Courtesy of Fox News

The most watched morning show in cable news will be in Houston this week. Fox & Friends will present its “Breakfast with Friends” segments from Christian’s Tailgate in the Heights (2820 White Oak Drive) this Thursday, March 30, from 5-8 am.

The show’s topics are expected to center around Opening Day for Major League Baseball, the NCAA Final Four that’s taking place in Houston this weekend, and other news of the day, according to a representative. Members of the public are invited to attend the broadcast.

Fox Nation host Abby Hornacek will be in Houston where she’ll speak with a number of local guests, including Jim "Mattress Mack" McIngvale.

“I couldn't be more excited to be in Houston, the home of the reigning World Series champs, where the buzz of last year's Fall Classic is surely still echoing ahead of the first pitch of the 2023 season,” Hornacek says in a statement. “I'm looking forward to talking to sports fans about their expectations for the upcoming season and what brings them to Opening Day in Houston. We'll be there to gauge the level of enthusiasm as all 30 MLB teams get ready to take the field across the country.”

For its part, Christian’s will feature a breakfast-oriented menu of specials that includes chilaquiles, breakfast tacos, a breakfast burger, and chicken and waffles. Those who want a more traditional ballpark experience may opt for hot dogs and fries. The restaurant will also offer $2 mimosas and free coffee from Slowpokes, the local coffee shop and cafe that recently opened its fourth location in West University Place.

In February, Fox announced that Fox & Friends has held its status as the top-rated morning show on cable news for 100 consecutive weeks, drawing an average of more than 1.2 million viewers. Given its popularity, expect an enthusiastic crowd to show up on Thursday.

Courtesy of Chi'Lantro BBQ

Sizzling hot Austin Korean BBQ restaurant serves up opening date for permanent Heights return

Chi'Lantro returns

A popular Austin restaurant will soon make its permanent return to Houston. Chi’Lantro BBQ will open in the Heights on Monday, April 3 at the The Heights Forum development (1324 N. Shepherd Dr.).

Chi'Lantro BBQ bowls spread

Courtesy of Chi'Lantro BBQ

The restaurant serves bowls with different protein and topping options.

Originally founded as a food truck, Chi’Lantro has grown to 11 Austin-area locations and a thriving catering business. The food truck also operated in Houston but left in 2015 to focus on growing its brick and mortar business in Austin.

Named for a combination of cilantro and kimchi, Chi'Lantro serves a creative mashup of Mexican and Korean-inspired dishes. True to its food truck roots, the restaurant's signature item is The Original Kimchi Fries — french fries topped with kimchi, Korean BBQ, onions, cilantro, sesame seeds, and sauce. In a year, the restaurant will serve more than 200,000 orders of kimchi fries, according to a release.

In addition to fries, the menu includes Korean fried chicken wings, ssäms (wrap-style sandwiches), and bowls that can be customized with a range of proteins and toppings. Meat choices include Korean BBQ steak, spicy pork, spicy chicken, and soy-glazed chicken.

Chi'Lantro has also had some success on reality TV. In 2016, Barbara Corcoran invested $600,000 in the restaurant on a season eight episode of Shark Tank.

“In 2015 we scaled back to focus on the brick & mortar expansion in Austin, and I am thrilled that after almost a decade we are returning to the city where my journey in Texas began,” Chi'Lantro founder Jae Kim said in a statement. “Houston holds a special place in my heart, and I am excited at the opportunity to rekindle my connection with this diverse and culinary-focused community.”

Ahead of its grand opening, Chi'Lantro will hold soft opening preview events on March 31 (5-8 pm) and April 1 (12-3 pm). Attendees must register on Eventbrite to attend the previews, which will feature free food until it runs out. The restaurant will encourage diners to donate to the MD Anderson Pediatric Cancer Fund for NF2 patients.

"I'm motivated to give back to a cause that means so much to me, I'm doing it for my sister who passed away due to NF2,” Kim said. “We are looking forward to celebrating our opening while supporting a good cause.”

Courtesy of Daddy's Chicken Shack

Heights Chicken Shack owner dishes on her Mandy Moore-approved sandwiches and big national plans

What's Eric Eating Episode 275

On this week's episode of "What's Eric Eating," chef Pace Webb joins CultureMap food editor Eric Sandler to discuss Daddy's Chicken Shack. The native Houstonian and HSPVA alum turned a former dry cleaners in the Heights into a flagship location of her California-based chicken restaurant that opened in October.

Pace Webb Daddy's Chicken Shack

Courtesy of Daddy's Chicken Shack

Chef Pace Webb is this week's guest.

The conversation begins with Webb sharing the story of how her interest in entertaining evolved into operating a catering business in the Los Angeles area. When a fried chicken sandwich she made for a party caught the attention of actress Mandy Moore, she shifted her focus to a restaurant. Ultimately, she developed a concept that blends Southern flavors with Asian touches across a range of chicken sandwiches, salads topped with chicken, chicken fingers, and breakfast items

Working in partnership with her husband Chris Georgala and RE/MAX founder Dave Liniger, Webb plans to grow Daddy's as a franchised business to locations across the country. She shares that the restaurant's plans include 10 additional Houston-area locations, starting in neighborhoods like Montrose, West University Place, and Katy. Sandler asks the chef about how Daddy's positions itself relative to other chicken sandwich restaurants.

"We're selling you time back," she says. "Our target is dual working households — maybe they have kids, maybe they don't — that are short on time. That's where my husband and I are in our lives. Placing an order ahead to pick up is a weight off your shoulders. You know you'll get it on time. You don't have to cook, and it's going to be accurate, tasty, and fresh."

Prior to the interview, Sandler is joined by co-hosts Matt Harris and Michael Fulmer to remember the life of Lee Ellis, the veteran restaurateur who died last week at the age of 63. They share a couple of favorite stories about the man who helped found restaurants such as BRC, Liberty Kitchen, and State Fare.

In the news of the week segment, Sandler and Harris discuss the changes coming to Hobby Airport after Houston City Council approved a new concessions contract that will replace Pappas Restaurants with Areas, a Spain-based company that operates restaurants in airports all over the world. They also talk about the closure of Kraftsmen Cafe in the Heights.

In the restaurant of the week segment, Fulmer, Harris, and Sandler raves about Jūn, the new restaurant in the Heights from Top Chef finalist Evelyn Garcia and her business partner Henry Lu. They're impressed by the food, decor, and service at this self-described “New Asian American” restaurant that draws on their cultural backgrounds as well as their time cooking at restaurants in New York City.


Subscribe to "What's Eric Eating" on Apple podcasts, Google Play, or Spotify. Listen to it Saturday at 2 pm on ESPN 97.5.

Photo by Julie Soefer/Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau

Heights favorite bakery's in-house cafe announces surprise closing after 12-year run

Heights cafe closing

A popular Heights cafe will soon serve its last meals. Kraftsmen Baking & Café will cease restaurant operations this Sunday, March 12, owner Scott Tycer announced.

The cafe opened in 2010 in the space that had been utilized by Textile, Tycer’s pioneering tasting menu restaurant. Open daily for breakfast and lunch, the cafe serves dishes such as quiche, breakfast tacos, sandwiches, and salads.

The closure comes as Kraftsmen prepares to leave its longtime home on W 22nd St. for a new facility that’s expected to open this summer in a location that will be announced at a later date. Until the move occurs, the bakery will maintain its wholesale operations and a small retail presence that sells breads, pastries, and other baked goods.

“We have loved being a part of the Heights community, but our lease is expiring at 611 W 22nd street and we are not able to continue the full-service café operations at this location,” Tycer said in a statement. “We will continue to serve our artisan breads to both retail customers and our wholesale accounts, and hope to share plans for our new location in the near future. We very much enjoy the café portion and intend to jump back in when we can.”

Founded in 2001, Kraftsmen is among Houston oldest artisan bakeries. It supplies bread, sandwich rolls, burger buns, and more to more than 200 restaurants in Houston, Austin, and Galveston, including North Italia, Katz’s, and Roostar Vietnamese Grill.

Tycer added that the company will assist the cafe’s employees in finding jobs with the bakery’s wholesale clients. The retail bakery will be open Tuesday through Saturday from 8 am to 4 pm.

Courtesy of Berg Hospitality

Ben Berg's new retro-style diner slices into the Heights with sweet Carvel treats

a beautiful (buttermilk) baby

Ben Berg isn’t slowing down any time soon. The founder of Berg Hospitality, the local restaurant group behind concepts such as The Annie Cafe, B&B Butchers, and Trattoria Sofia, is adding an old school soda fountain to his roster.

Called Buttermilk Baby, the restaurant will open in the Heights M-K-T mixed-use development where it will join restaurants such as Homestead, Da Gama, and Blue Sushi Sake Grill. Slated to open this fall, Buttermilk Baby will serve a diner-style menu built around burgers, chicken sandwiches, biscuits, and New York’s iconic Carvel ice cream. As Berg explains, the concept is grounded in his memories of eating in diners while growing up in New York City.

“I wanted to do a diner. It kind of morphed into this,” Berg tells CultureMap. “Here’s my soda fountain diner without the extensive menu. We’re not going to do chicken parm or souvlaki.”

While many of Berg’s existing concepts already serve burgers, Buttermilk Baby’s will be distinct, with its own beef blend. Like at any diner, it will be cooked on a griddle. Yes, burgers-on-a-biscuit will be an option.

Carvel ice cream will be a key offering, marking the company’s return to Houston, according to a release. Buttermilk Baby will serve Carvel favorites such as milkshakes, sundaes, and the Carvelanche, which is soft serve mixed with candies such as Oreo cookies, Reese’s peanut butter cups, and M&M’s. Similarly, the restaurant will serve Carvel’s signature ice cream cakes, including Fudgie the Whale.

“Every birthday, unless my mom made carrot cake, was a Carvel Fudgie the Whale cake,” Berg says. “We’ll probably have five or six of the base cakes. Maybe an Astros cake if they keep beating my Yankees.”

Customers will be able to pre-order cakes for their own celebrations. The restaurant will also serve some cakes by-the-slice.

To create the proper atmosphere, Berg enlisted New York design firm ICRAVE. Pastel colors and photo-worthy details will establish the retro-inspired environment.

Buttermilk Baby patio renderingA preview of the restaurant's patio.Courtesy of Berg Hospitality

“When Ben described how Buttermilk Baby would re-imagine the classic American soda fountain in a modern, approachable form, we instantly fell in love with his vision,” Steve Radom, managing principal of M-K-T developer Radom Capital, said in a statement. “Ben has been blessed with an intuitive sensitivity that allows him to reinterpret his life’s experiences into exciting hospitality offerings.”

Buttermilk Baby is one of several restaurants Berg Hospitality has under development. In the coming months, the company plans to open all of the following — Benny Chows, a Cantonese-style Chinese restaurant that will be located next to B&B Butchers; Canopy Social, a British Caribbean-inspired patio bar above Benny Chows; La Table, a reimagined take on the Galleria-area French fine dining restaurant; Tavola, an Italian restaurant below La Table; Annabelle Brasserie, a restaurant in the Autry Park mixed-use development that will serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner; Turner's Cut, a fine dining steakhouse in the Autry Park mixed-use development; and Prime 131, a wood-fired steakhouse in the Docks at Timbergrove mixed-use development.

Photo by Jenn Duncan

Gin-obsessed Heights seafood restaurant and happy hour spot announces closing date

time for one last martini

One of Houston’s best seafood restaurants will close next month. 1751 Sea & Bar will serve its last shellfish tower on March 4, owner Sambrooks Management Company announced.

Named for the Gin Act of 1751, the Heights-adjacent restaurant offered an extensive menu of globally inspired shareable plates along with a comprehensive raw bar and a few center-of-plate entrees. A gin-forward cocktail program and well-priced wine list have made the restaurant a popular happy hour destination.

Opened in 2019, 1751 evolved out of Star Fish, a restaurant Sambrooks Management inherited when it purchased some of the assets of Cherry Pie Hospitality. Executive chef Matt Young, a nominee for the 2023 CultureMap Tastemaker Awards Rising Star Chef of the Year, will transition to a corporate role with the company.

“We love the food and concept at 1751, but with our lease expiring mid-year and a lot on our plate with Andiron and The Pit Room 2, we made the business decision to close 1751 for now,” owner Michael Sambrooks said in a statement. “We certainly hope we can bring this concept back to life at a later date, but for now we would like to thank our customers who enjoyed 1751’s progressive small plate dining experience for a great run.”

Despite the closure, Sambrooks Management continues to expand throughout Houston. It will open Andiron, its luxurious live fire steakhouse, in late March. A second location of The Pit Room, its well-regarded Montrose barbecue restaurant, will open in the Memorial area this fall.

“We are happy that due to our expansion we can offer jobs to all of our great 1751 employees at our new or existing locations,” Sambrooks added. “We hope our loyal customers and fans will come out for one final meal in our remaining two weeks of service.”

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Lords of the rings: Houston Astros level up with World Series Championship bling, Lyle Lovett, and Paul Wall

diamond day

After a star-studded Opening Day that saw Mark Wahlberg, Megan Thee Stallion, Cody Johnson and more, the Houston Astros returned to Minute Maid Park on Friday, March 31 for Game 2 of a 4-game home stand against the Chicago White Sox — and to load up on jewelry.

In a memorable ceremony, Astros players and staff received their 2022 World Series Championship rings. Owner Jim Crane and wife Whitney kicked off the event by poignantly exchanging rings with each, then handed out the massive Jostens rings that boast 624 diamonds and 55 orange and blue sapphires for a total of more than 15 carats. Charismatic manager Dusty Baker Jr., led off, finally receiving the first-ever championship ring of his illustrious career.

Our world champs donned the regal rings and posed for pics before legendary country crooner — and Klein native — Lyle Lovett sang the National Anthem and former Astros great Jason Castro — now retired — threw out the first pitch. People's Champ and always gloriously grilled hometown rapper Paul Wall handled the Play Ball call.

A magical hometown moment belonged to new Astros outfielder Corey Julks, a native of Friendswood who played at the University of Houston. Julks' family was in the stands as the designated hitter recored his first hit for the team. Another fan favorite, Kyle Tucker, blasted his first home run of the season. Key batting from slugger Yordan Alvarez and David Hensley sealed a 6 -3 win for the 'Stros.

Fans who want to score 2022 World Series Championship jewelry from Jostens — included 200 coveted, limited edition rings, can find them online.

--- Additional reporting by Marco Torres/@MarcoFromHouston

Houston Astros World Series rings 2023

Photo courtesy of Houston Astros

Katy's new baseball complex powers this week's top stories

this week's hot headlines

Editor's note: It's time to recap the top stories on CultureMap from this past week.

1. Massive new baseball entertainment complex hits a home run in Houston. The new venue aims to do for batting cages what Top Golf did for driving ranges.

2. Beloved Houston bakery and cafe rises with new Woodlands location. Chocolate chunk cookies and Old-Fashioned Diner Cake are coming to The Woodlands Waterway later this year.

3. 3 Houston chefs and restaurants named James Beard Award finalists. The nominations include two national categories, Best New Restaurant and Outstanding Wine and Other Beverages Program.

4. Ken Hoffman takes a swing at Houston Astros' pitch to build a new downtown hotel. Our columnist explains why he's intrigued by Jim Crane's new initiative.

5. Houston's 10 best pastry chefs conjure sweet and savory treats. From cakes and cookies to kolaches and conchas, these 10 chefs really know their stuff.

Goofiness keeps Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves light on its feet

Movie Review

In the franchise world in which we now live, movie studios are always looking for the next big thing that will ensure fans come flocking to the theater. The role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons has gotten a pop cultural boost in recent years thanks to the Netflix show Stranger Things, and now – just shy of its 50th anniversary – it’s getting its own blockbuster movie, Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves.

Michelle Rodriguez and Chris Pine in Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves

Photo courtesy of Paramount Pictures

Michelle Rodriguez and Chris Pine in Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves

The somewhat complex story centers on two of the titular thieves, Edgin (Chris Pine) and Holga (Michelle Rodriguez), who lead a group of rogues who make a living by stealing, but only from those who deserve it. One such altruistic mission, a relic that can bring back the dead, leads to the pair getting caught and put in jail, separating Edgin from his daughter, Kira (Chloe Coleman).

Fellow thief Forge (Hugh Grant) agrees to look after her, but after a daring escape, Edgin and Holga discover that Forge is even more of a scoundrel than they thought, rising to the title of Lord in their absence with the help of the sorceress Sofina (Daisy Head), and poisoning Kira’s mind against them. They must gather the rest of the team, including Simon (Justice Smith) and Doric (Sophia Lillis), to try to take him down and recover the relic once and for all.

Written and directed by John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein, with help from co-writer Michael Gilio, the film has the unenviable task of turning the famously dense game into something that pleases both fanatics and those unfamiliar with its many characters, creatures, and locations. It’s clear the filmmakers are trying to strike a balance between the two, loading the story with terms they barely attempt to explain while at the same time making the movie as goofy as possible.

Only the second of those two approaches truly works. The problem the filmmakers run into is that this is an introductory film that barely seems to care about introducing its characters. A lengthy speech by Edgin at the beginning attempts to do that, but is staged in such a way that the humor of sequence takes precedence over the details of the people. The only reason the characters wind up likable is because of the sheer amount of time spent with them and the actors’ performances.

Well, that and the comedy sprinkled throughout the film. If Daley, Goldstein, and Gilio do anything right, it’s not taking the material too seriously. The world has already seen Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones, so adding in funny elements like the wise-cracking Edgin, a supremely fat dragon, and more keeps the film from getting lost in its own minutiae. Not all the jokes land, but 75-80 percent of them do, which is enough to keep the film buoyant.

Pine, as he’s shown in the recent Star Trek and Wonder Woman films, has charm to spare. He occupies this particular role extremely well, and so even if you can’t remember his character’s name, his performance carries the film. Rodriguez is an acquired taste, but her surly demeanor and physical prowess works for her here. The supporting actors shine at times, but the film doesn’t showcase them enough to make them stand out.

While miles better than the reviled 2000 Dungeons & Dragons, Honor Among Thieves is a merely okay beginning for a possible new franchise. There’s some excitement to be had and it stays light on its feet thanks to the comedy, but more attention paid to the story is warranted if they decide to make sequels.


Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves opens in theaters on March 31.