Levi Goode is going to have a busy summer. Now that the Goode Company owner has finally completed the renovations at Armadillo Palace, he’s rolled out a new menu built around the kitchen’s newly installed wood-fired grill and rotisserie, which completes the spaces physical transformation that’s seen the addition of an outdoor performance space and the whiskey-oriented Orange Blossom Bar.
“It’s a more grown up menu as a concept,” Goode says about the changes at Armadillo Palace, the honky tonk-inspired bar and restaurant located next to Goode Company Barbecue on Kirby Drive. “To me, it really allows us to express that root-style heritage of our last name and who we are.” Later, he emphasizes how personal the new menu is. “A lot of these dishes are the way we cook around the house, the ranch, around the fish camp, deer hunting lease, and all that good stuff. ”
That means some staples like chicken fried steak are gone (at least for now). In their place are dishes that draw upon the family’s heritage in the American South and Texas — the family made its way to the Lone Star State in the 1840s — as well as a Mexican influence from Goode’s grandmother and great-grandmother, both of whom immigrated to America from Mexico.
The menu includes Southern staples like fried oysters, redfish on the half shell, and a massive, 40-ounce porterhouse steak, as well as Mexican-inspired dishes like tamales, guacamole, and empanadas. The family’s roots in South Texas get a nod via the Kenedy Ranch Carne Discada, a skirt steak stew named for the wok-style pans that ranch hands made from discarded plow blades. Expanding the kitchen even allowed the restaurant to begin baking its own cornbread, biscuits, and rolls that show up in a bread basket with house made strawberry preserves and a shallot-laced compound butter that’s so addictive Goode says the staff has been calling “crack butter.”
While all of those items should prove to be popular with Armadillo Palace’s customers, the menu’s real show stopper is the pig’s head carnitas. After a three day prep process, half a pig’s head of Berkshire pork gets roasted in a 500 degree oven to make the skin crispy.
“We designed this menu where you can get an entree and a couple of side dishes,” Goode says. “It also works for sharing and getting some variety and creating this communal, friends, have some drinks and try something different. The carnitas works well for that. You can build some small tacos and have drinks and not feel like you’re committed to one thing. It’s a fun dish.”
Armadillo Palace’s cocktails take a similar tack of offering both Southern and Mexican influences. Patrons can choose from Southern classics like a julep or hurricane or tequila-based cocktails like a margarita (available either frozen or on the rock) or a paloma made with Ruby Red grapefruit juice.
While all the new dishes and drinks should be a sufficient reason to draw diners to Armadillo Palace, the new menu also previews aspects of the menu at Goode Company’s latest concept: Goode Company Kitchen & Cantina.
“It’s going to be a Goode Company restaurant that’s inspired by Taqueria and my grandmother’s cooking, which inspired the Taqueria menu originally,” Goode says. “We’ve been in business 34 years at Taqueria. The last 34 years we learned some things and want to be pay it forward with the new concept”
Over the next few months, Goode will open two locations of the concept: one in the Woodlands next to a new location of Goode Company Barbecue and another on I-10 in the former home of the Mason Jar, which is being renovated to increase its interior space and will add a patio. While Goode announced The Woodlands location last year, it’s the first time he’s confirmed the rumors that the concept will open in Memorial, too. In addition to opening three new locations, the Memorial-area location of Goode Company Seafood will also relocate to a new space in its existing shopping center at I-10 and Frostwood Drive.
As Alison Cook noted in an obituary of Jim Goode, the legendary Houston restaurateur was among the first to mix the Southern and Mexican flavors that make Texan cuisine so exciting. With Armadillo Palace and the new Kitchen & Cantina, Levi Goode builds on his father’s legacy and sets the company on the path to 40 more years of success.