Here’s where you should eat right now in Houston.
Sparrow Bar + Cookshop
T’afia has been rebranded and is now masquerading as Sparrow Bar + Cookshop. The interior has received a quick facelift, including new tables and light fixtures, plus curious chemistry tie-ins like Erlenmeyer flasks as water vessels and test tubes of salt and pepper.
Monica Pope devotees will recognize a similar menu style (small, shareable plates, proteins a la carte) and even many of the same dishes.
1252 Tapas Bar
Thanks to the success of its first two locations, 1252 Tapas Bar has opened a third, this one in Uptown Park. The menu of Spanish-style tapas is well executed, though pretty standard.
An authentic tapas place will always be judged on its paella, and this version is worthy. We like to stop by the lovely space for a $3 sangria at Happy Hour.
Comfort food abounds at the Golden Grill, a new food truck offering gourmet grilled cheeses. I loved my deliciously messy “Kimcheese,” whole wheat bread filled with Cheddar cheese, truck-made kimchi, grilled onions and a fried egg.
And yes, you most certainly can get your grilled cheese with tomato soup: Chipotle tomato soup with goat cheese crumbles, to be exact.
Brightening up Taft and Fairview across from Boheme is Cuchara, a new restaurant offering “Mexico City food.” That plays out in a beautiful menu of moles, nopales, barbacoa and shrimp . . . Think Hugo’s, not Ninfa’s.
Stop by the lovely light-filled restaurant, currently in its soft opening, for dinner or Sunday brunch.
NOLA’s Creole 2 Geaux
I’m picky when it comes to po'boys, but recently enjoyed the ones at the Creole 2 Geaux food truck. Mardi Gras for your mouth? Maybe.
Mine featured blackened shrimp, fresh lettuce and tomato, and just the right amount of spicy sauce, all on lightly grilled French bread. Each po'boy comes with a pretty big side — a nice perk, even if the sides are middling.
The museum district is finally getting some fresh meat with Lucille’s. The new spot is a “Southern cuisine restaurant with European influences,” marrying the chef’s own upbringing with his training at Austin’s Le Cordon Bleu school.
I’m hoping Lucille’s is the answer to Houston’s woeful lack of good biscuits.
Jade Stone Café
And there’s even more good news for the Museum District with the new Jade Stone Café, right inside the Asia Society Texas Center. Jade Stone offers a basic café menu — sandwiches, soups, salads — all kicked up with subtle Asian touches (think wasabi spreads, ginger dressings and the like).
And the space? It’s as serenely beautiful as you might imagine.
19th Street’s homey little Pie in the Sky is now Table 19. The menu of breakfast items and café fare has received only slight updates. We like the salads (though you’d be wise to ask for the dressing on the side).
And good news: You can still find the former resident’s fabulous pies at Table 19, in addition to other outlets including Buc-ee’s and several Urban Harvest farmers markets.
News of the fire last May at Dolce Vita hit us like a prize fighter: It was painful and jarring, and it left us agog with heads spinning. Fortunately the prognosis was good, and the effervescent eatery is back in top form once again.
You’re now welcome to make your way back for the addicting pizzas, pastas and salads. Beat the crowds by heading over at lunch.
It’s nice to see a lighter food truck on the scene these days. Juice Girl offers creative juice mixes and smoothies, all of which taste especially nice in the Houston heat. All juices are made fresh with organic produce (local when possible). More good news: Juice girl often sets up near another food truck, so you can support two local businesses in one stop.
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