdine will feature an expanded menu, with a dairy-free nut cheeseboard, vegan mac n cheese and a dark chocolate avocado tart. You can bet money on a biodynamic wine list.
Common Bond Cafe & Bakery
This bakery and cafe is on the rise, with ambitious aims to open up five new outposts by 2020. It’s making moves, setting up its second-ever location at the Heights Waterworks.
Common Bond has been streamlining even as it’s growing, adding a commissary to ensure that preferred pastries don’t run out before mid-afternoon. There’s also the opportunity to order special occasion cakes and even sit down and kick back for dinner.
Hand Roll Bar
This temaki destination is the brainchild of Casian King food truck operator and Conservatory’s Moku Bar owner Tuan Tran. It’s headed to Railway Heights at 8200 Washington Avenue, which opens later this year.
Tran will specialize in sushi-grade fish, seasoned warm rice and nori. All sauces will be made in house, and Tran vows these aren’t the hand rolls you’ll see at any old sushi spot.
The Grove Do-Nutz
Next up, The Grove Do-Nutz will be a nearby neighbor of Hand Roll bar in Railway Heights. The Richmond restaurant serves up crazy-creative gourmet donuts with all types of toppings and even pizza fillings — and much, much more.
It’s Vietnamese meets American, with options such as pandan waffles and the surprising weekend-only boudin kolaches, bahn mi and frozen mango slushies topped with chamoy.
Churrasco Food Truck
Fans of Brazilian cuisine, rejoice. Railway Heights will also boast the premier permanent location of Churrasco Food Truck. Think plantains and house special pincanha with grilled sirloin and red onions.
Delicacies served at the roaming truck include the likes of chimichurri lamb, pastel de forno, fried jalapenos and more.
Jinya Ramen Bar
If you’re looking for oodles of noodles, set your sights on Railway Heights for the upcoming outpost of Midtown’s wildly popular Jinya Ramen Bar. You can slurp up traditional bowls like spicy umami miso ramen, tonkatsu spicy ramen and more.
Or if you’re feeling that’s a little too filling, you can go for crispy chick peas, Jinya steamed buns or pork gyoza.
The Waffle Bus
This breakfast-for-days food truck is taking on the brick-and-mortar life with its first-ever restaurant at the intersection of 19th and North Shepherd this year. Owner Phi Nguyen will offer up his beloved butter-milk brined chicken waffle sandwiches with thunder sauce, signature, trademarked waffle “fryders” and Italian cream crème brûlée waffles.
It’ll be open all day, every day with an amped-up menu featuring chicken-fried BLTs and a smoked salmon waffle with lemon caper dill cream cheese.
The Pink Elephant
Love Buzz has got the blueprint for a buzzy new bar. The pizza and beer joint plans to open up The Pink Elephant Room at 4218 Washington Avenue in the next few weeks as Eater first reported. The colorfully named casual spot will set up in the 1930s art deco structure previously home to Mary Jane’s.
Pink elephant is a term for drunken hallucinations, and owner Samuel English may well encourage them with signature cocktails from the 1950s A Guide to Pink Elephants recipe book. You can also expect bottled beers, beers on draft and several wines.
On the subject of boozy, a tequila-heavy new patio bar is on the way. Restaurant rumors have Tikila’s opening this spring at 2708 North Shepherd Drive, which was previously Buffalo Fred’s Ice House and Bar.
Get ready for a trip to the tropics with fruity, rum-heavy cocktails. Tikila’s joins the tiki bar ranks of Kanaloa, High & Dry and even The Heights’ own Lei Low, not all that far away.