As Houston restaurants move into “phase 2” of reopening for dine-in service, more of the city’s top chefs and restaurateurs are getting back to business. That means they’re permitted to serve at 50 percent of their capacity as long as they maintain at least 6 feet of separation between tables and limit party sizes to six or fewer.
Still, reopening doesn’t mean “normal,” and diners will need to adjust their expectations accordingly. For example, valet service still isn’t permitted, so plan a little extra time to find parking at places where it can be a challenge.
Even casual restaurants like Cane Rosso and Kenny & Ziggy’s are requiring reservations to manage customer flow. Many businesses are requesting or requiring customers to wear masks at all times when they aren’t seated at their tables.
Make sure that smartphone has a decent charge. Since single-use paper menus are still required, some restaurants are opting to use online menus to present detailed dish descriptions and/or wine lists.
Hours and staff may be limited, too. It may be hard to imagine Brennan’s not serving Sunday brunch, but that’s our current reality (at least for this week — it's coming back May 31).
Still, the news isn’t all bad. Some restaurants used their temporary closures to make some upgrades. Rainbow Lodge has an all-new bar with new floors, banquettes, and a bronze-mirror ceiling to show off its 20-foot wood sculpture. Bravery Chef Hall turned the former Atlas Diner stand into a Hawker Alley with four new restaurants: Andes Café, a South American concept from David Guerrero; Margaux’s, a seafood concept from chef Scott Ache; Naaco Bread Co, an Indian restaurant from chef Sunny Vohra; and La Villa Tacos from Jonathan Gallardo and José Doñez.
For those who don’t feel ready to dine out, all of these establishments still offer takeout in various forms. Also, those looking for more dine-in options should see CultureMap’s previous lists from April 29, May 6, and May 13; many of those restaurants are bumping up from 25 to 50-percent capacity.
Alma Latina: The Heights Tex-Mex favorite resumes dine-in service from 11 am - 10 pm daily.
The Annie Cafe: The Galleria-area restaurant resumes dinner service on Thursday, May 21. Hours are 4 - 9 pm Tuesday - Thursday and 4 - 10 pm Friday and Saturday.
Armadillo Palace: Goode Co.'s bar, restaurant, and live music venue reopens with a limited menu and hours that begin May 28: 11:30 am - 12 am Thursday - Saturday — also opening at noon May 23 and 24 for Memorial Day weekend.
B&B Butchers: Berg Hospitality’s upscale steakhouse resumes dinner and Sunday brunch service on Thursday, May 21. Hours are 4 - 9 pm Tuesday - Thursday, 4 - 10 pm Friday and Saturday, and 11 am - 9 pm Sunday.
Backstreet Cafe: The venerable restaurant will reopen with a limited for dinner during the week as well as brunch and dinner on the weekends. Diners are required to wear masks when not seated at a table. Hours are 3 - 9 pm Monday - Friday, 10 am - 9 pm Saturday, and 10 am - 3 pm Sunday.
Batanga: Downtown’s best patio reopens this week with a number of changes, including more space between tables, a limited menu better suited for to-go, and a bodega that sells beverage kits, wine and beer, and produce. See website for hours.
Bistro Menil: Chef Greg Martin’s Montrose restaurant resumes dine-in service on Friday, May 22. Hours are 11 am - 2 pm and 5 - 9 pm.
Brassiere du Parc: The downtown restaurant reopens for dinner only with a limited menu. Hours are 5 - 9 pm Monday - Thursday and 5 - 10 pm Friday and Saturday.
Bravery Chef Hall: The downtown food hall has reopened all of its restaurants for dine-in service beginning at 11 am daily.
Brennan’s of Houston: Houstonians will once again be able to dine-in on turtle soup and bananas Foster as the venerable Creole restaurant resumes dinner service. Hours are 5 - 9 pm Tuesday - Sunday.
Broken Barrel: Chef Hilda Ysusi has reopened her eclectic, small plates restaurant in The Woodlands for dinner and Sunday brunch. Hours are 4 - 9 pm Monday - Saturday and 11 am - 3 pm Sunday.
Cane Rosso: The Heights pizzeria will reopen for dine-in service this weekend with reservations available to help the restaurant manage its limited capacity. Open at 11 am daily.
Churrascos: The Sugar Land, Memorial, and River Oaks locations of the South American steakhouse reopen for dine-in service on Tuesday, May 19. See website for hours, addresses, and details on the limited menu.
Costa Brava Bistro: Bellaire’s favorite place for paella is open for dinner from 5 - 8 pm Tuesday - Thursday and 5 - 9 pm Saturday and Sunday.
Craft Pita: Previously patio only, the Mediterranean restaurant has temporarily shifted to full service to better accommodate social distancing requirements. Open 11 am - 8 pm daily.
The General Public: CityCentre's gastropub reopens Friday. Service begins at 3 pm on weekdays with brunch beginning at 11 am on Saturday and Sunday.
Georgia James: Chris Shepherd's steakhouse resumes dinner service on Friday, May 22 with a menu that includes steaks, salads, and signature items like Viet-Cajun roasted oysters, the GJ Burger, and center cut king crab legs. Reservations recommended. Hours are 5 - 10 pm Sunday - Thursday and 5 - 11 pm Friday and Saturday.
Ginger & Fork: The Heights-adjacent Chinese restaurant has reopened for dine-in service with strict protocols for customers that include a temperature check before entering and wearing a mask except while dining. Reservations required. Hours are 11:30 am - 9 pm Tuesday - Thursday and 11:30 am - 10 pm Friday and Saturday.
Grimaldi’s: All five Houston-area locations of the coal-fired pizzeria have reopened for dine-in lunch and dinner service. See website for addresses and hours.
Handam BBQ: The newly opened Korean restaurant in Chinatown has resumed dine-in service. Hours are 11:30 am - 9:30 pm daily.
Hando: The Heights hand roll restaurant will only have room for 11 diners when it reopens for daily lunch and dinner service.
Hearsay Gastro Lounge: The restaurant’s original, Market Square location has reopened for dinner service with a new menu and refreshed interior. Hours are 4 - 10 pm daily.
Kenny & Ziggy’s Post Oak: The delicatessen resumes dine-in service at its original location with strict procedures. Customers are required to use the Yelp app to make a reservation and will not be permitted inside until their table is available. They’re also required to wear masks unless seated at their table and will access the restaurant’s menu via smartphone. Hours are 8 am - 9 pm daily.
New York Deli & Coffee Shop: Dine-in service at this staple of Houston’s Jewish community resumes Friday, May 22. Hours are 8 am - 7 pm Monday - Thursday and 8 am - 8 pm Friday - Sunday.
Nobu: The global sushi powerhouse reopens its location in The Galleria on Thursday, May 21. Hours are 5 - 9 pm Wednesday - Sunday.
One Fifth Mediterranean: Hummus, pita, wood-roasted meats and more will be available for dine-in service beginning Friday, May 22. Reservations recommended. Hours are 4 - 10 pm Tuesday - Thursday, 12 - 10 pm Friday and Saturday, and 12 - 8 pm Sunday.
The Original Ninfa’s Uptown: The Tex-Mex restaurant reopens for daily lunch and dinner service at 25-percent capacity on Wednesday, May 20. Navigation location will move to 50-percent capacity on Friday, May 22.
Qin Dynasty: The upscale Chinese-American restaurant resumes dine-in service from 11 am - 9 pm daily.
Rainbow Lodge: When the restaurant reopens on Friday, May 22, it will show off a redesigned bar that features new banquettes and tables as well as a new menu from chef Mark Schmidt and cocktails from beverage director Marc Borel. In the main dining room, a QR code will allow people to peruse the wine list via smart phone. Hours are 11:30 - 8 pm Tuesday - Friday, 5:30 - 9 Saturday, and 10:30 am - 8 pm Sunday.
Roka Akor: Reservations are required at this upscale Japanese steakhouse. Hours are 4:30 - 10 pm Tuesday - Sunday.
Roost: Chef Kevin Naderi’s Montrose bistro is offering seatings at 4:30, 6:30, and 8:30 pm nightly. Reservations required.
Slowpokes: All three locations of the coffee shop and cafe — Oak Forest, Spring Branch, and Upper Kirby — are now open with a limited food menu plus coffee, wine, and beer. Hours are 8 am - 6 pm daily.
Snooze: An AM Eatery: The brunch restaurant's locations in Montrose, the Heights, Katy, Memorial, and Clear Lake have reopened for dine-in service. Hours are 7 am - 2 pm on weekdays and 6:30 am - 2:30 pm on weekends.
State of Grace: The River Oaks restaurants resumes dinner service this week with a new menu that adds some seasonal elements to its familiar mix of small plates, raw seafood, and steaks. Hours are 4:30 - 8:30 pm Sunday - Thursday and 4:30 - 9 pm Friday and Saturday.
Squable: The European-inspired restaurant in The Heights returns for this weekend (May 22 - 24) with patio seating only. Reservations required. Hours are 4 - 10 pm Friday and Saturday and 11 am - 4 pm Sunday.
Tris: The best restaurant in The Woodlands (trust us) has resumed dinner service. Hours are 5 - 9 pm Tuesday - Thursday and 5 - 10 pm Friday and Saturday.
Truluck's: Steak and stone crab are once available at both Houston-area locations (Galleria and The Woodlands). See website for hours.
UB Preserv: Since it's too small for 50-percent seating to make sense, the restaurant will reopen with party packs available for pickup; see website for each week's selections. Hours are 3 - 8 pm Thursday - Saturday and 11 am - 3 pm Sunday.
Uchi: The Austin-based Montrose restaurant has reopened to satisfy those cravings from wagyu tataki and hama chili. Reservations are required for dinner service, which begins daily at 4 pm.