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California’s Beloved Sandwich Shop Expands to Downtown Tomorrow

Plus, more Space City dining intel

Mendocino Farms sandwiches
Mendocino Farms has a big catering component.
Mendocino Farms/official photo

Welcome to AM Intel, a (mostly) daily round-up of Houston’s hottest bits of dining intel.

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California (sandwich) love for the 9-to-5 set

California chain Mendocino Farms’s takeover of Houston’s sandwich scene continues this week with the opening of its first downtown location on Thursday, November 7 (609 Main Street). In addition to its destination carbs, carved meats, and salads, the operation includes a large catering business. Last month, the expansion-minded brand added a new outpost at Uptown Park.

The Breakfast Klub will cook in D.C. after Astros World Series loss

Houston soul-food spot The Breakfast Klub will make good on a World Series bet to serve traditional Texan half-smokes to Washington Nationals fans next week, reports DCist. Before the series started, owner Marcus Davis vowed to cook at D.C.’s iconic Ben’s Chili Bowl while wearing its T-shirts, should his hometown team lose. While in D.C. for his daughter’s graduation from Howard University, he and Ben’s owner Kamal Ben Ali shook on the meaty wager.

Had the Astros won, Ben’s Chili Bowl staff would have to Houston to serve its destination hot dogs at the Klub. Klub is not the only loser with its tail between its legs; Houston-based Karbach Brewing now has to make Virginia’s Devil’s Backbone beer wearing shark shirts — the unofficial mascot of the Nationals’ run.

From Toys R Us to upscale cocktails

The rumors are true: Post Oak Boulevard’s fine dining destination Masraff’s will uproot and move to a new mixed-use development at I-10 and Bunker Hill, owner Russell Masraff confirms with CultureMap. Moody National Companies’s six-story project, replacing a former Toys R Us, is expected to wrap up by March. Masraff’s plan is to close when its lease expires at the end of April and relocate and reopen shortly after in mid-May. There’s many reasons for the move, but he says the biggest is the fact Metro’s incoming Uptown BRT project on Post Oak could hurt business.

Two stars for Mastranto’s

Houston Chronicle restaurant reviewer Alison Cook felt welcoming vibes from the start at the Heights’ year-old eatery run by a Venezuelan-Spanish couple. “From the mellow glass-sconce lighting to the glass-walled dough room, I was captivated. And I stayed that way: through bouncy, vibrant house-made pastas, unusual baked goods, vivid salads and seasonal vegetable plates brimming with personality.”

Though prices are on the high side for a casual, all-day neighborhood eatery, she notes, the “care and quality” behind the experience is worth it. Along with a “quirky” wine list, hits on her plate included spaghetti carbonara, Brussels sprouts prepared grilled, raw and fried, its signature “Carrots Over Carrots” dish, and a.m. pastries.