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2020’s Most Exciting Restaurant Newcomers, According to Houston Chefs and Food Writers

The new spots that made 2020 a little bit more bearable

A plated dish of quail over grains with a beige sauce underneath.
Dishes like this stunning quail made Bludorn an obvious contender
Caroline Fontenot/EHOU
Amy McCarthy is a reporter at, focusing on pop culture, policy and labor, and only the weirdest online trends.

Even though 2020 was full of awful restaurant news, a truly exciting crop of newcomers brought little rays of sunshine to the city’s culinary scene over the past twelve months.

As part of our annual Year in Eater survey, Eater reached out to some of the city’s top chefs and food writers to hear which of these new eateries stood out among the pack this year, and there was definitely a consensus: chef Aaron Bludorn’s namesake Montrose restaurant is far and away the most-cited newcomer in this year’s survey.

But there’s also Heights handroll spot Handies Douzo, San Leon’s new oyster destination Pier 6, and more new eateries that made 2020 just a little bit more bearable via stunning spaces and creative dishes.

June Rodil, master sommelier and partner, Goodnight Hospitality: Handies Douzo.

Megha Bhandari, contributor, Eater Houston: Bludorn.

Brittanie Shey, associate editor, Eater Houston: Everything I’ve seen and heard about Bludorn has been amazing. I also can’t wait to make a trip to Pier 6 in San Leon for some raw oysters.

Troy Guard, chef, Guard and Grace: Ostia! It had a great vibe, great service, and great food.

A chef places a crab-stuffed handroll on a serving plate.
Crab-stuffed handrolls at Handies Douzo
Handies Douzo

Mai Pham, contributor, Eater Houston: Bludorn is definitely at the top of my list. Houston has had rocky love affair with celebrity chefs, but Aaron and Victoria Bludorn have created something that has been enthusiastically embraced by all, and I love that. Ostia also brings something to Houston that we haven’t had before: bright, fresh, unfussy California-esque cuisine that speaks to my heart and sort of takes me back to my roots as a Northern Californian. And then there’s Turner’s, which brings something truly unique and special to the scene. I love the intimacy, the boldness, the attention to detail and the extravagance of it all.

Chris Shepherd, chef/owner, Underbelly Hospitality: Bludorn.

Erin Smith, chef/owner, Feges BBQ: There were lots of people doing pop-ups this year that I was excited about — Angie’s Pizza, JQ’s Tex Mex BBQ to name a few. Pop-ups aren’t an easy way to do business, so I have a lot of respect for people trying to make a name for themselves by doing pop-up events.

Manabu “Hori” Horiuchi, chef/owner, Kata Robata: Bludorn. Many great chefs are coming from out of state.

Ryan Lachaine, chef/owner, Riel: Bludorn.