First Look at Moderno Tacos + Tex-Mex

Photo by Mai Pham
DF Street Tacos (carne asada and chicken), $10.95 at Moderno Tacos + Tex-Mex.

From the outside, Moderno Tacos + Tex Mex looks like your typical nondescript strip mall restaurant. Come a little closer, however, and a charming design space awaits, complete with a funky local Mexican mural in the window, beckoning you to have a closer look.

Just a month old, Moderno, located on Briar Forest just outside Beltway 8 in Westchase, is ambitious. Open at 7 a.m. Mondays through Fridays, they are already serving breakfast and lunch (counter service), happy hour and dinner.

"People are really loving the egg and chorizo breakfast tacos," says general manager Shane Conley. "Come Friday afternoon, our happy hour is great. People would rather come here and have a glass of wine or one of our fresh margaritas than get stuck in traffic."

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Houston Restaurant Weeks: Latin Bites

Photo by Molly Dunn
Add mimosas to your HRW brunch at Latin Bites.
What they're up to for Houston Restaurant Weeks: This year, Latin Bites offers a $25 three-course brunch on Sunday and a $35 three-course dinner throughout the week. For each brunch sold, Latin Bites will donate $4 to the Houston Food Bank and $5 for each dinner sold. We decided to check out the HRW brunch menu where you can add two-servings of a tropical cava mimosa to your brunch for $10 extra.

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Hal Brock to Lead Boheme's Beverage Program

Photo by Mark Armes
Hal Brock is working on a new drinks menu for Boheme
Local favorite Hal Brock, whose resume includes stints at Hearsay and Anvil will join Boheme to lead its beverage program, it has just been announced.

In an embargoed press release, Brock described himself as pretty happy about his new responsibilities.

"Boheme is that place you go to experience and live, and I'm taking inspiration from all the places the Bohemian folks go to experience and live. It's not about local or luxury, it's about a modern Cultural Collage," said Brock.

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Houston Restaurant Weeks: La Casa Del Caballo

Minh T Truong
8oz ribeye at La Casa del Caballo
What they're up to for Houston Restaurant Weeks: La Casa del Caballo is back on the list of restaurants this year and are offering both lunch and dinner. Lunch is three courses for $20, with first course options of two different kinds of soup, or a salad. Entrees include a 6oz ribeye, chicken breast or their wonderful enchiladas saltillo, filled with queso fresco and five types of chiles. For dessert, choose from tres leches, flan or the tradtional arroz con leche, creamy rice pudding laced with cinnamon. Dinner runs for $35, and while the first course and dessert options are the same as lunch, the entrees during dinner is for meat lovers only. Choose between a 10 ounce angus beef shoulder or an 8 ounce ribeye cooked over mesquite wood accompanied with grilled vegetables and refried beans. If you really want to throw all caution to the wind go with the 20 ounce smoked brisket served with crispy potatoes. La Casa del Caballo will donate $3 to the Houston Food Bank for each lunch sold, and $5 for each dinner.

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Houston Restaurant Weeks: Alamo Drafthouse Cinema -- Vintage Park

Photo by Molly Dunn
Alamo Drafthouse Cinema is the first movie theater to participate in Houston Restaurant Weeks.
What they're up to for Houston Restaurant Weeks: This is the first year Alamo Drafthouse Cinema has participated in Houston Restaurant Weeks, and it's the first movie theater to join the HRW lineup. The Vintage Park and Mason locations both serve the same HRW dinner menu for $35 featuring three courses; the meal also includes a movie ticket for that evening plus a return movie ticket when given the check at the end of the meal. So, that's two movies plus a three-course meal for $35 -- not too shabby. Alamo Drafthouse Cinema will donate $5 to the Houston Food Bank for every meal sold during HRW.

Service/Atmosphere: If you want to be able to see your food before your movie, then get to your seats quickly and select your courses right away. But, if eating in the dark doesn't matter to you, then hold off until the previews start to place your order. It's a nice change of pace to eat an HRW dinner at a movie theater; you don't have to worry about the kitchen being slammed.

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Openings & Closings: More Tex-Mex, Please

Categories: Restaurant News

Photo by Francisco Montes
Sandy Witch Sandwich Company has officially closed.
Anthony Calleo, owner of Pi Pizza Truck and Sandy Witch Sandwich Company, announced this week on Twitter that his sandwich shop has officially closed. Sandy Witch, located inside Grand Prize Bar, was Calleo's second food endeavor. Calleo tells Phaedra Cook in part two of this week's chef chat that running Sandy Witch from within another restaurant created many difficulties and challenges for him.

"Yeah, it's hard as shit. It's hard for me and I treat it like a business," Calleo says. "It's not for fun or a hobby or every once in a while. It's a business and it still HARD. I thought about so many things for the sandwich shop before I did it, but the one question I failed to ask myself was "How are people going to react to a business inside of a business in Houston?" In New York, it happens all of the time. It's no big deal. It's a challenge for Sandy Witch."

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Videos of the Week: Watch Houston Area Chefs and Restaurants Take the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Mark Gabriel Medina and Tai Nguyen of Soma Sushi

It's become something of a badge of honor for people around the country -- chefs, celebrities, whole restaurants -- to be nominated for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. A viral social media campaign meant to bring awareness to ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, the challenge is to dump a bucket of ice water over yourself or donate $100 to ALS research at (most people do both).

ALS is a neurodegenerative disease that attacks the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, progressively causing total paralysis while the mind remains fully lucid. The prognosis is dire for those who are diagnosed, who have a life expectancy of two to five years.

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First Look at Pax Americana

Photo by Mai Pham
Huge gulf shrimp from the "sea" section of Pax Americana's menu.
At the table next to us, three business-suit clad men let out exclamations of excitement when their first round of plates arrived. Many of the plates were topped with tufts of mixed green herbs, already something of a signature at the two-week-old Pax Americana.

"We have a farmer who's planting these herbs for us," says Pax's chef Adam Dorris when asked. "It's changing constantly. It's changed since we did our friends and family meals a week ago," he says, adding that the vegetables are all organic.

Dorris, who spent time as chef de cuisine at Revival Market before spending a few months traveling, is comfortable with the greens, adding them to dishes with almost gleeful zeal.

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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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