7 things to know

7 things to know in Houston food right now: Austin oysters in Montrose, tacos, and 'twisted' cookies

7 things to know in Houston food: Austin oysters in Montrose and more

Velvet Taco Woodlands exterior
Velvet Taco has opened in Houston. Courtesy of Velvet Taco
Kevin Bryant Roma Ristorante
Find chef Kevin Bryant Roma. Photo by Al Torres
Clarks Oyster Bar
Clark's is coming to Montrose. Clark's Oyster Bar/Facebook
Velvet Taco Woodlands exterior
Kevin Bryant Roma Ristorante
Clarks Oyster Bar

Editor’s note: Houston’s restaurant scene moves pretty fast. In order to prevent CultureMap readers from missing anything, let’s stop to look around at all the latest news to know.

Openings and coming attractions

Austin’s MML Hospitality will bring its Clark’s seafood and oyster bar concept to Montrose, the Houston Chronicle reports. Slated to open later this year in the former Montrose Car Care building at the corner of West Alabama and Montrose, Clark’s will serve dishes such as raw and roasted oysters, crudos, a lobster roll, and signature items like a cheeseburger and cioppino.

Velvet Taco has opened its sixth Houston-area location in The Woodlands at 9120 Gosling Rd. The Dallas-based taco chain's newest outpost occupies approximately 3,000 square feet; it seats over 60 inside with room for 40 more people on a patio. 

The upscale taco restaurant serves a variety of globally inspired fillings such as tikka masala chicken tenders with cilantro basmati rice, falafel with tahini crema, and shrimp and grits with Cajun remoulade. Pair them with beers, fruit-infused iced teas, and the signature Kick Ass Margarita. Catering for any occasion – game nights, birthday parties, graduation-you name it –  is also available.

“We are so excited to be a part of The Woodlands community, a community which, rightfully so, has landed on several ‘top cities in which to live’ lists,” general manager Robie Robinson said in a statement. “It’s time we gave them the best taco restaurant! Our menu and electric vibe will become a gathering place for all members of this community.”

The Original ChopShop has opened its second Houston-area location in the Upper Kirby area at 3021 Kirby Dr. Similar in approach to Flower Child, the Original ChopShop's menu includes protein bowls, salads (“chops”), sandwiches, fresh juices, protein shakes, acai bowls, breakfast items, and parfaits. Many diets are taken into consideration, including gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, and vegetarian. 

“We are excited to fuel our rapid expansion with the opening our second Houston Shop,” CEO Jason Morgan said in a statement. “We couldn’t be happier with early results from our Galleria-area location that opened in Oct. 2021. We are looking forward to inspiring another Houston neighborhood to “Just Feel Good” with our unique menu offerings that include items for every occasion from breakfast, lunch, snack and dinner to catering.”

The restaurant opens daily at 7 am and serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Black Rock Coffee Bar has opened its fourth Houston-area location in Cypress (8552 Hwy 6 N). Known for its modern design, the Portland-based cafe serves coffee, tea, smoothies, and energy drinks. 

"We decided to grow in Texas because we were attracted to its culture, and each new store we open here validates that thesis." Black Rock CEO Josh Pike said in a statement. "It's all about the people in Texas. Texans care about their communities and each other, which aligns with the core values of our business. We look forward to serving this great community."

Cookie bakery Twisted Sugar has opened its first Texas location in The Woodlands. The Utah-based bakery serves over 20 varieties of cookies, including gluten-free and sugar-free options, all of which are baked fresh daily. In addition, it serves more than 100 speciality sodas and ice cream.

"We are thrilled to open our first Twisted Sugar Texas store in The Woodlands," said Kate Johnson in a statement. "Everyone has been so warm and welcoming. They've really shown their excitement for our award winning cookies and sodas to arrive."

(Temporary?) Closings

Jasper’s has closed its location at Market Square in The Woodlands. Food website twtx.co published an image of a lockout notice posted to the restaurant’s door, but the rent dispute may not be Jasper’s final chapter. 

A note on the restaurant’s website reads as follows: “For 17 years you’ve spent your anniversaries, birthdays, and date nights with us. We look forward to serving you from a new location in The Woodlands very soon.” 

Stay tuned for details about where that new location will be.

Chefs on the Move

Roma, the Italian restaurant in Rice Village, has welcomed a new executive chef. Kevin Bryant brings experience from restaurants such as Tony’s and Eleven XI, but the chef has an even more personal connection to the eatery.

Bryant and his wife, publicist Marie Elgamal, had their first date at Roma. The couple held their wedding there a few years later.

“I’m excited to be back in the game and working with a long-time friend at a place I have a lot of passion for,” Bryant said in a statement. “I am excited to hone in on the menu and add some creativity.”