First Look at Underground Hall

Downtown food hall gets fresh with 4 new vendors and crisp cocktails

Downtown food hall gets fresh with 4 new vendors and crisp cocktails

Underground Food Hall Don Juan tacos
Tacos from Don Juan. Photo by Eric Sandler
Underground Food Hall mural
The entrance features a new mural. Photo by Eric Sandler
Underground Food Hall Treacherous Leches
Treacherous Leches offers over 10 flavors. Photo by Eric Sandler
Underground Food Hall interior
A look inside the new interior. Photo by Eric Sandler
Underground Food Hall Crisp pizza
Pizza by Crisp. Photo by Eric Sandler
Underground Food Hall Don Juan tacos
Underground Food Hall mural
Underground Food Hall Treacherous Leches
Underground Food Hall interior
Underground Food Hall Crisp pizza

Downtown’s original food hall is once again open for business. Underground Hall, the refreshed take on Conservatory, opened quietly last weekend with a new operator, new vendors, and a new look. 

Daut Elshani, a veteran of the Salt N Pepper Group (3rd Floor, Pub Fiction, etc) and Buffalo Bayou Brewing Company, took over the space at 1010 Prairie St. in January. A quick overhaul saw the addition of brightly colored, Houston-themed murals for both the entrance and the dining room. Other changes include the removal of Conservatory’s “living wall,” improved lighting throughout the dining room, and the addition of TVs to show sports.

Conceived as a more casual alternative to other Houston food halls, Underground features five food vendors. They are:

  • Wokker, the pan-Asian food truck-turned-restaurant that puts a Texan spin on dishes such as brisket egg rolls, pork belly fried rice, and spicy tamarind ribs
  • Crisp, the Heights-area pizza favorite known for its creative, personal-sized pies
  • Hotline Burger, a smashed burger concept from Breaking Bao chef-owner Philip Kim
  • Don Juan Tacos & Ceviche, a stand from Moku Bar owner Tuan Tram that serves pork and chicken tacos and tortas alongside a selection of raw seafood dishes
  • Treacherous Leches, the only holdover from Conservatory serves over 10 varieties of tres leches include classic, chocolate, and red velvet

In addition to the new food options, Elshani overhauled the wine list. By-the-glass selections cost $10 or less, and the bottle list mostly centers around the $50-60 range, with a few more expensive bottles for those looking to splurge a bit. Elshani has kept the venue’s $1 Champagne shots that are available at all times.

Veteran bartender Alli Genoway crafted the cocktail list offers both classics such as an Old Fashioned or a mule and house creations such as the “Not a Pina Colada” that swaps the traditional pineapple for Bacardi mango, the "Ginger Smash" made with Elijah Craig bourbon, and the "Garden Refresher" made with Hendrick's gin. The menu also includes four composed shots such as the “Banana in the Tailpipe” (Skrewball peanut butter whiskey, Jameson cold brew, Blue Chair banana rum). In addition, the liquor selection has been expanded.

Conservatory always had a strong selection of draft beers, and that continues at Underground. Elshani partnered with Beer Market Co. to curate the tap wall.

Programming is still under development, but Elshani’s vision is for Underground to become a Sunday funday spot with games and live entertainment. During the week, he anticipates specials such as $1 taco Tuesdays and pizza and wine specials on Wednesdays. Friday and Saturday nights will feature live music.

Like its predecessor, Underground is open for lunch and dinner daily beginning at 11 am. Always a late night destination, it will be open until 11 pm Monday - Wednesday, midnight on Thursday, 2 am on Friday and Saturday, and 10 pm on Sunday.