Editor's note: As the year comes to a close, we look back at the 10 most popular restaurant and bar stories of 2019. These are the openings, closings, and newsy bits that Houstonians gobbled up.
1. Galleria-area restaurant's sudden shutter shocks Houston diners. Yes, Houston's is a chain restaurant from the Arizona-based Hillstone Group, but its Westheimer location had been open for almost 40 years. That it suddenly disppeared without any warning shocked people who had been eating there for decades. The Kirby location remains open — and seems to be busier than ever — but the possibility exists that Hillstone will open a new restaurant near the old location on a piece of land it purchased earlier this year.
2. In-N-Out Burger announces opening date of first Houston restaurant. Tracking the California burger chain's inevitable march to Houston has been a CultureMap obsession since at least 2011, when rumors of the company's plans first began to circulate. All that waiting finally came to an end in November, when In-N-Out opened locations in Stafford and Katy. Hour-plus lines for double-doubles and animal-style fries immediately ensued, but going at off-peak hours will result in considerably shorter wait times.
3. 10 best Houston restaurants to take out-of-town guests, from award-winners to classics. Two of the articles taken from selections on CultureMap's list of Houston's top 100 restaurants ranked among this year's most-read articles. For the first, we selected a mix of establishments that have appeared on TV, have James Beard Award-winning chefs, or are slam dunk, no doubt classics. "Brennan's, still awesome" may not be a very hot take, but it's nice to be reminded.
4. Treasured Houston restaurant ranks No. 1 on Food & Wine list of best cafeterias. Cleburne Cafeteria so impressed Food & Wine senior editor David Landsel that he ranked it as the country's best cafeteria. Luby's also earns an honorable mention on the list, which tracks the "hopelessly dated" concept that still thrives in some parts of America.
5. Influential Houston comfort food and cocktail restaurant suddenly shutters. Beaver's, the location that helped grow the careers of culinary talents such as Bobby Heugel and Arash Kharat, closed last week. The decision brought an end to the restaurant's 12-year run that spanned two locations: the original off Washington Avenue and a second in Briargrove. While Beaver's prominence in the food world may have waned, we'll still miss signature items like the Knocked Up Queso, chicken fried steak, and Beaver Balls.
6. These are Houston's 12 best new restaurants of 2019. In such an exceptional year for new restaurants, limiting the picks to only 12 establishments proved difficult. As always, innovative cuisine, welcoming service, and thoughtful details help elevate some restaurants over others. Those touches earned Rosie Cannonball, Squable, and MAD the top three spots.
7. Mainstay British pub and jazz cafe will shutter after 33 years in Montrose. Houston's best dining neighborhood suffered a number of high profile losses in 2019 — including Pax Americana, Canopy, and The Pass & Provisions — but none resonated with people more than the news that the Black Lab and Cezanne would be closing in December. While the British pub fare may have been fairly ordinary, the quaint setting and welcoming atmosphere had made it a favorite destination for first dates and other happy occasions. Those memories unleashed a torrent of commments on social media lammenting the restaurant's demise.
8. Where to eat in Houston right now: 10 best new restaurants for fall. Our monthly where to eat column is always popular with readers, but the September edition stood out from the rest. Perhaps that's because it included so many places that had been eagerly anticipated, such as tiki bar Toasted Coconut, Tex-Mex restaurant Candente, and wine bar Penny Quarter. Whatever the reason, we appreciate when people find these columns to be so useful.
9. Hot new Houston downtown nightclub rocks the party underground. Inspired by an imagined take on a billionaire's basement, downtown nightclub Base quickly emerged as one of Houston's favorite party spots. The expansive dance floor, complete with a pulsating light installation, helps set the New York-inspired aesethetic. Servers bearing light up displays make sure the whole crowd knows who's splurging on that bottle of bubbles.
10. 10 juicy burgers on the menu at Houston's best restaurants. From the butter burgers at Riel to the pharmacy burger at La Lucha, the restaurant's on CultureMap's list of Houston's top 100 restaurants know a lot about burgers. Other selections include the French cheeseburger at Squable and the smoked burger at Tejas Chocolates + Barbecue.