texas bbq for texans
New Texas-inspired restaurant fires up steaks and barbecue in Garden Oaks
An eagerly anticipated new restaurant has opened in Garden Oaks. Cherry Block Smokehouse officially opens to the public today (Tuesday, September 6) for daily lunch and dinner service.
Located in Revive Development's Stomping Grounds project (1223 W 34th St.), Cherry Block Smokehouse is an evolution of proprietor Felix Florez's Texas-focused restaurant at downtown's Bravery Chef Hall, Cherry Block Craft Butcher & Kitchen. A companion restaurant to Cherry Block Market, Florez's retail butcher shop in Katy, the counter service smokehouse serves Southern-inspired fare made with Texas-sourced proteins, many from Falcon Lake Farms, Florez's meat distribution company that raises and harvests animals. Described as "Texans for Texans," the approach gives Cherry Block a level of vertical integration that allows it to offer a steakhouse-style experience at a lower price point than other restaurants, according to a release.
Executive chef Jordan Economy (Dak & Bop, Salt & Time) and chef de cuisine Melissa Hart (Common Bond) worked with Florez on the restaurant's menu. Diners will find items from the food hall days, including steaks and gumbo, alongside new options such as crawfish egg rolls, seafood cocktails, and a Cuban sandwich made with ham that's smoked in-house.
As its name implies, the restaurant also serves a full range of pecan-smoked Texas barbecue with options such as beef brisket, pork ribs, smoked sausages, and baked potatoes topped with smoked meats. The signature roast beef debris po' boy has been joined by a range of options that include pork belly, catfish, and shrimp. More dishes will roll out over time.
"We are just getting started, there is so much more to come like brunch and daily specials,” Florez said. “The team is getting the basics down right now, but once we start running, we’ll take flight soon after.”
One thing that hasn't changed is Cherry Block's cheeseburger. The twin-patty burger gets topped with Havarti and cheddar cream mac sauce, red wine demi-glace, American cheese, Duke's mayo, lettuce, and tomato. As part of its crowd funding campaign through the NextSeed platform (now Republic), the restaurant promised one free burger per week to people who invested at least $1,000. That offer, and a well-timed CultureMap article, allowed Cherry Block to raise almost $400,000 towards its construction costs.
Diners may pair their meals with beer, cocktails, or wines selected by Florez, who has worked as a sommelier at Brennan's of Houston. The restaurant also offers a small retail market stocked with Texas-made products.
Overall, the 2,600-square-foot restaurant offers banquette seating for groups, bar seating, and picnic tables on a covered patio that's adjacent to the Stomping Grounds' green space. Local firm Gin Design Group created a Texas-themed environment that's decorated with ranch accessories and Florez family photographs.
It joins Fat Cat Creamery and Rooster & Rice, a Thai-inspired concept from California, at the Garden Oaks development. Later this fall, they'll be joined by LuLoo's Day & Night, an all-day concept from the owners of Blood Bros. BBQ and pastry chef Alyssa Dole.
“Our long-time relationship with curating restaurants for the Garden Oaks neighborhood, led us to cultivate the Stomping Grounds with locally-focused operators like Felix and Cherry Block," Revive vice president Monica Danna said. "Cherry Block’s format of a 'counter service steakhouse' casual enough for weekly family dining was the perfect fit for this community-focused development.”