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what's eric eating episode 269
On this week's episode of "What's Eric Eating," Abbas Dhanani joins CultureMap food editor Eric Sandler. Best known for his houstoneatz Instagram and TikTok accounts, Dhanani recently opened Burger Bodega on Washington Avenue last year.
The conversation begins with Dhanani discussing growing up in a family whose successful restaurant group includes hundreds of franchised locations as well as La Madeline and Cyclone Anaya's. He also shares his initial motivation to start houstoneatz, which has more than 36,000 followers on Instagram and 112,000 followers on TikTok.
From there, they talk about Burger Bodega. Dhanani launched the smash burger concept with a series of sold out pop-ups. The restaurant has been similarly well received, drawing consistent crowds and earning a spot on numerous best new restaurant lists.
While diners are coming for the crispy smash burgers, New York-inspired chopped cheese sandwich, and signature mango lassi shake, Burger Bodega also sets itself apart with its design. Dhanani worked with local artist Donkeeboy on a mural and with Vy Truong and Han Dang of local design firm Very Handsome Studio to create the restaurant's overall look. Sandler asks the restaurateur about putting so much focus design at a small, fast casual restaurant.
"In my time doing houstoneatz, I saw how important it was to have something people want to take a picture of. Burger Bodega is a restaurant that an Instagram influencer came up with," Dhanani says. "It's New York themed. It's bodega themed. We have all our grocery products as decoration . . . You've got to have the graffiti walls."
Prior to the interview, Sandler and co-host Matt Harris discuss the news of the week. Their topics include: the Houston restaurants that earned semifinalist nominations in the James Beard Awards; Berg Hospitality's plans to open Benny Chows, a new Chinese restaurant next to B&B Butchers, and Hubcap Grill closing its 19th Street location.
In the restaurants of the week segment, Harris and Sandler share thoughts about Karne Korean Steakhouse, the latest project from Dak & Bop owner Jason Cho. Listen to the full episode to hear their opinions on the food, service, and overall experience at this new restaurant in the Heights.