As 2017 draws to a close, Houston’s dining scene remains white hot thanks to high profile openings like Emmaline, Doris Metropolitan, and Mastro’s. At the same time, the lingering effects of Hurricane Harvey continue to be felt as restaurants close.
Even for the most obsessed food fans, it can be hard to keep track of all that’s going on. Here’s 10 news items to know about before the end of the year.
After spending the last seven years as executive chef of Quattro at the Four Seasons, Maurizio Ferrarese has made Rice Village restaurant Sud Italia his new home. The chef is working with owner Shanon Scott to develop a new menu that focuses on “seafood-driven dishes with a southern Italian flavor.” Look for it to debut in January.
El Tiempo’s long-delayed Webster location opened on December 14. At 15,000 square feet, the gigantic restaurant is fully capable of serving up all the fajitas, queso, and margaritas anyone could ask for. The parties to a lawsuit that had delayed the restaurant’s opening reached a settlement earlier this year.
Grazia Italian Kitchen will open its third location in Katy's Villagio Town Center. When it opens in the spring, the restaurant will incorporate a speakeasy into its 7,100 square feet. In addition to all the familiar pastas, steaks, and Italian classics that are Grazia staples, executive chef Chris Loftis is working on some new dishes that will make their debut in Katy.
Barringer Bar will close December 22, owners Chieko and Robby Cook announced. The husband-and-wife duo accepted an offer on the space and have decided to move on to other ventures. Pax Americana owner Dan Zimmerman will open a new restaurant in the space, according to the Houston Business Journal.
The Inn at Dos Brisas has welcomed back executive chef Zachary Ladwig. Having previously worked at the luxurious resort from 2011 to 2013, Ladwig is well-acquainted with the property’s extensive organic gardens and orchards. The chef’s fall menu includes Texas wagyu beef tartare, panko-crusted farm egg, and Broken Arrow Ranch venison loin.
The Southern Smoke Foundation distributed $501,000 to 139 Houston hospitality industry workers who suffered losses during Hurricane Harvey. Distributions in amounts ranging from $1,000 to $9,000 benefited 139 people, including Café Benedicte owner Vahid Navissi, Gundermann Acres owner Garrett Gundermann, and Omari West-Griffin, who worked as a server at the flooded Spaghetti Warehouse location downtown.
“I couldn’t be happier that we were able to raise this kind of money to support our friends and neighbors,” said Southern Smoke founder, chef Chris Shepherd in a statement. “The fact that so many people came together to make this a reality speaks to the strength and resilience of Houston and our larger hospitality community. It was no small task to pull off an event of this size, with this many moving parts, but it was so worth it to be able to give these checks to folks who really need it right now. This is why we created Southern Smoke—to take care of our own.”
After taking on four feet of water during Hurricane Harvey, the Champions location of Gringo’s Mexican Kitchen reopened December 12. The extensive remodel features a new open concept that includes windows that allow diners to observe the action in the kitchen. Currently only open for dinner, the restaurant will resume full operating hours on January 2.
Sweet Paris Crêperie & Café will open new locations in College Station, Katy, and The Woodlands. These additions are part of the company’s plans to bring its globally-inspired, made-from-scratch crepes to places across the Houston area and beyond. Work has already begun on all three locations, which are expected to open in spring 2018.
Saint Arnold Brewing Company collaborated with James Beard Award winning chef Hugo Ortega for its new beer. Icon Blue - Chocolate Milk Stout features the chef’s Mexican chocolate tablets that are used at his restaurants Hugo’s, Caracol, and Xochi. Pitched as a “delicious dessert beer,” drinkers should expect a strong chocolate flavor along with “toffee, stone fruit, and cinnamon. Sweetness is balanced by the hop and roast bitterness,” according to the brewery. Find it in stores and on tap walls across the Houston area.
Breakfast spot Biskit Junkie will relocate to the two locations of sister concept Jus’ Mac, Eater Houston reports. Uniting both concepts under one roof will allow them to maximize revenue by serving food all day. The current Biskit Junkie location at Westheimer and Taft will either become a poke shop or a Mexican breakfast concept, according to owner Patrick Alvarez.