Chris Shepherd and the Underbelly Hospitality team are ready to unveil the new location of their signature steakhouse. The new Georgia James officially opens this Friday, July 1 in its new home in the Regent Square mixed-use development (3503 W. Dallas).
First announced last year, the new location gives Georgia James its first purpose-built location. Previously, the restaurant operated out of the former Underbelly location at 1100 Westheimer. Since January, it’s occupied the former One Fifth space at 1658 Westheimer Rd.
“It’s finally our home first and foremost,” Georgia James executive chef Greg Peters tells CultureMap about the new location. “From the years of modifying 1100 Westheimer and moving down to One Fifth, we’ve been transplants. Now we have our space to really stretch our legs. It’s exactly what we need.”
With over 200 seats downstairs along with a 24-person private dining room and a 10-seat bar, it’s substantially larger than either of the restaurant’s previous locations. An upstairs lounge — complete with TVs and two outdoor patios boasting fire pits — will open in the coming weeks.
Inside, diners will notice a sculpture of hand-blown Czech glass that’s meant to depict smoke rising from a fire pit. To the left of the entrance, diners will find semi-private banquettes with a view of the open kitchen. To the right, diners can admire the glass-enclosed wine room that has storage for up to 3,800 bottles.
In terms of the menu, the heart of the Georgia James experience remains the restaurant’s signature cast iron-seared steaks. Choices include five options from Texas beef purveyor 44 Farms — ribeye, New York strip, hanger, porterhouse, and the impressive-looking, dry-aged, long bone ribeye — along with a wagyu zabuton (a variation of the Denver cut) from Snake River Farms and, for the first time, Japanese A5 wagyu.
“I will always and forever stand by our boneless, 16-ounce 44 Farms ribeye,” Peters says. “That ribeye, day one of training, before we left, we had them try the 44 Farms ribeyes, because that’s who we are.”
Diners may top their steaks with crab Rockefeller, roasted garlic butter, chimichurri, or the restaurant’s steak sauce. Sides include staples like the creamed collard greens and smashed and fried potatoes as well as new options such as fried onion masala, an elotes-inspired charred corn, and loaded potatoes au gratin. Non-steak entrees include a Gulf fish of the day, a double bone-in pork chop, and Peters’ fried chicken.
The new menu also features an expanded selection of starters and raw bar items. Highlights include the signature Viet-Cajun roasted oysters, hearth-roasted pork belly with gochujang cucumbers, and beef carpaccio that’s inspired by pho.
“That’s something I’m extremely excited about as a representation of what Georgia James is,” Peters says about the carpaccio. “We still hold on to some things that come from the Underbelly way of thought. We’re looking at the city around us for inspiration.”
Joining Peters at Georgia James are veteran general manager Raul Lorenzana, managing sommelier Fremmiot Rodriguez, and bar manager Westin Galleymore. Sous chef Lucas McKinney, who has cooked at a range of Shepherd’s concepts from Hay Merchant to Georgia James Tavern, helps Peters keep the kitchen running smoothly.
“I could not do this with any other team,” Peters says. “I feel extremely fortunate to have them by my side. This is a massive undertaking. It’s just awesome to be surrounded by other problem solvers.”
The last several months have seen lots of changes for Underbelly Hospitality. It has left its long-time home on Westheimer, which included closing craft beer and comfort food restaurant Hay Merchant, closed UB Preserv, rebranded downtown's GJ Tavern, and opened two new concepts at the Houston Farmers Market, Underbelly Burger and Wild Oats, chef Nick Fine's culinary love letter to Texas cuisine. Finally relocating Georgia James is the next step in the company's evolution. Next year's opening of Pastore, an Italian restaurant that will be located next to Georgia James, will complete the transformation.