A charming Central Texas restaurant known for its comforting Italian food and rustic interior will soon make its way to Houston.
Lulu’s, which opened in Round Top in 2018, is the brainchild of Cinda Murphy-Palacios and Armando Palacios. If those names sound familiar, it’s because the couple’s company, Palacios Murphy Hospitality, also owns longtime River Oaks Tex-Mex restaurant Armandos.
Now, the company has set its sights back on Houston, with a second location of Lulu’s planned for 2518 Kirby Drive later this summer, in the same River Oaks shopping center that also houses Armandos. Whereas Armandos is known for its luxe interior, Lulu’s will be a less formal affair, thought the same detailed service the brand is known for will carry over.
Armandos opened in 1978, but in recent years the couple has established a stronghold of sorts in the tiny country town, about an hour northwest of Houston, best known for its massive thrice-yearly antique fair. They opened Mandito’s, another Tex-Mex restaurant at the same time as Lulu’s, then launched Popi Burger, located in an old general store, in 2019. The couple also recently opened a boutique hotel, also called Lulu’s, in the tiny town.
Diners can expect dishes like buccattini alla puttanesca, braised short rib, and rack of lamb with guajillo pepper cabernet reduction, plus more casual bites, like hand-tossed pizzas and meatballs and polenta. Lulu’s in Round Top also serves brunch, with dishes like crab Benedict, Spanish-style tortillas, and a breakfast carbonara topped with a sunnyside-up egg.
Bar-wise, expect cocktails with a strong Italian influence, incorporating limoncello, amari, amaretto, and prosecco, plus ingredients like Italian soda, sorbet, and espresso.
Palacios told Paper City magazine in January that he’s wanted to open an Italian restaurant for as long as he’s been in the restaurant business. The couple’s landlord offered them a least three years ago, but they opted to open in Round Top first, where rent is significantly cheaper, to see if Lulu’s would be a success. When Stone Mill Bakers, on the opposite end of the shopping center from Armandos, closed in late 2020, they got their second chance.
Lulu’s River Oaks was originally supposed to open in June, but has been delayed. Still, the restaurant’s Instagram is teasing a Summer 2021 opening. Stay tuned to Eater for a more exact date.