10 Houston Restaurants That We Miss the Most at the End of 2014

Categories: Top 10

Photo by Angelica Leicht
Honorable Mention: The Boneyard Drinkery may have been a bar, but it made an important stand for dog-friendly establishments.

Let's have a moment of silence for some of the restaurants that Houston lost this year. Some were good. Some were great. Some were decidedly not great, but still hold a special place in our hearts for reasons other than the food.

The good news is that several of the restaurants on this list have a surviving sibling. Others have a good chance of returning someday in a different spot.

First off, a few honorable mentions:

  • Boneyard Drinkery was not a restaurant. It was a bar, but patrons could often get food from a food truck parked on-site. The combination bar-dog park helped blaze a trail for other pet-friendly dining establishments. Eventually, the City of Houston passed an ordinance allowing restaurants to offer dog-friendly patios if they wanted to do so. It was places like Boneyard Drinkery that influenced that decision. It will be missed.
  • The award for "Chef With The Worst Luck Keeping Restaurants Open" goes to Chris Kinjo, who opened MF Sushi in December 2012. The place didn't even make it a year before a fire shut it down at the end of September 2013. Kinjo, along with brother Alex, rebuilt. MF Sushi finally reopened this past spring and critics and sushi fans alike rejoiced, only to be crushed again when it once again closed in October for "reorganization."

    It's open again, but without chef Kinjo. He's opening his own location in the Museum District, hopefully by May of next year. That sounds like the best idea for everyone involved, especially for fans of his pristine Japanese food.

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The 5 Best Things to Eat or Drink This Weekend: Breakfast With Santa and a Campfire Christmas

Categories: Edible Science

Photo by udalumni
Enjoy a festive holiday breakfast with your family...and Santa!
Campfire Christmas @ George Ranch Historical Park
Friday and Saturday, 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
10215 FM 762

Take a historical journey back to Christmases past at this annual Campfire Christmas event. The evening starts with a proper Victorian holiday meal -- including Yorkshire roast beef with all the trimmings, hot tea and cider, and plum pudding, apple crumble, and peach sonker. After you've filled up, explore the park grounds and decked halls. Tickets are $50 per adult ($45 for children, seniors, or groups of 10 or more).

Breakfast with Santa @ 024 Grille
Saturday, 9 a.m. and 11 a.m.
945 N. Gessner

Bring the whole family for an unforgettable Very Merry Breakfast with Santa this Saturday. Enjoy a full breakfast buffet -- featuring red velvet pancakes, biscuits and gravy, French toast, bacon, sausge, eggs, and more -- alongside arts and crafts, photos with Santa, goodie bags, and raffle drawings. The meal is $20 for adults and $12 for ages 4 to 14.

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Upcoming Events: Sign Your Team Up for The One Pot Showdown Now

Categories: Edible Science

Photo by Marco Torres
Last year's One Pot Showdown was a blast.
The 8th Annual Saint Arnold One Pot Showdown isn't until Sunday, January 25, but the brewery is putting out a call for cooking teams. The event showcases homemade gumbos, stews, chili and anything else you can cook up in a single pot. Sign up online and be sure to do it now, as spots fill up quickly. The team fee is $100 per team, with prizes including $500 (plus all the glory in the world) for 1st place. See their One Pot Showdown page for complete details.

The Wave's last Holiday Lights Tour -- where you tour the winter wonderlands of Woodland Heights, Downtown, River Oaks Blvd. and more -- will take place on Tuesday, December 23. Meet at Market Square Park around 5:15 p.m. to warm up with food and drink specials before the ride. Tickets are $30 per person.

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Openings & Closings: MF Sushi (Or Something Like It) Will Ride Again

Categories: Restaurant News

Photo by Troy Fields
Respected sushi chef Chris Kinjo is establishing a new (and hopefully stable) place in the Museum District.

He may be Houston's unluckiest chef when it comes to keeping a restaurant open, but it looks like sushi master Chris "Magic Fingers" Kinjo of MF Sushi, will ultimately find stable ground. Alison Cook at the Houston Chronicle reports that he has signed a lease on his own sleek, modern restaurant in the Museum District at 1401 Binz. It will be located in the mixed-use Museum Point Professional Building.

MF Sushi has been a weird, wild ride. It opened to acclaim in the Galleria area in December 2012. Just 10 months later, it was damaged after a fire and shut down. This past spring, MF Sushi finally reopened and critics and sushi fans alike rejoiced, only to be crushed again when it closed this past October for "reorganization." MF Sushi is open again, but this time it's without Kinjo in the kitchen.

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Houston Grocery Stores Open on Christmas Eve and Day

Categories: Season's Eating

Photo by appaloosa
Need a last minute dessert because you burned your gingerbread? We've got you covered
Whether you forgot an ingredient for your famous egg nog, can't fit in the shopping, or just really, really like to wait until the last minute, here's a list of the grocery/convenience stores that will be open this Christmas Eve and Day:

Note: All information is based on telephone checks with the stores or their websites, so please don't be mad at us if you show up somewhere and that individual store is not participating. Consider this a spirit guide to where you can start looking. And feel free to add any extra openings in the comments.

Central Market - Open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Christmas Eve. Closed on Christmas Day.
Holiday Hotline: 713-386-1785

Costco - Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Christmas Eve. Closed on Christmas Day.

CVS***Open both days! - All locations (including 24 hour stores) are open normal hours on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day for front of store operations (pharmacy hours vary).

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Chef Chat, Part 2: Joshua Martinez of The Chicken Ranch

Categories: Chef Chat

Photo by Chuck Cook Photography
Joshua Martinez of The Chicken Ranch with his special friend, "Michael." He let the first children who visited name the taxidermy chicken.

When we finished part 1 of our Chef Chat with Joshua Martinez of The Chicken Ranch, he was describing the collaborative environment at Soma Sushi that allowed him and the other team members to improve the menu and bar offerings. How did he get from there to co-owning The Chicken Ranch? It required three stops: Kata Robata, The Modular food truck and Goro & Gun. Martinez owns The Modular and it still goes out for gigs to this day.

When Martinez started running The Modular, a chef came along and offered to help. That person was Lyle Bento (of the forthcoming Southern Goods restaurant). The duo would form a friendship that survived even after they parted ways to pursue separate career paths.

In Part 2 of this Chef Chat, we pick up just as Martinez is leaving Soma Sushi to take a general manager position at a well-known Houston Japanese restaurant. We'll also learn more about The Modular, why Goro & Gun didn't survive and why Martinez decided to open a fried chicken place.

JM: The time came where they needed a general manager at Kata Robata and I said, "Sure, why not?" They were bringing in Seth Siegel-Gardner [now chef and co-owner of The Pass & Provisions]. It was to be a short stint, but it was substantial enough for me to want to join. I already knew his pedigree and I was like, "Yeah, I want to work with this guy."

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The 5 Best Happy Hours in Pearland

Photo by Troy Fields
Celebrate Oktoberfest any day of the week.
If you love happy hour as much as we do, you'll love this new series. We're taking a look at the best happy hours in town, 'hood by 'hood. To narrow it down, we're focusing on the spots with the best deals on not only drinks, but eats, too. From upscale eateries serving bar bites and half-priced wine to dives with cheap beer and burgers, we've got it all. See the complete list at the end of this post

This week, we're moving on to Pearland.

Honorable mention: Fajita Wednesdays at Emma's Mex Grill and sushi at Sakura Japanese Restaurant.

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Chef Chat, Part 1: Joshua Martinez of The Chicken Ranch

Categories: Chef Chat

Photo by Chuck Cook Photography
Joshua Martinez of The Chicken Ranch with a portrait of the reporter who busted the original brothel, Marvin Zindler.
Joshua Martinez has already had as many lives as a cat, at least in the culinary sense. He's known as the owner of The Modular, one of the first gourmet food trucks to hit the streets of Houston. He later went on to co-helm the ill-fated izakaya Goro & Gun.

These days, you can find him at the divey new fried chicken place in The Heights, The Chicken Ranch.

When I met Josh, though, he was not in an apron. He was in a suit and tie. At the time, he was a friendly "front of the house" face at Kata Robata. I still remember the day that he excitedly told me about his forthcoming food truck venture. Not too long after that, that he shucked his suit and tie in favor of a T-shirt and baseball cap.

The Modular was timely. It was on the leading edge of the gourmet food truck trend. Soon, it started attracting national attention, thanks not only to the good timing but also because of Martinez' successful partnership with chef Lyle Bento, formerly of Feast.

In time, Bento left to help Chris Shepherd start Underbelly, not too long before Martinez turned his attention to Goro & Gun.

Let's catch up with Martinez and take a look at the long path he's taken through nearly every facet of the restaurant industry.

EOW: Tell me where you're from originally.

JM: Mexico City.

EOW: When did you come to the United States?

JM: When I was very young: about five years old.

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This Week in Food Blogs: Sharing (Your Mixer) Is Caring

Categories: Leftovers

Photo by Phaedra Cook
The menu updates at Tony Mandola's seem to be succeeding. According to Culinary Houton, old favorites like Snapper Martha are still great, while new items such as the Decadent Pizza, are pleasing additions.

In the spirit of the season, H-Town Chow Down reveals an act of kindness by a Woodlands pizza parlor owner to a new potential competitor in the area. The new Chicago-style pizzeria, Gino's East (25657 I-45), was almost unable to open when their dough mixer broke down. RC Gallegos, owner of nearby RC's NYC Pizza (501 Sawdust), stepped in and saved the day by lending them his. He additionally connected Gino's to local repairmen so they could get their mixer fixed. It is this kind of cooperation that makes Houstonians fiercely proud of our food community. Besides, we're plenty big enough to support both Chicago-style and New York-style pizza, aren't we gang?

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10 Things Every Self-Respecting Wine Lover Should Know About Prosecco

Categories: Wine Time

Photo by Jeremy Parzen.
Top-tier Prosecco "DOCG" is produced in the townships of Valdobbiadene, Conegliano, and Asolo (above).
Can you imagine a wine world without Prosecco? Just a few decades ago, Prosecco was hardly known beyond the city of Venice where it is liberally consumed and the province of Treviso where it is produced. Today, exports of Prosecco rival those of Champagne, in both volume and sales numbers.

The Prosecco boom of the 1980s and 1990s is owed to a handful of forward-thinking n├ęgociant producers who envisioned its potential in English- and German-speaking markets.

But recent changes in appellation regulations and deceptive marketing practices have created growing confusion among consumers and tradespeople alike.

Here are 10 Things Every Self-Respecting Wine Lover Should Know About Prosecco.

10. In 2009, three townships were included in the newly created Prosecco DOCG, the highest designation in the Italian appellation system: Valdobbiadene, Conegliano, and Asolo, hilltop towns that abound with steep slopes ideal for growing Glera grapes for Prosecco.

This story continues on the next page.

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