Are We There Yet? Restaurants We're Excited About for 2013
Last year -- at the tail end of 2011 -- it seemed as if half the restaurants we were excited about in 2010 for the upcoming year still hadn't opened yet: Uchi, Triniti, Underbelly and The Hay Merchant were all a very long time in the making, but finally opened this past year to great acclaim all around.
Photo by Katharine Shilcutt Downtown is getting an infusion of some fresh young blood.
This year, however, we're excited about a slew of brand-new restaurants. And although some of those have also been in the works for a while, others have just had their grand opening in the last week or so and hold huge promise for the year ahead. Below are the restaurants we're most excited about in 2013.
If you're a fan of Triniti -- the year-old "contemporary New American" (I kind of made that up, but I think it works) restaurant from Ryan Hildebrand -- then you'll be excited to hear about his next project, in the works for late next year. Brande will open in the old spot where Ruggles once stood, near the corner of Montrose and Westheimer. Brande has been described as "a contemporary building with a rustic farmhouse feel," and plans to offer an extensive selection of charcuterie, crafted breads, pastries and dry-aged meats. On the beverage side, Brande will feature "craft cocktails and an eclectic wine and beer list focusing on American producers." Hildebrand promises to have a more casual restaurant in Brande, with richer, darker woods to contrast against Triniti's lighter, airier look and feel.
Photo by Katharine Shilcutt Batanga's patio only looks bare for now...
Although yesterday's round-up of the most notable restaurant closings of 2012 could have you believing that downtown is death for restaurants, a group of young restaurateurs and bar owners would beg to differ. Starting with OKRA's Charity Bar -- which opens this month -- at least one stretch of downtown is looking to change Houstonians' attitudes about the area.
In the former location of the ill-fated Korma Sutra and laidback manor, one restaurant is determined to make a go of it: The Burger Guys, which opened a second location at 706 Main after achieving critical acclaim with their first venture in far west Houston. The new space seats three times the patrons as the original, which is a good thing -- it's been packed every time I've walked by since it opened last month.
Next door to Charity Bar, Batanga plans to open within the next few months at the corner of Travis and Congress. Owners Maya Fasthoff -- the blogger behind Restaurant Traveler -- as well as brother-in-law Brian Fasthoff and husband Hank Fasthoff have thoroughly renovated the space inside and out, including work on a new patio that looks more promising by the day.
Down the street, three brand-new bars will be moving in along Main, looking to revitalize what was once a popular nighttime destination. Two will be from a couple of well-known Houston bartenders (and bar owners), while the third will be a somewhat quieter dark horse -- and I'm excited for them all.
And along that same stretch of Main Street, look for another new restaurant from a popular food truck operator that many food fans are calling "Houston's worst-kept secret."