Top 10 Restaurant Stories
The top 10 restaurant and bar stories Houston feasted on in 2023
By any measure, this year has been a dynamic time for the Houston food scene. Our top restaurant stories of the year reflect several of the year’s most prominent themes.
For example, this year’s most read story concerns La Griglia’s big move from the River Oaks Shopping Center to a new home in the Harlow District. A number of other restaurants also relocated, including the Blind Goat, Wild Oats, and Street to Kitchen.
Speaking of Street to Kitchen, it burst onto the national stage when chef and co-owner Benchawan Jabthong Painter won the James Beard Award for Best Chef: Texas. Similarly, Dandelion Cafe’s profile got a boost from Good Morning America, which selected it as the winner of a chicken and waffles battle against legendary Houston restaurant The Breakfast Klub.
Openings and closings are always popular topics. Readers devoured news about the arrivals of restaurants and bars including Picnik, Home Rug Dugout, and countless others. We also said farewell to everything from classics like The Swinging Door to short term establishments including Black Page Brewing Co.
1. Tilman Fertitta finally confirms plans to relocate iconic River Oaks restaurant to Montrose. Rumors of La Griglia’s relocation circulated for a year before Landry’s, Inc. released details on its new location in the former Nino’s space on West Dallas. So far, the new space’s Art Deco-inspired interior and new menu have been a hit with diners.
2. Good Morning America crowns Bellaire cafe local winner of 'United States of Breakfast' competition. National attention for the restaurant’s award-winning chicken and waffles sent diners flocking to the family-owned establishment. Chef and co-owner J.C. Ricks would later reveal he created the recipe specifically for the competition, but the dish quickly earned a place on Dandelion’s menu.
3. Favorite Austin restaurant debuts in Montrose's hottest hub with delectable dishes for the gluten-free crowd. At Picnik, every menu item is gluten-free, refined sugar-free, peanut-free, and seed oil-free. The restaurant joined Italian steakhouse Marmo, neighborhood restaurant The Chelsea, and wine bar Fiora’s Bottle Shop in the Montrose Collective mixed-use development.
4. Houston earns ridiculous rank in new list of best foodie cities in the U.S. The Bayou City barely made the top 20 based on the study’s 28 different "foodie-friendliness" factors. Only Austin made the top 10 of the WalletHub study.
5. Promising Heights-area brewery announces last call after 10-month run. The brewery’s co-founder said the market for breweries has changed significantly since he first started planning his facility near White Oak Music Hall. The building recently became home to H-Town Brewing Co.
6. Oyster-obsessed New Orleans restaurant suddenly shutters in Montrose. The Houston outpost never quite captured the magic of the original location. With the recent sale of the property, the building likely won’t remain empty for long.
7. Iconic Fort Bend barbecue restaurant will soon shutter after 50-year run. “We have been blessed to have been of service to this area. However, this old BBQ guy has decided to move on to another chapter in life,” owner Steve Onstad wrote. Regulars had enough time to make one final visit for the restaurant’s signature pecan-smoked meats.
8. Diner featuring the 'world's rudest service' grumpily pops up in Houston. Servers at the pop-up would insult customers throughout their meal.
9. Here are the winners of best restaurant, chef, and more in CultureMap's 2023 Tastemaker Awards. Bludorn and Squable chef Mark Clayton took the top prizes at this year’s awards. Other winners included pastry chef Shawn Gawle, bartender Kristine Nguyen, and rising star chef Emmanuel Chavez.10. Massive new baseball entertainment complex hits a home run in Houston. Where Home Run Dugout sets itself apart from a regular batting cage is its ground-up, soft toss pitching machine that eliminates the need for batting helmets. Since its opening in March, the facility’s 12 batting bays have been almost constantly filled.