mega 2022 restaurant preview
When it comes to restaurants, Houstonians are truly spoiled for compelling choices. Still, it’s hard to resist the temptation to try something new.
This year has already seen the debut of a number of exciting new options such as Uchiko, Hamsa, Flora, and Marmo. The torrid pace shows no signs of slowing down.
Consider the list below of restaurants that are coming to Houston this year. It contains out-of-town operators making their Houston debut, second and third locations for already successful establishments, pop-ups going brick and mortar, and more. While it’s obviously Inner Loop focused, diners will find restaurants in Garden Oaks, Bellaire, Sugar Land, and The Woodlands.
In terms of culinary firepower, the months to come will see Chris Shepherd open the more beautiful home of his signature steakhouse, Aaron Bludorn put his spin on seafood, former The Pass & Provisions chef Terrence Gallivan’s new pizzeria in Midtown, and Top Chef finalist Dawn Burrell debut her global comfort food restaurant in Midtown.
Obviously, all of these projected opening dates should be taken with a grain of salt, especially if they’re projected for the fall. While the estimates below reflect the best intentions of the people involved in opening them, they are subject to permitting delays, construction snafus, and supply chain hassles.
Those issues have already pushed a few projects to next year, including Pastore, Chris Shepherd’s new Italian restaurant; Turner’s Cut, Ben Berg’s ultra-luxurious new steakhouse; and The Marigold Club, Goodnight Hospitality’s modern continental restaurant that will be led by former Tony’s chef Austin Waiter.
Enough preamble. Let’s get to the restaurants.
Houston’s third location of this all-day concept will open early this summer at Plaza in the Park, the Kroger-anchored shopping center at the corner of Buffalo Speedway and Westpark Drive. The West University location, which will claim the over 5,600-square-foot space that was previously home to Vietopia, will feature the restaurant’s classic American fare along with a full bar with cocktails, craft beer, and an extensive wine list.
Scheduled to open later this month in the former Kona Grill space in The Woodlands Waterway, Amrina (Hindi for princess) aims to dazzle diners with posh decor and a lively setting that transitions from upscale dining to a high-energy environment complete with DJs on the weekends. Chef Jaspratap “Jassi” Bindra brings experience from both hotels in India and Washington D.C. restaurant Punjab Grill to a menu that will feature classic Indian dishes made with high quality ingredients like Prime beef and sustainable seafood.
Sambrooks Management Company (The Pit Room, Candente, etc.) will put its spin on a steakhouse with this new restaurant that will join Clarkwood and Blendin Coffee Club in the historic Star Engraving Company building at 3201 Allen Pkwy. Similar to its sibling 1751 Sea & Bar, Andiron will utilize live fire cooking techniques to blend traditional steakhouse entrees with an array of small plates. It’s expected to open this fall.
Berg Hospitality’s all-day brasserie in the Autry Park mixed-use development will serve classic American fare for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. A prime location will provide views of Buffalo Bayou.
Husband-and-wife chefs Kirthan and Kripa Shenoy will serve vegetable-forward, globally inspired cuisine at this restaurant in the Autry Park mixed-use development. It’s a homecoming for native Houstonian Kirthan Shenoy, whose resume includes top restaurants in New York. Pastry chef Kripa Shenoy will oversee a range of housemade breads and pastries.
The team behind Kau Ba Saigon Kitchen has leased the former Bernie’s Burger Bus in the Bellaire Triangle for this new restaurant that’s slated to open in late July. Chef Yoshi Katsuyama, best known locally for his time at Uchi, Aqui, and Soto Sushi, will bring his engaging omakase dinners to the restaurant. Beverage/director sommelier Chris Morris (Hunky Dory, MAD) will oversee a beverage program that includes cocktails, sake, and an extensive wine list.
Coming to The Heights in the fourth quarter of 2022, this ambitious restaurant features that talents of two chefs, Fernando Recio and Jacques Varon, who’ve worked extensively at Michelin-starred restaurants such as Mugaritz, Saison, and Angler. Named for the Basque word for “forest,” Baso will be centered around Basque and Spanish flavors but will also incorporate elements from each chefs’ career, including Peruvian, Scandinavian, and Japanese touches. Varon tells CultureMap that the chefs are putting together an extensive wine list and building their relationships with local farmers, ranchers, and fishermen. Expect a few preview pop-up dinners to occur prior to opening.
B.B. Italia Bistro & Bar
Berg Hospitality Group’s Italian American restaurant will make its debut in Sugar Land Town Square this September. The restaurant serves classic Italian-American fare like chicken parmesan, spaghetti and meatballs, lasagna, and pizza. With almost 6,800-square-feet of space, it will be able to accommodate lots of area families.
The Blind Goat
James Beard Award finalist Christine Ha (Xin Chao) and her husband John Suh will bring their acclaimed Vietnamese gastropub from downtown’s Bravery Chef Hall to the Spring Branch Village shopping center this October. The Masterchef winner plans to expand her menu with more tapas-style seafood plates, an expanded selection of skewers, and other dishes inspired by Nhau, Vietnamese food served with drinks. As at Xin Chao, expect cocktails to be a major component of the beverage program.
This entry is different from others in this guide, because the Medical Center hotel’s plans for its on-site restaurants are currently uncertain. Back in December, the Blossom announced that it would be home to restaurants by chefs Ho Cheen Boon and Akira Back, both of whom have led restaurants that held at least one Michelin star.
However, a representative tells CultureMap in an email that “there has been some changes to the restaurants which we are hoping to be able to announce soon.” She declined to elaborate on whether that means the two restaurants are simply delayed or whether one or both have been replaced by other concepts.
Blue Sushi Sake Grill
Part of the Omaha-based Flagship Restaurant Group, the new Japanese restaurant is scheduled to open in the M-K-T Heights development this month. It serves an extensive selection of sushi (both nigiri and maki), sashimi, vegan and vegetarian dishes, and prepared items that range from grilled items to hot and cold shareable plates. Craft cocktails, vivid decor, and a lively atmosphere enhance the experience.
Bosscat Kitchen - The Woodlands
The California-based, whiskey-obsessed, Galleria-area restaurant will open a second Houston-area location this fall at Market Street in the former Berryhill Baja Grill space. Expect the same over-the-top comfort food menu and extensive whiskey selection. Decadent brunch fare makes it a lively Sunday funday spot.
Houston food influencer Abbas Dhanani’s smash burger pop-up will open a permanent home on Washington Avenue this fall. Going brick and mortar will allow Dhanani to expand his menu by offer his chopped cheese and Bodega fries daily as well as collaboration specials. In keeping with the name, its design will take its inspiration from New York’s bodegas.
Cherry Block Craft Butcher and Kitchen
On pace for a July opening, this casual steakhouse in Garden Oaks’s Stomping Grounds development will expand on what Cherry Block offered at Bravery Chef Hall with an wider array of dishes made with Texas-raised meats as well as a beverage program curated by owner Felix Florez, who once worked as a sommelier at Brennan’s of Houston. Gin Design Group’s plans for the space include a retail grab-and-go area, a range of seating options, and a covered patio that looks out onto the Stomping Grounds’s expansive green space.
CIEL Restaurant & Lounge
The latest entrant in the “vibe dining” segment — that is, restaurants that incorporate nightclub elements like bottle service and DJs — this Galleria-area restaurant (4411 San Felipe St.) will serve food that blends French and Japanese influences paired with cocktails and a champagne-focused wine list. At 8,000-square-feet, Ciel will offer plenty of room for eating and socializing when it opens this fall.
Austin-based MML Hospitality will make its Houston debut with this oyster bar and seafood restaurant that’s known for dishes such as seafood towers, lobster rolls, and cioppino. Scheduled to open by the end of 2022, work has already begun to transform the former Montrose Auto Repair space at the corner of West Alabama and Montrose into a stylish restaurant with patio seating.
Rafael Nasr’s fast casual Mediterranean restaurant will open its second location in the former Kenny & Ziggy’s space near West University Place this fall. In addition to popular dishes such as pita sandwiches, bowls, and shared plates, the new location will feature kebabs. Expect an expanded wine list to appeal to West U. diners.
Daddy’s Chicken Shack
The California-based restaurant will makes its debut in a former dry cleaners at the intersection of N. Shepherd Dr. and W. 11th St. Developed by chef and native Houstonian Pace Webb and her husband Chris Georgalas, the menu features chicken sandwiches, chicken and waffles, breakfast sandwiches, nuggets, and salads along with vegan coconut curry-brined cauliflower. It is expected to open in late summer.
The team behind Hando is working on this Vietnamese restaurant that will open in the same Heights shopping center as Crawfish Cafe later this summer.
Elro Pizza // Crudo
Chef Terrence Gallivan will bring the skills he showed at The Pass & Provisions to this Midtown restaurant. Expected to open in August or September, Elro will feature creative pizzas, crudos, salads, snacks, and sandwiches. Gallivan will also oversee the wine list, which will be focused on a mix of both traditional and natural wines from the Old and New World.
Gatlin’s Fins & Feathers
Gatlin's BBQ owner Greg Gatlin and executive chef Michelle Wallace have teamed up to open this comfort food restaurant in Independence Heights. When it opens in late June, the restaurant will feature dishes such as gumbo, char-grilled oysters, and fried chicken for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. A comfortable dining room should appeal to area families, and brunch offerings will lure in the after-church crowd.
Chris Shepherd’s luxurious steakhouse is expected to open its new home in the Regent Square mixed-use development on July 1. Bigger and more stylish than its original home on Westheimer, the new restaurant will seat approximately 150 people in its main dining room and about 180 on its second floor that will be divided into an indoor lounge and outdoor patio. The food, now under the direction of executive chef Greg Peters and sous chef Lucas McKinney, will continue to feature cast iron-seared steaks and signature dishes such as Viet-Cajun roasted oysters, slab salad, and charred apple pie.
Untitled Goode Co. Restaurant
Despite some signs of construction at the former Down House space on Yale, the Houston hospitality group declined CultureMap’s request to comment on its plans for the building that it leased last summer.
Drift Bar owner Zach Harris will open this adjacent bar in the fall, which means that, yes, it’s actually in Shady Acres. The massive new spot will feature more than 50 TVs plus a 40-foot LED wall. Drink options will be centered around draft cocktails and an extensive selection of martinis.
Home Slice Pizza
Known for its New York-style pizzas, creative sandwiches, and warm service, partner-owner Jeff Mettler tells CultureMap that the Austin-based pizzeria is on track to open in the next three to five months. When it does, the former t'afia/Sparrow space in Midtown will feature a wrought iron fence by Cab Stand Collective and an interior design by Christopher Plummer, the architect and interior designer behind UBORA Design. For now, people can admire the neon sign on the building and try to contain their anticipation for late night slices.
This Dallas-based concept is coming to the River Oaks Shopping Center. Inspired by neighborhood restaurants in New York's West Village, Hudson House is built around a classic, double patty cheeseburger, an extensive selection of raw oysters, and the self-described "World's Coldest" martinis. The lively weekend brunch features Benedicts, berry pancakes, and frozen peach bellinis.
Two veterans of the Houston's/Hillstone restaurant group will bring this Dallas-based Italian restaurant to the Galleria area this July. The restaurant makes all of its pastas, breads, and desserts are in-house and butchers both fresh seafood and USDA Prime steaks. Dishes such as meatballs, pasta bolognese, and pan-roasted sea bass are paired with Italian wines and Italian-inspired cocktails
The historic Houston burger joint has leased the former Brisket Bar-BQ space in the Bellaire Triangle for its second location. Expect all of the burgers that have made the original an institution along with expanded dinner hours. Perhaps the most significant change will be a full liquor license that will allow the restaurant to serve cocktails for the first time.
Chef Dawn Burrell — the Olympian-turned-chef who earned a James Beard semifinalist nomination for her work at Kulture and became a culinary celebrity by reaching the finals of Top Chef — has partnered with Lucille’s chef-owner Chris Williams to bring this new restaurant to Midtown’s The Ion mixed-use development. She will utilize African and Asian flavors to create a menu of global comfort food. Expect dishes such as rotating seasonal hummus, crispy beef rib sandwich, black rice congee with smoked goat and marinated egg, and dried beef with corn pappardelle, corn cream, tomato broth, and okra.
Gin Design Group will pay homage to the building’s status as a historic Sears department store.
Little Pappas Seafood House Oyster Bar
The family-owned Houston restaurant has decided to revive its intimate seafood restaurant on Shepherd Dr. Although the restaurant has always served oysters, they’ll be a more explicit part of its offerings, along with Gulf fish, Maine lobster, and Pappas’ signature tableside Greek salad. Pappas wine director Robert Smith plans to stock the list with approximately 60 "cool bottles" (his words) that pair well with oysters and other seafood, especially Champagne, European whites, and lighter reds like Pinot Noir.
Luloo’s Day & Night
The owners of Blood Bros. BBQ — James Beard Award finalist and pitmaster Quy Hoang along with brothers Robin and Terry Wong — have teamed up with pastry chef Alyssa Dole (Agricole Hospitality, The Kirby Group) on this sandwich shop and bakery that will open this summer at the Stomping Grounds development in Garden Oaks. Dole will oversee a commercial baking operation that’s already producing breads and sweets for restaurants across Houston. Blood Bros is well known for its creative sandwiches that utilize smoked meats, including the smoked turkey banh mi, tri-tip pastrami, and the Pig Moe — a grilled cheese sandwich made with pulled pork, mozzarella, provolone, and a blueberry-habañero barbecue sauce.
Chef David Cordua returns to the Houston dining scene with this bar-forward concept in Midtown’s The Ion mixed-use development. Named for the street in Southwest Houston where Cordua grew up, the Lymbar will serve small plates inspired by Latin and Mediterranean flavors served from an open kitchen that will prominently feature a vertical roaster. In addition to its food offerings, the restaurant will offer a craft cocktail program built around barrel-aged spirits.
Mala Sichuan Bistro - MKT
Heights residents may only be a few weeks away from dining on mapo tofu, red oil dumplings, water boiled fish, and all the other signature items that have made Mala Sichuan one of Houston’s most acclaimed Chinese restaurants. Co-owner Heng Chen tells CultureMap that he and his wife and busy partner Cory Xiong are aiming to open by the end of this month.
When Mala MKT makes its debut, it will feature a design by Gin Design Group that reference Xiong’s countryside homeland near the city of Chengdu such as custom linen lanterns, Chinese character shadow art, and a pagoda-style wooden roof that’s being made by Sichuan artisans. Veteran bartender Chris Frankel has designed a cocktail menu centered around light, refreshing drinks that incorporate Chinese and East Asian ingredients and pair well with spicy Sichuan food.
Tobiuo Sushi chef-owner Sherman Yeung will open this modern, Japanese-inspired restaurant in the same Upper Kirby mid-rise as Kiran’s. Scheduled to open in September, Moneycat will serve a selection of sushi as well as both hot and cold dishes, many of which will be made with locally sourced ingredients. True to its name, the entrance will feature a wall of money cats waving at patrons.
Bludorn chef-owner Aaron Bludorn, his wife Victoria Pappas Bludorn, and Bludorn general manager Cherif Mbodji have teamed up to open this new seafood restaurant. Scheduled to open in the fall, Navy Blue will occupy that former Politan Row space in Rice Village. Specifics are light, but Bludorn’s many seafood preparations — think uni spaghetti and lobster pot pie — inspire confidence that it will be a welcome addition to the area.
After a well-received series of monthly pop-ups at Hidden Omakase, this sushi hand roll concept will open a permanent home in the Bellaire area this fall. Details are light, but diners should expect signature items such as the Menage Foie Gras, a decadent combination of uni, toro, wagyu, caviar, and foie gras.
Chef Masaru Fukuda will revive his restaurant from the shuttered Politan Row food hall at a new location in Westchase (10001 Westheimer Rd.). Expect a range of hot and cold dishes typical of Nikkei, a fusion cuisine created by Japanese immigrants who moved to Peru starting in the late 1800s. Fukuda, a veteran of restaurants such as Kata Robata and MAD, has earned a solid reputation for his creative ceviches, fusion sushi rolls, and lomo saltado.
The Austin-based restaurant that’s known for accommodating people with food allergies and specialized diets will open its first Houston location in the Montrose Collective mixed-use developed. When it opens this fall, Picnik will serve dishes that are gluten-free, refined sugar-free, and peanut-free. A dedicated bar area will make the restaurant welcoming for those who just want a drink and a snack.
Rooster & Rice
Opening in the Stomping Grounds development this summer, this San Francisco-based concept serves variations on Khao Mun Gai, Thai-style chicken and rice. The restaurant’s speed, affordability, and consistency have made it a hit; now Houstonians will get to experience the restaurant and decide for themselves.
Ten Sushi + Cocktail Bar
Bosscat Kitchen partners John Reed and Leslie Nguyen are bringing their high energy sushi concept to Houston. Located across Mid Lane from Bosscat, Ten serves sushi alongside a pan-Asian menu of dishes that range from Japanese (miso soup, tempura) to Chinese (honey walnut shrimp, kung pao chicken) and beyond. When it opens this summer, expect the same personalized service and creative cocktails that have made Bosscat such a success.
Tin Drum Asian Kitchen
After some permitting delays, this Atlanta-based pan-Asian concept is on track to open in July near the intersection of Washington Avenue and Shepherd Drive Founded by Hong Kong native Steven Chan, the restaurant serves familiar dishes from continental Asia that includes Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese, Indian, and Korean cuisines, some of which utilize recipes developed by Chan's wife Sylvia. Diners can pair their meals with Asian-inspired sips such as boba tea and Vietnamese coffee. A grab-and-go "mini mart" offers a range of snacks, candy, and sauces from different Asian countries.
Formerly Concrete Cowboy, this Washington Avenue spot has been converted into a new tequila bar that’s opening this weekend. Chef Victoria Elizondo’s Cochi’s Taqueria taco truck will serve food on-site.
The Upside Pub
Coming this summer to the former Tres Amigos space in Garden Oaks, this bar aims to be a casual, come-as-you-are spot for beer, food, and cocktails. Look for an eclectic menu that includes housemade queso and chicken wings along with items that draw on the couple's roots in New Jersey and California such as shrimp rolls and burritos. Co-owner Paige Lujan will curate the bar’s 15 taps of craft beer.
The Heights cafe known for its winning combination of coffee, cocktails, and CBD has claimed the former UB Preserv space for a second location. Look for an August opening.
Williams Smokehouse BBQ & Blues
This new barbecue restaurant — which, to be clear, is not connected to the historic Acres Homes restaurant Williams Smokehouse — will open this November in the former Stadia Grill space in Sugar Land Town Square (2105 Lone Star Dr.). Pitmaser and co-owner Kennis Williams will utilize a wood-burning, rotisserie smoker to produce dishes such as smoked turkey legs stuffed with dirty rice and topped with shrimp and sausage alfredo sauce; homemade armadillo eggs; and "Creole candy" smoked wings. True to its name, the restaurant will have a small stage that will host live blues music.
Winfield’s Chocolate Bar
Located on West Alabama near Kirby Drive, this rebranded version of The Chocolate Bar will replace the Montrose location that closed last year. Like its sibling in Rice Village, it will serve chocolate bars and other creations, ice cream, cakes, and more. Timing is a little uncertain, but it is expected to open by Labor Day.