Tex-Mex Beer Garden Emerges at Former Nino’s & Vincent’s Complex
The Kirby Group, which owns Wooster’s Garden, Heights Bier Garten, Holman Draft Hall and more, is debuting a Tex-Mex beer garden in the complex that formerly housed Nino’s, Vincent’s and Grappino di Nino. The area, now dubbed Harlow District, will be home to Verde Garden at 1011 La Rue starting on April 25.
Culinary director Teddy Lopez, previously known for his work at Killen’s STQ, has created the menu to go with the margarita-centric drink list. Verde Garden is also hosting a grand opening party complete with a mariachi band in time for Cinco de Mayo. The festivities start on Thursday, May 4 from 7 to 9 p.m. and continue on May 5. Lopez’s opening menu includes appetizer favorites such as chips and queso made with smoked hatch chilies, nachos, guacamole and enchiladas. There’s also an emphasis on ceviche with sea bass, shrimp or scallop and there’s also a vegetarian version made with hearts of palm.
On the hot entrée side, there are enchiladas with plenty of sauce and filling options, including Red Chili Tinga, Green Tomatillo & Poblano Mole, Barranco Mole and Suizas. The menu also includes tortas: ahogada (means “drowned”, in this case with red salsa) filled with pork carnitas and refried beans, Milanesa with meaty choices such as crispy beef or chicken, and the vegetarian hongos (means “mushrooms” — in this case, roasted portabella) with black beans, grilled onion and peppers and provolone. There are also soups, salads, nine different tacos and a handful of desserts, such as churros and tres leches.
Beverage director Joel Ramirez of The Kirby Group created the drink program with an emphasis on made-to-order margaritas as well as 12 specialty selections. The spirits inventory includes over 250 Mexican agave spirits. There’s not only tequila, but also mezcal, raicilla (made from a variety of agave in Jalisco) and sotol (a spirit made from the dasylirion plant which, interestingly, is related to asparagus).
Some of the frozen cocktails made with agave spirits are the Santa Rosa with tequila, gin, raspberry, lemon and olive brine and the Verde Margarita with a choice of blanco tequila or mezcal, and rounded out with lime, agave, dry curacao, mint and parsley. A particularly interesting one is the Elotero, a frozen cocktail with with reposado tequila, lemon, corn, piloncillo and house chili salt. Non-frozen drinks include a Mexican martini and classic paloma.
The catalog of spirits from other parts of the world is even larger. There are 750, and cover bourbon, whiskey, scotch, rum, amaros, gin and liqueurs. Those not in a cocktail mood can choose from the beer and wine selection.
A panoramic mural of Texas citrus trees is a focal point of the sizable 8,900-square-foot space, as is the ceiling mural of birds and trees above a lounge area. The patio is also generously sized at 10,000 square feet, and equipped with both fans and heaters to cope with whatever weather Houston decides to throw at it.
“We are excited to open the first concept in the new Harlow District. We know Houstonians love Tex-Mex and beer gardens so we wanted to open a new concept with that in mind, Verde Garden is a great space to come enjoy made-to-order fresh or frozen margaritas while enjoying a meal or shareables,” said Andy Aweida, cofounder of The Kirby Group.
Verde Garden is open daily from 11 to 2 a.m.
Phaedra Cook has written about Houston’s restaurant and bar scene since 2010. She was a regular contributor to My Table magazine (now closed) and was the lead restaurant critic for the Houston Press for two years, eventually being promoted to food editor. Cook founded Houston Food Finder in November 2016 and has been its editor and publisher ever since.