Houston has started 2024 strong with a fresh crop of new or recent restaurant openings that are giving diners something to explore. While pizza joints, Italian cuisine, and Tex-Mex continue to trend, the restaurant scene has also been embedded with newer, exciting dining options that are informed or inspired by live-fire cooking techniques, Basque culture, and Mexican traditions, and that’s just the beginning as the city anticipates dozens of openings this year. But first things first. Here are the Houston restaurant openings you need to know about right now.
Still interested in what happened last year? View 2023’s exhaustive list of openings here.
Really into pink? This is the restaurant for you. The foray into the Houston dining scene by a Dallas hospitality group, GAP Concepts, brings Instagram-worthy decor and American classic fine dining food. Each table has a press for Champagne button and the centerpiece of the main dining room is an ombre white and pink piano. The word trendy could never. On the menu, which was developed by chef Bryan Caswell, are the most luxurious of luxury foods: King crab legs, caviar service, a slew of prime beefs, a seafood tower, and chicken francese. More is more is more is more. 2800 Kirby Dr., Suite A-132
This Italian restaurant’s program of pizzas, house-made pasta, Italian cheeses, and baked/grilled/braised Italian mains were crafted under the eye of chef Nicolas Nikic, a former instructor at University of Houston’s School of Hospitality Restaurant Management. Nikic made his way to Texas after growing up in Europe and being educated in food in Vienna. In Houston, he’s got 20 years of experience under his belt as general manager and sommelier at Da Marco and Dolce Vita. This restaurant is casual and neighborhood-y, so come as you are. 5110 Buffalo Speedway
Conroe gets a dinner and a show-style restaurant (that also does lunch and brunch) with this spot. The evening entertainment runs the gamut from crooners to country music to nostaligic cover bands. While the lunch menu keeps it pretty simple, the dinner menu is going for a more elevated feel with dishes including swordfish crudo, pineapple glazed pork belly, ossobuco, roasted quail, and a selection of steak cuts with “enhancements” (that’s fancy for sauces) galore.
This cult-favorite chicken spot has opened a second location, this time in Katy. It is currently dine-in only, but its worth it to stop in for Afro-Portugues-style flame-grilled bowls of chicken sandwiches, salads, skewers, and wraps. If you don’t know the drill already: each dish is made to order and to the spiciness level of your specification. 23501 Cinco Ranch Blvd. in Katy
This Italian chain opens its third location in Houston, the latest at CityCentre in a 12,000 square foot space and two outdoor patios. It also features a massive bar that seats 50. You’re likely to always be able to get a table here. Like its other locations, this menu features chef’s boards, salads, pizzas, house-made pastas, craft cocktails, and a slew of seasonal specials. It is open for lunch, dinner, and brunch — and it’s currently offering a lot of special dishes for the week of Valentine’s Day. 818 Town and Country Blvd., Suite 100
The Orioli Restaurant Group opens its fifth establishment in Houston with this spot in the Woodlands. The focus is on Latin American cuisines with a coastal influence. On the menu, that translates to some expected Central American ingredients that are familiar to Texans, from queso blanco to braised goat, along with a robust offering of ceviche and crudo, plus the tenderloin with chimichuri of Argentina, chile relleno of Mexico, and an Ecuadorian tuna stew. (26435 Kuykendahl Rd., Suite 900, in Tomball)
Spring lands a wine and whiskey bar with fancy cocktails and a menu of light bites. Head this way for a drink paired with a hummus flight, bruschetta, an array of sandwiches and flatbreads, and some lovely desserts to pair with dessert wines. (3921 Woodson’s Reserve Pkwy., #1100 in Spring)
There’s a new food hall in town and it’s in the space that formerly belonged to beloved Houston nightclub the Roxy. Eat food from 11 different vendors, all carefully selected to highlight the breadth and depth of Houston’s food scene. There are also two bars, one downstairs and a lounge upstairs that is an homage to the Roxy. 5353 W Alabama St., Suite 100
Joining a handful of other restaurants like Blind Goat, Underbelly Burger, and Wild Oats that have set up shop in Spring Branch, Houston hand roll fav Hando has opened its second outpost. Jason Andaya and Raymond Chan, owners of Hando in the Heights, officially opened the new location on Thursday, January 18. Slightly larger than its Heights sister and helmed by executive chef Man Nguyen, the new 30-seat hand roll bar is now open daily for lunch, happy hour, and dinner, offering a la carte hand rolls, creative small plates, and hand roll Handokase sets available in three, four, or five-pieces. 8211 Long Point Road, 77055.
This Korean fried chicken haven has been around since 2014, opening its first location in the Museum District, and a second in Timbergrove. In 2020, under the pressures of the pandemic, owner Jason Cho closed the Museum District outpost, but at the end of 2022, announced that the extra crunchy, craggy-skinned fried chicken would be back in the Museum District following the closing of its Timbergrove location in a swap of sorts. The Museum District location opened once again on Thursday, January 18, with limited hours with a menu boasting its crispy chicken in flavors like soy garlic, truffle parmesan, sweet heat, sriracha honey lime, and mango pepper tajin, plus a lineup of Korean rice dishes, including bibimbap, fried rice, and a starters menu featuring fun fusions like kimchi fries. (1801 Binz Street, Suite 120, 77004)
Grace Pizza & Shakes — The Heights
This Alvin-born pizza and shake shop follows up its Pearland outpost with its third Texas location. The new Heights restaurant offers coal-fired pizzas and wings, salads, fresh pasta dishes, hot sandwiches, and fun starters like its three-cheese Illegal Cheese Bread and Grace-Roni pizza rolls. The shakes are an added treat, with classic flavors like vanilla or chocolate, and more decadent combinations like Gia’s Cake Explosion, a combination of ice cream, milk, sprinkles, and freshly baked cake with sprinkles, whipped cream, and a buttercream rim. (9415 Broadway Street, #111, Pearland, 77584)
Gr8 Plate Hospitality, the restaurant group behind Union Kitchen and Jax Grill, opened this Memorial-area new bottle shop and wine bar on January 9. Restaurateurs and sommeliers Paul and Doris Miller and their team, which includes master sommelier Guy Stout, have hand-selected more than 200 bottles from across the world and a complimenting menu by chef James Lundy that features charcuterie boards, pizzas, sandwiches, and salads. Open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, the bar can comfortably seat nearly 80 people, but imbibers can also enjoy the private Oil Man’s lounge, a wine room that’s a nod to the surrounding Energy Corridor, and eventually the 720-square-foot patio, which seats up to 60 people and is slated to open in the spring. Those who seek to dive even deeper into wine can revel in Vine’s wine club, its educational classes, or its tasting event, starting with a ticketed wine dinner hosted on January 25. 7951 Katy Freeway, Unit B, 77024.
Chefs Jacques Varon and Max Lappe create a menu at this new Basque restaurant that celebrates the beauty of live-fire cooking and sustainability, with most of its ingredients sourced from Texas, while others are sourced from Europe. The menu focuses in on smaller dishes with exciting flavor combinations. Pinxtos make the perfect starters, with flavorful boquerones and patatas bravas; bread and caviar service, and a host of raw items, like its bluefin tuna with crispy rice. A sweet ending here includes its pandan tres leches and its choco-flan. 633 West 19th Street, 77008.
Spot this new GOOF hangout by its signature bright yellow paint job and its inviting patio, which is perfect for enjoying its daily drink specials, house cocktails for $13, and weekly Steak Nights and kitchen takeovers with a rotation of vendors. The Canary also features a backyard pool, to be enjoyed when the warm weather returns. 963 Judiway Street, 77018.
Agricole Hospitality, the restaurant group behind Coltivare, EZ’s Liquor Lounge, and Eight Row Flint, officially opened its newest restaurant, HiWay Cantina Tex-Mex Bar & Grill, on December 23, 2023. The Tex-Mex restaurant offers cuisine staples, including starters like chile con queso and guacamole, plus entrees like chimichangas, enchiladas, quesadillas, and fajitas, many of which come with complimentary rice and beans. The bar also aims to showcase Texas and Mexico traditions, with plenty of cocktails that incorporate Mexican spirits like mezcal, sotol, rum, and tequila. Highlights include its watermelon mezcal margarita, an assortment of Blood Marys, micheladas, and Ranchwaters, plus agua frescas for those steering clear of alcohol. 1201 Saint Emanuel Street, 77003.
A product of Dallas-based hospitality group Lombardi Family Concepts, the second outpost of this new ritzy Italian restaurant opened in Houston’s Uptown, with cheesy pizzas, handmade pasta, including a stellar Mezzelune Agli Scampi made with delicate half-moon-shaped ravioli, and plenty of dishes to share, including its burrata and 24-month-aged prosciutto di parma, which is shaved tableside. 1101 Uptown Park Boulevard, Suite 18, 77056.
This Spring Mexican restaurant, which reopened in early November, recently scored a James Beard Award semifinalist nomination. Chef Thomas Bille, who is in the running for Best Chef: Texas, creates a menu with items like pozole dumplings, delightful ceviches, empanadas de papa y queso served with creme fraiche and Kaluga caviar, crispy pork belly tacos, and carne asada. The restaurant also ventures off the traditional Mexican menu with pasta dishes, fusion creations like saag paneer — a combination of seared cheese and a spinach mole verde, and fun weekly features that ensure each dining experience stays fresh. (5200 Farm to Market 2920 #180, Spring, 77388)
Tilman Fertitta’s see-and-be-seen Italian restaurant has been generating buzz after relocating from its original River Oaks Shopping Center to its new hot spot in the Harlow District in November. The restaurant is still serving up its robust menu of favorites, including its various pasta dishes, pizzas, and more, but even with more pizzaz thanks to its buildout with an outdoor patio that embodies romance. (2817 West Dallas Street, 77019)