Welcome to Something for the Weekend, a new weekly guide that intends to help Houstonians answer one ever-pressing question: “Where should I eat this weekend?”
Each week, Eater editors will offer up their weekly recommendations, including reliable standbys, restaurants with new menu updates, pop-ups, more. For this week’s edition, we’re focusing on restaurants participating in Houston Restaurant Weeks, going now through September 4.
Instead of reading every menu on the lengthy list, dine at one of these five excellent picks, all of which still have (at least a few) reservations left.
Friday, August 11
For fancy Champagne that won’t annihilate the budget: A’Bouzy
Houston hospitality vet Shawn Virene’s newest eatery is totally obsessed with Champagne, but that enthusiasm isn’t only limited to the priciest of bottles. The wine list here starts at $12, and the chic interior makes for an excellent spot for a romantic date or girls’ night.
For the Heights’ hottest new burger (or breakfast): Bernie’s Burger Bus
The newest outpost of Bernie’s Burger Bus is officially open in the Heights, and it might just be the best yet. Pay homage to the original food truck, which is parked inside the restaurant serving up booze-spiked milkshakes. For the early birds, come by at 7 a.m. for a brand new breakfast menu.
For a sneak peek of Paul Qui’s first Houston restaurant: Aqui
Chef Paul Qui won’t officially kick open the doors to Montrose’s Aqui until Monday, but the restaurant will be open this weekend. The restaurant will start serving a “limited number of walk-ins” starting at 5 p.m. on Saturday.
For fresh sushi from a Michelin-starred chef: Kukuri
Chef Shimao Ichikawa brings 40 years of sushi experience and time at a Michelin-starred New York restaurant to his first Houston venture, Kukuri. In addition to the raw fish offerings, this mysterious new eatery will also serve up a menu of Japanese meat and veg dishes.
To revisit a Houston icon: Ninfa’s on Navigation
It’s pretty much a Houston rite of passage to eat at the Original Ninfa’s on Navigation at least once (or a thousand times), but with so many restaurant options in Space City, it’s easy enough to stay away from an old favorite while keeping up with the constant deluge of new eateries. Instead, head into the comforting arms of Mama Ninfa’s famous fajitas, washed down with plenty of margaritas.
Friday, August 4
For fancy steak: B&B Butchers
Reservations are filling up quickly (pro-tip: Sunday’s the best bet) but if you can score one, B&B Butchers is among the best Houston Restaurant Weeks options. Alongside dishes like brisket ravioli, crab-stuffed shrimp, and chicken shank, consider splurging on upgrades like Chef Tommy’s bacon, which is glazed in truffle honey and topped with blue cheese, or an 18-oz prime ribeye, which adds $25 to the $45 prix fixe. Still a bargain.
For lunch (or dinner!) at one of the country’s best new restaurants: Xochi
Eater critic Bill Addison recently added Chef Hugo Ortega’s newest eatery to his list of the country’s finest new restaurants, and for good reason. Choose a theme — mole, masa, mezcal, or vegetale, and let Ortega show off some of his best dishes, like duck confit enchiladas in mole negro, or sea bass crudo in aguachile verde. Lunch reservations are still very easy to come by, but expect to dine late or early at dinner.
For pasta, pasta, pasta: Osso & Kristalla
Astros owner Jim Crane’s new Italian restaurant is an excellent option for pasta, especially when it’s discounted and serving a good cause. Dig into buttermilk fried calamari, Sicilian-style barbecue shrimp, and a decadent espresso tiramisu for dessert. Reservations are still pretty open this weekend.
For excellent bar fare and whiskey: Bayou & Bottle
Skip the stuffy coursed meals and head to Bayou & Bottle at the Four Seasons for laid-back dishes like Korean barbecue wings, beef fat fries, and lobster tacos (choose two) and desserts like Bayou & Bottle’s riff on a PB&J, made with peanut butter ice cream and grape jelly.
For a really great Saturday lunch: Kitchen 713
The dinner menu at Kitchen 713 is indisputably great, but the $20 lunch makes it an even better option during the day. Enjoy a grilled cheese stuffed with oxtail, caramelized cauliflower, and Thai fried chicken. Bonus: a few of the dishes on this menu are gluten-free and/or vegan.
Friday, July 28
For a last-chance meal: One Fifth Steak
A representative for Chris Shepherd’s first iteration of One Fifth tells Eater that the restaurant doesn’t have many reservations left, but tables can definitely still be scored on Sunday. The best bets for timing are early or late, and the bar at One Fifth Steak is open seating. Enjoy one more Collins, have that uni panna cotta one last time, and get ready for what’s coming next.
For ridiculously sugary treats: Stacked Ice Cream
Head to Sugar Land for doughnut ice cream sandwiches, macaron ice cream sandwiches, and other chilly treats that are as visually stunning as they are tasty. There’s no shame in making a drive to the ‘burbs for the perfect Insta story.
Try Houston’s newest, trendiest dessert: Dragon Breath at the Galleria
It sounds a little bizarre, but nitrogen-fused cereal and ice cream bites may be the city’s hottest new dessert, thanks to the smoke-like cloud of fog that the nitrogen produces after every bite. Head to the Galleria for the Dragon Breath kiosk, or for folks in the ‘burbs, Cypress’ Houston Premier Outlets also hosts an outpost of the new dessert chain.
Learn more than you ever thought possible about the wines of the Loire Valley: LoireFest
Sommelier David Keck has been hard at work in getting his new honky-tonk Goodnight Charlie’s ready, but in the meantime, he’s going to seriously nerd out over wines from the Loire Valley. On Saturday at the Art of Cellaring at 2301 Portsmouth, taste (and purchase!) more than 100 wines from the region whilst enjoying a whole hog roast from Erin and Patrick Feges. Tickets are $30, and can be purchased here.
For late-summer fare: Riel
Chef Ryan LaChaine’s Riel has been serving up killer cuisine all summer, and his newest menu may be his best yet. The popular borscht won’t be back until next fall, but this weekend diners can dig into plates like gnocchi served in cotija fondue with summer corn, soft shell crab in tamarind vinaigrette, and chicken-fried frog legs straight from Louisiana.
Friday, July 21
For Saturday brunch: Xochi
In addition to the killer Sunday brunch buffet, Xochi has officially introduced a menu of a la carte offerings that’s only available on Saturday. The restaurant’s excellent tlayudas are on offer during brunch, along with favorites like chilaquiles, the Xochi burger, and the stunning memela y huevos, a toasted masa pancake topped with roasted chicken, huaxmole, and a poached or fried egg.
For pre-dinner drinks: Pax Americana
Chef Martha DeLeon is really settling into her new role as executive chef, and the new daily happy hour is just further proof. Score dishes like Korean red pepper pork ribs and Chappapeela Farms pork sausage served with heirloom tomato romesco for just $10 each. The drink specials are equally appealing, like Tom Collins and daiquiris for just $5 and $2 off everything on the summer cocktail menu. Happy hour is on at Pax Americana from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
For post-shopping sushi: Sushigami
Heading to the Galleria on the weekend is a time-honored tradition, and the dining options there are better than ever. For folks who have already checked out Shake Shack and Yauatcha, head to Sushigami. The fun new conveyor belt sushi restaurant just made its debut at the mall’s rink-level dining pavilion this week, and serves up a budget-friendly sushi option for those times when the wallet has already been emptied at Saks.
For setting your mouth on fire: Pepper Twins
Now open in its third location on Kirby, Pepper Twins is serving up a few new dishes alongside their popular Sichuan favorites. Head to the new outpost for Berkshire pork ribs, mustard-basted tofu, and of course, yet another plate of that addictive Mr. & Mrs. Smith beef tendon.
For a first taste of Ellis Bros. Barbecue: Lee’s Fried Chicken & Donuts
Lee Ellis has long been teasing Houstonians with the arrival of his first barbecue restaurant, and now it’s finally possible to get a taste of those smoked meats. Head to Ellis’ fried chicken & doughnuts spot in the Heights for smoked chicken and other meaty delights, which will be on offer until the restaurant sells out. That happened pretty quickly last weekend, so prepare to get there early.