New EaDo Restaurant Nancy’s Hustle Delivers On The Hype
It’s been a busy season for restaurant openings in Houston, including the highly anticipated Nancy’s Hustle, which opened in EaDo earlier this month in an otherwise non-descript corner over at Nagle and Polk. An ode to both Houston’s moniker as “hustle town” and Fat Nancy’s diner in the original “Mad Max” movie, the space has a minimalistic feel accented by fancier touches of blond wood, shiny concrete floors, reel-to-reel acoustics and a counter bar that evokes the zen of a sushi bar.
Helmed by longtime friends and fellow industry veterans, Sean Jensen (previously of Public Services Wine & Whisky, Canopy, Shade and The Hay Merchant) and chef Jason Vaughan (returning to Houston after a renowned stint in Chicago), the dream team at Nancy’s Hustle includes Kristine Nguyen (of Captain Foxheart’s Bad New Bar) to run the cocktail program and award-winning pastry chef Julia Doran, formerly of now-closed Bernadine’s.
So what’s on the self-described “European American” menu? Divided into 2 main sections, medium and large plates, the food at Nancy’s aims high and delivers higher. From the nine items on the medium plates (all of which come in under $17), dinner highlights sampled during dinner include Gem Lettuce Salad with crispy pancetta, anchovies, herbs and sherry vinaigrette; Broiled Raclette Over Roasted Potatoes with tiny pickles alongside, tiny, handmade Turkish Dumplings with spicy tomato, labneh and lamb jus; and the signature “Nancy Cakes” served with homemade whipped butter and smoked trout roe.
The larger plate section of the menu, all under $28, offers six dishes to choose from ranging from Rabbit Leg Confit with bacon-wrapped rabbit loin to a burger on a brioche english muffin, which is on the late-night menu as well.
After tasting Doran’s homemade pasta used for the Turkish dumplings in our smaller shared plates, we also ordered the Sourdough Tagliatelli. It’s a don’t-miss item on the menu—a richly flavorful pasta dish that manages to somehow be both substantial and ethereal and adorned with burrata, honey, pistachios and crispy brussel sprouts. The brussel sprouts are also served solo as a side dish.
The other sides include potato puree, french fries and sweet potato with maple yogurt and chipotle. Both the medium and large plates were big enough to share and for a table of two, four of the smaller plates and one full size one offered plenty of “hustle” to go around and even some to take home.
To accompany the diverse fare, the beverage program at Nancy’s offers a carefully curated selection by the glass (and bottle) of cider and sherry as well as fortified, sparkling, white, rose, orange and red wines. All are priced very reasonably. In addition, there are five signature cocktails and a full bar should diners want something not on the list. We tried the Sherry Cobbler and a glass of a Carignan and Grenache blend. Beer lovers need not worry either as Nancy’s Hustle serves up 10 beers ranging from staples like Lone Star to fancier brews like Orval Trappist Ale.
The “sweet hustle” dessert menu includes the attention-grabbing rosemary lime tart and parmesan cheesecake and very worth after-dinner coffee only runs $1. There’s no reason to not have some. Even fresh out of the gate, Nancy’s Hustle is a terrific experience, a worthy addition to Houston’s food scene and a valuable late-night dining spot for a neighborhood that really needed it.
We’ll be back—and we bet so will anyone else who visits.
2705 Polk Street
Tuesday through Sunday from 5 p.m. to 12 a.m.
All meal costs for this article were paid for by the writer and/or Houston Food Finder.