Openings & Closings: El Tiempo Cantina Opens Sixth Location

Categories: Restaurant News

Photo by Troy Fields
Enjoy some scrumptious dishes at El Tiempo Cantina on Gessner.
In quick turn-around time, El Gallo Rojo, which opened just a few months ago downtown at 917 Franklin, has closed. But, a new restaurant is taking its place. Macondo Latin Bistro, previously located at 208 Travis, closed on Sunday, August 3, and revealed on Facebook that it will be reopening somewhere else; that new spot could be at 917 Franklin. According to a tipster for Swamplot, "It looks like Macondo will be opening in that space, although I have no idea if they are keeping the name."

El Tiempo Cantina will open its sixth location at 2605 Gessner on Monday, August 25. The same fajitas and margaritas will be served at this location, as well as the weekend breakfast and brunch items, such as the popular crepe-style pecan pancakes.

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Talented Executive Chef of Boheme Fired Over Burger Dispute

Categories: Restaurant News

Photo by Mai Pham
Rishi Singh was let go from Boheme last night, allegedly over a burger dispute.
I have made absolutely no secret of the fact that I love Boheme and its pizzas and its uber creative head chef, Rishi Singh. I love his smoked jalapeƱo hummus and his Bangkok fries and his ridiculously decadent lobster pizzas. I really love the fact that he makes all of that from a tiny food truck parked behind the bar. Or, rather, I loved that.

Unfortunately, as CultureMap reported this morning, Singh was fired from Boheme last night, allegedly after a dispute with the owner about burgers.

According to the CultureMap article, Boheme's owner, Morgan Holleman, wanted to make Monday nights at the bar burger nights, and he asked Singh to develop a menu of burgers to be rolled out last night. Though Singh was given "only a few day's time" to work on the menu, he had some viable options come Monday night, but Singh was still not happy enough with his own work to roll out the full menu.

Singh told CultureMap that when he informed Holleman that the burgers weren't ready, Holleman fired him.

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Openings & Closings: Pit Fire Closes Hinze's Bar-B-Que in Wharton

Categories: Restaurant News

Photo by Mary Dunn
The coronita cajeta with dulce de leche from Viva Itacate was a sweet twist on a doughnut.
It was a sad day in Wharton on Monday, August 4, when 40-year-old Hinze's Bar-B-Que burned to the ground as a result of a pit fire. The Houston Chronicle reports that the fire occurred during the evening around 7 o'clock; no injuries were reported. Hinze's was a favorite of many Houstonians and those living in Wharton. According to reports, Kubicek, the daughter of founders W.C. and Rosemary Hinze, says rebuilding is a possibility.

Viva Itacate (544 Sawdust Road in The Woodlands) officially closed on Sunday, July 27. The authentic Mexican restaurant and bakery received the No. 2 spot on our list of best Mexican bakeries in Houston last year, and was known for its delicious cheese danishes (manos de queso) as well as the home-cooked meals featuring tortas, empanadas and the cochinita pibil, slow-roasted pork marinated in citrus juices and wrapped in banana leaves. The owner announced the closing on the Facebook page stating, "I wanted everyone to know that Viva Itacate will be closing this Sunday for good. I received an offer for my dream job in engineering in Chicago so we will be moving there in two weeks."

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First Look: Julep, An Old-Fashioned Southern Cocktail Bar With Modern Sensibilities

Photos by Kaitlin Steinberg
A julep and a raw oyster--the ideal southern afternoon.
When you first drive up to Julep, the chic new cocktail bar from Alba Huerta of Anvil and Pastry War, all you can see through the large glass windows is white lace with whispers of people floating somewhere behind it.

It's a cool, easy vibe made cooler by the mounds of ice you see sailing past on trays once you enter through the doors in the back. It's an ode to wealth and excess, to the people who could afford to buy ice and quality bourbon back in the day and who flaunted their high status with mint juleps, overflowing with chipped ice and fresh, green mint.

Today, of course, the space is air conditioned, and we can get ice at any corner store. But Huerta wanted to be sure and maintain the notion of ice as a symbol of decadence in her new bar, and the icy drinks, along with a small but powerful menu of cold seafood and hot sides, make for a truly unique experience--a tip of the hat to the southern past on modern day Washington Avenue.

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Chef Randy Evans Talks Haven's Closing and What's Next for Him

Photo courtesy Haven
Chef Randy Evans is moving on to smaller and more southern things.
It was a celebration last night at Haven, chef Randy Evans's farm-to-table restaurant famous for its fried chicken and upscale comfort food. December 19 would have marked Haven's fifth anniversary, but the restaurant closed unexpectedly after service last night to make way for a new business in the cozy space.

"We had a great night last night," Evans says. "There was a huge crowd, and everyone was toasting. We kinda had the last hurrah, if you will."

Evans says he'd known the restaurant was up for sale by the owner, Rhea Wheeler, since January, but he wasn't expecting the text he received Thursday telling him not to place an order for Houston Restaurant Weeks, in which Haven was expected to participate.

"It gives me a chance to go on and do something different," Evans says. "It makes it easier to leave when big things happen. I left Brennan's because of the fire after Hurricane Ike, and now I'm moving on again."

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The Dunlavy Event Space Will Bring Clark Cooper Concepts Food to Buffalo Bayou

Categories: Restaurant News

Photo courtesy Buffalo Bayou Partnership
The Dunlavy will be a relaxing venue that you can tailor to your event's theme.
If you've ever wished that Coppa Ristorante or Brasserie 19 could cater your next big party, you're in luck. Clark Cooper Concepts, the restaurant team behind Ibiza, Brasserie 19, Coppa Osteria, Coppa Ristorante and Punk's Simple Southern recently announced they secured a space at Buffalo Bayou Park for private events and grab-and-go meals.

"We've had thousands of requests for catering, but we don't like to close our restaurants to the general public," co-owner Grant Cooper explains. "We like to keep our business hours standard because we have so many regular customers. It's just kind of a thing we've always believed in. We thought if we did a private event space, we'd want it to be an exact replica of the food and service you'd get at one of our restaurants. We want the experience to represent a true dining experience, rather than a catering facility."

Enter The Dunlavy, coming in the summer of 2015.

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Openings & Closings: Say Hello to Another Cupcake Shop

Categories: Restaurant News

The Houston Chronicle reports that Newk's Eatery will be opening its second location in Houston at 20802 Katy Freeway in Katy on Saturday, August 2. The first Newk's that opened in Houston is located at Cypress at 25712 Northwest Freeway. Newk's serves a variety of large salads, a selection of pizzas, sandwiches and soups, along with several desserts, like daily slices of cake.

CultureMap Houston's Shelby Hodge reports that Charles Clark and Grant Cooper (Clark Cooper Concepts) will open a private event venue space next summer on Allen Parkway near Dunlavy Street, called The Dunlavy. Cooper tells Sandler, "It's unique, a location in the middle of a park almost like a glass jewel box sitting in the middle of the trees overlooking downtown. There's nothing like that anywhere else in the city."

Clark Cooper Concepts will be able to cater from any of their five restaurants at the 4,000-square foot lot, and the spot will be open during the day for to-go breakfast and lunch meals; it is expected to seat 150 people for a meal. But, that's not all. The duo also has a coffee truck, Mobile Mug, in the works to hit the streets in September. Mobile Mug will serve cinnamon rolls, too.

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Popular Farm-to-Table Restaurant Haven Serving its Last Meal Tonight

Categories: Restaurant News

Photo courtesy Haven
Chef Randy Evans's restaurant Haven will serve its last meal tonight.
The Houston Chronicle's Greg Morago first reported this afternoon that Haven and Cove Cold Bar will be closing after service tonight.

The well-liked restaurant just off Kirby Drive is known for serving fresh produce from its own garden and meats sourced from local producers. Chef Randy Evans of Haven and Philippe Gaston of Cove Cold Bar (the restaurant inside Haven) will be moving on as the property is being sold to the owner of The Union Kitchen, according to the Chronicle.

Morago writes that Paul Lewis, who recently left Osteria Mazzantini as rumors of its imminent demise began to swirl, will be heading up the kitchen at the new restaurant that will be taking Haven's place.

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First Look at True Food Kitchen, A Restaurant Based on Dr. Andrew Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet

Photo by Mai Pham
Heirloom tomato and watermelon salad -- just beautiful, at True Food Kitchen.
It's sad, but true: When you think of the "healthy" food options available in Houston today, there aren't many exciting options that come to mind. Enter True Food Kitchen, the Phoenix-based chain that is poised to take the nation by storm (they currently have eight open locations; Houston will be the ninth). Founded in partnership with Tuscon-based physician, professor, and holistic health guru Dr. Andrew Weil, the restaurant menu was created based on the tenets of Weil's anti-inflammatory diet.

This is where True Food Kitchen excels: Where many "healthy"-type food restaurants fall short in the taste department, True Food Kitchen's food is fresh, visually appealing, ample-portioned, and tastes fantastic. In other words, not only will you want to eat what's presented in front of you, but you'll enjoy eating it and leave feeling satisfied.

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First Look at Dosi, A Korean Small-Plates Restaurant and Soju Bar

Photo by Mai Pham
The Korean fried chicken, sweet and spicy version, at Dosi.
It would be tempting to visit Dosi just for Korean fried chicken. The tempura-battered free range chicken comes to the table tantalizingly stacked in a mound of tasty, bright orange, spicy-sweet gochugang (Korean red pepper) glaze, without a doubt the best version you can find in Houston at the moment.

But Dosi, the new Korean small plates concept on Shepherd just south of Westheimer, is about so much more than just fried chicken. If the sleek concrete facade doesn't do the job of cluing you into what the place is all about, the colorful wall of liquid-filled jars that greet you at the entrance might give you a hint.

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