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Chef Chris Shepherd Will Open a More Casual Offshoot of His Popular Steakhouse Georgia James in Downtown Houston

Also: Underbelly Hospitality chef Nick Fine is working on a second restaurant, called Wild Oats, at the Houston Farmers Market

Ribeye steak at Georgia James
Georgia James Tavern, a casual spinoff of Georgia James, will serve the same steaks Underbelly is famous for in new Downtown digs.
Julie Soefer for Georgia James

The minds behind popular Montrose restaurants UB Preserv, Georgia James, Hay Merchent and One Fifth have announced two exciting forthcoming projects, and the collective’s first major expansion outside of the Montrose neighborhood.

The first will be Wild Oats, a full-service restaurant inside the Houston Farmers Market, which will focus on the history and traditions of Texas cuisine. Wild Oats will be led by chef and Houston native Nick Fine, culinary director of Underbelly Hospitality. It will also be the first of at least two Underbelly restaurants announced for the newly-revamped farmer’s market on Airline Road, which Underbelly head Chris Shepherd consulted on.

The menu at Wild Oats will include dishes like Nick Fine’s take on shrimp and grits, which uses masa in place of the porridge as an homage to tamales. Like all of Underbelly Hospitality’s restaurants, Wild Oats will prioritize local sourcing and working with local farmers and ranchers, particularly those located at the Houston Farmers Market. The market is expected to open this spring, with Wild Oats coming in summer of 2021.

The second restaurant, Georgia James Tavern, will be a casual offshoot of Shepherd’s creative, upscale steakhouse Georgia James, and will be Underbelly’s first restaurant in Downtown Houston. The menu will focus on salads, sandwiches, burgers, and steaks, along with entrees cooked in a wood-burning oven. Matthew Coburn, an Underbelly alum and current Georgia James sous chef, will run the kitchen.

“I love Georgia James,” Chris Shepherd said in a statement. “But I understand that it’s not a restaurant most people can visit on a daily or even weekly basis. Georgia James Tavern is designed to be a place where our guests want to—and can—eat every day.”

The restaurant will also offer a tightly curated list of cocktails and comforting desserts, like an apple crumble cooked in the wood-burning oven. Georgia James Tavern, which will be located inside the Market Square Tower at 777 Preston Street is expected to open this Spring for dinner, and eventually expand to breakfast and lunch service. It is sure to be a popular lunch destination once workers return to Downtown.

Stay tuned to Eater for firmer details on opening dates for both new restaurants.