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Photo by Kathy Tran

The 8th Annual Tacolandia Houston will feature some of Houston’s best taquerias, from urban contemporary to authentic street-style. It will also include music, cash bars with beer, wine, and cocktails, and awards for best tacos in various categories.

Photo by Becca Wright

New Houston brewpub showcases beer legend's brews and German-style eats in peaceful bayou locale

My black pages

A new brewery with a picturesque location and recipes developed by a craft beer legend is coming to Houston this fall. Black Page Brewing will open next month in the Near Northside neighborhood at 210 Glen Park St.

To help create Black Page's German-style lagers and American ales, co-founders Anthony Heins and Chris Manriquez, a partner in Trash Panda Drinking Club and Chivos, turned to master brewer Henryk Orlik. During his many years at Louisiana's Abita Brewing Company, Orlik developed the recipes for signature brews such as Purple Haze, Turbodog, and Andygator. Throughout 2022, the brewer has worked with Heins and Manriquez to build the brewpub's production facility, according to a release.

“We’re very excited to open our doors so that Houston can experience this reimagined historic property,” Heins said in a statement. “We’re eager to show off what Henryk has been brewing for us. He’s been vital to our development, and he brings decades of crucial brewing experience to Black Page.”

The partners have also sought expert assistance to create Black Page's food menu in the form of La Macro chef-owner Saul Obregon, who will be in the kitchen daily. Diners can expect a menu that blends classic German fare with street tacos. Heins tells CultureMap that one possibility is a Weisswurst sausage on a bolillo bun that's topped with sauerkraut and served with a birria-style onion broth dip.

Named for a Frank Zappa song that's notoriously difficult to play, Black Page occupies a 7,400-square-foot former warehouse near Little White Oak Bayou. The brewpub's beer garden will be situated near the bayou's banks.

“We want Black Page to be Houston’s favorite hiding spot,” Manriquez added. “It’s tucked away and surrounded by nature. The bayou attracts so much wildlife, and it reminds us of Houston’s natural, hidden beauty.”

The neighborhood's north of downtown Houston remain a popular area to open a new brewery. In addition to Black Page, the new owners of Local Group Brewing in Hardy Yards recently rebranded it to Gristworkz. They'll soon be joined by Bad Astronaut Brewing Company, a new project from former Karbach employees Chris Fall and Craig “Rocky” Keener.

Courtesy of Velvet Taco

Inventive and upscale Texas taco restaurant delivers signature WTF faves and boozy beverages to Memorial

wtf in memorial

A Dallas-based chain known for its gourmet tacos is coming to Memorial. Velvet Taco will open its seventh Houston-area location on October 3.

For those unfamiliar, Velvet Taco serves an eclectic menu in a lively, fast-casual environment. Instead of limiting itself to traditional Mexican-inspired fillings, the menu offers a variety of globally inspired fillings such as tikka masala chicken tenders with cilantro basmati rice, falafel with tahini crema, and shrimp and grits with Cajun remoulade. Brunch offerings, such as chicken in a waffle taco and a taco filled with bacon, eggs, and tater tots, are also available all day. The restaurant keeps things lively with its WTF, a weekly taco feature that's only served for seven days before it changes.

Other options include sides such as elotes and red velvet cake. In addition to its "kick-ass margarita," drink options include local beers and craft sodas.

"Our Memorial City team of staff could not be more excited to open our doors to the community here," general manger Teccora Biggers said. "We can’t wait to serve up our WTF’s, classic tacos, and signature boozy beverages.”

Located at 10201 Katy Freeway, the new Velvet Taco joins Goode Company Seafood in a shopping center that's just west of Memorial City Mall. Coincidentally, it's also less than a mile from the closest Torchy's Taco, Velvet's Austin-based rival in the fancy taco space.

The new restaurant will be Texas's 23rd Velvet Taco. Overall, the company operates 35 restaurants in Texas, North Carolina, Georgia, Illinois, Tennessee, and Oklahoma.

Photo by Becca Wright

Heights street-style taco shop unfolds second location in south Houston suburb

Taco Stand Webster

A popular Heights restaurant is coming to Webster. The Taco Stand will bring its street-style tacos and canned cocktails to the southern suburb.

Located in the Eastfield at Baybrook development, a H-E-B anchored shopping center at the corner of El Dorado Blvd. and I-45, the new Taco Stand will be located less than two miles from the Baybrook Mall location of The Burger Joint, its burger-obsessed sibling. Construction will begin soon, with an opening expected next year. Like the original location that opened in the Heights in 2021, the new Taco Stand will offer both dine-in and drive-thru ordering.

Founded by restaurateur Shawn Bermudez and chef Matthew Pak, the Taco stand serves street-style tacos with a range of fillings that include meaty options such as pastor, carnitas, carne asada, and barbacoa, as well as shrimp, fish, and a number of vegan and vegetarian choices. They're wrapped in housemade corn or flour tortillas and paired with five different salsas: everything from a mild red table salsa to a smokey chile de arbol and fiery jalapeño and habanero-based options.

“Over [at The Burger Joint], the main concept was going back to classic burgers,” Bermudez told CultureMap in 2021. “Over here, we’re going back to classic street tacos — nothing crazy, just solid, traditional tacos.”

In addition to its lunch and dinner options, the Taco Stand serves breakfast tacos daily. All of its taco fillings are also available as a burrito, quesadilla, or bowl.

Bermudez tasked Present Company beverage director Rex Nielsen with developing The Taco Stand’s frozen margaritas and canned cocktails, all of which use 100-percent blue agave tequila. Other beverage choices include agua frescas, Mexican and domestic beers, and sodas.

Pak, who lives in nearby Friendswood, has high hopes for the new location's prospects based on the response to the Burger Joint's arrival late last year.

“I hope that the Taco Stand is received just as well as The Burger Joint has been, it being our first venture outside the city," he said in a statement. "We couldn’t be more grateful for the warm welcoming we’ve had from the community.”

The Taco Stand is coming to Houston.

Photo by Becca Wright
The Taco Stand is coming to Houston.
Courtesy of Alex Bremont

Rising star Mexican chef collaborates with artisan tortilla maker on 2-night taco pop-up

A taco tuesday to remember

This week one of Houston’s most talked about Mexican restaurants will host a two-night pop-up with a chef who has led the kitchen at one of the world's best restaurants. Tatemó, chef Emmanuel Chavez’s corn-obsessed restaurant and tortilleria, will host chef Alex Bremont for a taco pop-up that’s taking place this Tuesday and Wednesday, July 19 and 20, from 7 pm until 10 pm (or sell out).

Bremont served as head chef at celebrity chef Enrique Olvera’s acclaimed Mexico City restaurant Pujol. During his five year tenure, the restaurant earned a consistent spot in the top 20 of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list, including its current ninth place ranking.

The chef also has Houston ties, having lived here for 10 years between 2004 and 2014. Bremont worked at a number of local restaurants, including the Hyatt Regency downtown, South American restaurant Samba Grille, and Oxheart, the downtown restaurant where chef Justin Yu earned his James Beard Award.

Bremont tells CultureMap that he had never cooked Mexican food professionally prior to working at Pujol. Instead, he brought experiences from American fine dining restaurants and a year at Martin Berasategui, a three-star Michelin restaurant in San Sebastian, Spain.

“It was challenging at the beginning,” Bremont says about his time at Pujol. “I feel really happy when I say I was hired as the chef de cuisine who didn’t know much about Mexican cooking, but it gave me a different perspective on how to approach things. That’s what helped me when we wanted to improve our cooking and our techniques, the way we approached menu planning and creativity.”

As he prepares for his next project in Mexico City, Bremont is taking the opportunity to reintroduce himself to Houstonians. Working in collaborating with Chavez, he’s created a menu of five dishes that combine Tatemó's artisan tortillas made with nixtamalized corn with seasonal ingredients, including some sourced from the Urban Harvest farmers market.

  • Beetroot tostada with chintextle, black garlic, and macadamia
  • Cauliflower taco with encacahuatado and xnipec
  • Huitlacoche taco with black truffle and avocado
  • Eggplant taco with hoja santa, guacachile, and chicatanas
  • Wild mushroom taco sudado with black beans and chile mulato

All of the dishes are vegetarian except for the flying ants on the eggplant taco.

“I’m excited to cook with chef Emmanuel, who is doing something really special with corn in Houston,” Bremont says. “We want to keep it sort of simple because it’s the first pop-up that we’re going to do. I would say this won’t be the only one. We want to test the waters.”

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Tatemó is located at 4740 Dacoma St., Ste F.

Courtesy of Favor

Texas foodie eats up new role as Favor’s first ‘chief taco officer’

Delicious duty

San Antonio resident Chris Flores, owner of video production company, Eatmigos Creation, gained recognition when he set out four years ago to devour tacos from more than 900 Alamo City eateries.

Now, he’s taking his taco obsession to the next level. Favor, the Austin-based delivery service owned by San Antonio-based grocery chain H-E-B, has tapped Flores as its first-ever “chief taco officer.” Favor announced its search for a chief taco officer in April.

Chosen from hundreds of applicants, Flores will document and share his search for the state’s best tacos. Flores will be paid $10,000 to taste-test tacos for two months. He’ll also receive food, transportation, accommodations, and Favor swag, as well as free Favor delivery for a year.

Flores, who runs the Eatmigos social media brand, enjoys a following of nearly 37,000 users on Instagram, where he bills himself as the “taco king.”

In 2018, Flores embarked on a mission to chow down on tacos served by more than 960 restaurants in San Antonio. Three years later, he teamed up with San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg and five local businesses to cover 1,000 taco lunches for people affected by the statewide winter storm.

“Our goal was first and foremost to find someone who has a genuine passion for tacos, storytelling, and the history and culture of tacos in Texas, and Chris is exactly that,” Jag Bath, CEO of Favor, says in a news release about Flores’ meaty new role.

“We’ve delivered over 11 million tacos across Texas since Favor’s launch — and as a Texas-born and Texas-based company, needless to say, we take tacos very seriously,” Bath adds. “We cannot wait for Chris to share his taco journey with the rest of Texas, and really showcase a core component of Texas cuisine and culture.”

Flores’ first stop on his two-month taco tour will be Dallas-Fort Worth. Other places he’ll visit include San Antonio, Austin, Houston, Corpus Christi, El Paso, Lubbock, Waco, and the Rio Grande Valley.

“I love Texas because of the melting pot of different cultures that have migrated here and adopted the taco into their cuisine,” says Flores, a San Antonio native. “I’m so excited for this opportunity to travel Texas while seeing and tasting the different impact the taco has had on each region.”

Flores’ taco travels and recommendations will be posted on the Favor website, as well as on Favor’s Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, and YouTube accounts.

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Luxe plastic surgery center injects River Oaks with cutting-edge techniques, posh recovery suites, secret access, and more

A-list treatment

With the holiday season in full swing and many prepping for a new look for the new year, image-conscious Houstonians have a new option for cutting-edge cosmetic treatments and plastic surgery in one of Houston’s most elite neighborhoods.

Nuveau Plastic Surgery + Medical Aesthetics, a local leader in cosmetic medical procedures, has quietly opened a sleek new facility in River Oaks (3720 Westheimer Rd.). Owned and operated by renowned (and board-certified) plastic surgeon Dr. Edward Lee, the facility offers myriad reconstructive surgeries for men, women, and children, as well as beauty treatments, touch-ups, and more.

Aside from top-of-the-line technology, instrumentation, and treatments, the boutique center has personalized service and features to the tony RO crowd. A secret entrance ensures privacy for discreet clients, much like similar operations in Los Angeles and New York.

Another top-drawer feature: Tastefully appointed pre-op and post-op suites keep patients in-house, rather than having to leave posh treatment centers and head to crowded hospital rooms for recovery.

In keeping with Lee’s insistence on a medicine-first approach, anesthesia for patients is provided by Medical Anesthesia Associates, an MD-only group.

A cut above

Notably, the center places a primary focus on plastic surgery, which, for the uninitiated, has a clear distinction from cosmetic surgery. Randy Rakes, managing partner, tells CultureMap that it’s important for clients to understand the difference.

“You have to understand, you have to go through hundreds of hours of training and cases — face and the entire body — to get that board certification, and go through rigorous testing in order to meet that specification,” he says.

Why is that important? The industry, Rakes notes, is rife with practitioners such as “OBGYNs or dermatologists or people who have not really been trained in the art of plastic surgery, who take a class somewhere and learn how to do liposuction or a fat transfer — and then they're ‘experts’ in aesthetic surgery.”

That’s especially key when selecting a provider for highly invasive — and potentially serious — procedures such as facelifts, eyelid surgeries, tummy tucks, liposuction, rhinoplasty, breast lifts and augmentations, breast reconstruction, and more, Rakes adds.

In an era of Instagram beauty demands, more choosy clients are opting for streamlining facial features. To that end, Lee is one of a select few surgeons in the U.S. who regularly performs “V-Line '' surgery. The set of procedures, popularized in South Korea where Lee honed many of his skills, aim to narrow the width of the jawline and the face.

Aesthetics with an expert eye

Lee’s elegant, 5,500-square-foot center is adorned with CASA Houston designs, Italian-influenced finishes, and soothing elements evocative of a modern art museum or luxury spa. The facility houses a Visia Skin Analysis Studio and seven treatment suites aesthetic work such as Botox, microneedling, VI peels, Halo Laser Resurfacing, Moxi Non-Ablative Laser, Broad Band Light Photofacials, Coolsculpting, Emsculpt, and more.

Rakes says that his registered nurses, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and estheticians are elite, by design, as he and Lee insist on credentials. “All of our injectors are licensed in the State of Texas,” he says. “Most places don't have that, the reason being is that they are much more highly skilled than a traditional, regular nurse injector. So they have a much higher skill set. The people who do our lasers and things of that nature have 10 to 15 years of experience, so clients know that they're getting the best possible treatment with the best possible devices — we own every medical device that's considered cutting edge in the industry.”

Facing forward

Rakes, a longtime medical industry processional with a keen eye for trends and technology, says that his clients aren’t just looking for traditional services, but new technologies and treatment, such as PRP and other regenerative therapies. “I think patients are kind of moving a little bit away from the traditional Hyaluronic fillers like Restylane and really looking for something with a more natural approach.”

His treatment teams stimulate collagen with fillers such as Radiesse, “and then we combine that with energy-based devices to even further lift the tissue and work as a synergy between using the injectable and the device, because the combination of both of those things give the patient the best possible results,” Rakes notes. Lee and Rakes also focus facial care on medical-grade skincare brands Alastin, Revision, and Elta MD.

A global scope

Aside from his board certification in plastic surgery, Lee has also trained in craniofacial and pediatric surgery. His medical mission work has taken him to Thailand, Haiti, and Cambodia, where he has performed surgeries for nonprofits such as Operation Smile and Smile Train for those in need.

Those in need of non-traditional treatments can also trust Lee, says Rakes, who points to Lee’s work in the cosmetic and plastic surgery-obsessed Korea. “Some of the Korean techniques are much more advanced than the techniques that are available here in the United States,” says Rakes. “Dr. Lee does a lot of things that other physicians here just don't do.”

Those interested should book early, Rakes advises, as the holiday and new year rush is in full swing. The center offers “pre-buying” slots where clients can reserve space and time. “We’ve been very busy,” says Rakes, noting the local celebs who’ve shared the work they’ve received there on social media. “I think people come here because they know they’re getting the very best treatment and results available.”

Photo courtesy of Nuveau PlasticSurgery + Medical Aesthetics

Nuveau's sleek River Oaks center boasts designs from CASA.

Beloved Houston urban farm toasts local culinary legend with new cooking courses and classroom

peg-approved

For longtime Houston food insiders, Peg Lee needs no introduction. A lifelong local culinary instructor, she has been a fixture in the food scene since the 1970s, where she (often humorously) led cooking classes at Houston Community College.

She was a no-brainer to found and direct Rice Epicurean's cooking school. And the newly launched Central Market made waves in 2001 by enticing her to launch its now wildly successful cooking school, which, thanks to Lee, has lured top national and international chefs and food names.

Along the way, Lee mentored now well-known chefs such as Robert Del Grande, Greg Martin, and Mark Cox.

Quite apropos, the Houston legend is now the namesake for a new cooking school in one of the city's most beloved urban green sanctuaries, Hope Farms. The Peg Lee Culinary Classroom in Hope Farms' Gathering Barn now hosts field trips, classes, tastings, and free cooking demonstrations for children and adults.

Locals can also book the charming space, spearheaded by Recipe for Success/Hope Farms founder Gracie Cavnar, for cooking parties and cooking classes for anywhere from four to 24 students. Those interested can find more information on classes, which center on Cavnar's passion for healthy eating, and more here.

As for the classroom, visitors can expect a white, farmhouse-style kitchen with custom cabinets and high-end appliances, all reflective of a home kitchen. Butcherblock countertops, matte black accents, and farm-made tables and more adorn the space, while a Wolf Induction cooktop, A GE Café Smart Five-in-One Wall Oven, and other state-of-the-art appliances get folks cooking.

Fittingly, classroom water is tied into the farm's new rainwater capture system for the ultimate in sustainability.

“Peg was one of my earliest mentors in the imagining and crafting of what Recipe for Success Foundation would become,” Cavnar noted in a statement. “Then, when we began programing, she rolled up her sleeves and got to work, helping us teach children to cook and bringing her many resources to help us raise money and awareness for our efforts. It is my deepest honor to pay her tribute with the naming of our classroom.”

New craft brewery bringing 'bold American beer,' Texas comfort food, live music, and more to Sugar Land

Sugar land's new craft brewery

Houston’s growing craft brewery scene will add a new outpost in Sugar Land. Talyard Brewing Co. recently began construction on a 15,000-square-foot production and tap room that will open in early 2024.

Located in Imperial, a massive mixed-use development on the site of the former Imperial Sugar refinery, Talyard will occupy a three-and-a-half acre site that will include a beer garden with shaded seating areas, pickle ball courts, a playground, and a stage for live entertainment.

Principals Keith Teague and Chuck Laughter are Sugar Land natives and neighbors who bring experience from the business world to Talyard. In a release, Teague says that intend to serve “bold American beer” paired with a food menu of Texas comfort food made from locally sourced ingredients.

“We want to push the boundaries of style and tradition by combining old practices and new,” Teague added.

Ultimately, the brewery’s 20-barrel brewhouse will be capable of producing 10,000 barrels per year. For now, brew master Sean Maloney is dialing in recipes on a test system. Formerly of 8th Wonder Brewing, Maloney has been working on the West Coast and recently finished the World Brewing Academy’s Master Brewer Program, administered by the Siebel Institute in Chicago and the Doemens Academy in Munich.

“As I’m sure is the case for many ventures like ours, the idea of starting a craft brewery was hatched over beers in the backyard,” Teague said. “Sean attended high school with Chuck’s son, and over the years, we’d see him at family gatherings during the holidays when he was visiting from the West Coast. Those backyard beer sessions turned into area brewery tours together, and eventually the idea of sharing our passion here locally was born.”

Talyard will add to Imperial’s extensive entertainment options. The area also includes Constellation Field, home to the Sugar Land Space Cowboys, a weekly farmers market, and the Fort Bend Children’s Discovery Center.