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Downtown mojo rising

The foodie takeover of Market Square Park continues with new tapas restaurant in historic spot

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Batanga, restaurant, empty lot
Batanga will open April 1 at the corner of Travis and Congress next to Market Square Park. Photo by Tyler Rudick
Batanga Houston, grilled octupus, potato, pimenton, sofrito vinaigrette
Grilled octupus with potato, pimenton and sofrito vinaigrette Batanga Houston/Facebook
Batanga, restaurant, empty lot
Batanga Houston, grilled octupus, potato, pimenton, sofrito vinaigrette

Downtown's food and beverage revolution continues to evolve with news tapas restaurant Batanga setting an April 1 official opening date.

Taking over the space next to OKRA Charity Saloon — right next to that deconstructed clock tower at the corner Congress and Travis — Batanga joins an onslaught of new cafes and bars taking advantage of the historic architecture in the blocks surrounding Market Square Park

"It's great to see so many new places opening up in these cool old buildin gs. We think we've hit the front edge of this new wave of revitalization downtown."

"It's great to see so many new places opening up in these cool old buildings," says Brian Fasthoff, who's launching the new Latin American-inspired restaurant with his wife and sales director Ianna Fasthoff, his Houston lawyer brother Hank Fasthoff and Hank's wife, area food blogger Maya Fasthoff.

As a seasoned restaurateur with two popular Atlanta bistros to his name, Brian Fasthoff relocated to Houston in Sept. 2011 to tap into the city's well-known appetite for dining out.

"We think we've hit the front edge of this new wave of revitalization downtown," he says. "Market Square has done such an amazing job with its programming. People will be able to come downtown, have some drinks and dinner, and then hear some music or see a movie at the park."

As far as remodeling goes, Brian Fasthoff says he and his team are putting the finishing touches on a polished interior space that will include a small stage for nightly live music. Stretching 3,600 square feet from the building to the corner will be a more casual patio that the owners hope to fashion with a huge water feature and a wall of live bamboo.

By the time Batanga opens, the Market Square neighborhood will be hopping with fresh foodie faces. New bar Clutch City Squire kicked off this past Tuesday at 401 Main, while ramen noodle joint Goro & Gun and Captain Foxheart's Bad News Bar will open on Main's 600-block in late March.

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