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A new month has arrived, which means that it’s time for a fresh update of the Eater Houston Heatmap, a monthly guide to the city’s hottest restaurants intended to answer the age-old question: “Where should I eat tonight?”
2019 is already proving to be a busy restaurant year for Houston, with a number of exciting debuts over the past few months. New to the Heatmap in June: booked-solid Spanish hotspot MAD in River Oaks, and Mediterranean seafood restaurant Ouzo Bay. As always, we must say goodbye to some recently-opened favorites on the Heatmap — this time around it’s Killen’s Steakhouse in The Woodlands and Wholesome Kitchen in Lake Houston.
Chef Jonny Rhodes’ tasting menu spot is all about turning people’s notions of soul food upside down, and Eater just named it one of the country’s best new restaurants. Look forward to plates with socially-conscious names like Cornrows and Convictions, a dish of braided squash served with pumpkin butter glaze. The restaurant hosts two seatings per night, one at 6 p.m. and one at 8:45 p.m.
2. Les Ba’get
The former home of Les Ba’get has since been transformed into Les Noo’dle, but many pined for this beloved sandwich shop’s recent return in Garden Oaks. Banh mi, pho, and vermicelli bowls are on the menu, along with the restaurant’s beloved Vietnamese steak & eggs.
This all-vegan newcomer just landed, bringing jackfruit-stuffed tacos, dairy-free mac and cheese, and Beyond Meat burgers to the Heights. The sesame-orange cauliflower, which is battered, fried, and served in sweet orange chili sauce, is particularly tempting.
The much-anticipated latest venture between Bobby Heugel and Justin Yu has arrived, and it’s already turning heads thanks to a chic space and plenty of compelling dishes, including cheeseburgers smothered in melty raclette cheese, marinated mussels served with grilled bread, and a seriously stunning Dutch baby.
5. 1751 Sea and Bar
Formerly known as Star Fish, this Heights restaurant recently underwent a major revamp. Chef J.D. Woodward is in charge of the kitchen now, and he’s serving up dishes like tom yum hot pot, shrimp etouffee, and luxe seafood platters. Gin enthusiasts will also find 100 different varieties, mixed into martinis and tiki cocktails.
6. B.B. Italia
Taking over the space formerly known as Italian classic Carmelo’s, B.B. Italia brings those flavors back home. Everything from pizza Margherita to shrimp scampi and chicken scarpiello is on the menu, along with a towering 20-layer lasagna and sweet strawberry Napoleons for dessert.
7. Truth BBQ
This Brenham barbecue favorite is already attracting lengthy lines at its sprawling new location in the Heights. Dig into ridiculously succulent brisket, a bounty of sides that includes corn pudding, cole slaw, and potato salad, and gigantic slices of cake in flavors like banana-caramel and coconut cream.
This longtime Bellaire Boulevard sushi haunt has made a comeback, and it’s serving one of the city’s most exciting new menus. Enjoy a multi-course, kaiseki-style dinner with sashimi, nigiri, wagyu beef cooked on hot rocks, and miso-marinated black cod.
9. Finn Hall
Now open in Downtown, Finn Hall is home to ten different food stalls, all of which are worth a try. Consider a cheese-stuffed, truffle-topped Juicy Lucy burger at Craft Burger, or bun thit nuong (grilled pork and fresh veggies over vermicelli) at newcomer Sit Lo. The Hall also boasts two distinct cocktail bars.
The crown jewel in Agricole Hospitality’s recent EaDo takeover is Indianola, the city’s newest destination for thoughtful, Texas-influenced fare in a midcentury modern-chic setting. Find butter bean hummus, za’atar cauliflower grilled over wood, and rainbow trout served with tomato salsa Veracruz.
11. Taste Bar + Kitchen
Open until 2 a.m. on the weekends, find sweet and savory waffle dishes at this Midtown newcomer. Order chicken and waffles smothered in brown gravy, or a vegan option made with chicken-fried cauliflower, and save room for deep-fried waffle bread pudding.
12. Tropical’s Colombian Restaurant
A new Montrose spot for Colombian fare just debuted from the same guy behind Tropical’s Colombian Steakhouse in Katy. Diners can chow down on empanadas, arepas, and platters chock full of Colombian steaks, sausage, pork belly, chicken, rice, beans, and fried plantains, all inside the loop. Vegetarian options and breakfast are also on offer. Note: this eatery is sans alcohol.
13. MAD River Oaks
Be prepared: this experimental River Oaks newcomer is booked solid right now, so scoring a reservation won’t be easy. When it happens, though, prepare for stunning tapas like confited duck tongue tacos and Iberico secreto, a juicy cut of pork that is stunningly similar to steak. The inventive and stunningly presented cocktails are not to be missed.
14. Ouzo Bay
The opening of this seafood-obsessed import from Baltimore was pushed back a month, but the doors are finally open. Head to Ouzo Bay for grilled Portuguese octopus, pan-seared Dover sole, and crab cakes straight from Maryland. Next door, sister spot Loch Bar slings fresh oysters and 400 different types of whiskey.
15. Alhambra Cafe
This new addition brings bright, top-notch Moroccan eats to Houston’s vibrant dining scene. Look forward to extremely enticing tagines (the meatball and prune-lamb tagines are particularly compelling) and complex, spice-laden pastilla.
By: Amy McCarthy | July 12, 2019