[Photos: Ellie Sharp]
Red Ox Bar & Grill, the greatly anticipated new venture from business partner-friends Terry Flores and Lily Hernandez (formerly of now shuttered Bocados, among others), is rolling right along with an expected opening date of late April or early May, pending final permits and construction details. The dynamic duo have masterfully transformed a 1950s-era business property—which was a grocery store, a lounge, and a sports bar in its former lives—into a rustically charming restaurant brimming with reclaimed and recycled materials and personal touches; Flores has been the contractor and both women worked closely to create a unique space that is welcoming, original, and of course a vehicle for sharing the top-notch cuisine and warm hospitality for which they are so well known.
Before divulging design details of the new restaurant, it's only fair to dispel any fears of loyal patrons from Bocados: You will still be able to get the delicious Mexican fare you came to love for those 15 years in Montrose. Fish tacos, street tacos, Timothy's Favorite Flautas, fajitas, and handmade salsas will quell your cravings for authentic and memorable south-of-the-border flavors. And of course their corn, whole-wheat, and regular flour tortillas will still be made fresh, by hand, in-shop. That said, Red Ox will also expand its culinary offerings to embrace a more eclectic and homey following. Chorizo burgers, grilled mahi-mahi, blackened tilapia, Cuban sandwiches, and a walnut pear salad are a few examples of the variety you will find on the new menu. Flores says they hope to source regional ingredients as much as possible while supporting local farmers and breweries. As such, guests can expect a variety of libations including St. Arnold and Karbach beer, which will share space alongside signature sangrias and fresh lime juice margaritas at a bar adorned with metal from Flores' parents' garage-barn's roof. A competitive happy hour is in the works along with new "bar bites" and an '80s brunch.
There is much to absorb when viewing the new place; as Flores puts it, "Everything here has a story." Guests will enter Red Ox through a 1900's antique door purchased in the Heights and eat off of tabletops created from old bowling alleys while sitting in recycled mid-century school chairs. The interior features wood reclaimed from the aforementioned barn and Hernandez's house porch—both East End properties, along with a wall display of painted wood designed by Hernandez that utilizes paints from sundry prior projects. Original components also exist, though they have been given new life. The former front door was cut up and rearranged as a wall element under one of the bubble glass windows (not original) and tiles were removed to reveal the original cement floor, which was given a new finish. The window trim was also part of the original building and years of paint were removed resulting in an artsy feel, which feels right at home in this eclectic establishment. Outside, industrial gray paint freshens the exterior walls punctuated by Texas cedar pillars from Montalbano Lumber (a nod to the section of original cedar wall inside), and original address numbers hang from nails. The end result is an almost lodge-like ambiance, which Terry says was one of their architectural inspirations.
A garage door opens onto a side patio that promises to be a lovely respite on which to enjoy a cool breeze with good friends. The patio will be enclosed by a metal and wood railing from artist Herman Casey and reclaimed from Gallery Bar, a prior business of Flores and Hernandez's. Homemade wooden planters (of the same barn and porch origins noted above) will also border the patio and house fresh herbs for use in the kitchen. Additional bonuses: The patio will be four-legged friendly so you can bring your pooch, and a bike rack will be installed on site to encourage community neighbors to pop on over whenever the mood strikes.
Flores and Hernandez collaborated with architect Paul Henry (a long-time regular guest at Bocados), interior designers Yvonne Stern (Flores' sister) of YMS Interiors and Kristin Bricker Henry (Paul's wife); everyone's particular skills are reflected in the soon-to-be-finished space. Flores' childhood and high school friend Jesse Prieto of Bayou City Display created the logo and font: The ox because both Flores and Hernandez were born in the Chinese Year of the Ox and red because it is Flores' favorite color. It is impossible not to feed off the excitement and enthusiasm radiating from the talented team behind Red Ox Bar & Grill. "I'm just thrilled to be back," says Flores. "It' been a nice break but I am excited." It's safe to say, so are we.
· Red Ox Bar & Grill [Facebook]
· All Other Coming Attractions [-EHOU-]