Aaron Franklin is a man of his word. On a recent episode of CultureMap's "What's Eric Eating" podcast, the James Beard Award-winning pitmaster and owner of Austin's acclaimed Franklin Barbecue responded to a question about rumors of a second Houston-area location for Loro, the Asian smokehouse concept he developed with Uchi chef-owner Tyson Cole, with a definitive statement.
"There will be more kaarage," he said.
Now we know where.
Hai Hospitality, the company behind Uchi, Loro, and the soon-to-open Houston location of Uchiko, announced that Houston's second Loro will be located near Rice Village at 5333 Kirby Dr. Slated to open in the summer of 2023, it joins the original location in Austin, a location in Dallas, and the recently opened location in The Heights; a second Dallas-area location will open this winter.
Opened in February, Houston's first Loro has been a hit, regularly drawing capacity crowds to its home in a converted church on W 11th St.
“Houston is the ultimate foodie community,” Cole said in a statement. “Not only do they embrace and support new concepts, they’re not afraid to try new things and break from tradition. That’s what Loro is all about, so growing our presence in Houston felt really natural.”
Founded in 2018, Loro blends Franklin's expertise in smoked meats with Cole's ability to use Asian flavors and techniques in creative ways. Signature items at the fast casual restaurant include sweet corn fritters, smoked prime bavette, a cheeseburger topped with red onion-brisket jam, muenster cheese, and lettuce, and, of course kaarage with chili aioli. Pair them with wine, beer, or boozy slushes such as the signature frozen gin and tonic.
Abel Design Group and Hai Design Studio will collaborate on transforming a portion of the building currently occupied by River Oaks Paint & Body into a restaurant. Expect approximately 125 seats inside and a 75-seat patio.
“Houston has always had one of the most vibrant food scenes and I’ve been lucky enough to cook with some great friends for some of the friendliest folks!” Franklin added. “This new Loro will be my new favorite place…. Besides the other Houston Loro!”
Loro joins a number of new concepts in and around Rice Village. In the last year or so, the area has seen additions such as Mediterranean-inspired Agnes Cafe & Provisions, the luxurious Gratify Neighborhood Bistro, modern Israeli restaurant Hamsa, and Lees Den, a new wine bar and restaurant from Local Foods owner Benjy Levit. Later this year, the team behind Bludorn will open Navy Blue, a new seafood restaurant in the former Politan Row space.