Winter Openings Guide

24 most important restaurant and food hall openings in Houston this winter

24 most important Houston restaurant and food hall openings for winter

Finn Hall interior
Finn Hall opens December 3. Photo by Shawn Chippendale
The Burger Joint milkshake
The Burger Joint's milkshakes will arrive in the Heights in January. Photo by Becca Wright
Blood Bros BBQ Brick and Mortar
The Blood Bros are almost ready to open their brick and mortar. Courtesy photo
Blanco tacos and tequila food
Blanco Tacos and Tequila opens December 17. Courtesy photo
Savoir herb wrapped chicken
Savoir will serve herb-wrapped chicken when it opens in December.  Courtesy photo
Finn Hall interior
The Burger Joint milkshake
Blood Bros BBQ Brick and Mortar
Blanco tacos and tequila food
Savoir herb wrapped chicken

Houston’s white-hot restaurant scene shows no signs of slowing down. After a busy fall that saw two new concepts from Chris Shepherd, three new openings from Coltivare owners Agricole Hospitality, and the first Houston restaurant from New Orleans-based BRG Hospitality (among others), the winter looks to be similarly packed.

This articles aims to give a overview of some of the most interesting new options expected to open between now and the Rodeo. While it certainly isn’t comprehensive, it aims to hit the highlights. The timeline means that some restaurants slated for March or April, including upscale Indian restaurant Musaafer by the Spice Route Company and Baltimore-based seafood Ouzo Bay (coming to River Oaks District) aren’t accounted for.

Looking through the list, at least one thing is certain — Houston’s seemingly limitless appetite for burgers will have a number of new options in the coming months as local and national options like Hopdoddy, The Burger Joint, Bernie’s Burger Bus, and Shake Shack prepare new outposts.

As always, exact opening dates and approximately timelines are subject to change, but they do reflect the best intel available.

Adair Concepts, the company behind Adair Kitchen, Eloise Nichols Grill & Liquors, and Bebidas, will bring this new concept to the former Ivy & James space at Bellaire’s Evelyn’s Park. The new all-day cafe will blend elements of the company's restaurants by serving smoothies and breakfast tacos in the morning and wood-fired pizzas, sandwiches, and salads for lunch and dinner. The wait is nearly over; this restaurant expects to open Monday, December 3.

Finn Hall
Goode Co Taqueria, Dish Society, Mala Sichuan, and a coffee shop from Catalina Coffee owner Max Gonzalez lead the way at this new food hall that opens at downtown’s Jones on Main building Monday, December 3. In addition to 10 food stands, the space also features two bars. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, it looks poised to be an amenity for downtown office workers, visitors, and the growing residential community.

Ishin Udon
Tiger Den owner Mike Tran wants to do for udon what he did for ramen — establish it as a staple Houston dining option. Located in the same shopping center as his restaurants Mein, Night Market, and Ohn Korean, Ishin features both traditional preparations and creative combinations, such as a riff on carbonara topped with bonito flakes. Expect a crowd when the restaurant opens December 4.

Neyow's Creole Cafe
This acclaimed New Orleans restaurant known for its authentic Louisiana flavors is coming to Houston. Known for signature fare like crawfish balls, po' boys, and roasted oysters, the restaurant has won fans among Nola locals and visitors. The restaurant is holding an invite-only preview this Sunday, December 2, after which it will begin service to the public. 

Killen’s TMX
The newest concept from Houston’s king of meat has two aims. First, provide a permanent home for the Tex-Mex items like brisket enchiladas and fajitas that have been such a hit at Killen’s Barbecue. Second, provide an outlet for chef-owner Ronnie Killen’s interest in authentic Mexican cuisine that’s prompted him to make multiple trips to Mexico for cooking classes. With design details like lights, chairs, and plateware sourced from Mexico, the goal is to transport diners from a Pearland strip center to another country. Look for an opening in early December.

Blood Bros BBQ
Over a year after announcing their plans to turn their popular barbecue pop-up into a brick and mortar restaurant, brothers Terry and Robin Wong, their friend and pitmaster Quy Hoang, and business partner Felix Florez (Black Hill Meats) are almost ready to throw open the doors. A soft opening with a limited menu and limited hours could begin as soon as next week. Hoang’s creative cooking — in addition to traditional, Central Texas style barbecue, he’s served everything from gochujang beef belly burnt ends to Thai-inspired boudin — make this restaurant one to watch.

Kolache Shoppe Heights
The Greenway Plaza favorite will soon add a new location at the same Heights Central Station development that will also be home to Dish Society. With over 30 varieties of kolaches available, everything from traditional fruit flavors to one stuffed with brisket from Pinkerton’s Barbecue, and a full coffee program from Boomtown Coffee, the new outpost should be a hit. Best of all, it will have a drive-thru for quick service.

Blanco Tacos and Tequila
This taco-centric spot from Arizona-based Fox Restaurant Concepts (North Italia, Flower Child) will open December 17 next to Fig & Olive in the Galleria VI. Taco options run the gamut with everything from old school ground beef in a hard shell to carnitas, barbecue pork, and seafood options that include crispy shrimp and grilled mahi. Eight different margaritas, tequila flights, and other cocktails will put diners in a relaxed state of mind.

The Austin-based burger chain will open two new outposts in the next couple of months: one in the Baybrook/Webster area (next to Snooze) on December 17 and in the Heights Waterworks development in late January. That will give the Houston area six locations where diners can obtain signature items like boozy milkshakes, skinny fries, and green chile queso.

Flying Fish
Houston’s relative dearth of casual seafood options will improve courtesy of this concept from the company behind craft beer bar The Flying Saucer and popular burger joint Rodeo Goat. Inspired by East Texas lakeside seafood shacks, Flying Fish focuses on catfish, Gulf shrimp and oysters. The restaurant also does its part to combat noise pollution by giving a free catfish basket to anyone who brings in a Big Mouth Billy Bass; the surrendered singing fish are proudly displayed on a wall in the restaurant. Look for it to open at the corner of Durham Dr and 19th Street in mid-December.

This wine-fueled new restaurant in the Heights has started to take shape now that managing partner Brian Doke (Tiny Boxwoods) has tapped veteran Houston chef Micah Rideout (Potente, Reef, etc.) to lead the kitchen. Look for an eclectic menu of mostly European-inspired dishes with enough global touches to feel in touch with contemporary Houston. Beyond the extensive wine list, the restaurant’s stylish look will help set it apart from other spots in the neighborhood. The restaurant should open in mid-to-late December.

Verandah Progressive Indian Restaurant
Chef Sunil Srivastava and his wife, Anupama, the owners of acclaimed Indian restaurant Great W’Kana Cafe, are opening this new restaurant in the Kirby Collection mixed-use development. that will serve a wide range of dishes inspired by the subcontinent’s cuisine. Look for a selection of kebabs — everything from roasted plantains to various meat options — as well as a chef’s tasting menu. Originally slated to open in November, construction delays have pushed the timeline closer to Christmas.

Shake Shack Montrose
Houston’s already home to two (or three, counting Minute Maid Park) outposts of the New York-based global burger juggernaut, but the Montrose location will be the city’s first free-standing Shake Shack. Located next to Blacksmith near the corner of Montrose and Westheimer, the new location will offer a spacious patio for chowing down on Smoke Shack burgers and those strangely addictive frozen fries. The exact timetable for opening is still under wraps, but the restaurant should arrive before the end of the year.

Truth Barbecue
Having finally worked through permitting delays, the Brenham-based barbecue joint ranked tenth in the state by Texas Monthly is finally on track to open its location at the corner of Washington Avenue and Heights Boulevard. Pitmaster Leonard Botello IV’s carefully smoked meats have already earned wide acclaim, so the prospect of him using the space’s full kitchen to unleash an upgraded menu of sides certainly has strong appeal. Fingers crossed for a mid-to-late December opening.

Bravery Chef Hall
This food hall in the Aris Market Square tower features six counters where diners can watch their meals being made by some top culinary talent. Operated by Conservatory owners Ahn Mai and Lian Nguyen in partnership with beverage specialist Shepard Ross (Glass Wall, Pax Americana), Bravery features an Italian restaurant from Ben McPherson (Prohibition), a diner from Richard Knight (Hunky Dory), a steakhouse from Felix Florez (Ritual), a Peruvian concept from David Guerrero (Andes Cafe), and a Vietnamese pub from Masterchef winner Christine Ha. The space has room for one more chef, but so far the operators haven’t revealed the person’s identity. Look for a splashy opening party on New Year’s Eve, followed by full operations in January.

Dish Society Heights
The fifth outpost of the farm-to-table neighborhood cafe will feature an expanded bar area, a lounge with games, and a spacious patio with picnic tables. Of course, all the usual favorite dishes will be accounted for. A tentative opening date of January 21 depends on the restaurant’s ability to hire and train 70 new staff members in time.

Burger Joint Heights
The two-year process of turning a former mechanic shop at the corner of N. Shepherd Drive and 20th Street into a second location of the popular Montrose burger spot should finally come to an end in January. In addition to all the creative burger and hot dog combinations that have made the original equally popular with regular Houstonians and celebrities like Astros shortstop Carlos Correa, the new spot will feature a large patio and a full bar.

Once known as Ripe Cuisine, chef Stephanie Hoban’s vegan food truck will soon have a brick and mortar home as part of the Heights Waterworks development. Her plans call for serving a mixture of plated entrees, wraps, bowls, appetizers, and bar snacks during lunch, dinner, and brunch. Look for an opening in mid-to-late January.

Bernie’s Burger Bus Missouri City
The food truck-turned-restaurant’s fourth location will feature a number of improvements from its three siblings. As the first free-standing Bernie’s, it will also be the first with a drive-thru, and the number of “double trouble” thin patty burgers that cook more quickly will be expanded to help keep cars moving. Frozen cocktails have been so successful at the Heights location that Missouri City will offer as many as six — perfect for sipping on the climate-controlled patio. Look for a late-January or early-February opening.  

Toukei Izakaya
Mike Tran is wrapping up his project to open five restaurants and a coffee shop in a Chinatown strip center with a concept that might be his most ambitious yet. Inspired by visits to classic izakayas during his numerous trips to Japan, Toukei will feature a large, wood-burning grill, a chef’s counter for raw dishes, and an extensive selection of Japanese spirits. With construction moving briskly, it should open in late January or early February.

Perry’s Steakhouse River Oaks
The popular suburban steakhouse chain will open its first location inside the loop at the former California Pizza Kitchen space at 1997 W Gray St. With almost 13,000-square feet of space, the massive restaurant will seat approximately 350 people. That’s a lot of pork chops! Look for an opening in late January or early February.

Killen’s Steakhouse The Woodlands
With a $4.4 million loan, Ronnie Killen purchased the former Bob’s Steak & Chop House location for a second outpost of his acclaimed steakhouse. Even in an area that’s already home to a number of steakhouses, the elements that have made the original location successful — carefully sourced beef from multiple purveyors, creative starters and sides (including J.J. Watt’s favorite creamed corn), and first rate service — should help Killen’s stand out. Since the space needs so little work, Killen plans to be open in time for Valentine’s Day.

Rising star chef Martin Weaver (Kuu, Brennan’s) has partnered with local farmer Andrew Alvis to open this new salad concept. The restaurant will use aquaponically grown lettuce from Alvis’ Sustainable Harvesters farm, which will ensure diners receive the freshest possible product. Weaver tells CultureMap he expects to open in late February.

Warehouse 72
This new concepts aims to update Spaghetti Warehouse for a new generation. Look for a mix of classic dishes like 15-layer lasagna alongside new tastes like porchetta and Gulf shrimp. Of course, it will have an upgraded cocktail program. Originally slated for January, the restaurant now expects to open in March.