Casa Nomad, 600 N. Shepherd, will open September 23 at M-K-T in the Heights. The Tulum-inspired lounge and restaurant will bring coastal Mexican flavors and a tropical oasis to an area that is teeming with new dining, bar and retail businesses despite the pandemic. It comes from the team behind Wicklow Heights, the bungalow bar and beer garden that opened in 2020. The trio, made up of Roland Keller, Tyler Barrera and Keith Doyle, are also planning another concept adjacent to Casa Nomad called Highline Park, an upscale patio bar which will share a kitchen and bathrooms with its sister restaurant. It will open later this fall.
Both new concepts were designed by Coeval, a Dallas-based architecture and design studio. Casa Nomad is housed entirely on an 800 square-foot covered patio with intimate seating for 28 guests. Its design mimics the beachy feel of a Tulum vacation with an overhead rope canopy, blue-tiled walls and lush vegetation. Guests will enjoy the “jungle disco” music that sets the tone for a backyard, bohemian getaway.
The Mayan-inspired fare will be overseen by executive chef Vincent Forchelli. A native New Yorker, he began his restaurant career at the young age of 12. His culinary adventures took him to places like France, Spain, Italy and Thailand, eventually landing him in Houston, where his food journey now is one of local Texas and Yucatan-inspired cuisine. Dishes like truffle crema-dressed tuna crudo tostadas and grilled whole Branzino offer a taste of the coast while the guajillo maramalade-topped bone marrow and a 16-ounce Prime Ribeye satisfy the Texan appetite for beef. The menu is not expansive but guests can choose starters such as chicharrones, Elote “Ribs” and ceviche. There’s a selection of tacos with fillings like braised chicken thigh, lobster, beef or carnitas. There’s even a vegetarian option made with fried coconut.
Of course, no tropical getaway would be complete without beach-friendly cocktails. The bar menu at Casa Nomad was curated by Barrera himself and includes drinks like El Centote made with green Chartreuse, Vago Elote Mezcal, elote liqueur, pineapple, velvet falernum and Demerara sugar. The Jungle Disco is made with El Tesoro Reposado tequila, Giffard Pineapple, serrano syrup, carrot and lemon juices while the Tuluminati is a refreshing libation made with El Tesoro, dry Curacao, lime, agave, dragon fruit syrup and strawberries.
Rosalie Italian Soul, 400 Dallas, reopened September 15. The restaurant, located at the C. Baldwin Hotel in downtown Houston, has been closed for most of the pandemic. Owner and chef Chris Cosentino and business partner Oliver Wharton first opened the Italian restaurant in October 2019 with Sasha Grumman as executive chef. After the restaurant suspended service in March 2020, Grumman left and occupied herself with her focaccia business, working with Chris Shepherd’s Southern Smoke Foundation and competing on Bravo’s Top Chef Season 18. For the restaurant’s reopening, Cosentino, a previous winner on Top Chef Masters Season Four, has brought in Jacob Coronado to lead the kitchen as executive chef.
Coronado has over a decade of experience working in upscale restaurants and world-class resorts. He was most recently executive chef at 8UP in Louisville, Kentucky, a restaurant that was named one of the hottest 100 restaurants in America by Open Table. He will also oversee the hotel’s culinary operations.
Returning patrons will still find the vintage-inspired decor from Rohe Creative with ’70s-style furniture, terrazzo-striped flooring and Murano glass chandeliers. The menu itself will also stay true to the spirit of Cosentino’s great-grandmother Rosalie who was the muse for the concept. Italian favorites like Wild Mushroom Pizza and Rigatoni with Texas Wild Boar Ragu will carry forward the menu which will also feature dishes like Blue Crab Manicotti and Ravioli, all made with fresh pasta. Great Grandma’s Meatballs will also be offered.
Cosentino said about the reopening, “The food at Rosalie represents immigrant cuisine in America and as an Italian-American descendant of immigrants, those dishes and the stories they tell are so close to my heart. I can’t wait to work with Jacob to tell those stories again to Houston diners.”
Vida Mariscos, 902 W. Grand Parkway, opened September 15 in Katy. This is the second location of the concept from the Cabrera family, the founders and owners of Los Cuscos, Gauchos Do Sul and La Marisquera Ostionera. The first Vida Mariscos opened in 2013 at Tomball Parkway and Spring Cypress.
The restaurant offers a variety of Mexican seafood dishes along with other Mexican flavors. While seafood is its specialty with dishes like Mojarra Frito, Mango Fish, fried seafood plates and Cazuela de Mariscos (a seafood mix with rice) there are non-seafood options such as Steak a la Tampiquena, Chicken Enchilada Verdes, chili con queso, empanadas and tacos. For those who love foods of both land and sea, the Parrillada and El Molcajete platters offer a taste of both, meant for sharing with a like-minded soul. For those who really, really love seafood, the 7 Mares (seas) is a soup made with fish, crab, mussels, shrimp, scallops, octopus and calamari.
There’s a contemporary sports bar as well with a 40 foot long bar and over 50 television screens. There’s also an HD projector for the Big Game. Bar beverages include a selection of margaritas, mojitos, Micheladas and refreshing cocktails like the watermelon-forward Boba Loca, made with Malibu Watermelon Rum and topped with kiwi boba pearls.
Not only does the restaurant offer an exciting environment for watching sports, it also will feature karaoke nights, and evenings of live Latin music and DJs, too.
Dutch Bros. Coffee, 5258 FM 2920, will celebrate its grand opening September 17 beginning at 5 a.m. for those who can’t wait another minute. This is the second of three locations planned for the Spring area. The third is scheduled to open later this month at 8617 Spring Cypress. The first Houston area store opened at 19366 Interstate 45 in August.
The drive-thru specialty coffee company was founded by two brothers, Dane and Travis Boersma in 1992. Based in Grants Pass, Oregon, the brothers continued to expand over nearly three decades with 497 stores across 11 states, to date. The first Texas location opened in January 2021 in College Station. There are plenty more planned for the future as the franchising booms, including a lot more for Houston.
Customers can order and pick up their personalized coffees from “Broistas” who specialize in a wide variety of coffee and non-coffee beverages. Besides its proprietary coffee blend, the franchise offers smoothies, freezes, teas, cocoa, lemonade and its own private label Dutch Bros. Blue Rebel energy drink and nitrogen-infused cold brew coffee. For snacks, there are a couple of options like its Muffin Tops and Granola Bar.
The company just introduced its Iced Cinnamon Oat Milk Latte with vanilla and cinnamon flavors but it’s the return of the Caramel Pumpkin Brulee that is getting the ‘sweatah weathah’ people turned on.
The Waffle Bus will open at TDECU stadium, 3875 Holman, for the University of Houston home games. Last week, we reported that Turkey Leg Hut would be opening a stand at the stadium. Now, Phi Nguyen, owner of The Waffle Bus, is bringing his popular fried chicken sandwiches and burgers to UH. The over-the-muffin top Chicken Thunder Fries will be available as well.
Nguyen opened his first food truck in January 2012. The success of the brand eventually led to a brick and mortar restaurant at 1835 N. Shepherd. Nguyen is continuing his expansion with a new location at 1540 W. Alabama later this fall. We will keep you posted.
Tacos A Go Go will also open at TDECU this Saturday for the home game between UH and Gambling State. The locally-owned taco purveyor will be located at Concession Stand 103 near the southeast entrance. No longer must sports fans suffer the dreaded yellow canned cheese and circle chips that have passed for “nachos” for decades at games. At TDECU, hungry team supporters can enjoy TAGG’s famous white queso and its Totchos, nachos made with tater tots. Of course, there will also be its pollo and carne guisada tacos along with frozen margaritas and palomas. This writer is not a sports fan but I might just have to go visit my daughter for a UH home game just to enjoy all the wonderful food options. And see my kid, of course.
Tacos A Go Go was founded in 2006 by Sharon Haynes who got her graduate degree from the University of Houston. It now has four locations in Houston with another planned for Greenway Plaza this fall.
Daddy’s Chicken Shack, 1223 W. 11th, is currently under construction. This will be the flagship store for the brand which was founded in Pasadena, California by co-owners and married couple Pace Webb and Chris Georgalas. It began as a stand at Smorgasburg, a weekly food festival in Los Angeles. The Pasadena location gained a celebrity following of famous folks like Jay Leno, David Lee Roth and Terry Crews. Partnering with Harrison, a global architecture and design consultancy, the duo are looking to expand the brand’s footprint by launching a national franchise program. The Heights location will serve as the model for the new strategy for growth with dine-in and patio options, kiosk ordering, a walk-up pick-up window and a new drive-thru with online ordering pick-up only.
The food at Daddy’s is American Southern with a whisper of Asian influence. Webb is from Texas and her husband, Georgalas is half-Japanese. Webb’s father, Bob Webb, serves as the company’s creative director and also created the logo for the brand.
If the Houston menu is consistent with the Pasadena location, customers will find a selection of fried, free-range chicken with sandwich, tender and popcorn options. The question is “Who’s your Daddy?” The answer can be from a choice of sandwiches like Big, Spicy, Buffalo, Nashville and Waffle Daddies. For vegans, there’s the Vegan Daddy, a sandwich made with fried cauliflower that has been brined in coconut curry milk and is served with sambal, mayo, Napa slaw, cilantro and mint on a sesame seed bun. There are vegan nuggets made with cauliflower, too. The restaurant also has wings, fries and salads.
Yo Yo’s Hot Dogs, 4620 Washington, may be coming soon. A reader tipped the Houston Press to the possible new location and on the company’s website, it lists a location for the Washington address. And there could be no better place for owner Danny Kim (Yo Yo) to offer his unique crave-worthy hot dogs than the Washington corridor, home to a number of bars and nightclubs. With hungry late-night party poppers, the over-the-top dogs make a perfect antidote to alcohol-fueled munchies. While your stomach might not thank you the next morning, the pleasure of Yo Yo’s All-the-Way hot dogs after hitting the town cannot be matched.
The combination of a beef hot dog on a buttery bun is classic but Kim puts an ingenious spin on the typical dog by topping it with grilled onions, cream cheese, spicy mustard, curry ketchup, honey mayo and a touch of Sriracha, finished off with crispy fried onions. From the outside, that might seem like a nightmare of flavors but for Yo Yo’s loyal fans, it’s the reason they line up for an hour-long wait to get the heady combination. Hot dogs have long been a go-to bar food but Kim’s version draws in folks who say they hate every hot dog in the world except Yo Yo’s. Its Rice Village location on Amherst is a lure for many area college students and they swear it’s worth the wait.
We have reached out for more information and will update readers when the opening date is known.
MARCH, 1624 Westheimer, reopened September 16 after a one month break and is now taking reservations through Resy for up to 60 days in advance. The Lounge will begin accepting reservations in mid-October.
The new tasting menus will focus on Andalusia and Murcia, two regions of Southern Spain, in keeping with the restaurant team’s study of Mediterranean culinary culture and the evolution of its cuisine. MARCH first opened with dishes that were inspired by the Maghreb in Northwest Africa on the Mediterranean Sea.
Head chef Ian Payne was raised in Andalusia from the age of seven to 18. He says that the new menu allows him to present the memory of childhood. The menu, however, is a team effort with executive sous chef Matt Hamilton creating Boquerones y Tabaco with tobacco-infused butter and anchovies for one of the lounge snacks. Chef de cuisine Christian Hernandez takes the classic tortilla de camarones and substitutes the shrimp with the eels of the region, resulting in the Tortilla de Angulas.
Guests can choose between the six-course Discovery ($175) or the nine-course Exploration ($225). There are optional wine pairings which will lean toward Spanish wines when possible. There is also a sherry pairing available for both menus.
Bun B’s Trill Burgers will have its third pop-up at 8th Wonder Brewery, 2202 Dallas, September 18 coinciding with National Cheeseburger Day. The smashburger concept from Houston rapper Bun B, restaurant entrepreneur Andy Nguyen and brother and siblings Patsy and Ben Vivares of Sticky’s Chicken will eventually have a brick and mortar restaurant. For now, it is doing pop-ups around town showcasing its burgers with crispy 44 Farms meat patty edges. Some people don’t get it but those who do are pretty rabid about the smash.
8th Wonder Brewery is family friendly and there is no admission to get in. The pop-up runs from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Orders can also be made online for a pre-sale pick-up from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Brennan’s of Houston, 300 Smith, has lost its executive chef, Matt Staph, as first reported by CultureMap Houston. Staph, the former chef de cuisine at Chris Shepherd’s One Fifth restaurant, took on the role of executive chef at the renowned restaurant just this past April, replacing Joey Chavez who left to become a private chef, as we reported here in the Press. Chavez began in August 2020, when he took over the position from Joe Cervantez who left to become executive chef at Pier 6 in San Leone. Cervantez took over for Danny Trace in May 2017. While it seems there’s a case of chef musical chairs going on, the restaurant business can be an ever-changing landscape of talent, especially in a city like Houston which offers numerous opportunities for young culinary geniuses.
However, Brennan’s is relying on its seasoned staff, many of whom have served the restaurant for years, to keep the kitchen turning out its Cajun cuisine and fine dining fare. Carl Walker, who has been the general manager at Brennan’s since 2003, will temporarily serve as culinary director. Walker was once the executive chef at Brennan’s and trained under chef Emeril Lagasse at Commander’s Palace in New Orleans before that. So, he probably knows what he’s doing.
Jose Arevalo has been with Brennan’s since 1982, the same year owner Alex Brennan-Martin came to Houston to run his family’s restaurant. Arevalo, the senior sous chef, has earned the nickname “Save the Day Jose” and after nearly four decades at Brennan’s will expertly command the kitchen with Walker until a new executive chef is found. The turtle soup ain’t going nowhere.
Degust, 7202 Long Point, has also been put in a tricky spot as executive chef and co-owner Brandon Silva has departed. Silva, a former sous chef at upscale sushi hot spot Uchi, joined the Kirby Group in 2016 to oversee culinary operations. In partnership with the hospitality group, Silva opened Degust as a highly personal tasting menu restaurant this past January. It quickly received glowing reviews.
Silva told CultureMap that one of the reasons for the departure was “creative differences.” Steven Salazar, operating partner at Kirby Group says that the restaurant will rely on the talents of its sous chefs Javier Beccera and Rico Mackins to work as co-chefs on a new menu in October that will reflect their interests.