Photo courtesy of Lele Sadoughi

Lele Sadoughi, the popular accessories brand, is expanding its reach by opening its second Texas store in the luxurious River Oaks District. With a string of successful openings over the past two years and plans to launch four more annually, Lele Sadoughi is quickly gaining popularity as a brand known for its quality and detail-oriented accessories.

Opening in Houston was a significant decision for Lisa "Lele" Sadoughi, founder and chief creative officer of her eponymous brand, who grew up in Dallas. After eleven years in business, she knew a second Texas store made sense. "We know where our ladies are," says the accessories designer. "We have such a loyal customer base in Houston. Even today, I have seen such excitement with people in line before we even opened the doors. I feel really good about opening up here."

Its iconic headbands, famously worn by A-listers like Kate Middleton, Jennifer Lopez, Kate Hudson, and Zendaya, have been rated the "most comfortable in the market." The Houston showroom also features an exclusive 'Houston' headband adorned with hand-sewn Texas-inspired charms, making it the perfect accessory to show off some HTX pride.

"I have had a great reaction to the Houston exclusive. It is not often that I get to be in the store as customers are shopping," she tells CultureMap. "There is just something about Houston; we are fancy here, right? But we are also casual, so I wanted to design something that could be worn for any occasion. I decided to go with a denim base and cream paired with classic charms. We've got boots, a hat, the Texas shape, and a little bit of crystal. It is a great mix of classics with a lot of sparkle."

But it's not just headbands; Lele Sadoughi is an entire accessories empire, including collectible jewelry, colorful sunglasses, handbags, hats, and more. The River Oaks District boutique's design aligns perfectly with the brand's open, bold, and tactile philosophy, encouraging customers to experiment and play with their looks.

The spring/summer collection, dubbed Contemporary Collector, features various bright colors mixed with darker elements like stripes. Sadoughi, who garners inspiration from art, paintings, and sculptures, says the combination was motivated by her trip to the Peggy Guggenheim museum in Venice.

Shoppers can take advantage of one-on-one experiences and access to specialists at the 500-square-foot showroom, which has already become a hot spot for anyone looking for unique and joyful accessories. Houston shoppers can also get an exclusive up-close look at the first-ever area devoted entirely to sunglasses and hats inside the Lele Sadoughi boutique.

"Many people collect our headbands and jewelry, but this is the first time we have ever devoted an entire section to our sunglasses and hats. It is really fun to see people come in and try out our new categories."

We sat down with Lisa to talk about some of her favorite fashionable gems. Fashionistas, take note of her advice about switching up accessories on the daily.

Photo courtesy of Lele Sadoughi

Lisa "Lele" Sadoughi, founder and chief creative officer of her eponymous brand.

You always leave home with: My phone and chargers so my kids can reach me.

Heels or wedges: Heels

Earrings or sunglasses: Jeweled sunnies

For summer – skirts or shorts: Skirts

Hair down or hair up: I always have some kind of accessory in my hair, no matter the style.

Favorite beauty product for your face: Concealer is the best thing ever because if you look a little tired, a pop of concealer does the trick

Favorite brand of concealer: Bobbi Brown Cosmetics

One thing you have in your handbag, no matter what: An extra pair of earrings.

Tiny bag or large shoulder bag: Tiny bag with a jeweled piece of art. Change it up – do not wear the same accessories every day, and that goes for everything from head to toe.

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Armandos' family-friendly, Tex-Mex sister restaurant taps Katy for 2nd Houston-area outpost

mandito's on the move

Katy residents will soon have a new option for fajitas, enchiladas, and margaritas. Mandito’s Tex-Mex has claimed the former Jax Grill location (9910 Gaston Rd.) for its second Houston-area outpost.

Mandito's Tex-Mex food spread

Photo by Mackenzie Smith Kelley

Mandito's serves all the Tex-Mex favorites.

Part of the Palacios Murphy Hospitality Group that also includes River Oaks favorite Armandos and Italian restaurant Lulu’s, Mandito’s is a more family-friendly establishment than its upscale siblings. Joining an original location in Round Top and an outpost in Bellaire that opened earlier this year, the restaurant takes its name from the childhood nickname of co-owner Armando Palacios — “Mandito” is “little Armando.” It is expected to open in early 2024.

The menu centers around burritos, enchiladas, flautas, and fajitas as well as the signature burrito bowl, a clever reimagining of a taco salad with ground beef, steak, or chicken topped with lettuce, corn, cheese, avocado, beans, and more. Other favorites include the Tex-Mex Kale Caesar, Tres Hombres Plate (three different enchiladas), and the Tex-Mex Banana Split. They’re paired with a robust range of frozen and shaken margaritas.

Palacios Murphy COO Alex Curley lives in Katy and sends his children to Katy ISD schools. He’s bullish on area that’s grown 20-percent since 2020, according to a release.

“As a Katy resident, I am ecstatic to be able to oversee the construction of a Mandito’s Tex-Mex in the community that I love deeply,” Curley said. “I have no doubt that Katy residents and visitors to the area’s numerous attractions will quickly fall in love with Mandito’s Tex-Mex. We have put a significant amount of work into making this concept a neighborhood locale that caters to a number of different audiences who are collectively in search of a communal space that prides itself upon delivering delicious food and drink selections and outstanding service to each and every guest.”

In keeping with that optimism, the Katy location will be slightly larger than its Bellaire sibling, with the ability to seat over 150 people indoors and 50 more on a patio that will look onto the development’s green space. In addition, an expanded to-go area will have a dedicated entrance to expedite pick-ups.

The restaurant wants to give back to its neighborhood, too. Therefore it will host spirit nights for local schools and sports team and offer a 10-percent discount to Katy ISD employees and first responders.

Cult craze Hello Kitty Cafe Truck says hi to Houston area on cross-country tour

the other pink craze

The famously pink Hello Kitty Cafe Truck is making its way down to Houston in October for a special day of treats and cartoon cat collectibles.

The cutesy vehicle will bring a horde of new Hello Kitty clothing, plushies, and accessories to First Colony Mall (16535 Southwest Fwy) from 10 am to 7 pm on October 7.

Among the new items is a bright pink tote bag with rainbow straps and desserts decorating the front, an assortment of Hello Kitty baked goods, and a transparent coffee mug with sprinkles in the handle and different desserts printed on the glass body. Visitors can also snag an adorable lunchbox and a 18-ounce or 32-ounce stainless steel rainbow thermos.

Hello Kitty rainbow tote bagThe bright pink reusable tote bag has rainbow straps.Photo courtesy of Sanrio

As for the hand-decorated baked goods, guests can expect to see Hello Kitty's classic friends Keroppi the frog and Chococat appear on petit fours. The leading lady appears on miniature cakes, a giant sugar cookie, small box sets of madeleines, and French macarons.

The popular attraction has been touring around the country for nearly a decade, drawing crowds of thousands of people every year. Houston will be its second Texas stop on the tour — following Arlington — before visits to Austin, San Antonio, and El Paso later that month.

As a note, the cafe truck only accepts debit or credit cards, and not cash.

Other Texas cities on the tour route include:

  • September 30 – Arlington
  • October 7 – Houston
  • October 21 — San Antonio
  • October 28 – El Paso

New artisanal pizzeria opens in First Ward with authentic, Neapolitan wood-fired pies

First Ward's new pizzeria

Armando Dimeo and Jordan Kone really like pizza. That passion has fueled the opening of a new pizzeria in First Ward.

Meet Coastline Artisan Pizzeria. Located in the former Cafeza space at the corner of Houston Avenue and Crockett Street, the new restaurant fulfills a goal the childhood friends have been planning for years.

“One of the questions that came up between the two of us was, where do you get pizza in Houston? We could never really answer the question,” Dimeo tells CultureMap. “The style of pizza we liked to eat, which is thin and crispy and Neapolitan. We could never answer the question, so we brought this place together.”

Dimeo, whose family owns Antonio’s Italian Grill in Deer Park and Gennaro's Trattoria in Canyon Lake, developed a grilled pizza to satisfy his craving for a thin and crispy pizza. Each of the oblong-shaped pies start on the restaurant’s grill before being finished in an oven. The sturdy crust allows for more toppings, as in The O.G. that’s topped with mozzarella, Italian sausage, ricotta, habanero honey, basil, and tomato sauce.

To learn to make a proper Neapolitan, Dimeo trained with master pizzaiolo Tony Gemignani in San Francisco. Coastline ferments its dough for between 36 and 48 hours to let it develop additional flavor. With a thinner, looser crust, the pies get minimal toppings, including a traditional margherita with buffalo mozzarella or another with soppressata and hot relish.

Since the Neapolitan pies are baked in a wood-burning oven, they’re only available at dinner. That the oven is purely wood-burning is a point of pride for both owners.

“One of my biggest pet peeves is pizzerias saying they’re wood-fired then there’s this gas jet shooting up,” Dimeo says. “This oven takes about three hours to get up to temperature. It’s about as traditional as you can get.”

The dinner menu also includes small plates such as meatballs, salmon cakes, bruschetta, and marinated olives. At lunch, focaccia sandwiches provide an alternative to the grilled pizzas.

Coastline Artisan Pizzeria interior

Photo by Eric Sandler

Coastline Artisan Pizzeria is now open for lunch and dinner.

In addition to serving both of its signature pizza styles, the restaurant plans to add a rotating monthly special to its menu. “We’re going to do a different style of pizza every month,” Kone says. “We’ll do Detroit, Sicilian — we can put different toppings on it.”

Bartender Jason Garcia brings experience from Two Headed Dog to Coastline’s cocktail menu. His offerings include eight house originals, including three that pack a dose of spicy heat.

To transform Cafeza into Coastline, Dimeo and Kone shortened the bar — to make room for the wood-burning oven — and added wood beams to brighten the room. With its brick walls and long, narrow layout, the space recalls the feel of typical New York City restaurants. After a few days of soft opening and a week of lunch and dinner service, the early feedback has been positive.

In the coming weeks, Coastline plans to deepen that relationship with neighborhood specials and a bicycle-powered delivery option. For now, they’re meeting their new neighborhoods and focusing on the food.

“They’ve treated us well,” Dimeo says about the area. “We’re just happy to be here.”