Smoke Signals

Celebrity-backed global barbecue joint fires up Houston CityCentre opening date

Celeb-backed barbecue joint fires up Houston CityCentre open date

International Smoke Argentine Beef
Argentine beef. Courtesy photo
International Smoke pop-up EJ Miller Michael Mina
Executive chef E.J. Miller and Michael Mina. Photo by Eric Sandler
International Smoke green papaya salad
Green papaya salad. Courtesy photo
International Smoke combo rib rack
Combo rack of ribs. Courtesy photo
International Smoke Argentine Beef
International Smoke pop-up EJ Miller Michael Mina
International Smoke green papaya salad
International Smoke combo rib rack
Houston, Ayesha Curry, November 2017

One of this summer's most eagerly anticipated new restaurants has an opening date. International Smoke, the barbecue-inspired restaurant that unites celebrity chef Michael Mina with cookbook author and lifestyle guru Ayesha Curry, will open on July 5, the restaurant announced. 

Inspired by Mina and Curry's backgrounds and culinary interests, the menu takes a global approach to barbecue and live fire cooking. The restaurant's menu includes everything from Chinese-style char sui pork shoulder to Argentinian steak with chimichurri and ingredients cooked over Japanese binchotan charcoal. Instead of attempting to put a spin on American barbecue styles — the only notable item is St. Louis-style pork ribs — the influences include Asian dishes such as a Vietnamese pork chop and lots of grilled and smoked seafood, as Mina told CultureMap back in May. The beverage program focuses on a wide array of cocktails and a broad selection of both local and global beers.

"I think when people start to really understand that grilling food is a nice way to eat," Mina said in May. "It’s a lot of flavors, spices. I’m Middle Eastern, so all those flavors and spices and things of that nature on a grilled piece of fish is pretty delicious, and that’s barbecue." 

Local chef E.J. Miller will lead the kitchen. The veteran cook has an extensive resume, including time as the sous chef at Riel, where he earned a CultureMap Tastemaker Award Rising Star Chef of the Year nomination, as well as stints at Down House, and with Clark Cooper Concepts at both Coppa Osteria and SaltAir Seafood Kitchen. A native Houstonian, Miller has demonstrated an interest in barbecue with smoked menu items and by participating in events such as the Butcher's Ball.  

Located in the former home of pan-Asian restaurant Straits, International Smoke will occupy a 6,000-square-foot space in the heart of CityCentre. The restaurant will include a dedicated bar/lounge area as well as a patio with fireplaces and "vine-wrapped overhead trellises." All told, the restaurant will have the abilty to see approximately 130 inside and 140 outside. 

With new arrivals like UB Preserv and Nobu, this summer has already been a busy one for new restaurants. International Smoke's celebrity creators, innovative concept, and high-profile location mark it as another exciting addition to Houston's dining scene. 

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