Fall is a busy time for new restaurants, ie, those that are totally new or new to the market, but existing concepts are also busily opening new locations. Since they’re either replications or variations of places that are already established, they aren’t a fit for the monthly Where to Eat Now column — at least not during a time with so many new restaurants opening.
And yet, they are the sort of places that diners in those neighborhoods will be eager to know about. Here's a few places to consider for post-Thanksgiving dining. Don’t worry; December will bring a fresh crop of new (or new to Houston) restaurants for that month’s Where to Eat column.
Mellow Mushroom - The Heights
The Atlanta-based pizza joint already has a location in Spring, but The Heights location opened Monday. Whimsical design elements are located throughout the space, including a trolley car in the middle of the dining room that pays homage to the neighborhood’s history and a baseball scoreboard-style display of the extensive draft selection.
In terms of style, Mellow Mushroom’s pies have a thick, chewy crust that bakes more slowly than the Neapolitan-style pizzas served at nearby Cane Rosso. Those who arrive really hungry will probably want to start with wings or a stuffed portabello mushroom to ease the wait. While it’s easy to go crazy with toppings, the House Special has 10, the Gourmet White’s three-cheese blend with tomatoes and onions demonstrates the kitchen handle subtle well, too. At around $12 for a small (easily enough for one), the prices are a couple bucks cheaper than either Cane Rosso or Pi Pizza, which should make it popular with area families.
This Hawaiian-style shaved ice shop is the only all-new entry on this list. Located in the same Braun Enterprises development as Mellow Mushroom, Moody Ice serves traditional Hawaiian shaved ice, which means the ice gets shaved to order then flavored with syrup (flavors include blackberry, mango, matcha green tea, and pineapple). Its served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Perhaps more interesting are the in-house variation of flavored ices with options like pina colada, mango and lime, and strawberry and habanero. The offer a little more depth than the syrups and will probably be the primary choice of adult customers. Both kinds of ice feature a light, fluffy texture them an appealing alternative to ice cream, especially for people who prefer dairy-free treats.
Tacos A Go Go - Oak Forest
The third location of the popular taco joint has arrived in the former home of Roznovsky’s Hamburgers. Local artist Carlos Hernandez has created 14 Day of the Dead papier-maché skeletons to give the space the proper Mexican/rockabilly vibe of the original location in Midtown.
While Tacos A Go Go will always primarily be known for its breakfast tacos — they occasionally make morning staff meetings at the CultureMap office more pleasant — the restaurant also serves street-style tacos de la calle, including picadillo, pastor and lamb barbacoa tacos, as well as less traditional options like tater tot and a number of vegetarian and vegan options. In addition to all the usual cocktails and sodas, this location features draft beer options from neighborhood breweries like Brash and Eureka Heights.
Jenni’s Noodle House - Greenway
The fourth location of the pan-Asian noodle restaurant opened last week in the newly constructed Regions Financial Center on Richmond Avenue near Greenway Plaza (free parking is available in the building’s garage). An interior treatment by local design shop Root Lab includes red wood inlays and custom furniture that contribute to the space’s lively atmosphere.
Of course, the menu includes all of the dishes that have made the previous three locations successful, including the “Teddie’s Not Gay” vermicelli salad, MamaTran spicy shrimp, and the Infernal Chicken Curry.
Peña's Donuts & Diner
The Pearland restaurant that brought the world dosants, kolaches filled with brisket from Killen’s Barbecue, and a surprisingly solid burger has opened a sister concept in far south Houston. Thankfully, both the burgers and the doughnuts are present at the new location, but the space’s whimsical design sets it apart. The new location also features weekend brunch items like eggs Benedicts and chicken and waffles.
Tinys Milk and Cookies
Few food items are as universally beloved as the chocolate chip cookies at Tiny Boxwoods: credit the nearly perfect balance between sweet-salt and the contrast between the soft interior and the crispy edges. Now Houstonians have a new place to source them. Conveniently located in West University next to Tinys No. 5, Tiny’s Milk and Cookies serves as an outlet for cookies, pastries, breads, ice cream, and drinks (coffee, juices, etc). Open daily from 7 am until 9 pm, the convenient hours and specials like breakfast tacos on Friday virtually guarantee it will be a hit with the neighborhood and beyond.