8 things to know

8 things to know in Houston food right now: Openings, closings, and a new Heights patio bar

8 things to know in Houston food: Openings and a new Heights patio bar

Highline Park patio bar external MKT
Highline Park has debuted at M-K-T in the Heights. Photo by Tyler Barrera

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.


The M-K-T development in The Heights recently welcomed a new patio bar. After a quiet soft opening during the World Series, Highline Park made its official debut on December 3. Owned by Wicklow Heights proprietors Roland Keller, Keith Doyle, and Tyler Barrera, Highline Park features an expansive, covered patio with seating for 100 and plenty of interior space, too.

The cocktail menu offers creative twists on classic drinks, such as a gin and tonic that gets a floral note from Violet liqueur and a prickly pear margarita. Food options include a queso-dipped corn dog, fried shrimp in sweet chili sauce, and an on-trend smash burger.

“We’re thrilled to be opening Highline Park at M-K-T Heights just a few short months after the debut of Casa Nomad next door,” Keller said in a statement. “While Casa Nomad embodies our favorite parts of our travels through Mexico, Highline Park is a casual, big patio bar like Wicklow Heights with the addition of the chef-driven food menu we’ve always wanted to do.”

Speaking of M-K-T, the development will also welcome Mendocino Farms on December 14. The California-based restaurant is known for its creative salads, bowls, sandwiches, and sides. Look for options such as the Avocado and Quinoa Superfood Ensalada and the Chimichurri Steak & Shishito Bowl along with favorites like the farm club and chicken pesto caprese. 

Opening in The Heights gives Mendocino Farms four Houston-area locations, joining restaurants in Rice Village, Uptown Park, and downtown. A second downtown location will open in the Allen Center early next year. 

“The Heights’ vibrant character and culinary scene makes M-K-T a prime spot to open our doors after the success of our other Houston locations,” CEO Kevin Miles said. “We envision this new location as a go-to destination for enjoying a Mendo culinary adventure, whether it’s lunch with co-workers, dinner with family and friends, or a nourishing break for those enjoying the nearby Heights Hike and Bike Trail. It’s an exciting moment for our brand to invite more Houstonians to Eat Happy.”

BB’s Tex Orleans has opened its 11th Houston-area location in Kingwood (25635 US-59). Diners will find all their BB’s favorites, including po’ boys, gumbo, and etouffee. When crawfish season starts, count on BB’s for well-cooked, spicy mudbugs. 

Build-your-own salad chain Salata has reopened its location in the Galleria. Find it near the ice rink in the food court. Salata offers five lettuce bases, more than 50 toppings, and 11 gluten-free dressings. Mall employees receive a 10-percent discount. 

Freebirds World Burrito will celebrate the grand opening of its new location in Spring on December 15. Expect giveaways, swag, and samples. The first 25 people in line will receive free burritos for a year (one per week for 52 weeks). Find Freebirds at 2825 Riley Fuzzel Rd.


Houston’s remaining location of Dallas-based pizzeria Cane Rosso closed last month. Chief marketing officer Jeff Amador tells CultureMap in an email that several factors contributed to the decision, including the location’s volume of business and difficulties finding sufficient staff. 

Cane Rosso entered the Houston market with a Montrose location in 2016. The Heights outpost followed shortly thereafter. Its closure marks the end of Cane Rosso’s efforts to expand to Houston and Austin. Pizza lovers in the Dallas-Fort Worth have six Cane Rossos to choose from along with their affiliated concepts Zoli’s Pizza and Thunderbird Pies.

Seminal Houston Thai restaurant Kanomwan has been closed since September, but it might make a comeback in 2022. Patarawan Charoenrat, daughter of founders Yuthana and Darawan Charoenrat, tells Houston Food Finder that her mother simply needed a break from the business and may resume operations next year. That would be good news for the East End favorite, which has served classic Thai soups, curries, and more since the mid-80s.

Coming Attractions

Ybarra Investments Inc. has purchased land in the Conroe Waterfront Center for a new Gringo’s Mexican Kitchen that will open in late 2022 or early 2023. Gringo’s joins Cheddar’s at the development; it also contains 300 apartments with more residential construction slated to begin soon.