The Hit List: New Houston Restaurants to Visit in March 2024

An array of dishes at Duchess in Uptown Park

The last few months have been a blur. With the hustle and bustle of the holidays and the first two months of 2024 moving at lightning speed, it can be hard to keep up with the ever-dynamic Houston restaurant scene. The end of 2023 and the first quarter of this year have brought some long-awaited debuts. We’ve rounded up several new restaurants that are worthy of a first visit this month.

Baso, 633 West 19th: Chefs Jacques Varon and Max Lappe met while working at Angler in Los Angeles, and between the two of them have years of impressive experience in the high-end dining scene. Their time at Angler, a live-fire seafood restaurant, plays a pivotal role in Baso’s Spanish (particularly Basque) inspired menu, where almost all dishes have some element of live fire in the preparations. The concise menu changes daily, but features caviar service and seafood options such as scallops and Bluefin tuna, and non-seafood options such as venison with sunflower and smoked yolk cream, and beef ribeye with burnt onion jus. For dessert, it’s only appropriate that tarta de queso (Basque-style cheesecake) is featured on the menu. The contemporary space is understated and sleek, which keeps the focus on the innovative fare. Baso is open Wednesday through Saturday from 5 to 10 p.m. and on Sunday from 4 to 9 p.m.

Main dining room of Cocody
Crystal lights hang over the main dining room of Cocody in River Oaks. Courtesy Photo.

Cocody, 1971 West Gray: This opulent River Oaks French fine dining restaurant by husband-and-wife team Edwin and Edith Bosso opened its doors at the beginning of December. Chefs Lionel Debon and David Denis, formerly of Le Mistral, lead the kitchen, wowing diners with dishes such as the Table-Smoked East Coast Seared Scallops with a silky English pea purée and robust Spanish Fermín chorizo broth, and Atlantic Cod Filet with blue flower leek ravioli topped with jumbo lump crab and drizzled with beurre blanc emulsion. The flavors are complex yet balanced, and every dish that hits the table is a feast for the eyes. Matching the stunning food presentation is the extravagant ambiance that includes plush banquettes, playful art deco pieces and hundreds of crystal lights hanging above the dining room. Cocody is open daily for lunch with dinner service on Tuesday and Wednesday from 6 to 10 p.m. and Thursday through Saturday from 6 to 11 p.m. Sunday brunch is from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Conservatory Galleria, 5353 West Alabama: Native Houstonians won’t be able to help the feelings of nostalgia as they step into the new food hall that was once The Roxy, the long-standing, Galleria-area nightclub that shuttered in 2014. The three-level, 12,000-square-foot space opened in February and is now home to over 10 restaurant options, including Bird Haus hot chicken, Rollin Phatties Pakistani food, Wokker Tex-Asian fare and Seoulside Wings, which specializes in Korean fried chicken and rice bowls. The hall also features two bars serving beer, wine and craft cocktails. The upstairs bar, dubbed The Roxy Room, pays homage to its predecessor. It is open daily from 11 to 1 a.m.

Interior of Duchess
Dining room of Duchess in Uptown Park. Photo by Jenn Duncan.

Duchess, 1131 Uptown Park: This new, contemporary restaurant in Uptown Park opened in mid-February. It takes over the space that was once home to cocktail bar Belvedere. The fare is described as inspired by the coastal cultures of the Mediterranean, Asia and South America. The inventive menu comes from the mind of chef Omar Pereney of Love Croissants in collaboration with owners Peggy and Daniel Chang who also own neighboring restaurant Uptown Sushi and Roveen Abante — a Houston nightlife veteran and partner of the aforementioned Conservatory Galleria.

The main attractions of the menu are an array of dishes cooked over a wood-fired grill. One such dish is the Roasted Seafood Platter, which features Oysters Rockefeller, sautéed mussels, wood-grilled lobster tail, octopus and tiger prawns. An entire section of the menu is dedicated to wood-fired skewers, with options including Atlantic salmon with a honey garlic and lemongrass glaze, lobster tail with beurre blanc and caviar, and ribeye served with cucumber yogurt. Other main dishes include bucatini with mussels, pan-seared snapper and steak frites.

The interior jewel tones of blue and green is elegant, yet understated and refrains from being over the top. The industry veterans know their way around cocktails, and the menu features several handcrafted ones such as the aptly named Uptown, Duchess’ version of a Manhattan made with Redemption Rye, China China Liqueur (a blend of sweet and bitter orange peels) and bitters blend. Duchess is open for lunch and dinner Sunday through Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Wednesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Fajitas al Carbon
A platter of fajita al carbon at HiWay Cantina in Eado. Photo by Mikah Danae.

HiWay Cantina, 1201 St. Emanuel: Agricole Hospitality shuttered its Gulf Coast-inspired restaurant Indianola in July of 2023, because owners Vincent Huynh, Ryan Pera and Morgan Weber decided that the concept didn’t work in the East Downtown neighborhood. In late December, the group reopened the space as a casual, modern, Tex-Mex restaurant that blends well with the vibrant area. The all-day food menu highlights staples such as chicharrónes, chile con queso, Mesquite Grilled Fajita al Carbon, Green Chile Chicken Taquitos and Chipotle Glazed Shrimp Brochette. The bar menu utilizes spirits like mezcal, sotol and rum. After the meal, head next door to sister bar, Lightnins’ Good Times, which was once Miss Carousel. HiWay Cantina is open Sunday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Friday and Saturday until 10 p.m.

Dishes at Lombardi
An array of dishes at Lombardi Cucina Italiana in Uptown Park. Courtesy Photo.

Lombardi Cucina Italiana, 1101 Uptown Park: Taking over the spacious corner spot once occupied by The Tasting Room in Uptown Park, Lombardi is a new seen-and-be-seen locale. Houston is the second location of the Italian restaurant; the other is in Dallas. Restaurateur Alberto Lombardi is no stranger to lively dining destinations, as he is also behind Toulouse Café and Bar in the River Oaks District. Italian-born chef Stefano Ferrero leads the kitchen, and the menu has inspirations from all regions of Italy.

Appetizers include Fried Artichokes and Zucchini Chips with whipped ricotta and mascarpone dip, Wagyu meatballs in tomato sauce and Marinated Octopus and Potatoes. Handmade pasta options include half-moon-shaped squid ink ravioli and Tagliolini and Tartufo Pasta with butter sauce and fresh truffle, served tableside in a Grana Padano wheel. Entrées include Cioppino Mediteranno, the classic tomato-based seafood stew, and sea-salt-crusted branzino. End the night with dessert or, better yet, drinks at Segreto, the restaurant’s speakeasy bar that keeps things going until 2 a.m. Lombardi is open Monday to Thursday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m and extended hours on the weekend. 

Madai ceviche
Madai ceviche at MF Lobster & Ceviche at Autry Park. Photo by Minh Truong.

MF Lobster & Ceviche, 3711 Autry Park: Autry Park, the mixed-use “urban village” on the edge of Buffalo Bayou Park, is the latest culinary hotspot. Annabelle Brasserie and Auden opened late last year, and the latest venture from Chris Kinjo of MF Sushi, in partnership with long-time partner chef Miguel Alvarez, joined Autry Park in February. Kinjo was inspired to open MF Lobster & Ceviche by his travels to New England, and the menu puts a spotlight on lobster with dishes such as Lobster Tacos, Lobster Grilled Cheese and Brown Butter Lobster Bao. Those who want lobster in its purest form can order whole lobster steamed or grilled.  Also featured on the menu are cold options of sashimi, crudo or ceviche preparations of tuna, madai, salmon and hamachi. Kinjo uses the same Japan-based purveyors as he does for MF Sushi ensuring quality is up to the same standards. Highlights from the cocktail menu are the Japanese-inspired libations, including the Glass Noodle made with coconut liqueur, pineapple, cucumber and sesame oil.

MF Lobster & Ceviche aims to be the more casual sister to MF Sushi, but it is still a stunner as Houston’s only completely round restaurant. The focal points are the 15-foot steel tree-like centerpiece that mimics the surroundings of the park and the sleek onyx bar with small window into the kitchen where you can get a behind-the-scenes look of Kinjo and team. MF Lobster & Ceviche is open for lunch Monday through Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and for dinner Sunday through Thursday 5 to 10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 5:30 to 11 p.m. No reservations are taken but diners can join the waitlist on OpenTable

forthcoming 99 Ranch Market at the new West on West Center
The new West on West Center. Courtesy of NewQuest Properties.

Tsujita Artisan Noodle, 12230 Westheimer: Tsujita Artisan Noodle opened its doors just this past week in the new West on West shopping center in the Westchase District, The popular ramen restaurant originated in Tokyo, Japan in 2003 and has since expanded to multiple locations in the U.S. This location marks its first in Texas. Tsujita is known for its 15-hour simmered broth and the signature tsukemen noodle options where the “dipping noodles” are served separately from the thick, flavorful broth. Other dishes on the menu include a variety of baos and appetizers such as fried gyoza. It is open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m to 10 p.m. and on Sunday from noon to 9 p.m.

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