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Houston’s Most Anticipated Restaurant Openings, Spring 2017

A new season is coming, and so are a lot of great new restaurants

Shutterstock/Sean Pavone
Amy McCarthy is a reporter at, focusing on pop culture, policy and labor, and only the weirdest online trends.

Even if this endlessly weird “winter” weather didn’t get the message, spring is already in the air. As the warmer months rapidly approach, Houston’s restaurant scene continues to heat up, even after the rush to open tons of new eateries ahead of Super Bowl LI.

Now, things are getting back to normal, but that doesn’t exactly mean that Houstonians will see much of a slowdown in terms of brand new restaurants. In fact, the coming months bring some of the year’s most exciting new restaurants, including a killer dim sum spot, a new “neighborhood business” from Justin Yu and Bobby Heugel, and plenty of imports from Austin and beyond.

Take notes, y’all. It’s going to be a busy spring.

Peli Deli

  • Who: Thomas Nguyen, the mind behind South African spot Peli Peli Kitchen.
  • What: Peli Deli will start out as a nine-month pop-up, and may remain in its space inside the Esperson even longer if all goes according to plan. The quick lunch and breakfast spot will serve South African-inspired A.M. fare and lunch items like naan tacos and banh mi.
  • When: March 27
  • Where: The Esperson’s Rusk Lobby, in the space that formerly housed Murphy’s Deli.
Chef Ho Chee Boon in the kitchen at Yauatcha
Courtesy Yauatcha


  • Who: The Hakkasan Group, a Michelin-starred restaurant powerhouse known for its upscale, top-notch eateries (Yellowtail, Hakkasan, Fix, and more) in Miami, Waikiki, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Shanghai, and more international locales.
  • What: An upscale Asian eatery that focuses on dim sum, desserts, and high-end teas. Despite its glam appearance, Yauatcha is the kind of restaurant where you can either drop a big chunk of change on a dim sum feast, or just stop in for a few small plates and a pastry during lunch.
  • When: March 29. Reservations are currently available.
  • Where: Galleria Houston


  • Who: Cherry Pie Hospitality’s Lee Ellis, known for beloved local spots like Lee’s Fried Chicken & Donuts, State Fare, and Pi Pizza.
  • What: Ellis is staying super tight-lipped on what exactly his newest eatery is going to look like, but diners can expect a seafood-focused menu and plenty of Ellis’ signature scratch-made comfort food when the restaurant finally makes its debut. Originally scheduled to arrive earlier this year, it’s about damn time for Houston to get a taste of Ellis’ take on Gulf seafood.
  • When: Late March or early April.
  • Where: 191 Heights Blvd, just a few doors down from Ellis’ collaboration with pizza slinger Anthony Calleo, Pi Pizza.
FM Burger Houston
What will join these burgers at FM Kitchen + Bar
FM Burger

FM Kitchen + Bar

  • Who: Chef Ryan Hildebrand, former chef-owner of now-shuttered Triniti Restaurant.
  • What: Formerly called FM Burger, details have been scarce on what exactly Hildebrand’s newest concept will look like. The eatery will no doubt serve Hildebrand’s much-touted burger, but perhaps fans of Triniti will find some of their favorite dishes on this expanded new menu.
  • When: March 2017
  • Where: 1112 Shepherd Road

HandleBar Houston

  • Who: Brett Vance and Willie Stark, co-owners of the original HandleBar in Austin.
  • What: This Austin watering hole describes itself as an “adult wonderland,” and they don’t mean in an X-rated kind of way. Here, Houstonians will be able to sip craft cocktails while playing bar games, taking selfies in a moustache-inspired photo booth, and enjoying the finest local brews.
  • When: Opening date tentatively set for March 31.
  • Where: 5219 Washington Ave
A rendering of Dolce Neve in the Heights
Dolce Neve

Dolce Neve

  • Who: Italian gelato slingers Leo Silvestrini, Francesca Ferrarese and Marco Ferrarese, all of whom opened the first Dolce Neve in Austin in 2014.
  • What: Arguably Austin’s finest purveyor of Italian gelato, Dolce Neve brings yet another strong contender to Houston’s growing frozen treats scene. Whether or not it will be able to stand out amongst the slew of killer ice cream shops that already exist in the city (including fancy newcomers like Amorino Gelato) remains to be seen.
  • When: March 2017
  • Where: 4721 N. Main Street

Rodeo Goat Ice House

  • Who: Dallas-based restaurateur Shannon Wynne, who first opened Rodeo Goat in Fort Worth in 2012. A second outpost opened a few years later in Dallas.
  • What: This casual joint is known for its obvious rodeo theme, over-the-top burgers, and plenty of good beer.
  • When: Spring 2017
  • Where: East Downtown, at the intersection of Dallas & St. Emanuel.
Aqui, currently under construction on Westheimer
Paul Qui/Facebook


  • Who: Austin chef Paul Qui, a James Beard Award winner and victor of Top Chef’s ninth season.
  • What: A continuation of Qui’s focus on Japanese-Filipino fusion, the award-winning chef will serve up a wide range of Asian-inspired dishes like chicken karaage, lumpia, and pancit in a sexy new space in the heart of Montrose.
  • When: Late spring or early summer 2017
  • Where: 520 Westheimer

As Yet Unnamed “Neighborhood Business”

  • Who: Star Houston barman Bobby Heugel and James Beard Award winning chef Justin Yu.
  • What: Not much is known about what exactly this “neighborhood business” is going to look like, but considering the players involved, you can pretty much guarantee that good booze and excellent food are going to be in the mix. Neither Heugel or Yu are willing to call the project a restaurant or a bar just yet, but look for it to make a massive splash when whatever the hell this is finally opens its doors.
  • Where: 544 Yale, in the former Dry Creek Cafe space.
  • When: “Early 2017.” Your guess is as good as anyone’s as to what that means.

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