A wine bar for the east end
Veteran Houston restaurateur uncorks affordable new East End wine bar
The East End’s new wine bar is officially open for business. After a couple of weeks of soft opening, Mike Sammons is ready to declare that his newest project, How to Survive on Land and Sea, is ready for full-time service.
Sammons, who co-founded iconic Houston wine bar 13 Celsius, Midtown cocktail bar Mongoose versus Cobra, and Midtown restaurant Weights + Measures, tells CultureMap that How to Survive is like 13 Celsius in some important ways — it features wines from small producers and offers a simple food menu of charcuterie and sandwiches — but the overall feel is different. After all, he's developed this project on his own; although he maintains his partnership stakes in those projects, How to Survive is separate from them.
As he discussed on a recent episode of CultureMap’s “What’s Eric Eating” podcast, Sammons wants to take some of the pretension out of the wine bar experience. Towards that end, How to Survive features an industrial, no-frills look. The space is dominated by a U-shaped bar with mismatched bar stools. Other seating options include tables and a lounge-style nook with couches.
“I think the most important part is that it’s a lot like 13. Some things are who I am,” Sammons says. “It’s meant to be more casual and more affordable, a little more streamlined and less delicate.”
How to Survive’s chalkboard menu of by-the-glass options is the clearest way in which it is different from 13 Celsius. Priced between $7 and 12, the eight to 12 selections will change daily.
“I have everything from France to Tuscany to Italy to Greece. It’s a small menu, but there’s a lot of representation,” Sammons says. “The main thing is it’s extremely affordable and constantly changing. It’s always going to offer cool shit at an affordable price.”
In addition, Sammons has a fully stocked cellar of bottles available to drink at the bar or take to-go. Like the by-the-glass options, the bottles are priced to be affordable with most between $40 and $60.
“I’ve been tasting upwards of 60 wines a day,” Sammons says. “I’ve been working on this thing for so long, going on three years now. I got out of the game a little bit. I’m getting back by saying yes to everything and trying anything anyone wants to bring.”
In ways both big and small, the East End is changing really quickly these days. The Buffalo Bayou Partnership recently revealed an ambitious new plan to transform the eastern part of the bayou. On a smaller scale, bartenders Justin Ware and Patrick Abalos will be opening a new cocktail bar just down the street from How to Survive.
Sammons, who lives in the area, sees his effort as part of those changes. Already, the neighbors have been checking it out and are responding favorably, Sammons says. Now, he's ready to welcome wine lovers from across the city.
How to Survive on Land and Sea; 3401 Harrisburg; Open daily 4 pm - 2 am.