At Austin restaurant Foreign & Domestic, chef/owner Ned Elliott's constantly changing menu has made it a top destination both for Austinites and visitors. Despite the three hour drive, F&D (as it's known) has always had its share of Houston fans, and Elliott has come to Houston for pop-ups at both Paulie's and as part of chef Justin Bayse's Les Sauvages pop-up series in 2011.
Given his local fan base, it should come as little surprise that Elliott has considered opening a second location in Houston, tweeting last week that he looked at the space that housed the (temporarily?) closed Daily Review Cafe.
"I fell in love with Houston. I like the energy. It feels right," says Elliott.
"I looked at the Daily Review about three years ago, maybe eight or nine months after we opened," Elliott tells CultureMap, but he couldn't agree on terms with the landlord. "I can't justify a lease for an insane amount of money. I think at the time it expired in 2020. What happens after the five years we've been open and people want to get out or whatever?"
Elliott thinks 2014 is the year when he'll renew his efforts to open a location in the Bayou City. "I've just been talking to people and want to be open by this time next year . . . Time to get pen to paper and really make it work."
Although he hasn't narrowed down his prospects to any specific spaces, Elliott knows he wants to be inside the Loop. Although he says he's proud that his restaurant and places like The Tigress Pub and Drink.Well helped bring people into the restaurant's neighborhood in North Austin, "we’re perceived as being off the beaten path. For myself, I don’t really want to do that again . . . The location has to be spectacular."
Still, when the right opportunity presents itself, Elliott would like to be part of the Houston scene. "I fell in love with Houston. I like the energy. It feels right," he says. "I think the restaurant scene there is awesome. It’s really awesome to see it grow. It’s such an enormous city that I think it’s still underserved with great quality, chef-driven restaurants."
Austin mainstay Uchi has prospered at its Houston location, and other Austin-based concepts as Torchy's Tacos, Plucker’s Wing Bar and Freebirds World Burrito have successfully expanded to the Bayou City. As CultureMap previously reported, Doc's Motorworks is current building a Houston outpost on the Westheimer Strip.