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Dive Into Bayou City Dining
The diverse Houston area boasts upscale cuisine to rival any large metropolitan area in the country. Brilliant new concepts pop up on the dining scene all the time with many more on the horizon and ready to bring delight to the table so check out some of the notable new, relocated or rebranded restaurants. Then delve into the renowned Galleria area of Houston and its array of elegant steak, seafood and international options, but since it’s not all about the meat, take a look at how the city satisfies and excels at its many vegan- and vegetarian-friendly locales. When planning a unique and special occasion for an intimate group, consider a chic VIP Chef’s Table experience that can be found at several high-end hotspots all around Houston. Finally, make sure you’ve brushed up on your dining etiquette skills by taking a look at our tips and suggestions so your presence is as notable and sophisticated as the food itself.

new and noteworthy
Houston is a hot culinary mixing pot of up-and-coming ventures and new locations for restaurants that already have found success elsewhere. The foodie culture here can be quite discerning and always is guaranteed variety and freshness in its new and innovative restaurant offerings. Discover what’s new and delicious whether you’re planning intimate dinners or group events.

In June, Jonathan Jones opened a new concept called Concepción, which offers “modern, higher-end foods… with Latin American, Caribbean and Mexican flavors” and a focus on lighter, coastal fare with ceviche taking center stage. Located in the former Ocean, Concepción refers to the birth (or rebirth) of the chef and the restaurant and pays homage to the mother of Ocean’s owner and Jones’ partner in this new venture, Jorge Alvarez. The stately converted two-story late 19th-century house—well known for its spacious, shaded, secluded and jasmine-scented patio—complements its great exterior space with an inside dining area and an upstairs space offering a full-service bar and lounge with food service and late-night bites. With large tapas offerings and family-style entrées for brunch, lunch or dinner, the fare is light and fresh and meant to be shared.

Open since April 2012 under Cory Graff and Riccardo Palazzo-Giorgio, the Hawthorn Restaurant pairs posh décor with menu selections carefully orchestrated to please even the most discerning palates. Diners enjoy stunning signature New American cuisine like Rose Ravioli, a beet-based chef-crafted pasta surrounding house-made goat-milk ricotta; Pekin Duck Breast; and Ricotta Cheesecake that nod to Chef Palazzo-Giorgio’s Mediterranean influences and Italian roots. The improvised menu is built around weekend farmers-market finds and will update seasonally and intraseasonally, featuring a variety of locally sourced beef, lamb, seafood and game dishes.

Iguanas Tex-Mex Grill, formerly La Vista Loco, offers great Tex-Mex food, a comprehensive drink menu and happy hour specials in rustic and warm décor reminiscent of the Southwest. In addition, the newly rebranded restaurant welcomes private parties on the patio and a private dining room that sits up to 12.

In the Washington Avenue/Memorial Park area, La Fisheria by Chef Aquiles Chavez is a Mexican cantina featuring a menu of fresh Gulf seafood prepared with unfamiliar yet terrific combinations. The Mexican culinary adventure is a unique addition to the Houston scene, presenting a new style and spin on Gulf seafood and Mexican traditions. La Fisheria also offers inventive and bold cocktails, like habañero or cucumber jalapeño margaritas. Although driven by the local Gulf favorites and Mexican flavors, the food is made light and bright with skillful use of spices and citrus flavors that elevate the dishes. The light and airy relaxed dining room boasts bright blue walls, concrete floors painted to look like tiles and large windows that let in natural light.

Latin Bites Café, South American Cuisine & Cebiche Bar, moved in January 2012 to a new larger location in the heart of Tanglewood near the Galleria area. Nominated as Houston’s Chef of the Year, Chef Roberto Castre delivers food that represents the culture, tradition and heritage of the richest, most diverse and sophisticated cuisine in the world as he exquisitely fuses the Latin flavors of South America. The notable Cebiche Bar offers a fresh Peruvian-style ceviche and a sample of delicious appetizers, such as arepas, causitas or empanadas, all balancing between delicate flavor and sophisticated appearance. The new location also offers a great place for customized private events.

Njoy Thai Restaurant and Bar, located between Downtown Houston and the Montrose Neighborhood, offers fine Thai cuisine in an elegant, intimate setting. Njoy Thai specializes in delicious and reasonably priced dishes that involve elements of several Southeast Asian traditions that use strong aromatic components and healthy ingredients. Njoy Thai gladly accommodates private events, business lunches or any social gatherings for around 40 guests in the main seating area, bar and private dining table.

Local, organic and green is the mantra of the new Roots Bistro, the second Green-Certified Restaurant in Houston. Chef German Mosquera, known for making vegetables pop with flavor from his time at Ruggles Green, believes freshness equates to quality and flavor. The food comes from the market in the morning and is prepared by Chef German during the day, and everything from the animal chef butchers to the salt that flavors it is sourced locally and grown organically.

— On the Horizon

The recently closed Dharma Cafe space is being rebranded as Cafe Brussels, which will feature the Dharma chef’s famous moules frites and all the rest. Famed for their successful mobile food truck and catering business, the Eatsie Boys are settling into a brick-and-mortar location in the Montrose area. The long-awaited development of Sullivan’s Steakhouse is getting under way finally on Westheimer; and Ronnie Killen, the owner of Pearland’s Killen’s Steakhouse has announced a second location to open in the Heights sometime in 2013.

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