HTX Good Eats 2014
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Restaurant Closing Shocks

Foodie shock waves: Houston restaurant closings and openings that are changing the city

Houston restaurant closings and openings that are changing the city

Sorrel Urban Bistro pepper steak
Houston's restaurant scene is constantly changing with openings and closings. I’m trying to eat frequently at Sorrel Urban Bistro, before it shutters at the end of the year. Sorrel Urban Bistro/Facebook
Kenny & Ziggy’s, hamburger, burger, Kenny, Zigalicious, January 2013
I'm excited about Ziggy Gruber taking over the spot for his Dubrow’s New York Grill, which sounds like a Jewish deli with booze. And that’s a good thing for the neighborhood. Photo by Paula Murphy
Bistro Menil exterior day with sign October 2014
Then there’s the new Bistro Menil — built from the ground up — that is a game changer for museum dining. Bistro Menil/Facebook
Little Bigs in Montrose
Little Bigs will be closing at the end of the month and heading down the street to the old Chelsea Grill. Photo by Wolfgang Houston
Paul's Kitchen with staff in front and now open sign October 2014
Haven recently closed but its spot has already been taken over by Paul’s Kitchen. Paul's Kitchen/Facebook
Sorrel Urban Bistro pepper steak
Kenny & Ziggy’s, hamburger, burger, Kenny, Zigalicious, January 2013
Bistro Menil exterior day with sign October 2014
Little Bigs in Montrose
Paul's Kitchen with staff in front and now open sign October 2014

I am rereading a fascinating book called The Ice Box Murders. First published in 2003 it is now available as an eBook on Amazon. It was written by locals Hugh and Martha Gardenier and is about the 1965 Montrose double homicide that remains one of the most horrific and still unsolved murders in Houston history.

All evidence points to Charles Rogers having brutally killed his elderly parents in their home on Father's Day, dismembering the bodies and stuffing the parts into a 1950s Cold Spot fridge.

It has absolutely nothing to do with food, unless you count the food items  — including a half eaten raw onion — squeezed into the ice box along with the decomposing body parts. Ewww.

 The latest restaurant victim of the building boom is Ruchi’s El Rincon de Mexico Grill. 

But it does weave a fascinating picture of Houston’s earlier days, including the wild building boom of the 1960s described as a time when whole blocks of old neighborhoods were bulldozed and new apartments, office buildings and townhomes were sprouting like bluebonnets in spring.

Kinda like now.

The latest restaurant victim of the building boom is Ruchi’s El Rincon de Mexico Grill, as first noted by Swamplot. The corner strip center will be demolished to make room for a new CVS. I’ve never eaten there but friends say the margaritas are good and it’s great for late night noshing on plates of Tex-Mex. 

But it’s not just eateries being bulldozed. After a brief lull earlier this year, restaurants are playing the change game like crazy. Some are moving, some are just going out of business and plenty of new ones are opening.

Houston Restaurant Game Changers

I’m trying to eat frequently at Sorrel Urban Bistro, before it closes at the end of the year. I don’t know why this place on West Alabama didn’t get more local press love. Even through three chefs I’ve always felt the food was stellar.

Sorrel's ever-changing menu sourced from local food markets and providers seemed creative without being too pretentious. I am sad it’s closing at the end of the year, but also excited about Ziggy Gruber taking over the spot for his Dubrow’s New York Grill, which sounds like a Jewish deli with booze. And that’s a good thing for the neighborhood.

Haven also recently closed but its spot has already been taken over by Paul’s Kitchen. Haven’t eaten there yet, but I want to try it out soon.

Thai Sticks on Montrose Boulevard shuttered in February and has now been replaced by the highly-touted Pax Americana. Pax is still garnering rave reviews despite the recent firing of one of the main chefs.

 The local restaurant scene, just like the city of Houston, is constantly reinventing itself. 

Then there’s the new Bistro Menil — built from the ground up — that is a game changer for museum dining: Gorgeous design, elegant food with incredibly fresh and often unexpected flavors. Do try the quail glazed with a pomegranate reduction. It’s bone sucking good.

And then there are restaurants on the move. Little Bigs will be closing at the end of the month and heading down the street to the old Chelsea Grill locale. Fine by me, but I’ll miss the patio tables under the spreading oaks.

Also moving to a bigger location, next January, is Phil & Derek’s Restaurant & Wine Bar. Once a French bistro, it’s morphed over time to a popular wine bar and jazz cafe that needs a bigger space. The owners are looking for a larger spot downtown. Hopefully a new restaurant will find the small location in the historic house in The Gardens of Bammel Lane a perfect fit.

The local restaurant scene, just like the city of Houston, is constantly reinventing itself. I’m sure there will be more closings, more moves, more openings. And that just makes this a fabulous and always interesting dining city.