Referring to the Heights as Houston’s hottest dining neighborhood has become a bit cliche, but no one can question that the area has seen a rush of new openings in 2017. From the expansion of locally-owned businesses like The Rice Box to out of town concepts like Tarka Indian Kitchen and to bars like Heights Bier Garten, the Heights continues to offer diners new options.
The pace shows no signs of slowing down. Hot off the heels of Bernie’s Burger Bus finally opening the doors at its Yale Street location on Monday comes another eagerly anticipated new arrival.
Hughie’s Tavern & Vietnamese Grill began its soft opening this week. Located in the former Foreign Correspondents space on North Main, the restaurant builds on the success of Hughie's original location in Lazybrook/Timbergrove.
The Heights outpost was renovated in less than six months; the new interior uses reclaimed wood to match the original location's appearance.
“(People are) pretty impressed that we were able to achieve (a level of) warmth,” owner Philip Pham tells CultureMap. “This was a beat up old Dairy Queen. It is second gen, but only one year old . . . all the booths are custom made, so are the tables and chairs.”
The neighboring space formerly occupied by Canard bar will be transformed into One Armed Scissor, a more casual neighborhood hangout spot with affordable cocktails.
Like the Lazybrook/Timbergrove locale, Hughie’s Heights serves a mix of Vietnamese favorites including spring rolls, banh mi, and shaking beef alongside Texas comfort classics such as chicken fried steak, burgers, and chicken tenders. On the beverage side, the restaurant’s 37 taps mean craft beer lovers should have no trouble finding the right brew to match their meal.
Hughie’s Heights steps things up a bit by serving pho every day until it runs out, and Pham notes that the new restaurant’s larger kitchen will eventually allow it to offer some dishes that set it apart.
“For now, we’re going to let all the dust settle,” Pham says. “In three or four months, we’ll have the ability to integrate new dishes. That will separate the two Hughie’s.”
Given the original's success, just doing the same things equally well should put Hughie's Heights on a firm footing. After all, in a neighborhood that's growing as quickly as the Heights, an affordable, family-friendly Vietnamese restaurant should find plenty of interested customers.