11 things to know

11 things to know in Houston food right now: Openings, closings, and giant craveable cupcakes

11 things to know in Houston food: Openings, closings, giant cupcakes

Crave Cupcakes tenth anniversary giant cupcake
Crave is celebrating 10 years with giant cupcakes. Courtesy photo
Slowpokes Kirby Grove Mazen Baltagi, JC Rubiralta and Afif Baltagi
Mazen Baltagi, JC Rubrialta, and Afif Baltagi are bringing Slowpokers to Upper Kirby. Courtesy photo
Treebeards Market Square exterior sign
Treebeards is celebrating 40 years with special deals.  Courtesy photo
East Hampton Sandwich Co lobster roll
East Hampton Sandwich Co is ready to open in Montrose. Courtesy photo
Houston, Valentines Day dining guide, Feb 2017, Shoyu ramen at Agu Ramen
Agu Ramen keeps closing its Houston-area locations.  Courtesy photo
Crave Cupcakes tenth anniversary giant cupcake
Slowpokes Kirby Grove Mazen Baltagi, JC Rubiralta and Afif Baltagi
Treebeards Market Square exterior sign
East Hampton Sandwich Co lobster roll
Houston, Valentines Day dining guide, Feb 2017, Shoyu ramen at Agu Ramen

Editor’s note: Houston’s restaurant scene moves pretty fast. In order to prevent CultureMap readers from missing anything, let’s stop to look around at all the latest news to know.

Houston Restaurant Weeks still hasn’t announced a final donation amount for its two-month campaign in 2017, but the charitable dining event will set a new record when the final numbers arrive. In a statement provided to CultureMap, organizer Cleverley Stone states that the event has already contributed $2.4 million to the Houston Food Bank.

“The delay in collecting 100 percent of donations from HRW 2017 is blamed on Hurricane Harvey, which affected virtually every restaurant that participated in HRW 2017,” Stone writes. “We will continue collection efforts and look forward to announcing a final donation total for HRW 2017 in the near future.”

HRW 2018 will run from August 1 to September 3 with its familiar, prix fixe menus for lunch ($20), brunch ($20), and dinner ($35 or $45).

Has Houston’s ramen boom cooled off? Hawaiian-based restaurant Agu Ramen closed its Mason Road location recently, a CultureMap tipster reports. It’s the third Houston-area Agu to close, including the restaurant's Energy Corridor location on Eldridge Parkway (now Flippin Patties) and its Westheimer location (now Happy Teahouse). The Agus in LaCenterra, Sugar Land, and on Washington Avenue all remain open, but the restaurant’s prospects for achieving chef/owner Hisashi “Teddy” Uehara’s goal of 12 Houston-area locations seem pretty dim. 

Then again, maybe ramen is here to stay. Seattle-based restaurant Samurai Noodle announced it will open its second Houston-area location in Katy. Open in Houston since 2015, Samurai is known for its housemade noodles and creamy tonkotsu broth. Follow the restaurant on Facebook for details about its imminent soft opening.

The last vestige of Jennifer and Bryan Caswell’s now defunct partnership with the Le Meridien hotel downtown is officially kaput. The hotel’s restaurant and rooftop bar have new names; Oxbow 7 is now known as Zutro Restaurant & Bar and Hoggbirds is now called Z on 23. Chef Caswell’s menu of innovative, Gulf Coast-inspired fare has been replaced with “simple Southern cuisine” under the direction of executive chef Troy Deano.

Songkran Thai Grill ceased operations at the beginning of June. The Sugar Land restaurant will be reconcepted, its owners posted to Facebook. Sister restaurant Songkran Thai Kitchen remains open in Uptown Park.

Soon Montrose residents will get to experience East Hampton Sandwich Co.’s lobster rolls, creative combinations of meats and toppings, and frozen cocktails. Already a smash hit in River Oaks District, the Dallas-based sandwich slinger will open its second Houston-area location on Thursday, June 28 from 6 pm to 9 pm. The first 100 people in line will be entered into a raffle to win free sandwiches for a year. A full schedule of breakfast, lunch, and dinner will begin the next day. 

Upper Kirby will soon have a new coffee option. Garden Oaks favorite Slowpokes will join Indian fine dining restaurants Kiran’s in the Kirby Grove development. Scheduled to open in the fall, the new location will face Levy Park. In addition to the original’s food offerings of breakfast items, salads, and sandwiches, the new location’s larger kitchen will allow for an expanded menu of panini and box lunches. Diners may pair them with coffee, loose leaf tea, local craft beer, or wines by-the-glass.

Katy continues to emerge as a new destination for innovative Asian restaurants and cafes. TeaTop, a Taiwan-based concept that serves a variety of brewed and bubbles teas made with “premium granded tea,” has opened its first Texas location in Katy’s new Asian Town development at 23119 Colonial Parkway. The early buzz is solid; all 12 Yelp reviews rate in five stars.

Montrose institution Rudyard’s has a new chef. Jordan Economy, whose most recent gigs include Prohibition Supperclub and Bar and Doris Metropolitan, is now running the kitchen at the beloved pub, the restaurant announced in an email. Look for new daily specials and the return of the bar’s beer dinners; hopefully the acclaimed burger remains exactly the same.

Crave Cupcakes is celebrating its tenth anniversary with a special giant-sized version of its signature treats. Designed to feed eight to 10 people, the oversized cupcake is sure to garner lots of likes when shared on Instagram. In addition to serving huge cupcakes, Crave will celebrate its anniversary with a different throwback flavor each week through mid-August.

Speaking of anniversaries, downtown Cajun restaurant Treebeards is celebrating its 40th anniversary with 40-percent off salads. Get the special deal at all five locations through Friday, June 29.