The Hit List: New Houston Restaurants to Visit in November 2019
The holiday season is here and with it new places to wine and dine for Houstonians. Whether you are in the mood for a plethora of choices at a new food hall in Rice Village or sampling dim sum in midtown here’s our list of what’s worth hitting at least once this month.
Sixty Vines, 2540 University Boulevard: A Dallas-based, wine-focused restaurant has opened in Rice Village. With a Napa Valley-influenced menu, Sixty Vines offers a lot of variety and a lot of space with over 8,000 square feet for general seating space, group dining, private dining an a private wine cellar inspired room. On the dinner menu are pizzas like the Fig and Prosciutto with white sauce, arugula, mozzarella, local honey and sesame seeds and mains such as the C.A.B. Burger with cabernet-soaked beef, raclette cheese, caramelized onions, Worcestershire mayo, and tomato deliver. All the dishes are intended to pair well with a selection of over 60 wines by the glass and over 40 wines on tap. The brunch menu includes the honey-smoked Salmon & Bagel Board with scallion cream cheese, chopped egg, capers onions and tomatoes and the Orange Morning Bread with brown butter, citrus icing, candied walnuts and coffee crumble. For more details on what Sixty Vines has to offer, check out Phaedra Cook’s full article.
Annie Cafe & Bar, 1800 Post Oak: James Beard-award winning chef Robert Del Grande has teamed with Benjamin Berg of Berg Hospitality Group (B.B. Butcher, B.B. Lemon and B.B. Italia) and Sam Governale of Emmaline to retool the former RDG + Bar Annie into The Annie Café & Bar. Offering Houstonians what Berg refers to as a brighter and more comfortable space, the redesigned restaurant features new private dining areas, a larger bar and an updated patio.
The menu includes new starters such as Rabbit Pot Pie and Ahi tuna crudo with queso fresco, avocado and grapefruit, and entrées that include Lumache Pasta with broccoli rabe, tomato fennel and shrimp sausage as well as Scottish salmon with black lentil stew and Fresno chile romesco. For those who want to share, the Dinner Bell Chicken, served with sweet potato, cornbread dressing and green bean salad, is one of three dinner-for-two options. Burger lovers will want to check out the 30 Count Burger early, as the name means that only 30 of these wagyu burgers are made each night for dinner. But don’t fret: there are three other burgers at lunch. On the cocktail menu, the Almost Famous with El Silencio mezcal, yellow Chartreuse, Aperol, and lime and the Post Oak Boulevardier with Bulleit bourbon, hibiscus infused Campari and Cocchi Torino vermouth are definitely worth a sip.
Candente, 4306 Yoakum: From Sambrooks Management Company, the team behind The Pit Room and 1751 Sea and Bar, comes Candente, located in Cane Rosso’s former Montrose location. Combining Sambrook’s background in barbecue with Tex-Mex, the menu sizzles with offerings such as Prime Niman Ranch Ribeye Fajitas and pork carnitas, all served with the usual fixings and your choice of housemade flour or corn tortillas. Those with even heartier appetites will find satisfaction in one of the seven grilled combinations, ranging from the smaller-sized Laredo (half a rack of ribs and carnitas) to Feast #4, a big, sharable combination of fajitas, carnitas, quail, a jalapeño cheddar link, jumbo chili lime shrimps, shrimp brochettes, a half rack of ribs and chile relleno. You can also order traditional dinner items like enchiladas, tamales, tacos and burritos as well as classic seafood selections such as ceviche and redfish on the half-shell. To help wash down these meaty dishes, diners can choose from a selection of margaritas (frozen or on the rocks), classic cocktails, and refreshing agua frescas. Alison Cook, the Houston Chronicle restaurant critic, has already reviewed it, and you can read her thoughts online.
Eugene’s Gulf Coast Cuisine, 1985 Welch Street: From the team behind Danton’s Gulf Coast Kitchen comes Eugene’s Gulf Coast Cuisine, located in the space on Welch formerly occupied by Mockingbird Bistro. While the menu leaves room for new additions, Danton’s lovers will find all their familiar favorites such as roasted Gulf oysters, stuffed redfish, roasted debris sandwich and the seafood gumbo. Eugene’s Gulf Coast Cuisine is open for dinner Mondays through Saturdays with an Oyster Bar Happy Hour each day from 4:00 to 7:00 pm.
Politan Row, 2445 Times Boulevard: The food hall scene in Houston has been busy this year, but finally one opened somewhere other than downtown. Politan Row, Houston’s newest food hall is now open in Rice Village. It’s from Politan Group, which launched similar concepts in New Orleans, Miami, and Chicago. Politan Row is home to eight concepts (plus Bar Politan) created by independent Houston owners:
- Ate Kitchen by Keisha Griggs
- Breaking Bao by Phillip Kim
- Conchinita & Co by Victoria Elizondo
- Kin by Evelyn Garcia
- Nice Sprout by Amanda Alman & Niaz Sanchez
- Pacha by Masara Fukuda
- Susu Kopi and Boba by Nicken and Ecky Prabanto
- Torshi by Rafik Abohattab
While there is no shortage of food or drink options at Politan Row, including Politan Bar, be sure to sample some of the offerings from Ate Kitchen, the signature bao sliders from Phillip Kim and curries like the Kare Kare from chef Evelyn Garcia, a savory concoction of with oxtail, green beans, sweet potatoes and toasted coconuts.
One Dim Sum, 510 Gray: Fresh out of its soft opening phase, dim sum finally comes to midtown Houston courtesy of One Dim Sum. The menu serves classics such as xiao long bao alongside special seasonal items like pumpkin puffs with roasted duck and siu mai. Highlights on the menu include shrimp sui mai, sautéed pea shoots, Salted Egg Yolk Sesame Balls and Crispy Prawn Cheung Fun. Those looking for a full-service meal might instead check out the Peking duck. One Dim Sum also offers a selection of white and red wines by the glass or bottle and local craft beers.
One Fifth Gulf Coast, 1658 Westheimer: With only one iteration left in the five-year rotating restaurant concept plan, Chris Shepherd and his team opened One Fifth Gulf Coast in August. Chef de cuisine Matt Staph’s family has a house in Rockport, and culinary director Nick Fine and pastry director Victoria Dearmond both grew up on the coast, so the team has the background to show off the diversity of the region. Shellfish aficionados can dine on standouts such as roasted oysters with Mama Shepherd’s smoked oyster dressing, blue crab fingers in caramelized fish sauce and New Orleans-style barbecue shrimp with poblanos and corn.
From the Small Stuff section, the Steen’s Sugar Cane-Glazed Pork Belly, which Shepherd made famous at long-closed Catalan, and the Fried Shaved Catfish with Prewitt’s pickled greens are solid choices. Those looking for heartier fare can indulge in entrées such as Smoked pork, Chicken and Shrimp Jambalaya for two and the Gulf catch of the day. Wine director Matthew Pridgen curated a wine list that focuses on white and lighter reds and the cocktail menu by Underbelly Hospitality beverage director Westin Galleymore showcases playful drinks such as the Bend and Snap with tamarind-infused Wheatley vodka, Cappelletti Aperitivo, lemon and orange.
Rosalie Italian Soul, 400 Dallas: West Coast-based chef Chris Cosentino’s homage to his great-grandmother Nonna Rosalie is now open inside the C. Baldwin Hotel at Allen Center, formerly a DoubleTree. For Cosentino, winner of season four of Bravo’s Top Chef Masters, and business partner Oliver Wharton, Rosalie is their first entry into Houston’s food scene. Drawing inspiration from traditional Italian dishes, the menu puts a Texan slant on old school favorites such as adding jalapeños to a spicy red version of Shells & Clams and wild boar to the rigatoni. While baked pastas are focal point, there are hearty, meaty selections such as the Big Stuff offerings of the 32-ounce bistecca alla Fiorentina and the three-and-a-half-pound chicken Milanese and daily specials including Chicken Cacciatore Wednesdays and Lasagna Fridays. The wine list is equally impressive, offering upwards of 75 different wines from Italy, Argentina, Spain and California broken out into categories based on price: $120 & Under, $80 & Under, $60 & Under and $45 & Under per bottle, with over 20 wines (red, white and sparkling) offered by the glass. Rosalie’s cocktail selection includes The Dalai Mama with vodka, St. Germain, lemon juice, flower syrup and peach bitters and the Eleanor Rootevelt with pisco, beet syrup, lime and lemon juice with egg whites. Since it is a hotel restaurant (although far more interesting and well-executed than the norm), Rosalie also serves a breakfast menu and a Good2Go selection of quick bites such as donuts from local coffee shop MorningStar and pizza swirls. Lunch was recently added and you can see that menu online. Ideal for working professionals in the area, Rosalie offers a “three courses in 20 minutes” $20 menu: soup or salad, pasta of the day or meatball dip and cannoli to go.
Rosie Cannonball and Montrose Cheese & Wine, 1620 and 1618 Westheimer: Over the past few weeks, Goodnight Hospitality, the company that also operates honky tonk Goodnight Charlie’s, has taken over the corner of Westheimer and Kuester. Goodnight partners David Keck, Felipe Riccio, Peter McCarthy, and June Rodil have opened both a shop, Montrose Cheese & Wine, and a restaurant, Rosie Cannonball. Rosie’s menu features ingredients that are locally sourced from Goodnight Hospitality’s farm in Bellville and dishes influenced by both Europe and the Napa Valley. Standouts on the menu include well-executed, vegetable-focused dishes such as charred brassica, roasted eggplant and grilled mushrooms. Also excellent are the pizzas and housemade pastas. Master sommeliers David Keck and June Rodil have curated an exceptional list of Italian, Spanish and French wines as well as house cocktails such the Safe Harbor Sour made with rye, charred grapefruit and lime. To learn more about Rosie Cannonball, read about our first visit. Make sure to secure reservations before heading out on Friday or Saturday nights as the place gets packed.
Next door, Montrose Cheese & Wine is a quaint space that evokes European culture with white oak shelves and marble accented with custom-metal designs. There is a constantly rotating menu of cheeses, pastries, assorted meats, marinated olives and a sandwich of the day. In addition, it features 10 wines by the glass in both three- and six-ounce pours.
The Toasted Coconut, 1617 Richmond: The tiki-themed concept from Nobies duo Martin and Sara Stayer and beverage director Sarah Troxell hits the sweet spot for those looking for a unique “barstaurant” experience. While some might expect Toasted Coconut to be solely a bar, it is also a full-service restaurant with both shareable plates and full-sized entrées to dine on while sipping tropically inspired concoctions. Chef de cuisine Ben Ruiz offers dishes such as Eggplant in Vadouvan Curry and marinated cucumber salad, which deliver on both taste and presentation — especially the spicy, crispy eggplant. Those in the mood for full-on dinner fare can enjoy Whole Fish with Mala Sauce (which can easily feed two) and the Baja-Style Mussels with guajillo and cilantro.
On the cocktail side, Troxell created brand-new drinks, such as the exquisitely boozy Sherry Sells Seashells By The Seashore with reposado tequila, manzanilla sherry, apricot and bitters, and The Seaward with Rhum J.M. blanc, coconut water, lime, mint and falernum.
Toukei, 9630 Clarewood: Two years in the making, Toukei Izakaya opened this month, continuing local restaurateur Mike Tran’s takeover of a Clarewood strip center in Chinatown (which is also home to Tran’s Mein Restaurant, Ishin Udon, Ohn Korean Eatery, Night Market and Blkdog Coffee). The new space features a bar focused on Japanese whiskey and a dining room full of booths arranged so guests can dine with a view of the kitchen and wood burning grill. While the full menu isn’t available online yet, offerings include a range of cold and hot otsumami, shareable snacks, from cold salted chicken and soy duck breast (seared duck breast, onion, garlic, soy, shanso pepper and mustard) to the hot fried chicken skin with salt and lemon and spam katsu made with spam cutlets, mustard and ketchup. Those in the mood for yakitori can choose from a selection of single serving skewers such as garlic wings, cheese meatballs (chicken, cheddar and tare), whole prawns, baby octopus as well as beef, pork and veggie selections. If you’re interested in dinner-sized options, there is whole squid, cod, yellowtail and lamb chops.
Japanese whiskey is the bar’s star attraction and is the only place in Houston with a Suntory Toki Highball machine, dispensing a perfectly calibrated and chilled Japanese Highball. Toukei’s bar is also home to over 25 Japanese whiskies, ranging from $8 a pour of Suntory Toki to $30 for a Yamazaki Single Malt.
Coming soon: We can’t believe there is only one Hit List left of 2019! What are you most looking forward to for the last month of the year?
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.