First Bite: New Houston Restaurant Calle Onze Opens In The Heights
These days, the Heights is one of Houston’s hottest spots for restaurateurs. Maison Pucha Bistro, Postino Wine Cafe, BCK Kitchen & Cocktail Adventures are all recent additions and Ford Fry’s Superica is soon to follow. Yet another newcomer is Calle Onze at 222 West 11th from the team behind Edison & Patton. It opened earlier this month, bringing a relaxed but elevated combination of Tex-Mex and Mexican cuisine to the neighborhood.
It’s an earthy indoor space with an open kitchen, concrete tables, chairs of wood and iron, cacti accents and a bar area with marble and granite features. The expansive patio space delivers an equally inviting atmosphere, with lounge-style seating and tables lining both the 11th Street and Ashland sides of the building. While there are more cooling strategies in the works, fans are spaced out along the exterior of the building to help patio diners stave off the Houston heat.
Co-owner Christopher Manriquez and team spent months visiting some of their favorite bars, like Mace Cocktail Bar and Dante in New York, to get inspiration for making Calle Onze unique yet still approachable. They tapped executive chef Oliver Loeza to lead the kitchen along with Edison & Patton alumni Greg Perez and Cameron Ingles to oversee the bar program.
Loeza’s take on the menu blends his Mexican roots with French cooking techniques. Classics like fajitas still grace the menu but they also sit alongside less traditional, stand-out starters like the Ostiones Asados, or wood-grilled oysters served over still smoldering embers with chimichurri, lime and chile oil.
Another innovative plate is the Roasted Corn Saffron and Serrano Risotto with oyster mushrooms and jalapeño crema. Other notable menu items include the Elote Callejero, or wood-roasted corn served on the cob with crema, queso fresco, chiles and lime; and the tacos al pastor made with compressed pineapples that really accent the savory pork. All in all, the kitchen at Calle Onze is putting out some very good food, especially given it’s still the soft opening phase. (It’s already packed with eager diners, so bear with them as they iron out some service kinks.)
To accompany Loeza’s menu, Perez and Ingles have put together an impressive cocktail list, with over 30 libations divided into five groups: Las Bebidas (The Drinks), Margarita Session, Originales, House Favorites, and Experimentales.
The Lunayena is one of Perez’s original creations. It’s a frothy concoction of Uruapan Charanda rum, coconut, cantaloupe, heavy cream, mint, basil and nutmeg served in a shell cup. This creamy yet refreshing cocktail offsets some of the spicier dishes on the menu.
Under the Experimentales, the Ingles daiquiri, served “up,” is a potent but not overwhelming blend of Puerto Angel blanco rum, clarified lime and sugar that’s not too sweet or boozy on the palate. Ingles has also been experimenting with cocktails like Beets By Cam made with Tequila Cabeza, Wahaka Espadin, beet syrup, carrot and orange foam topped off with a beet tuille crisp.
In the Margarita Session part of the drink list, two standouts are the strawberry margarita, served up and accented with rhubarb, fennel and lime as well as the honeydew, served over ice blended with dill, tarragon, cucumber and limes. All the margaritas are served differently at Calle Onze and the plan is to change the selection every season. In addition to the plethora of crafted cocktails to choose from, Calle Onze also boasts around 400 different types of agave spirits (as well as beer and wine) with plans to add more.
Calle Onze is off to a good start. Considering that the owners have already purchased the land for two more currently undisclosed locations, Houstonians can expect a lot more from this “humble group of simple people just trying to the put out the best product they can.”
Calle Onze is located at 222 West 11th and currently open for dinner Sundays through Thursdays from 4 p.m. to midnight and on weekends till 2 a.m. There are plans to also offer lunch and brunch in the coming weeks.
About the author: Beth Levine writes about food, drinks, lifestyle and travel for local and national publications including My Red Glasses, Houstonia, Local Houston Magazine, Charlotte’s Book and Houston Food Finder. An executive assistant by day and freelance writer by night, Beth is originally from both New Jersey and California, but currently calls Houston home.