The Hit List: New Houston Restaurants to Visit in February 2020
Though February may remind us that love is in the air, new additions to Houston’s food scene remind us that wine is on the table, as well as cocktails and interesting dishes to try. For a treat this month, check out some of the city’s newest food and beverage establishments.
Adair Kitchen Downtown, 1000 Louisiana: The team behind Eloise Nichols Grill & Liquors, Bebidas, Skeeters and Los Tios has opened their second location of Adair Kitchen. This impressive, 4,628-square-foot, indoor-and-outdoor space is situated in the downtown tunnel system underneath the Wells Fargo Plaza office building. The bistro-style restaurant offers favorites from existing Adair establishments, such as Joe’s Hot Chicken, alongside brand-new menu items, prepackaged hot and cold foods and gourmet gifts. Chef Roberto Ozaeta, a longtime employee of Adair Concepts, leads the kitchen team. As reported in our full article on the opening, the menu also includes a variety of all-in-one bowls such as the Super Foods Bowl, Kale + Quinoa Bowl and Tuna Poke Bowl.” Cocktail enthusiasts can enjoy sipping refreshing craft cocktails like the Vieux Carré Fashioned made with bourbon, rye, cognac, vermouth, Benedictine and bitters, while sampling bar bites such as Beef Tenderloin Crostini.
Alma, 3974 Westheimer: Chef David Guerrero recently had to close his east-of-downtown restaurant, Andes Cafe, just over a month ago. In better news, he’s already back on the scene. His latest venture, Alma, recently opened in Highland Village at 3974 Westheimer in the former Drexel House space. With his new restaurant, he hopes to bring authentic South American flavor to the neighborhood with small and large shareable dishes, including Guerrero’s signature fresh fish creations. The menu includes raw and cooked dishes that reflect a range of tastes and textures. The must-haves are the Ceviche de Pescado, an ample, well-executed dish showcasing cured grouper with leche de tigre, crispy Peruvian corn, onions and a dollop of sweet potato mousse; Cachapas de Cochinito, or pork belly with nata and queso de mano served over sweet potato corn pancakes, and lobster Anticucho de langosta with yucca bread and a poached egg drizzled with a yellow hollandaise teriyaki sauce.
Chris Morris (formerly of Hunky Dory and MAD) and Rob Lares (of FM Kitchen and Bar) head up the drink program. The cocktail list includes Alma’s signature Pisco Sour, a meticulous blend of Acholado and Italia piscos, gomme syrup, lime and lemon with egg white adorned by Amargo Chuncho (Peruvian bitters designed specifically for sours), and the La Yapa Old Fashioned in which Maker’s Mark whisky meets Singani 63 (a brandy from Bolivia) with roasted carob syrup and coffee-ginger bitters for a unique spin on the classic cocktail.
Bamboo House, 5901 Westheimer: Thanks to Bamboo House’s new Galleria-area location, Peking duck aficionados no longer have to venture all the way to Humble for some of the best in town. Bamboo House’s signature dish is served dry-roasted in a specially imported duck oven, carved, and then served on a bamboo tray with housemade pancakes, hoisin sauce, plum sauce, brown sugar, scallions, cucumber and duck soup. The new location’s expanded menu includes larger dishes such as the whole Thai-Style Curry Crab (a whole Dungeness crab) and Sizzling Sautéed Diced Beef. There is also a selection of dumplings that includes soup dumplings filled with crab or pork; Drunken Dumplings stuffed with pork, chicken or crab and pan–fried buns with pork or chicken. While a liquor license is still pending as of press time, there are plans to offer beer, wine and cocktails in the coming months.
Buffalo Bayou Brewing Company, 2101 Summer Street: Buffalo Bayou Brewing Company’s new brewery, taproom and restaurant opened its doors in November. The impressive, three-level facility on Summer Street offers an indoor-outdoor taproom on the first level, a second-level restaurant run by former Beaver’s chef Arash Kharat and a rooftop beer garden complete with televisions, picnic tables, fire pits and stunning views of the downtown skyline. Currently on Kharat’s menu of innovative pub fare are dishes such as veggie pakoras — kale, cauliflower, onions, jalapenos, garlic, pickles and potatoes breaded in a chickpea batter and fried — the BBQ Chicken Sammie with smoked and shredded chicken, cole slaw, pickles and crispy fried onions smothered with Figaro BBQ sauce; and Smoke On The Bayou Pizza with slow-smoked 44 Farms short ribs, red onions, pickled jalapeños and smoked gouda. For more, check out David Leftwich’s full article.
Eighteen36 Bar, 2221 West Alabama: This past weekend, Eighteen36 Bar opened its doors in the former Owl Bar space on West Alabama. During the soft opening phase, which runs throughout the month of February, the bar is offering a limited selection of housemade cocktails such as The Mr., a spicy twist on a Paloma made with Cazadores Blanco, Ancho Reyes, lime, grapefruit, nopalitos and jalapeno honey, and Black Gold made with Buffalo Trace, fresh lemon, activated charcoal and honey. In addition to select cocktails, there is also a selection of local craft beers like the 7-Iron Session from 11 Below Brewing and, of course, 1836 from Buffalo Bayou. The wine list offers a small-by-the glass selection that includes Sonoma Bench Chardonnay and the Zio Baffa Pinot Noir. Eighteen36 is currently serving Roadster Grill’s menu, with tasty bar bites such as Greek Potatoes and hummus with pita bread.
Eugene’s Gulf Coast Cuisine, 1985 Welch: From the team behind the now-closed Danton’s Gulf Coast Kitchen comes Eugene’s Gulf Coast Cuisine, located in the space formerly occupied by Mockingbird Bistro. While the menu leaves room for new additions, Danton’s lovers will find all the familiar favorites such as roasted Gulf oysters, stuffed redfish, Debris Sandwich and seafood gumbo. Eugene’s Gulf Coast Cuisine is open Monday through Saturday. Lunch is from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and dinner from 5 to 10 p.m., with an Oyster Bar Happy Hour from 4 to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 2 to 7 p.m. on Saturday.
Handies Douzo, 3510 White Oak: From the team behind Bravery Chef Hall’s Kokoro — chefs Patrick Pham, Daniel Lee and Secret Taste’s Andrew Lin — comes Handies Douzo in the Heights. The seasonal menu focuses on chef-created hand rolls, sashimi and crudos. The hand rolls can be ordered à la carte or in sets of three, four or five. Current choices include Ōra King salmon, hamachi and negitoro. The sashimi comes three pieces per order; options include a selection of bluefin tuna cuts (akami, chūtoro and ōtoro), hamachi, Ōra King salmon and sake (salmon) toro. Current crudos include bluefin tuna with pickled cucumber and ponzu and Ōra King salmon with ikura (salmon roe) and chili garlic. While Handies Douzo currently only serves non-alcoholic beverages, guests can sip on Topo Chico, Mexican Coke, Sprite or a refreshing melon soda.
Momo House, 6121 Hillcroft: This new Nepalese spot located just south of 59 has been garnering a lot of attention lately. It’s deserved. Houston Food Finder named it one of the best new restaurants of 2019. It offers diners traditional dishes such as piro aloo: potatoes that have been boiled then sautéed in Nepali spices, butter, onions and tomatoes until the outside is perfectly crisped and poignantly spicy. However, Momo House’s menu centers around variations of vegetable and chicken momos, which are Nepalese dumplings made with wheat flour wrappers that can be served steamed or fried. Those looking for more complex dishes won’t be disappointed with the chicken chili momo, or chicken dumplings fried and coated with a spicy tomato sauce until the outside is a “cathartic layer of piquant crispiness.” Also, don’t overlook goat-centric mains such as sekuwa and bhutan.
Mutiny Wine Room, 1124 Usener: The new wine venture from the husband and wife team of Mark Ellenberger and Emily Trout (producers of Kagan Cellars‘ wines), Mutiny Wine Room, hopes to bring Sonoma and Napa delights to The Heights. The space offers two distinctly different experiences: a tasting room for flights and a full sit-down restaurant known as the “farmhouse.” The menu from Ari Weiswasser draws inspiration from his stint at the French Laundry. Daily meat and cheese selections come with housemade roasted nuts, seasonal fresh and dried fruits, house-baked bread and marmalade. Mutiny also offers a selection of “Quick Bites” such as Heirloom Popcorn and Gulf Snapper Ceviche served with purple sweet potato chips, and larger sized “Rations” like the Steamed PEI Mussels with saffron-pernod emulsion and housemade focaccia and the Buttermilk-Fried Texas Quail served with sweet onion fondue. The impressive wine list offers over 40 wines by the glass, which, thanks to a Coravin wine system in the tasting room, can be poured while keeping the bottle intact.
Sticky’s Chicken, 2313 Edwards: The heralded Sticky’s Chicken food truck from siblings Patsy and Benson Vivares opened in its first brick-and-mortar location. In addition to popular dishes such as chicken over rice made with proprietary “Sticky” sauce, chef Michael Pham (previously of California’s Shomi Noods and Hottie’s Nashville Hot Chicken) is developing an expanded menu for the official full-scale launch this month. As of press time, the finalized menu, which includes wine and beer from nearby Buffalo Brewing Co., was not yet available.
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. You can follow her on IG @Yogaspots.