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Chicago Restaurant Etta Will Bring Its Hearth-Fired Dishes to Houston

The spot’s wood-fired pizzas and handmade pasta will arrive in Downtown next year

A cast-iron pot holds meatballs and tomato sauce beside grilled triangles of flatbread.
Hearth-powered Chicago restaurant Etta is headed to Houston.
Etta [Official Photo]

Lauded Chicago restaurant group What If Syndicate has set its sights on Houston, and will open a location of its hearth-powered restaurant Etta at Downtown’s Texas Tower in February 2022.

The move comes after What If chef Danny Grant has spent the last year taking over Dallas, first opening Monarch, a luxe Italian eatery, and Kessaku, a sushi restaurant, in that city’s National Building Downtown.

Just a few months after those spots opened in March, What If announced that two more Dallas restaurants — neighborhood-focused eatery Etta, and celebrated steakhouse Maple & Ash — were headed for the Big D.

Now, a second Texas Etta has been announced, this one going into the brand new Texas Tower highrise at 601 Travis Street in Downtown Houston. Another What If concept, which has yet to be announced, will also go into the Texas Tower’s pavilion area.

Grant first gained fame at upscale Chicago French restaurant RIA, which earned two Michelin stars before its closure in 2012. Grant left the restaurant to strike out on his own, and many of the restaurants he helms with What If Syndicate are built around the concept of a wood-fired grill, including dishes like charred prawn and fire-roasted octopus at Monarch, and wood-fired steaks and pork chops at Maple & Ash. At Etta, the menu will include pizza cooked on the hearth, house-made pasta, fire-baked focaccia, and dishes like wood-roasted oysters. (The name Etta itself is a derivation of Hestia, the Greek goddess of the hearth.)

The restaurant is also known for its signature dish, the “Pig Picnic,” a massive spread of roast pork loin and pork belly served with vegetables, lettuce cups, fresh baked bread, and sides like dill yogurt, chimichurri, serrano, Veracruz oil, drippings, and garlic butter.

The 6,410-square-foot restaurant will have a relaxed neighborhood vibe, and will likely be a popular post-work destination, thanks to a menu of cocktails like a white negori and an “antisocial” spritz, made with Aperol, kombucha, and sparkling wine, plus light bites for happy hour.

Etta is expected to open in February of 2022. No word yet on the other What If concepts planned for Houston, but stay tuned to Eater for future details.