it's a (delicious) trap
New Houston restaurant from West Coast pop-up favorite delivers pineapple bowls, mac and cheese, and more
A new restaurant that has ties to one of Los Angeles' most famous Black-owned pop-up restaurants is opening in northwest Houston. Cali will replace the Brick House Tavern + Tap at 12910 Northwest Freeway later this fall.
The Houston restaurant will serve some of the signature dishes from celebrated Los Angeles concept Trap Kitchen. Originally started as an in-house pop-up by chefs (and former gang rivals) Malachi “Spank” Jenkins and Roberto “News” Smith, Trap Kitchen's modern soul food quickly drew the attention of celebrities such as Snoop Dogg and Kendrick Lamar. Now, the concept has grown to three food trucks in L.A. along with brick and mortar restaurants in Oakland, California and Portland, Oregon.
Trap Kitchen's success has turned Jenkins and Smith into food work celebrities who authored two cookbooks. Their most recent, Trap Kitchen: Mac N’ All Over The World, offers more than 50 global mac and cheese recipes and features a foreword by Snoop Dogg.
Cali owner Oscar Edwards serves as the tie that binds the restaurant to Trap Kitchen, as he owns the Oakland location as well as the adjacent Complex nightclub and the Mandela Grocery Cooperative (Jenkins and Smith are not financially involved in Cali, according to a representative). The Houston restaurant will serve some of Trap Kitchen's most famous dishes — including pineapple bowls filled with charred teriyaki chicken or seafood, lamb chops, and mac and cheese — along with Cajun-inspired fare designed to appeal to local tastes.
“The menu is full of exciting and approachable dishes we think will be a perfect fit for Houston’s diverse culture and dynamic culinary scene,” Edwards said in a statement. “Cali takes the concept of a Trap Kitchen location in Houston to a whole other level, expanding the menu to include Trap Kitchen signature dishes, along with the best recipes we have from chefs in California and other locations, and bringing them home to Texas with local chefs and flavors.”
Scheduled to open in November and December, the former Brick House Tavern space will receive a comprehensive makeover designed to give the restaurant a West Coast-inspired atmosphere that will include California-inspired murals. It will also feature a full bar with a range of signature cocktails.
"All these different things that are a little California-based but also have a little Texas twist to them because we know we’re coming to Texas," Edwards tells What Now Houston. "We really think this will be a great home for us and help us to grow.”