ONE FIFTH AND, previously, Mark’s American Cuisine were famously housed inside a rehabbed church, complete with soaring ceilings and artful stained glass. The eateries, both iconic in their own right, are also now both closed. But, in a former church on 11th Street in the Heights, Loro has gloriously opened.
Loro melds the flavors of Japanese, Southeast Asian and Texas-barbecue cuisines, courtesy of Austin-based Tyson Cole (of Uchi fame) and Aaron Franklin, the nationally acclaimed pitmaster who operates the cult-followed Franklin Barbecue. Like the original on Austin’s South Lamar, Houston’s Loro touts an elevated-country-dancehall vibe, taken even higher by architectural details courtesy of the church’s bones — and by architect-designer Michael Hsu, who made the most of the beams and lofted ceilings.
As for the goods? They’re good, that’s for sure. The order-at-the-bar system can be a little unwieldy if the place is packed, but any of that potential stress is alleviated by the immediate delivery of a perfectly mixed batch cocktail or frozen spiked slushee. It’s best to order several small plates, and grab enough utensils to share. Simply seasoned veggies, like the wood-smoked snap peas, served with a kimchee dipping sauce, are a nice way to kick things off — the oaky flavor prepares the palate for what’s to come.
The smoked meats, ranging from salmon to pork belly and brisket, are all excellent, and served in a variety of ways — atop coconut rice, in a sandwich, on their own, drenched in various Asian condiments, with seasonal veggies that have been pickled. Plates are brought out as they’re ready; in the meantime, guests are vibing to a kickass soundtrack that ranges from Nas to obscure psych-rock.
And while all that might sound very Austin, Loro is arguably more apropos for Houston, a dynamic international food city. With plans to open Uchiko on Post Oak later this spring, Loro’s parent company Hai Hospitality doesn’t disagree.
Pale Ale Battered Cod
Table Spread at Loro
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