Over the weekend, 93’ Til — the new record bar and lounge by Underbelly and Momofuku alum Gary Ly and his partner Lung Ly — quietly opened to the public.
It was certainly an eventful first night of service after a transformer blew out across the street, leaving the restaurant without power for several hours and patrons eating in the dark. “The emergency lights were flashing, and we had candles, so it felt like a club in here,” says Gary Ly. The power came back on, of course, but soon after, Centerpoint came in and said they’d have to shut everything down again.” Strong 2020 vibes.
As previously reported by Eater, ’93 Til gets its name from the a hip hop song by the Oakland band Souls of Mischief, a reflection of the fact that both chefs are California transplants. Longtime friends from before they went to culinary school, while both working in NYC, Gary and Lung would frequent the city’s tiny record bars, and wanted to bring something similar to Houston.
Located in the former Night Heron space at 1601 West Main Street, Gary Ly and Lung Ly tapped Austin-based BRWN Collective to design the space’s interior. “We incorporated the ethos of Tokyo’s record bar culture” into the design, says BRWN Collective’s Brittany Williams. “This space is where you go to relax, listen to bomb music and grab a drink with friends. The furniture combines vintage midcentury furniture — the late 60’s was an inspiring time for design.”
Each night, a curated playlist is published on the menu, culled from the lounge’s collection of more than 500 records of mostly hip hop, funk and jazz. The sound system is an Audio Technica turntable with master sound mixer.
On the food front, “Everything’s shared, everything’s from the farmer’s market,” Gary Ly says. of the menu, which is a collaborative effort between the two chefs. “Lung’s style of cooking is very old school — French, Spanish, Italian. I do a lot of Southern food, and Southeast Asian. He likes to do charcuterie. I like to do a lot of vegetables. So it’s going to be a lot of small plates for people to share, listen to good music, have cocktails. This is supposed to be more like what we learned through our culinary travels.”
The 12-item opening menu, priced from $8 to $18, features small plates like foie gras PB&J, fried frog legs with salsa matcha and yogurt, beets with whipped goat cheese and hazelnuts, and citrus cured hamachi. Larger plates include a toast slathered in clam ragout, sausage and cured egg yolk, pork cheek shepherd’s pie, and steak with peas and carrots.
93’ Til is still waiting on its liquor license from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, so in the meantime, bar manager Jojo Martinez bar will be offering a daily punch gratis. When it does roll out, the beverage menu will feature natural wines, creative cocktails, and craft beer.
“We definitely want this to have the neighborhood feel,” says Gary. “We are going to open for brunch beginning of next year. We’re also planning on doing lunch and our lunch is going to be a coffee shop vibe — sandwiches and salads — people can come and get on their laptops and just do work.”
93’ Til is now open seven days to week, 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday; Friday and Saturday 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. Closed Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day.