Healthy Houston Restaurant Expands with New Location and Chef-Crafted Specials

Leaf & Grain spread. Photo by Kirsten Gilliam.

After six years in operation, Leaf & Grain, the popular, locally-owned and -operated restaurant concept known for its creative salads and grain bowls, is soon adding a fourth location. In addition, its debuting of a sandwich menu in addition to a seasonal menu that includes collaborations with lauded Houston chefs. 

The first location of Leaf & Grain opened in 2017 on the fourth floor of a 1970s downtown mall. Just as it hit its stride, the sky bridge that connected its customers closed, followed by the pandemic and restaurant shutdowns. While the original location closed, owners Deets Hoffman, Edward Thompson and Murray Manley persevered.

New menu items from Leaf & Grain. Photo by Mario-Sebastian Berry.
New menu items from Leaf & Grain. Photo by Mario-Sebastian Berry.

Leaf & Grain now has two locations downtown (1200 McKinney and 500 Dallas) and one in West University at 5525 Weslayan. The upcoming fourth location is slated for an early 2024 opening in the former Zoës Kitchen at 5779 San Felipe in the Briargrove-Tanglewood area. The 2,850-square-foot space will have the same aesthetic as the West University location, which was conceptualized by the frequent Houston restaurant designer Gin Design Group, and the same menu as the other locations.

It’s bringing things home for Hoffman, who “grew up playing Post Oak Little League and spent a lot of my childhood in this area, so this is definitely a special one. We cannot wait to serve the Briargrove-Tanglewood community!”

The new sandwich menu utilizes its sourdough bread — made in-house — as well as ciabatta sourced from local bakery Slow Dough Bread Co. Each is loaded with the same premium meats and fresh produce as the signature salads and bowls and comes dressed with scratch-made dressings and sandwich spreads. For now, the sandwich menu is only available at the Weslayan location. 

The Southwest Turkey sandwich at Leaf & Grain Weslayan. Photo by Mario-Sebastian Berry.
The Southwest Turkey sandwich at Leaf & Grain Weslayan. Photo by Mario-Sebastian Berry.

Options include an Avocado Turkey Club with nitrate-free turkey, bacon, lettuce, tomato, avocado and sun-dried tomato and black pepper aioli, the Southwest Turkey with turkey, pepper jack cheese, pickled red onion, corn, lettuce and chipotle ranch, the Farmers Market with roasted chicken breast, goat cheese, honey, apple, arugula and mayonnaise, and other lighter, classic options including Chicken Pesto, Caprese and Chicken Salad.

Hoffman is “particularly excited about [the] sandwich launch because there is a funny history there. I was so obsessed with the idea of having a sandwich restaurant in high school that my friends put ‘’Owner of a chain of sandwich shacks’’ in the ‘’In 20 Years’’ section of our yearbook. So this has been a long time in the making, and we have done a ton of research and product testing. It is not too different from the R&D process we do for our bowls, and it helps that two things people care about for sandwiches—bread quality and great sauces—are two things we already excel at.”

Seasonal Massaman Curry Plate at Leaf & Grain. Photo by Michael Ma.
Seasonal Massaman Curry Plate at Leaf & Grain. Photo by Michael Ma.

Additionally, Leaf & Grain is currently offering three new seasonal menu items that are available through the end of February at all locations. This includes a Massaman Curry Plate with a sauce developed by James Beard Award-winning chef Benchawan “G” Jabthong Painter of Street to Kitchen and th_prsrv, both of which made our list of The Best New Houston Restaurants of 2023. The dish includes a flavorful massaman curry, cage-free chicken breast, roasted red peppers and yellow onions, peanuts, green papaya salad, cilantro and brown rice.

There is also the returning Maize Runner grain bowl with roasted acorn squash, quinoa, kale and arugula, chicken thigh meat, avocado, corn, cilantro, roasted pepitas, cilantro-jalapeño dressing and crunchy totopos (triangular tortilla chips) from local chef, James Beard semifinalist and cookbook author Victoria Elizondo’s Cochinita & co. market.

The seasonal Autumn Harvest Salad is loaded with chicken breast, roasted acorn squash, creamy feta cheese, apples, pomegranate seeds, walnuts, mixed greens and orange-maple vinaigrette.

The Autumn Harvest Salad at Leaf & Grain. Photo by Michael Ma.
The Autumn Harvest Salad at Leaf & Grain. Photo by Michael Ma.

The regular menu also includes numerous grain bowls, soups, salads, smoothies and desserts, as well as plated entrées such as lemon-caper salmon with green beans, roasted sweet potatoes, Norwegian salmon, crispy shallots, arugula, quinoa, brown rice, lemon-caper yogurt sauce and a squeeze of lemon, and a French Country Dinner with lentils du puy, brown rice, roasted carrots, roasted cage-free chicken thigh, arugula and citrus vinaigrette.

It’s all part of the owners’ mission statement of “showing people that food can be tasty and filling and still be good for you.” The recipes at Leaf & Grain incorporate many of the international flavors that make Houston such an outstanding food city in a manner that makes it “easier for people to put the right things in their body, without feeling like they’re having to make a sacrifice” with consistent, fresh ingredients.

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