Even though Gov. Greg Abbott’s initial timeline of May 18 for “phase 2” and 50-percent capacity is rapidly approaching, many Houston restaurants are opting to reopen this week under the current, 25-percent capacity limit. As a reminder, diners will encounter a very different dining experience than they did in the pre-COVID days.
At Hugo’s, which reopens Thursday, May 14 for dinner service, that means no valet service (or car washes) as well as a requirement that diners wear masks any time they aren’t seated at their tables. The signature Sunday brunch buffet will be replaced with an a la carte menu for now.
“In many ways, this is going to be like opening an entirely new restaurant, and we hope diners will be understanding as we all learn this ‘new normal,’” Hugo’s co-owner Tracy Vaught said in a statement. “There is going to be a learning curve for everyone, including staff and diners, but our priority is making the restaurant and the dining experience as safe as possible for all.”
Fast casual restaurants will feel different, too. The Burger Joint has placed markers 10 feet apart to keep diners separated while they’re waiting in line to order. A staff member will escort customers to their tables both to enforce social distancing requirements and to ensure that the table has been properly sanitized between parties.
The restaurant’s popularity has allowed it to keep its staff employed during to-go service, chef-partner Matt Pak tells CultureMap, and the large patios at both locations will be beneficial when it resumes dine-in service on Wednesday, May 13.
However, the restaurant has other challenges stemming from the coronavirus pandemic. Specifically, the rising cost of beef has increased the restaurant’s costs to operate.
“We don’t anticipate raising our prices based on this first price increase we have taken on,” Pak writes in an email. “Things can obviously change, but we don’t want to have to have to do that to our customers. We are trying to weather the storm just like a lot of people out there.”
Resuming to-go service
Ishin Udon: The Chinatown restaurant devoted to Japanese noodle soup and curry dishes is open for lunch and dinner. Hours are 11 am - 3 pm for lunch with dinner beginning at 5 pm Tuesday - Sunday.
Izakaya Wa: The Memorial-area Japanese pub resumes to-go service on Friday, May 15. Hours are 11 am - 3 pm and 4 - 8 pm Tuesday - Sunday.
Moxie's: The Galleria-area spots bar is now serving steaks, sandwiches, shareables, and more for delivery or to-go from 12 - 9 pm daily.
Nancy’s Hustle: The ultra-popular restaurant has begun selling prepared meals that feature an entree, vegetable sides, bread, and dessert. Designed to feed two people, they cost $60 and may be ordered online Wednesday - Sunday for pickup at the restaurant. Suggested wines and other prepared items are also available.
Night Market Thai: Chef Mike Tran's creative Thai restaurant is offering lunch and dinner to go. Hours are 11 am - 3 pm and 5 - 10 pm Tuesday - Sunday.
Resuming dine-in service
B.B. Italia: Berg Hospitality’s family-friendly Italian restaurant reopened on May 9. Hours are 4 - 9 pm daily.
B.B. Lemon: Berg Hospitality's comfort food restaurant resumes lunch and dinner service on Friday, May 15 with more patio seating and cabanas on its lawn. Open at 11 am daily.
Bistro Menil: Chef Greg Martin’s stylist Montrose spot remains closed for dine-in service, but customers may eat the food they order to-go at tables on the restaurant’s patio. Hours are 11 am - 8 pm Wednesday - Sunday.
The Burger Joint: As noted above, both locations have reopened for dine-in service with new procedures in place to maintain social distancing. Hours are 11 am - 12 am daily in Montrose and 11 am - 10 pm daily in The Heights.
Chama Gaúcha: The popular, Galleria-area churrascaria has reopened for dine-in service with a number of changes, including that staff members will serve diners from the salad bar. Lunch and dinner hours vary by day. See website for details. Reservations recommended.
China Garden: Get Houston's best egg rolls and other Chinese American fare for dine-in or to-go from 3 - 9 pm Thursday - Saturday. Reservations recommended.
FM Kitchen & Bar: The comfort restaurant resumes dining on its patio on Thursday, May 14 for groups of four or fewer people. Open 11 am - 9 pm daily.
Hugo’s: The restaurant resumes dine-in service with a limited menu of customer favorites plus some Oaxacan specialities. Hours are 3 - 9 pm Monday - Friday, 10 am - 9 pm Saturday, and 10 am - 3 pm Sunday. Reservations recommended.
Izakaya: Midtown’s Japanese pub has reopened for dine-in service with a special “stimulus menu” that features skewers, small plates, ramen, and dumplings. Hours are 2 - 10 pm Monday - Friday and 12 - 10 pm Saturday and Sunday. Reservations recommended.
Kata Robata: Chef Hori-san and his team will resume dine-in service on May 18 with an extensive array of safety protocols. Hours are: lunch, 12 - 2:30 pm daily (60 minute max seating); dinner 5 - 10:30 pm Sunday - Thursday and 5 - 11 pm Friday and Saturday (90 minute max seating). Reservations required.
Killen’s TMX: Ronnie Killen’s Tex-Mex restaurant resumes dinner service on Friday, May 15. Reservations recommended.
La Lucha/Superica: Ford Fry’s Gulf Coast comfort food restaurant and its adjacent Tex-Mex restaurant are both open for patio dining only. Superica is open for dinner beginning at 4:30 pm Monday - Thursday and lunch and dinner beginning at 11:30 am Friday - Sunday. La Lucha opens daily at 4:30 pm.
MAD: The Spanish fine dining restaurant devoted to tapas, paella, and bathroom selfies has reopened for dinner service. Reservations required.
Maggiano’s Little Italy: All three Houston-area locations of the upscale chain restaurant have reopened for dine-in service. Customers are “encouraged” to wear masks when not seated at their tables. Hours are 11 am - 9 pm Monday - Friday and 10:30 am - 9 pm Saturday and Sunday. Reservations recommended.
Mala Sichuan Bistro: All three locations of the acclaimed Chinese restaurant reopened for lunch and dinner with their full menus on Sunday, May 10. Hours vary by location. See website for details.
Mutiny Wine Room: The California-inspired wine bar and restaurant has reopened for dine-in service beginning at 4 pm Tuesday - Friday and 12 pm Saturday and Sunday.
Voodoo Queen Daiquiri Dive: The East End favorite for tasty po'boys and potent cocktails has reopened for patio service. Hours are 12 pm - 12 am daily.