The Best Is Yet to Come: New Sichuan, Seafood, Mexican and More Openings in 2024
HOUSTON HAD A great run in 2023 with new restaurants blooming all year in every genre. But 2024 is already hinting to some stiff competition. Read on to learn what will be sprouting in your neighborhood soon!
Alex Pena and Aaron Bludorn
It’s about time that the Memorial Villages — specifically Hedwig Village — got more restaurant cred. Chef Aaron Bludorn and his biz partners are picking up where Jonathon’s the Rub left off in a redesigned space with a stylish bar. Executive chef Alexandra Pena will oversee the kitchen and comfort food-inspired menu. Guests can also expect sandwiches and such at lunch when the restaurant opens this spring. Incidentally, Bludorn’s wife, Victoria Pappas Bludorn of the Pappas Restaurants family, grew up in Hedwig Village.
The West African fast-casual spot at the Post HTX food hall has claimed the former Seafood Connection space on lower Westheimer for its first brick-and-mortar scheduled to bow this summer. Operating a larger space will allow founder Ope Amosu to add cocktails and brunch service. Gin Design Group is responsible for the interior.
Here’s another one — actually two side-by-side concepts — coming to Memorial from Goode Company Restaurants president Levi Goode. Credence is described as a South Texas ranch-inspired eatery with live fire cooking, while Sidebar is a steakhouse and cocktail bar devoted to classic American fare including seafood. Opening date is slated for this summer.
Dallas’ Vandelay Hospitality Group has claimed the former Underbelly space for its retro-styled luxury steakhouse. Known for its posh design featuring red leather booths and a colorful mural depicting Hollywood stars past and present, Drake’s serves steaks, pizzas, and the same “World’s Coldest Martini” that’s been a hit at Hudson House. February is the anticipated opening date.
Peking duck at Duck N Bao
After building followings in Cypress and Memorial, Grace and Leo Xia are bringing their popular Chinese eatery, Duck N Bao, to Rice Village. The husband-and-wife team also opened the all-you-can-eat Korean barbecue spot Hongdae 33 in Houston’s Asiatown this past March. With construction underway, the team anticipates a Spring 2024 opening. The dim sum house is known for Peking duck, xiao long bao (soup dumplings) and other Sichuan specialties.
Tim Reading of Leo's River Oaks
Culinary Khancepts, the local hospitality group that owns concepts including Liberty Kitchen and State Fare Kitchen & Bar, has appointed former Underbelly Hospitality chef, Tim Reading, to lead the kitchen at the forthcoming Leo’s River Oaks, slated to open late spring 2024. The new concept is in River Oaks Shopping Center next door to the historic River Oaks Theater, currently being revitalized by sister company, Star Cinema Grill Theater Group.
Chef Ford Fry (photo by Johnny Autry)
Chef-restaurateur Ford Fry (State of Grace, Superica, La Lucha) is bringing a fast-casual concept serving Northern Mexican-inspired fare to Mid Lane this February or March. The menu centers around wood-roasted chicken al carbon along with queso, fresh salsas, smoked chicken wings and street tacos served on homemade tortillas. Described as funky yet whimsical, Little Rey will feature an expansive, covered patio and outdoor walk-up window.
Goodnight Hospitality (March, Rosie Cannonball) will transform its shuttered Goodnight Charlie’s space into a new restaurant late spring or early summer. Former Tony’s of Houston chef Austin Waiter has spent time in London for the restaurant, which will specialize in modern Continental cuisine. Expect a high style interior, music from a baby grand piano, polished service and an extensive beverage program.
Veteran restaurateur Benjy Levit (Local Foods, Eu Tour and Lee’s Den) has partnered with chef Tony Luhrman on this new concept in the former El Topo West U space. Nixtamal tortillas will be a staple on the menu as well as brisket tacos and other homemade Mexican food like fire-kissed duck confit tamales with mole negro. Chef Seth Siegel-Gardner was recently appointed as the culinary and creative director of the group’s restaurants.
A rendering of the forthcoming PostScript HTX
GAP Concepts, founded by several members of Dallas’ wildly successful XOXO Dining Room, is preparing to paint Houston’s Upper Kirby District pink with its newest concept, PostScript HTX. Entrepreneurs Veeral Rathod and Obi Ibeto anticipate a January debut in the Shops at Arrive River Oaks, for the flirty and festive restaurant and lounge. Chef Bryan Caswell will lead the kitchen, complemented by a thoughtful and expansive cocktail and Champagne program including a ‘Press for Champagne’ doorbell.
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