11 things to know

11 things to know in Houston food right now: Openings, closings, and holiday treats

11 things to know in Houston food: Openings, closings, and treats

Phat Eatery sizzling beef with black pepper
Phat Eatery is expanding its dining room. Photo by Chuck Cook
Antone's Donkeeboy RIP sandwich
Donkeeboy poses with "The R.I.P." Photo by Emily Jaschke
Mendocino Farms downtown exterior
Mendocino Farms has opened downtown. Courtesy of Mendocino Farms
Whiskey Cake OMG Burger
Whiskey Cake has opened in Stafford. Courtesy of Whiskey Cake
Riel cocktails
Riel has new cocktails. Photo by Bradford Eu
Phat Eatery sizzling beef with black pepper
Antone's Donkeeboy RIP sandwich
Mendocino Farms downtown exterior
Whiskey Cake OMG Burger
Riel cocktails

Editor’s note: Houston’s restaurant scene moves pretty fast. In order to prevent CultureMap readers from missing anything, let’s stop to look around at all the latest news to know.

Openings, closings, and coming attractions

Comfort food restaurant Whiskey Cake Kitchen & Bar opened its third Houston-area location at The Grid, the mixed-use development in Stafford that occupies the former T.I. campus, on Monday, November 11. The 8,600-square-foot restaurant seats almost 300 people and features a whiskey list with 400 selections. Food offerings run the gamut from sandwiches and salads to grilled seafood, steaks, and its namesake dessert.

Despite the size, the restaurant sources quite a bit of its ingredients from local purveyors, including Texas olive oil, Sanderson Farms chicken, cheeses from Brazos Valley Cheese, and sourdough from Slow Dough Bread Co. Whiskey Cake serves lunch and dinner during the week (opening at 11 am) and brunch and dinner on weekends (opening at 9 am). The address is 12575 Southwest Freeway, Stafford, TX 77477.

Click Virtual Food Hall, the delivery restaurant from former Aqui chef Gabriel Medina, has added Filipino cuisine to its roster of options. The chef, who traveled to the Philippines earlier this year, created 7,000 Islands to showcase dishes such as lumpia (egg rolls), sotanghon (rice noodles, sweet potato noodles, chicken, and shrimp), and dinaguan (braised pork in lemongrass and chili-vinegar blood with butternut squash). Given the relative dearth of Filipino cuisine in Houston, it's an exciting addition to Click's roster, which also includes sandwiches, Japanese rice bowls, and tacos.

Click's app, available for both iOS and Android, offers free delivery and a rewards program. 

Mendocino Farms, the California-based restaurant known for its decadent sandwiches, has opened its third Houston-area location in downtown at the 609 Main at Texas office tower. Open for lunch and dinner, the restaurant also expects to provide catered sandwiches to downtown office workers.

Goode Company Seafood has opened its new Memorial location. Located near its former home, the new restaurant at 10201 Katy Freeway features an interior inspired by coastal fishing diners. Although most of the menu remains the same — rioting might occur if any changes had been made to the signature campechana — proprietor Levi Goode added dishes such as jumbo lump crab au gratin, fried oyster BLT sliders, and seafood towers.

“This has been such an exciting project to take on, and one that we have been considering for some time,” Goode said in a statement. “Reflecting on what we created 33 years ago with the original location and deciding on what steps we needed to take to revitalize the concept for the next 20 years was a fun process.”

Candelari’s closed its Washington Avenue location at the end of October. The location near West University Place on Holcomb Boulevard remains open. 

El Burro and the Bull will have a new home in 2020. Having closed their location in the Conservatory food hall at the end of October, proprietors Veronica and John Avila will open a full-service restaurant in the East End at 5401 Harrisburg. The two-story restaurant will be divided into El Burro, which will serve Avila’s Mexican-influenced take on Texas barbecue, and the Bull, which will offer more creative fare built around live fire cooking. The couple also own Henderson & Kane, a modern general store in the Old Sixth Ward that serves barbecue and sells a variety of food and gifts.

Other news and notes

Riel has a new bar manager. Derek P. Brown comes to Ryan Lachaine’s Montrose restaurant after a stint at The Pass & Provisions. Prior to moving to Houston, he worked at New York restaurants including Café Boulud, Momofuku Ssäm Bar, and Danny Meyer’s North End Grill. His new cocktail menu includes the White Claw Paloma (tequila, grapefruit juice, Grapefruit White Claw), the Say My Name (vodka, raspberries, lemon, cava), and the Disko Cowboy (mezcal, Campari, grapefruit, lemon).

“My focus has been taking Riel from a functional bar to a personality-driven space, all about hospitality,” Brown said in a release. “I owe that to learning the business in New York. There are 17,000 different liquor licenses; you can go literally anywhere else to get a drink. There’s one thing that’ll bring you back, and it’s hospitality.”

Phat Eatery is growing. The Malaysian restaurant, ranked 77 on CultureMap’s list of Houston’s top 100 restaurants, will expand to 100 total seats by taking over an adjacent space. Along with the expanded space, chef-owner Alex Au-Yeung will debut a new “feed me” menu that will provide six courses for a fixed price of approximately $40 per person. Currently closed during the renovations, the restaurant is expected to reopen on Friday, November 15.

Vinny’s, Agricole Hospitality’s EaDo pizzeria, has been offering complimentary delivery of its pizzas, salads, and sandwiches for about six months. Recently, the restaurant added wine and beer to its delivery offerings. The selections, curated by sommelier Curtis Sibley, cover dozens of options from affordable red and white wines to a $350 magnum of champagne. Beer options focus on local craft brews, but they also include White Claw.

Local artist Donkeeboy is the latest participant in Antone’s Famous Po’ Boys “H-Town Originals” celebrity sandwich collaboration series. “The R.I.P.,” as in “rest in pork,” features carnitas, avocado, coleslaw, chipotle mayo, and sliced jalapeños between two slices of pan de muerto bread; 50 percent of proceeds will benefit Assist the Officer, a local non-profit that provides short-term, immediate need financial assistance for officers critically injured or disabled in the line of duty.

Porch Swing Pub will transform into Santa’s Tavern for the holiday season. A collaboration between Houston-based Color Social and INTERPOP Creative Agency, the bar will operate in a family-friendly mode from 11 am - 7 pm, with ornament-making stations and photos with Santa. After 7 pm, it’s an adults-only space with Christmas-themed cocktails, food, and a dog-friendly patio. Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for kids aged 5-12.