Photo courtesy of Fresh Spirit Wellness for Women

25 years ago after safely escaping a 10-year abusive marriage, Family Violence and Healthy Relationship Expert Dr. Conte M. Terrell, also known affectionately as “Dr. Conte,” birthed Fresh Spirit Wellness For Women Inc, a non-profit organization assisting women who have been verbally, emotionally, physically or sexually abused.

In celebration of the Journey to 25 years, Dr. Terrell is encouraging women to continue to “Be The Light” with an appreciation brunch featuring guest speaker Dr. Letitia Plummer.

Photo by Mackenzie Smith Kelley

Cult-favorite Houston restaurant redefines 'local' with long-awaited Austin opening

New Locale

Local Foods just got even more local — to Austin. The popular Houston-based restaurant opens its first permanent Austin location on Saturday, June 25, anticipated since 2020. Technically, it’s already been here in pop-up, ghost kitchen capacity since last summer, in the space formerly occupied by Bonhomie. But this time it’s here to stay.

The new restaurant is nestled with dividers into the corner of Second and San Antonio streets in the Second Street District, an area where foot traffic is sure to bring new fans along with its Houston devotees from over a decade in business. It is a return, of sorts, as founders Benjy Levit and Dylan Murray, as well as partner Martin Berson, all went to school at the University of Texas, and are excited to make a home in Austin once again.

Berson, the long-time Austin resident, talked about that feeling in a press release announcing the pop-up in 2021. “What [Levit and Murray] have created with this unique approach to everyday sandwiches and salads is best in class in a growing space of fast-fine concepts. The local farms, vendors, and amazing Austin vibe is a perfect fit for Local Foods.”

It’s all in the name. The restaurant is committed to highlighting ingredients originating in Texas, centering relationships with “local farmers, ranchers, fishmongers, artisans, and vendors.” Most of those ingredients go into sandwiches and salads, piled high with proteins, veggies, and vegan options. Diners know that Local Foods follows the more-is-more philosophy, and these offerings may surprise someone with starker notions of health-conscious foods. (Hello, there, crushed chips on the crispy chicken sandwich!)

The expanded menu at the new brick-and-mortar looks similar, focusing on those two categories, plus some specialty sides including pozole, fruit salad, and house-made pickles. It will also offer wine and beer, the former with some non-local whims, and the latter consisting entirely of local selections including Austin brews by Fairweather Cider, Live Oak, Hops and Grain, Pinthouse, and Independence Brewing.

The beautiful new interior boasts a natural light-bathed design by Austin’s Michael Hsu Office of Architecture, with huge floor-to-ceiling windows, turquoise accents, and woody colors. Seating spreads out over two floors and onto the patio, and the local ethos means sharing the space with plants from nearby.

Some Austin-area vendors joining the Local Foods menu are:

  • Joe’s Microgreens
  • ToGoCo
  • Hifi Mycology
  • Basic B Chai
  • Dos Lunas
  • Mill King
  • Flying Brothers Tempeh
  • Good Flow Honey
  • Vital Farms

“At Local Foods our goal is to always be a landing place and partner for local and regional farmers and purveyors, with the ultimate objective of symbiotically expanding their businesses along with ours,” said Murray in a press release about the Second Street location. “Bringing this longtime Houston favorite to Austin furthers our purpose and commitment to supporting local in an approachable, neighborhood setting.”

The new Local Foods is located at 454 W. Second St. and opens Saturday, June 25. For more information about hours and ordering, visit localfoodstexas.com.

Here in Houston, CultureMap food editor Eric Sandler named Local Foods to the coveted Top 100 list of best restaurants in the city.

Local Foods is making a new home on Second Street, in a wide-open space with great foot traffic.

Photo by Mackenzie Smith Kelley
Local Foods is making a new home on Second Street, in a wide-open space with great foot traffic.
Courtesy of Fertitta Entertainment

Where to eat Easter brunch in Houston: Fine dining, serious steak, and more

easter dining 2022

For those who observe, Easter provides the opportunity to reflect on themes like charity and sacrifice. The holiday also marks the changing of seasons, as winter gives way to spring.

Regardless of how religious a person is, Easter also provides the opportunity for a decadent brunch. Houston restaurants are ready with a range of options at various price points.

All of the restaurants listed below are running special menus or dishes to celebrate the holiday, which takes place Sunday, April 17. CultureMap will update this list periodically as new options become available.

Bloom & Bee
The restaurant inside The Post Oak hotel will offer a three-course, $75 Easter brunch menu. Start with dishes such as deviled eggs or white asparagus soup. Entree choices include lobster Benedict, salmon coulibiac, and herb-roasted leg of lamb. For dessert, choose selections from a buffet of French pastries.

Blossom Hotel
The Medical Center hotel's Lunar Easter Brunch ($108.95 per adult, $39.95 children 5-10) starts with bottomless champagne and mimosas paired with dishes such as cedar plank salmon, pineapple-glazed pork loin, and sweet potato casserole, as well as a selection of baked goods and desserts. Activities for kids include face painting and an Easter egg hunt.

Craft Pita
The casual Lebanese restaurant will serve two Easter specials. Dine-in customers may opt for smoked lamb shwarma pitas and bowl, while to-go customers may purchase a take-and-bake Easter dinner for four that includes lamb, Lebanese rice, fattoush salad, hummus, cucumber yogurt, and mamoul cookies.

Feges BBQ
The Spring Branch location of the Texas Monthly top 50 barbecue joint will host an Easter party and crawfish boil on Saturday, April 16 from 11 am - 3 pm. An Easter egg hunt, games, and pictures with the Easter bunny will keep kids entertained while adults enjoy live music by John Egan, crawfish, and beer.

Guard and Grace
The downtown steakhouse’s brunch offerings blend some of its traditional fare like steaks and raw seafood with a range of breakfast dishes. Choose from four different Benedicts, French toast, a cinnamon roll, and more.

Agricole Hospitality’s Texas-inspired EaDo establishment will be serving a bottomless brunch ($65 per adult, $20 children 12 and under). Selections include shrimp cocktail, deviled eggs, strawberry ricotta sourdough toast, leg of lamb, wood-grilled Black Angus filet, duck fat roasted potatoes, and spring panzanella salad.

Le Jardinier
The fine dining restaurant at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston will serve a three-course, $125 menu with optional wine pairings available for $85. Start with deviled eggs before choosing from dishes such as burrata with watercress pistou, garden salad, or white asparagus with orange reduction and pickled strawberries ($15 supplement). Entree choices include tagliatelle with rabbit ragu, spicy lamb shoulder with chickpea fricasse, or risotto with red snapper and vegetables.

The Palm
Downtown’s Italian-inspired steakhouse will feature a special 26-ounce prime rib with choice of soup or salad for $99.

The steakhouse chain’s Easter Sunday is a two-course menu that starts with pear salad or carrot ginger soup. Choose from ham ($45) or prime rib ($65); each is served with whipped potatoes and green bean almondine. Add a slice of white chocolate cheesecake for $8.

In addition to its usual brunch buffet, the Upper Kirby Mexican restaurant will serve an Antojito Platter that comes with gorditas, salutes, tlacoyos, picadas, and quesadilla. In addition, the buffet will add both a carving station with pork belly porchetta and roasted beef steamship as well as a raw bar with oysters and ceviche. It's priced at $54 for adults, $42 for seniors, and $30 for children over eight.

All four locations of the wine bar will offer their Old Skool Hippity-Hop Brunch that features DJs spinning 90s-era hip hop and R&B.

Tonight & Tomorrow
The restaurant inside La Colombe d’Or in Montrose will supplement its regular brunch offerings with a special three-course, $65 Easter menu. Available both Saturday and Sunday, choices include arugula and endive salad, risotto du marché with black truffles, Gulf red snapper, scallops, and ribeye. A separate children's menu is available for $21.

Toro Toro
This Latin American steakhouse at the Four Seasons will serve a decadent brunch buffet. Priced at $145 per adult and $65 for children 12 and under, the offerings include a seafood station, sushi station, carving station, omelet station, Texas cheese display, and so much more.

Trattoria Sofia
Chef LJ Wiley will supplement the Italian restaurant's usual lunch menu with a few brunch specials. They include: Uovo al Purgatorio, two poached eggs and Prosciutto di Parma with tomato sauce; Il Tritatto, potato and mortadella hash with two poached eggs and Parmigiano Reggiano; Polenta Fra’diavolo, shrimp over creamy polenta with spicy tomato sauce; Focaccia di Mora, blackberry focaccia French toast; and Arrosto D’Agnello, roasted lamb loin with Castelvetrano olives, olive oil smashed potatoes, torn mint leaves, and salsa verde.

Traveler's Table
The Montrose restaurant's, three-course, $45 Easter menu starts with deviled eggs. The five second course options include Ukrainian borscht, shiitake-edamame dumplings, and breakfast bread pudding. Finish with one of six choices, including a truffled ham, mushroom, and brie omelette, Louisiana fried chicken, and lamb shakshuka.

Both the Galleria and Woodlands locations of the will run two Easter specials: Florida Lobster Thermidor made with chunks of spiny lobster tail simmered in a creamy shellfish sauce with Havarti, mushrooms and tarragon ($125) and an Easter Bloom cocktail made with cognac and almond orgeat syrup.

The Union Kitchen
All six Houston-area locations will feature brunch and dinner specials on Easter Sunday. Choices include Short Rib Benedict, Creme Brûlée toast, braised lamb shank, and cognac New York strip.

Hugo Ortega’s street food restaurant in Uptown Park will serve a $45, two-course brunch that also comes with a dessert buffet. Choices include tacos al pastor, raw oysters, gorditas, chilaquiles, and huevos rancheros. Reservations recommended.

Wild Oats
Chris Shepherd's newest restaurant will elevate its already decadent all-you-can-eat brunch buffet with Easter-appropriate dishes such as ham, rabbit, and lamb. Its priced at $75 for adults and $35 for kids 4-10.

Bloom & Bee will be lively on Easter Sunday.

Courtesy of Fertitta Entertainment
Bloom & Bee will be lively on Easter Sunday.
Photo by Michael Anthony

New breakfast and brunch restaurant springs up in buzzy north Houston mixed-use development

get to know noe's

Two veteran restaurateurs have opened their third project in Houston's northern suburbs. Wanalee and Adam Gorelick have debuted Noe's Café in City Place, the north Houston mixed-use development near the Exxon campus (formerly Springwoods Village).

Open for breakfast and lunch, Noe's Café will serve dishes such as omelets, chicken and waffles, crepes, and avocado toast in the morning. For lunch, look for burgers, pastas, seafood, and more. In time, the restaurant plans to make desserts and pastries in house. A selection of gelato provides patrons with a way to end their meals on a sweet note.

Locally roasted coffees from Geva Coffee and Spring's Purefi Coffee Roasters help diners start their mornings off properly caffeinated. Beer, wine, and wine-based frozen cocktails provide refreshment in the afternoon.

The couple know the area well. Charm Thai Bistro, a restaurant that reflects Wanalee Gorelick's Thai heritage, is located just across the street. They also operate Noe's Crepes in Conroe.

“A dedicated morning dining spot in The Market is a major reason why we chose this location,” Adam Gorelick said in a statement. “We are setting out to serve a variety of breakfast and brunch items, freshly made pastries, and Fairtrade coffee. Whether you’re wanting to enjoy a leisurely meal with your family or just want to pop in for grab-and-go items before work, Noe’s Café will be a friendly and inviting place to visit with the excellent customer service our patrons have come to expect at our other locations.”

City Place has emerged as an appealing dining destination for nearby office workers and residents. In addition to Noe's Café, the development includes one of Common Bond's bistro locations, casual sandwich shop Bread Zepplin, and Sushi Rebel, a Japanese-inspired restaurant from Uptown Sushi owners Peggy and Daniel Chang.

Photo courtesy of The Toasted Yolk

Boozy Houston breakfast joint whips up first Austin-area cafes

The yolk’s on us

Sometimes it’s a good thing to end up with egg on your face, especially if you’re the kind of breakfast enthusiast that takes your omelette with a side of booze. And Houston'’s cult-favorite breakfast eatery The Toasted Yolk Cafe is certainly willing to egg Austinites on in that regard with a move into the Capital City.

Toasted Yolk, which specializes in a variety of breakfast, brunch, lunch, and cocktail offerings, has signed an area development agreement to bring the eatery to Austin.

Franchisees Ron and Val Claypool will open the first local restaurant at 14105 Ronald Reagan Blvd. in Cedar Park this summer. And the company’s website notes another Austin location will be coming soon.

It’s all part of an expansion plan that has the eatery growing across Texas and the South. According to company’s website, The Toasted Yolk currently has 16 locations in the works, adding to its already significant presence of 20 locations in Texas and beyond.

Locals will likely be drawn to Toasted Yolk’s made-from-scratch and farm-to-table menu items. Breakfast and brunch fan favorites include churro doughnuts; Nutella banana berry crepes; the Cowboy Scramble (two split buttermilk biscuits covered with bacon, sausage, ham, onions, and three scrambled eggs topped with country sausage gravy); the West Coast Arnold (a Benedict-style sammie with Canadian bacon, two poached eggs, and hollandaise sauce); pancakes and waffles galore; and just about any kind of omelette or egg specialty you could dream up.

Lunch offerings include loads of sandwiches, salads, and soups, as well as dirty-in-the-best-way Junkyard Fries, which come topped with house-made chili, queso, and jalapeños.

And with the keen understanding that “it’s never too early to get toasted,” the restaurant also offers some seriously alluring morning cocktails all day long, including classic mimosas; frozen Bellinis; Bloody Marys; a Rise ’N’ Shine Punch (Bombay Sapphire Gin, pineapple juice, orange juice, passion fruit syrup, and a strawberry slice); Jackie’s Morning Rita (exactly the dreamy drink it sounds like); and a tempting concoction known as the Breakfast Nogg (Evan Williams Bourbon, vanilla syrup, whole milk, Angostura Bitters, and nutmeg), among many other boozy sips.

“There’s no doubt that The Toasted Yolk’s friendly atmosphere and amazing food are going to be a big hit in the Austin area,” says Ron Claypool via a release, noting that the couple was sold on joining The Toasted Yolk family because of the quality food, atmosphere, executive team, and the brand’s profitable business plan.

“We’re especially excited to be able to connect with the community on a day-to-day basis, sharing wonderful food that will make their day a little brighter. We can’t wait to show Austinites what The Toasted Yolk is all about when we join the Cedar Park community this year.”

Follow The Toasted Yolk on Instagram for updates about the local expansion and to get acquainted with your new favorite breakfast specials.

Photo by Sabrina Miskelly

Dish Society founder's dynamic new restaurant debuts in CityCentre

come gather round people

CityCentre's newest dining destination debuts this week. Daily Gather will open for lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch this Tuesday, January 11.

First announced last year, Daily Gather is the newest concept from Five 12 Restaurant Concepts, best known as the parent company of farm-to-table neighborhood restaurant Dish Society. To bring the project to fruition, Five 12 founder and CEO Aaron Lyons recruited Brandi Key, the veteran Houston chef best known for her lengthy time with Clark Cooper Concepts where she opened restaurants such as Coppa Osteria, Punk's Simple Southern Food, and SaltAir Seafood Kitchen.

Key's menu draws on all of those experiences and more, incorporating Italian, Southern, Mexican, Vietnamese, and other influences. As at Dish Society, dishes are made with locally sourced ingredients; purveyors include Atkinson Farms, 44 Farms, Kraftsmen Baking, Houston Dairymaids, and Blue Horizon Seafood. Menus are expected to evolve seasonally.

Dinner at Daily Gather begins with a range of shareable items that range from coconut tuna aguachile and chilled shrimp to deviled eggs, elote cornbread, and fried calamari. Vegetarians will want to consider items such as the citrus avocado with burrata, poblano guacamole, and truffled mushroom focaccia.

A tidy list of entrees includes rotisserie chicken with cauliflower-kohlrabi mash, spinach-flavored spaghetti with garlic tomato sauce, and braised short rib with Parisian gnocchi. Desserts, created by White Elm Cafe pastry chef Jamie Orlacchio, include bananas Foster banana pudding, apple and pecan cobbler, and a chocolate chip skillet cookie.

The lunch menu is built around sandwiches and salads like a brisket French dip, double-patty cheeseburger, crunchy noodle salad, and a club made with rotisserie chicken, bacon, and ham. Boards built around pastries, smoked salmon, or classic American breakfast favorites (eggs, bacon, sausage, French toast, etc) make brunch a shareable experience.

A selection of wines, beers, cocktails, juices, and more offer plenty of pairing options at all hours of the day. Overall, the concept is design to bring people together around a shared love of food.

"We don't ever really start out where we think we're going to be, but after working through all the pieces, the concept evolves and suddenly, we know, okay, this is Daily Gather,” Key said in a statement. “It makes sense, especially now. We’re bringing back the art of hospitality, bringing back people around a dining table. People are craving it. They want that time out. Having fun things to share like this is perfect for the time, the season, and the clientele that's coming in."

Local firm Gin Design Group led the transformation of the former International Smoke space (800 Sorella Court, Ste. 940) into Daily Gather. The space features a brass back bar, artisan tiles, and local artwork. In total, Daily Gather seats 150 people inside and 100 more on a spacious patio that looks onto CityCentre's green space.

“What I’m most excited about is seeing people in the space and seeing it come to life,” Lyons said. “You make a lot of assumptions when you’re doing these things. Now, it’s time to see if it works out.”

Daily Gather is now open in CityCentre.

Photo by Sabrina Miskelly
Daily Gather is now open in CityCentre.
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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

Iconic Austin blues club brings the show to fans with new indie livestreaming platform

Live on Live

If legendary Austin blues club Antone’s is your vibe, but the drive to Capital City isn't, you’re in luck. Antone’s Nightclub launched a new service for livestreaming its shows in November.

Kicking off with New Orleans-based funk and jam band Dumpstaphunk, for their special “Phunksgiving” show last month with Michael Hale Trio, the full lineup is delineated on the Antone’s website. Specifics were still loose before the launch, allowing the famous blues club to call the shots. The partner agency that created the streaming service, 3rd + Lamar, created the system to give Antone’s as much freedom as possible.

"Partnering with Antone's to build their livestreaming platform and produce each of their shows is an incredible opportunity for 3rd + Lamar," said the agency’s co-founder Nick Schenck in a press release. "The amazing talent that performs at Antone's – and their fans worldwide – deserve best-in-class live production quality, and we're thrilled to play a part in this operation."

Not that Antone’s needed to stand out more in the music industry (the nearly 50-year-old venue has always been one of the best places to see both local and national talent), but this achievement places it among relatively few venues across the country, especially those that operate their system independently.

The intimate Antone's shows are filmed by four Blackmagic 4K cinema cameras on tracks overhead, which ensure that the whole space is easily visible without having camera operators amid the audience.

“We did over 430 individually ticketed shows in 2019 and we felt like we were bursting at the seams,” said Antone’s owner Will Bridges. “Then when livestreams became more prominent during the pandemic we realized, this is our opportunity to take Antone’s outside of our four walls. … [W]e see people in the comment threads all the time saying ‘If I could only be teleported to Antone’s!’ Well now they can.”

The release emphasizes that the system means Antone’s “fully retain[s] ownership of their content, which can then be utilized at their discretion.” It also calls the service “an add-on option for all artists performing at Antone’s,” positioning the service as not just an audience luxury but a performer’s low-cost marketing tool. Suddenly, artists playing at Antone’s are afforded a choice without needing to be invited to record or pay an independent video team, while reaching even more viewers with no extra time spent advertising.

“Our ultimate goal is to make these amazing musical experiences accessible to everyone. Life is busy, but we want to give everyone the opportunity to participate no matter where they are or what they have going on,” said Bridges. “We want to make livestreams from Antone’s totally commonplace. When we announce our upcoming shows, fans have two options: watch it at the club our watch it at home.”

Livestreams are at antonesnightclub.com, and links also appear with each applicable event across the site. Prices are listed on the website, and livestreams start 10-20 minutes before each show.

Alt-rock legends Red Hot Chili Peppers heading to Houston for 2023 North American tour

one hot minute

One of alternative rock's most pioneering and enduring acts is headed to Houston to close out a highly anticipated North American tour next year. Red Hot Chili Peppers will play Minute Maid Park on Thursday, May 25, 2023 as part of a North American trek that kicks off in Vancouver, British Columbia on March 29.

Houston lands the honor of the closeout city for the North American tour (the band will also play a slew of dates in Europe). Effortlessly hip, celeb-fave modern rock band The Strokes will support the Chili Peppers, along with the talented bassist-vocalist Thundercat.

Tickets go on sale this week at 10 am Friday, December 9 online.

Houston fans who can't get enough can also catch the Chili Peppers when they hit The Alamodome in San Antonio on Wednesday, May 17 — the only other Texas date.

Aside from The Strokes and Thundercat, supporting acts along the way include Iggy Pop, The Roots, The Mars Volta, St. Vincent, City and Colour, and King Princess.

Touring in support of their two No. 1 studio albums released in 2022, Unlimited Love and Return of the Dream Canteen, the Chili Peppers have been played sold-out shows in London, Paris, Los Angeles, and more with major names such as Notable artists such as A$AP Rocky, Anderson.Paak, Beck, and HAIM.

The first rock band in 17 years to score two No. 1 albums in one year, the band has been red hot on the Billboard charts and at the MTV Video Music Awards, where they received the Global Icon Award and brought the house down with a performance of the No. 1 single “Black Summer,'' which also won the award for Best Rock Video.

Fronted by the impossibly chiseled and ageless (he's 60!) Anthony Kiedis, the Chili Peppers formed in 1983. Unabashedly proud of their LA roots, the band burst onto the scene with early singles such as "Higher Ground" and "Give It Away," both showcases of bassist Flea's slappin', funk-fueled basslines.

Throughout the peak of alternative music in the '90s, the band saw tragedy, personnel changes at guitar, and reinventions — Kiedes' rap-singing, Flea's bass grooves, and singalong choruses all constants over the decades.

While many '90s alt-rock acts fizzled, the Chili Peppers stayed relevant; the band boasts two anthemic singles with more than 1 billion streams — "Californication" and "Under the Bridge" — and more than 25 million followers on Spotify.

Expect this show to be packed with Gen Xers and new fans for what promises to be one hot minute.

Red Hot Chili Peppers 2023 tour dates:

  • Wednesday, March 29 – Vancouver – BC Place
  • Saturday, April 1 – Las Vegas – Allegiant Stadium
  • Thursday, April 6 – Fargo, North Dakota – FargoDome
  • Saturday, April 8 – Minneapolis – US Bank Stadium
  • Friday, April 14 – Syracuse, New York – JMA Wireless Dome
  • Friday, May 12 – San Diego – Snap Dragon Stadium
  • Sunday, May 14 – Phoenix – State Farm Stadium
  • Wednesday, May 17 – San Antonio – Alamodome
  • Friday, May 19 – Gulf Shores, Alabama – Hangout Music Festival
  • Thursday, May 25 – Houston – Minute Maid Park

Fan-favorite, wood-fired Houston pizzeria quietly opens in the Heights

enough (pizza) to love

A popular Houston pizzeria has opened its second location in the Heights. The Gypsy Poet has begun a quiet soft opening in the former Fegen’s space at 1050 Studewood St.

Since its 2019 debut in Midtown, the Gypsy Poet has earned a devoted following for its wood-fired pizzas. The restaurant’s personal-sized, 13-inch pizzas exist somewhere on the spectrum between traditional Neapolitan and classic New York — too crispy for the Italians but not quite foldable like an East Coast slice. Options include a classic Margherita and the signature Fancy Backpacker, which is topped with prosciutto, truffle oil, and arugula.

Part of the restaurant’s appeal stems from its friendly service and easy going atmosphere. It regularly hosts informal musical performances and other artistic happenings.

Taken together, Gypsy Poet has earned legions on fans. Yelp users ranked it as Texas’s second best restaurant in 2021. More recently, Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy awarded it a high 7.8 rating during a pizza review.

The restaurant opens at a time of transition for pizzerias in the Heights. Dallas-based Neapolitan restaurant Cane Rosso closed last year, and suburban favorite Crust Pizza Co. opened this summer in the former Mellow Mushroom space at N. Shepherd and 20th.

The Heights location of Gypsy Poet will be open Tuesday-Thursday from 5-9 pm; Friday from 12-2 pm and 5-10 pm; Saturday 2-10 pm; and Sunday 2-9 pm.