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A dessert built to look like a bonsai tree, served over dry ice.
Money Cat’s Autumn Bonsai is a feast for the eyes.
Sabrina Miskelly

The 14 Hottest New Restaurants in Houston, January 2023

Find all-day dining, dim sum, hand rolls, sushi, and much more at these exciting newcomers

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Money Cat’s Autumn Bonsai is a feast for the eyes.
| Sabrina Miskelly

To some, Houston is considered a culinary capital, offering an onslaught of cuisines and restaurants that keep local diners and visitors alike hungry for more. And with a nonstop list of new openings, the question remains each month: Where to dine now?

Fortunately, Eater Houston has you covered — publishing some of the hottest and buzziest new restaurants each month.

While Lyric Market, Wild, Dinette, Mala, and Gatlin’s Fins and Feathers are still worthy picks, this list has been refreshed to include newer restaurants, like Luloo’s Day & Night, Money Cat, Sushi by Hidden and secondary locations of Gypsy Poet and Handies Douzo.

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LuLoo's

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This new all-day restaurant in the Stomping Yards development in Garden Oaks is a joint effort between the team behind Blood Brothers BBQ and lauded Houston pastry chef Alyssa Dole. Peruse the pastry case for fresh baked goods, or settle in for a proper meal during breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Dole’s standout pastry skills are showcased in dishes like gooey cinnamon rolls, a smoked turkey club sandwich on house-made bread, savory cheese puffs, and bread pudding.

Tim Ho Wan

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This international dim sum sensation landed in Katy in November, bringing some of the most delicious traditional and innovative morsels meant for sharing. Start with the classics, like the har gaw, shu mai, and baked bao buns, and consider the comforting congee and the spicy wontons offer a perfect way to warm things up. End with the creamy custard balls. You won’t be disappointed.

Four pieces of Tim Ho Wan’s shu mai, topped with dried goji berries, served in a tin basket.
Tim Ho Wan is now open in Katy’s Asiatown.
Brittany Britto Garley

The Gypsy Poet

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Gypsy Poet has brought its one-of-a-kind concept to a new neighborhood. A second outpost of the wildly popular Midtown pizzeria, known for its mouthwatering 13-inch artisan pies and electric atmosphere which includes live jam sessions on Wednesday evenings, is now open in the former Fegen’s space on Studewood.

Mala Sichuan Bistro

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Devout fans of Mala can expect the same fiery signature dishes, like dan dan noodles, red oil dumplings, mapo tofu, and the spicy and crispy chicken, but with a whole new vibe. The new Heights location is meant to make you feel like you’re in Sichuan and succeeds with its floating lanterns and a pagoda roof that hangs over the dining room. Get out of your comfort zone with new dishes like the three-cup chicken or the squirrel tail fish with pineapple, and look out for its growing list of in-house cocktails, some of which pay tribute to the Chinese zodiac.

A view of Mala Sichuan’s dining room, with glimpses of the bar area and dining room, with fabric lanterns and a full-size Pagoda hanging from the ceiling.
Mala has a stunning new locale within M-K-T Heights.
Bill Kramptiz for TK Images

Here, a steakhouse merges with Korean barbecue for an unforgettable experience, filled with quality meats grilled tableside, Sample different items from the a la carte menu, like the rice mussels served with pillowy milk bread or the rib-eye hot pot, or bring a friend to enjoy the “karnivore platter,” with five cuts of meat — chef’s choice — with side dishes like scallion salad, egg souffle, kimchi and pickles, and stew.

Burger Bodega

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HoustonEatz Instagram blogger and restauranteur Abbas Dhanani pays homage to New York convenience stores through this smash burger passion project, dishing out what might be the best chopped cheese in the city. Here, you’ll also find juicy burgers, either in smashed or classic fashion, loaded with Dhanani’s special Bodega sauce, and french fries, served plain yet crispy, or with the option of being cheesily “chopped” or “screwed” with toppings like bell peppers, onions, and sauce. The Craft Creamery milkshakes, which come in standard flavors, but also Vietnamese coffee and mango lassi, are also a must. Be sure to check out the collection of Houston-born products, like Pudgy’s cookies, that are available for purchase in its makeshift market.

Abbas Dhanani holds up two smash burgers at Burger Bodega.
Burger Bodega has capitalized on the wildly popular smash burger craze.
Michael Ma

Gatsby's Prime Seafood

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In the mood for a swanky seafood experience? Head to Gatsby’s newest location, which boasts a menu filled with the best dishes of the sea, including a rich lobster bisque, buttery red fish on the half shell, delicate sea bass, meaty crab cakes, and lobster mac and cheese made with five cheeses. Meat eaters will delight in signature steaks, including an impeccable New York strip that keeps true to its sister restaurant Gatsby’s Prime Steakhouse’s cooking methods, and interior designer buffs will feel right at home on the plush couches, sparkling chandeliers, and deep blue and gold accents that make you feel like you’re in a movie.

Zanti Cucina Italiana - River Oaks

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With its second location in River Oaks, Zanti Cucina prides itself on offering true Italian fare in a swanky setting, complete with a charming patio. Start with the cacio e pepe salad topped with a cheese and pepper dressing with a balsamic drizzle, or the black truffle beef tartare. Shamelessly dig into a Neapolitan pizza or opt for a plate of pasta, like the pappardelle made with shredded braised veal ossobuco, or the black truffle taglioni, prepared tableside. Peruse the cocktail list, which includes the Bella Vita — a combination of raspberry vodka, limoncello, lemon juice, and Prosecco that works as a dinner complement or dessert.

TEN Sushi + Cocktail Bar - Houston

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Decorated with vibrant pinks and murals of cherry blossoms, TEN Sushi’s Houston location delivers a compelling and sexy ambiance with delicious sushi and creative cocktails to boot. Settle in with favorites like the shaken beef; the spicy tuna crispy rice starter; the Forbidden roll, made with black rice seared ahi, albacore, crab, spicy tuna, avocado, sweet soy, and jalapeño sauce; and a cocktail like the Lychee Like That. But don’t be afraid to venture off the beaten path. It’s hard to go wrong here.

Money Cat

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The team behind Tobiuo Sushi at LaCenterra in Cinco Ranch has brought its star power inside the loop with Money Cat, now open at Levy Park. Led by chef-owner Sherman Yeung and 22-year-old chef de cuisine, Jiolo “Jio” Dingayan, the menu showcases a mix of cooked and cold dishes and is coined as “new Japanese” cuisine. Expect sushi and sashimi alongside whimsical preparations of cured tuna, heirloom tomatoes, and Japanese shaved ice.

A dish of heirloom tomatoes made to look like they are growing out of potted soil.
Money Cat’s tomato garden is a feast for the eyes and palate.
Sabrina Miskelly

Handies Douzo - Montrose

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Patrick Pham and Daniel Lee have greatly contributed to Houston’s sushi scene in the last few years, beginning with the opening of Kokoro in Bravery Chef Hall in downtown, followed by Handies Douzo, in the Heights. The duo have expanded their footprint further with a second outpost of the popular hand roll bar, now open in Montrose.

Sushi by Hidden

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The owners of Hidden Omakase have opened yet another speakeasy-style sushi restaurant. Sushi by Hidden is located discreetly in Rice Village and boasts an intimate space with 10 seats, which guests may reserve for $60 omakase experiences, and an art gallery featuring a revolving lineup of artists. Like Hidden Omakase, Sushi by Hidden is BYOB.

Navy Blue

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Sister to James Beard Award-nominated chef Aaron Bludorn’s restaurant Bludorn, this Rice Village newcomer offers up some of the most delectable seafood dishes in the city with impeccable service from start to finish. Begin with the baked goodness that is clams casino, the BBQ shrimp, and the creamy, chowder-like mussel bisque that comes topped with flaky pastry. Then, prepare for main courses, like Navy’s moist King Salmon, or swordfish au poivre, which comes with a halved hunk of roasted garlic. You also can’t go wrong with pastry chef Marie Riddle’s desserts. The carrot cake, the chocolate coulant, and the Apples & Eggs — a green apple sorbet with creme fraiche and a bump of caviar — are all fantastic.

Navy Blue’s spaghetti vongole dish, with clams served over spaghetti with a garnish of seaweed.
Navy Blue’s spaghetti vongole.
Caroline Fontenot

Aya Sushi

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Tokyo-trained chef Yoshi Katsuyama offers his special touch at this Bellaire sushi spot, which is quickly becoming known for its beautifully plated assortments of nigiri, sashimi, and maki. Head straight for the sushi bar for Aya’s 19-course omakase experience, priced at $135 per person, or ball out with the $225 premium 23-course option

LuLoo's

This new all-day restaurant in the Stomping Yards development in Garden Oaks is a joint effort between the team behind Blood Brothers BBQ and lauded Houston pastry chef Alyssa Dole. Peruse the pastry case for fresh baked goods, or settle in for a proper meal during breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Dole’s standout pastry skills are showcased in dishes like gooey cinnamon rolls, a smoked turkey club sandwich on house-made bread, savory cheese puffs, and bread pudding.

Tim Ho Wan

This international dim sum sensation landed in Katy in November, bringing some of the most delicious traditional and innovative morsels meant for sharing. Start with the classics, like the har gaw, shu mai, and baked bao buns, and consider the comforting congee and the spicy wontons offer a perfect way to warm things up. End with the creamy custard balls. You won’t be disappointed.

Four pieces of Tim Ho Wan’s shu mai, topped with dried goji berries, served in a tin basket.
Tim Ho Wan is now open in Katy’s Asiatown.
Brittany Britto Garley

The Gypsy Poet

Gypsy Poet has brought its one-of-a-kind concept to a new neighborhood. A second outpost of the wildly popular Midtown pizzeria, known for its mouthwatering 13-inch artisan pies and electric atmosphere which includes live jam sessions on Wednesday evenings, is now open in the former Fegen’s space on Studewood.

Mala Sichuan Bistro

Devout fans of Mala can expect the same fiery signature dishes, like dan dan noodles, red oil dumplings, mapo tofu, and the spicy and crispy chicken, but with a whole new vibe. The new Heights location is meant to make you feel like you’re in Sichuan and succeeds with its floating lanterns and a pagoda roof that hangs over the dining room. Get out of your comfort zone with new dishes like the three-cup chicken or the squirrel tail fish with pineapple, and look out for its growing list of in-house cocktails, some of which pay tribute to the Chinese zodiac.

A view of Mala Sichuan’s dining room, with glimpses of the bar area and dining room, with fabric lanterns and a full-size Pagoda hanging from the ceiling.
Mala has a stunning new locale within M-K-T Heights.
Bill Kramptiz for TK Images

Karne

Here, a steakhouse merges with Korean barbecue for an unforgettable experience, filled with quality meats grilled tableside, Sample different items from the a la carte menu, like the rice mussels served with pillowy milk bread or the rib-eye hot pot, or bring a friend to enjoy the “karnivore platter,” with five cuts of meat — chef’s choice — with side dishes like scallion salad, egg souffle, kimchi and pickles, and stew.

Burger Bodega

HoustonEatz Instagram blogger and restauranteur Abbas Dhanani pays homage to New York convenience stores through this smash burger passion project, dishing out what might be the best chopped cheese in the city. Here, you’ll also find juicy burgers, either in smashed or classic fashion, loaded with Dhanani’s special Bodega sauce, and french fries, served plain yet crispy, or with the option of being cheesily “chopped” or “screwed” with toppings like bell peppers, onions, and sauce. The Craft Creamery milkshakes, which come in standard flavors, but also Vietnamese coffee and mango lassi, are also a must. Be sure to check out the collection of Houston-born products, like Pudgy’s cookies, that are available for purchase in its makeshift market.

Abbas Dhanani holds up two smash burgers at Burger Bodega.
Burger Bodega has capitalized on the wildly popular smash burger craze.
Michael Ma

Gatsby's Prime Seafood

In the mood for a swanky seafood experience? Head to Gatsby’s newest location, which boasts a menu filled with the best dishes of the sea, including a rich lobster bisque, buttery red fish on the half shell, delicate sea bass, meaty crab cakes, and lobster mac and cheese made with five cheeses. Meat eaters will delight in signature steaks, including an impeccable New York strip that keeps true to its sister restaurant Gatsby’s Prime Steakhouse’s cooking methods, and interior designer buffs will feel right at home on the plush couches, sparkling chandeliers, and deep blue and gold accents that make you feel like you’re in a movie.

Zanti Cucina Italiana - River Oaks

With its second location in River Oaks, Zanti Cucina prides itself on offering true Italian fare in a swanky setting, complete with a charming patio. Start with the cacio e pepe salad topped with a cheese and pepper dressing with a balsamic drizzle, or the black truffle beef tartare. Shamelessly dig into a Neapolitan pizza or opt for a plate of pasta, like the pappardelle made with shredded braised veal ossobuco, or the black truffle taglioni, prepared tableside. Peruse the cocktail list, which includes the Bella Vita — a combination of raspberry vodka, limoncello, lemon juice, and Prosecco that works as a dinner complement or dessert.

TEN Sushi + Cocktail Bar - Houston

Decorated with vibrant pinks and murals of cherry blossoms, TEN Sushi’s Houston location delivers a compelling and sexy ambiance with delicious sushi and creative cocktails to boot. Settle in with favorites like the shaken beef; the spicy tuna crispy rice starter; the Forbidden roll, made with black rice seared ahi, albacore, crab, spicy tuna, avocado, sweet soy, and jalapeño sauce; and a cocktail like the Lychee Like That. But don’t be afraid to venture off the beaten path. It’s hard to go wrong here.

Money Cat

The team behind Tobiuo Sushi at LaCenterra in Cinco Ranch has brought its star power inside the loop with Money Cat, now open at Levy Park. Led by chef-owner Sherman Yeung and 22-year-old chef de cuisine, Jiolo “Jio” Dingayan, the menu showcases a mix of cooked and cold dishes and is coined as “new Japanese” cuisine. Expect sushi and sashimi alongside whimsical preparations of cured tuna, heirloom tomatoes, and Japanese shaved ice.

A dish of heirloom tomatoes made to look like they are growing out of potted soil.
Money Cat’s tomato garden is a feast for the eyes and palate.
Sabrina Miskelly

Handies Douzo - Montrose

Patrick Pham and Daniel Lee have greatly contributed to Houston’s sushi scene in the last few years, beginning with the opening of Kokoro in Bravery Chef Hall in downtown, followed by Handies Douzo, in the Heights. The duo have expanded their footprint further with a second outpost of the popular hand roll bar, now open in Montrose.

Sushi by Hidden

The owners of Hidden Omakase have opened yet another speakeasy-style sushi restaurant. Sushi by Hidden is located discreetly in Rice Village and boasts an intimate space with 10 seats, which guests may reserve for $60 omakase experiences, and an art gallery featuring a revolving lineup of artists. Like Hidden Omakase, Sushi by Hidden is BYOB.

Navy Blue

Sister to James Beard Award-nominated chef Aaron Bludorn’s restaurant Bludorn, this Rice Village newcomer offers up some of the most delectable seafood dishes in the city with impeccable service from start to finish. Begin with the baked goodness that is clams casino, the BBQ shrimp, and the creamy, chowder-like mussel bisque that comes topped with flaky pastry. Then, prepare for main courses, like Navy’s moist King Salmon, or swordfish au poivre, which comes with a halved hunk of roasted garlic. You also can’t go wrong with pastry chef Marie Riddle’s desserts. The carrot cake, the chocolate coulant, and the Apples & Eggs — a green apple sorbet with creme fraiche and a bump of caviar — are all fantastic.

Navy Blue’s spaghetti vongole dish, with clams served over spaghetti with a garnish of seaweed.
Navy Blue’s spaghetti vongole.
Caroline Fontenot

Aya Sushi

Tokyo-trained chef Yoshi Katsuyama offers his special touch at this Bellaire sushi spot, which is quickly becoming known for its beautifully plated assortments of nigiri, sashimi, and maki. Head straight for the sushi bar for Aya’s 19-course omakase experience, priced at $135 per person, or ball out with the $225 premium 23-course option

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