10 Most Exciting New Restaurants in Houston

June 26, 2017 | Modern Luxury
By Ray Dennison and Robin Barr Sussman

1 CAFÉ AZUR
French chef Sidney Degaine’s restaurant opened last fall next to Pax Americana in Montrose. Degaine and his charming wife, Maria, bring flavors from the Côte d’Azur—hence the name—like grilled octopus, foie gras tacos, truffle linguine, bouillabaisse and branzino with clam sauce and vanilla oil. The standout dish is the Perfect Egg, which comes beautifully presented in a glass globe with beech mushrooms. It’s cooked for 45 minutes at a low temperature and then whipped with creamy potato foam. The couple have recently added lunch and brunch to the menu, and the upstairs balcony is a great place to enjoy a flute of Champagne and the Buddha Lounge-style soundtrack. 4315 Montrose Blvd., 713.524.0070

2 RIEL
Chef Ryan Lachaine, who cut his chops at Underbelly and Reef, has opened this intimate newcomer. It’s a fresh take on what Houston food is today, blending elements of Lachaine’s Eastern European and Canadian heritage with local and global influences. Plates are meant to be shared and include standouts like a seasonally changing crudo, a Sriracha-spiced cauliflower tempura and roasted heirloom carrots. Beverage Director Christopher Fleischman’s cocktail program is inventive. Try the Trudeau—named for Canada’s PM—made with Earl Grey cordial, gin, sloe gin, Cocchi Americano and bitters. A 12-top common table is great for meeting new friends. 1927 Fairview St., 832.831.9109

3 ONE FIFTH
James Beard Award winner Chris Shepherd’s Underbelly was quick to break the mold when it opened in 2012. And last September, when he launched One Fifth in Mark’s famed church-turned-restaurant space, he once again changed the game. Each year, for five years, the concept reinvents itself. The first of the series, One Fifth Steak, closes July 31, making way for the next installment, One Fifth Romance Languages, set to hit the very next day. The omnitalented chef’s new menu explores French, Spanish and Italian cuisines, drawing from the bounty of the Mediterranean. For those who really plan ahead, prepare to dive into the sea for One Fifth Fish. 1658 Westheimer Road, 713.955.1024

4 XOCHI
Chef Hugo Ortega revolutionized the city’s—and the country’s—perception of Mexican food, presenting elaborate dishes from his home country’s many regions in a formal dining setting. Both his original mainstay on Westheimer and Caracol in the Galleria remain classics, but his latest venture is now open in the flashy new Marriott Marquis Downtown. Focusing on Oaxacan cuisine, dishes include wood-roasted octopus with masa pancakes, puya pepper adobo and toasted pumpkin seeds, and black-footed chicken with mole negro and creamy corn meloso. If you don’t recognize half of the ingredients, don’t be alarmed. Here, it’s hard to go wrong. 1777 Walker St., 713.400.3330

6 BRASSERIE DU PARC
Downtown experienced a serious surge of openings leading up to the Super Bowl, and none was closer to the action than this spot in One Park Place. Chef Philippe Verpiand and his wife, Monica Bui, owners of Uptown’s Étoile Cuisine et Bar, have created the city’s first truly Parisian-style sidewalk cafe overlooking busy Discovery Green. Classics include steak frites, escargots and “Galveston-style” mussels with tomato sauce, crab and jalapenos. There’s even a quick-service crepe window just like the one in the famous Jardin du Luxembourg. More than a dozen crepe options are divided into savory and sweet, and they’re great for a picnic in the park. 1440 Lamar St., 832.879.2802

7 ROKA AKOR
Another Michelin-recommended concept, this time out of Scottsdale, Ariz., arrives in Houston with new Japanese steakhouse Roka Akor. Located on the ground floor of 2929 Weslayan, the city’s tallest residential tower, the 6,500-square-foot space has just opened its doors. Prime Japanese wagyu beef is the star here, while other popular choices from the robata grill include miso-marinated black cod and beef tataki with truffle jus. At the sleek bar, sushi chefs roll exotic fish flown in daily and serve it alongside fresh-grated wasabi—quite different from the familiar green counterpart—and Himalayan rock salt. For a little of everything, try the chef’s omakase. 2929 Weslayan St., 713.622.1777

8 STAR FISH
Casting a wide net, this place is a catch and already buzzing with the in-crowd. Restaurateur Lee Ellis, the mastermind behind State Fare and Petite Sweets, has crafted up a new concept, with chef Armando Ramirez in the kitchen, that stays true to his Texas comfort food roots but goes lighter with a fresh, vast seafood offering. Puffy lobster tacos, steak tartare and wood-fired oysters are standout apps, while mains include fried or grilled whole Gulf red snapper, Ora King salmon, and deviled lobster with shrimp and sausage stuffing. Laurie Harvey’s bar program has one of the town’s best martinis, and there’s now an oyster happy hour! 191 Heights Blvd., 832.831.9820

Strawberry crepe at Brasserie du Parc

9 YAUATCHA
Chinese dim sum teahouse Yauatcha has bowed in the Galleria, making Houston the Michelin-starred London restaurant concept’s second U.S. stop. Delicately crafted steamed shu mai (the signature Phoenix tail shrimp is a must) and other pan-seared dumplings headline the large dim sum menu, which also features crispy duck rolls, venison puffs and sesame prawn toast. Mains range from jasmine tea smoked pork ribs to black-truffle duck, and wok-fired tiger prawns with chili and lemon grass. Do not miss dessert by executive pastry chef Graham Hornigold; the raspberry delice is as beautiful as it is tasty. Houston has never seen anything like this. 5045 Westheimer Road, 713.357.7588

10 OSSO & KRISTALLA
Houston Astros owner Jim Crane hits a home run with two new restaurants just across the street from Minute Maid Park. The white-tableclothed Potente offers an intimate dining experience, while its airy and bright sister next door, Osso & Kristalla, buzzes with a chic young crowd. Executive chef Danny Trace prepares modern Italian fare with local ingredients. The Kristalla salad comes with kale, apple, crispy pancetta and pine nuts, and wood-fired pizza specials change weekly. Classic Italian cocktails get makeovers at the bar—try the frozen Negroni or Limoncello mule. Pastry chef David Berg also crafts perfect croissants and elaborate egg sandwiches for breakfast. 1515 Texas Ave., 713.221.6666