Openings & Closings: The Washington Restaurant Exodus Continues

Categories: Restaurant News

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Photo by Chuck Cook Photography
The opening of The Chicken Ranch is a bright spot in a week marred by multiple restaurant closings.

This past Wednesday marked the third restaurant closing on Washington Avenue in a month. It started with Coppa Ristorante Italiano on October 4. Polovina followed on October 30 and on November 5, TQLA joined the list of the fallen.

A partner in TQLA, Scott Lindsey, told the Houston Chronicle that, "due to higher food costs and the decreased traffic flow on Washington we just couldn't continue to provide the quality of service and fresh quality product that our customers have come to expect from TQLA."

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TQLA: Another Washington Avenue Restaurant Closes

Categories: Restaurant News

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Photo by Troy Fields
TQLA on Washington Avenue joins the ranks of the shuttered.

If you're looking for a place to eat on Washington Avenue, it might be more difficult than it used to be. A few weeks ago, Coppa Ristorante closed. Last week, we reported that Polovina was locked out for not paying the rent. (Houston Chronicle has since confirmed that it is indeed closed.) Polovina's owner confirmed to Cleverly Stone on her CBS SportsRadio 650 show that Polovina is indeed closed. Eater Houston has a recap of that conversation.

Close by in the Montrose, 1308 El Tiempo Cantina is being forced to move because the landlord wants to sell to a developer who wants to put apartment buildings on the lot.

Add TQLA, the Southwestern restaurant and agave bar, to the list. November 10 would have been its four-year anniversary.

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Claims and Counterclaims, Complete With Lawsuit, in El Tiempo Land

Categories: Restaurant News
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Photo by Carla Soriano
It's been a tough week for El Tiempo and their associates.

It's been a bad week for the Laurenzos. Earlier this week came the news that their El Tiempo 1308 Cantina on Montrose is closing within the next few months due the land being sold out from under them by the landlord.

Now comes a press release from Roland Laurenzo via their public relations firm, The Epicurean Publicist, stating that they're pulling the El Tiempo name from what they are saying would have been their sole licensed location, which was planned for the Webster area.


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Openings & Closings: Real Estate Realities Vs. El Tiempo 1308 Cantina

Categories: Restaurant News

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And all across Montrose, a heavy sigh was heard.

When other parts of the country have suffered economic downturns in recent years, Houston's economy has fortunately remained stable. One ironic and sad side effect of that durability is the climbing real estate prices. There are more profitable things that landowners can do than lease restaurants.

As reported yesterday, El Tiempo 1308 Cantina is probably going to have to move sometime after January 1 because the land is being sold. Apartments will be built in its place. The Montrose location of the popular local chain opened back in 2007. On the plus side, at least there are other El Tiempo locations in town to tide over diners who get a hankering for its freshly-made guacamole.


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Roland Laurenzo Announces El Tiempo 1308 Cantina Probably Will Have to Move

Categories: Restaurant News

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But where will we go for killer margaritas?

Sometime after the start of the year, El Tiempo 1308 Cantina will have to move.

Roland Laurenzo announced this in an email today, saying that his landlord is selling the land to someone for an apartment project.


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UPDATED: Openings & Closings: Jose Hernandez Re-emerges at Radio Milano

Categories: Restaurant News

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Photo by Mai Pham
If you've been missing Jose Hernandez in a head chef role since he left La Balance, we have some good news for you.

Good news for Houston foodies: after his short but lauded stint as executive chef at La Balance in Katy, Jose Hernandez has re-emerged in a big way. Houston Business Journal reports that his new place, Radio Milano, opens in CityCentre today. This follows up his temporary role as Etoile's sous chef. It's located in the old Bistro Alex space. Hernandez built quite a fanbase during his stints through the years at Aries, Triniti, Phillipe Restaurant + Lounge and other high-profile restaurants. Want a sneak preview of the food? Check out the slide show at the Houston Chronicle web site.

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The Last Bite: Rebecca Masson Is Throwing Her Final Sweet & Savory Fundraiser Dinner for Lucky Dog Rescue

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Photo by Mai Pham
From the Spring 2012 All-Star Sweet & Savory: Chefs Jason Gould, Rebecca Masson, Katzie Guy-Hamilton, Amanda Rockman, and Megan Ketover

What started out as a fun fundraising event for the Lucky Dog Rescue charity has taken on a life of its own. Pastry Chef Rebecca Masson's Sweet & Savory charity dinners have become legendary. And this Sunday, she will hold her last one, which promises to be grand in every way.

"So basically, when we started this, my goal was to do 10 dinners and this is the tenth," says Masson. "We have had some amazingly awesome chefs, pastry chefs, bartenders, wine folks & beer masters participate in the dinners. Each dinner keeps getting better and better. This one will be one for the record books for sure. I never thought that this would become such an awesome event. I was just happy after each one that it was successful and folks enjoyed themselves while raising money for a cause that is near and dear to my heart. I owe many thanks to all the folks that have participated... I have some pretty amazing friends."

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It's Wingtoberfest Time Once Again, Time to Vote for Your Favorite Chicken Wing

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It's time to once again line up to be among the first 200 people who'll get to taste and rate the wings from six Houston restaurants in this year's Houston Press Wingtoberfest -- for free.

On Wednesday, October 22, the following restaurants will battle for the honor of being named this year's Octoberfest winner: Dosi, Bonfire Wings, Sticky's Chicken, H-Town StrEATs, Dry Creek Cafe and Little Bitty Burger Barn.

And just to make things even nicer, we've gone ahead and paired the wings with a specific Saint Arnold beer.


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Where to Celebrate National Pasta Day in Houston

Categories: Restaurant News

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Photo by Mai Pham
Celebrate National Pasta Day Today. One suggestion? Damian's spaghetti with Mama Mandola's Meatballs. For National Pasta Day only, they are just $8.30.

National Pasta Day is today -- a reminder, if not an incentive, for for pasta lovers all around town to indulge. Houston has many excellent restaurants where one can celebrate.

For a taste of stellar house-made pappardelle bolognese, Best of Houston Italian Restaurant winner Ciao Bello is the place. Their sweet corn pansoti is also insanely good (you can get this and other hand-made pastas at sister restaurants Vallone's and Tony's as well). At Giacomo's Cibo e Vino, artisanal, hand-made pastas by Lynette Hawkins are also delicious --try the tortielli de bietola, ravioli stuffed with swiss chard, ricotta, goat cheese and finished with a sage and butter sauce.

At Paulie's, get spiced up with their house-made bucatini Amatraciana, available in half or full portions. Then there's good ole' Prego in Rice Village, where the pappardelle con coniglio, a wide-fettuccine pasta with braised texas rabbit and ragu sauce is nothing short of divine. Not far away in the Rice Village, D'Amico's offers hand-made pastas to-go, as well as a very popular crawfish ravioli. If you love spaghetti carbonara, chef Brandi Key offers one of the coolest versions in the city at hotspot Coppa Osteria.


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Openings & Closings: An Unexpectedly Speedy Good-bye From Van Loc

Categories: Restaurant News

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Photo by Craig Wilkins
A sign on the door of Van Loc bids its customers farewell.

As reported Wednesday, Van Loc has unexpectedly closed much earlier than anticipated. The owners told us last week that it would close "before Thanksgiving." Well, that turned out to be last Wednesday. Van Loc opened way back in 1986 and was one of the first Vietnamese restaurants in Houston. While the city has lost a treasured classic, the owners are expected to enjoy a well-deserved retirement. Hopefully, loyal customers made it there in time for one last meal.

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