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The 13 Hottest Restaurants in Houston, October 2014

Where to eat in Houston right now.

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More often than not, tipsters, readers, friends, and family of Eater have one big question: Where should I eat right now? Restaurant obsessives want to know what's new, what's hot, which favorite chef just launched a sophomore effort, what the big players are up to these days. And while the Eater 38 is a crucial resource covering old standbys and neighborhood essentials across the city, it is not a chronicle of the "it" places of the moment. Thus, we offer the Eater Heatmap, which will change continually to always highlight where crowds are flocking at the moment. Did we leave something off? Leave a comment below or visit the tipline.
—Jodie Eisenhardt contributed to this map.

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Bistro Menil

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Chef Greg Martin has opened Bistro Menil on the campus of The Menil. Martin, known for his work at Café Annie, has launched with a varied menu including sharable appetizers, pizzas made in a wood-burning oven, and interesting salads as well as entrees like roasted salmon, porchetta pork loin, and duck confit. Most entrees are in the $20 range. Beverage director Sean Essex manages the beverage program, which includes cask wine and craft beer along with wine on tap among other offerings. The dining room has a view of the museum and lush grounds while free parking is an added plus. [Photo]

Red Ox Bar & Grill

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Former Bocado’s owners Terry Flores and Lily Hernandez have opened a cozy spot in the Northside Village area, close to the Metro line. Utilizing a number of recycled materials, the funky space is bike and dog-friendly, featuring some of the Tex-Mex favorites they were known for at Bocado’s along with sandwiches and a number of vegetarian options. [Photo]

BCN Taste & Tradition

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Calling itself “a nod to the city of Barcelona,” the highly anticipated opening of BCN (the three-letter abbreviation for namesake city) has Houston dining enthusiasts scrambling to try elBulli-trained chef Luis Roger’s take on Spanish cuisine within the beautifully renovated Montrose bungalow. Many of the ingredients and even some equipment have been sourced directly from Spain, including the Iberico ham. Wild-caught whole branzino is a classic feature combined with contemporary takes on traditional Spanish dishes. [Photo]

Paul's Kitchen

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In the renovated space formerly known as Haven, Union Kitchen owner Paul Miller hired former Osteria Mazzantini chef Paul Lewis, his sous chef Matt Lovelace, and pastry chef Kelsey Hawkins along with chef de cuisine Daniel Iacoviello to open Paul’s Kitchen. Small plates with global flavors dominate the menu, noting the local farmers and vendors supplying the restaurant. An enlarged bar area showcases the wine and cocktail program. Best bets include the pork “scratchins” – crispy heritage pork skin, fennel seed, and espelette pepper with hot sauce aioli ($5) and lamb “tangia” with saffron, preserved lemons, red potatoes, ceci beans, and herb salad (26). [Photo]

The Bird House

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H-Town StrEATS boys Jason Hill and Matt Opaleski haven taken hold of The Boil House’s uber-casual open garage/picnic table space during crawfish’s off-season to serve up the latest option in Houston’s ongoing love affair with all things fried chicken. The locally-sourced birds from Holmes Foods are seasoned and fried to crispy/juicy goodness while the “badass” sides (creole cole slaw, braised collards, and kimchi-creamed corn to name a few) serve as co-stars alongside buttery biscuits and daily specials, like lobster roll sliders. [Photo]

Museum Park Cafe

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Balcor Hospitality and chef Justin Bayse’s fresh, open-concept eatery in the brand new Park Binz project as Bosta Coffee & Wine has diners abuzz over the former James Beard semi-finalist’s contemporary American cuisine, well-executed by his team which includes executive sous chef Jason White (formerly of Oxheart) and award-winning pastry chef Chris Lueng. The contemporary, open space includes a bar and patio. Casual-chic and filled with art, it’s a great setting for the reasonably priced cuisine (pastas in the teens, most entrees in the $20’s). Don’t miss the stellar cheddar-scallion biscuits, housemade pasta dishes, and Lueng’s gorgeous/delicious desserts. [Photo]

Moving Sidewalk

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The former Goro & Gunn space has been re-designed with a sexy vibe for the latest downtown hot spot to imbibe by partners Ryan Rouse, Brad Moore, and cocktail guru Alex Gregg. There’s no food on this menu, just cleverly-named original cocktails and a smart wine and beer program. [Photo]

Pax Americana

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Local restaurateur Shepard Ross, chefs Adam Dorris and Plinio Sandalio, and partners Dan and Mark Zimmerman, have just opened their new restaurant on Montrose, at the old Thai Sticks spot. There's a menu of vegetable, meat, and seafood dishes, as well as four dessert options and a small list of shareable plates accompanied by Common Bond breads. Even with menu items that include house-cured meats, cultured butter, and house-prepared cheeses, the dishes only range in price from $10 to $20; some future "feature" plates are expected to come in at $20 to $40.

Holley's Seafood Restaurant & Oyster Bar

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A seafood restaurant from revered chef/owner Mark Holley, formerly of Pesce in Upper Kirby. The building was once home to red rope-lined Sushi Raku, but has transformed into a streamlined, contemporary space consisting of a dining area, oyster bar, and a special chef's table by the kitchen. Holley teamed up with chef Brandon Silva, with whom he worked at Pesce, for this Southern-influenced, upscale seafood place with can't-miss desserts.

Bosta Wine & Coffee

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With Greenway Coffee's Michelle Dinh behind the coffee program, fellow Balcor establishment Cloud 10 Creamery's Chris Leung providing desserts and renowned chef Justin Basye consulting on the menu, this coffee shop and wine bar is already attracting a lot of attention. It's in Balcor Hospitality's new development, a massive Museum District mixed-use complex that will feature medical offices in the top floors and restaurants and cafes on the ground floor.

Dosi Restaurant & Soju Bar

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Korean-influenced shareable plates and small bites await locals at this newly opened restaurant on Shepherd. Executive chef Jordan Asher—who's enjoyed stints at Pappas Seafood House, the Briar Club, Ibiza and, most recently, Mark's— is leading the kitchen with former Just Dinner chef Daniel Toro at his side. It's now open from 5:30 p.m. to midnight.

Common Bond Cafe & Bakery

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Common Bond was one of the year's most anticipated places, and it's still boasting a winding line of patrons. Apart from the viennoiserie and decadent desserts is a savory menu of sandwiches and breakfast items former elbulli chef Roy Shvartzapel and his talented team.

Lillo & Ella

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The former home of El Gran Malo now houses Roost owner Kevin Naderi's Lillo & Ella. It's a departure from Roost, where Naderi's wide-ranging menu calls on flavor profiles from all over the globe. Instead, Lillo & Ella focuses on pan Asian cuisine with fresh ingredients and flavorful cocktails.

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Bistro Menil

Chef Greg Martin has opened Bistro Menil on the campus of The Menil. Martin, known for his work at Café Annie, has launched with a varied menu including sharable appetizers, pizzas made in a wood-burning oven, and interesting salads as well as entrees like roasted salmon, porchetta pork loin, and duck confit. Most entrees are in the $20 range. Beverage director Sean Essex manages the beverage program, which includes cask wine and craft beer along with wine on tap among other offerings. The dining room has a view of the museum and lush grounds while free parking is an added plus. [Photo]

Red Ox Bar & Grill

Former Bocado’s owners Terry Flores and Lily Hernandez have opened a cozy spot in the Northside Village area, close to the Metro line. Utilizing a number of recycled materials, the funky space is bike and dog-friendly, featuring some of the Tex-Mex favorites they were known for at Bocado’s along with sandwiches and a number of vegetarian options. [Photo]

BCN Taste & Tradition

Calling itself “a nod to the city of Barcelona,” the highly anticipated opening of BCN (the three-letter abbreviation for namesake city) has Houston dining enthusiasts scrambling to try elBulli-trained chef Luis Roger’s take on Spanish cuisine within the beautifully renovated Montrose bungalow. Many of the ingredients and even some equipment have been sourced directly from Spain, including the Iberico ham. Wild-caught whole branzino is a classic feature combined with contemporary takes on traditional Spanish dishes. [Photo]

Paul's Kitchen

In the renovated space formerly known as Haven, Union Kitchen owner Paul Miller hired former Osteria Mazzantini chef Paul Lewis, his sous chef Matt Lovelace, and pastry chef Kelsey Hawkins along with chef de cuisine Daniel Iacoviello to open Paul’s Kitchen. Small plates with global flavors dominate the menu, noting the local farmers and vendors supplying the restaurant. An enlarged bar area showcases the wine and cocktail program. Best bets include the pork “scratchins” – crispy heritage pork skin, fennel seed, and espelette pepper with hot sauce aioli ($5) and lamb “tangia” with saffron, preserved lemons, red potatoes, ceci beans, and herb salad (26). [Photo]

The Bird House

H-Town StrEATS boys Jason Hill and Matt Opaleski haven taken hold of The Boil House’s uber-casual open garage/picnic table space during crawfish’s off-season to serve up the latest option in Houston’s ongoing love affair with all things fried chicken. The locally-sourced birds from Holmes Foods are seasoned and fried to crispy/juicy goodness while the “badass” sides (creole cole slaw, braised collards, and kimchi-creamed corn to name a few) serve as co-stars alongside buttery biscuits and daily specials, like lobster roll sliders. [Photo]

Museum Park Cafe

Balcor Hospitality and chef Justin Bayse’s fresh, open-concept eatery in the brand new Park Binz project as Bosta Coffee & Wine has diners abuzz over the former James Beard semi-finalist’s contemporary American cuisine, well-executed by his team which includes executive sous chef Jason White (formerly of Oxheart) and award-winning pastry chef Chris Lueng. The contemporary, open space includes a bar and patio. Casual-chic and filled with art, it’s a great setting for the reasonably priced cuisine (pastas in the teens, most entrees in the $20’s). Don’t miss the stellar cheddar-scallion biscuits, housemade pasta dishes, and Lueng’s gorgeous/delicious desserts. [Photo]

Moving Sidewalk

The former Goro & Gunn space has been re-designed with a sexy vibe for the latest downtown hot spot to imbibe by partners Ryan Rouse, Brad Moore, and cocktail guru Alex Gregg. There’s no food on this menu, just cleverly-named original cocktails and a smart wine and beer program. [Photo]

Pax Americana

Local restaurateur Shepard Ross, chefs Adam Dorris and Plinio Sandalio, and partners Dan and Mark Zimmerman, have just opened their new restaurant on Montrose, at the old Thai Sticks spot. There's a menu of vegetable, meat, and seafood dishes, as well as four dessert options and a small list of shareable plates accompanied by Common Bond breads. Even with menu items that include house-cured meats, cultured butter, and house-prepared cheeses, the dishes only range in price from $10 to $20; some future "feature" plates are expected to come in at $20 to $40.

Holley's Seafood Restaurant & Oyster Bar

A seafood restaurant from revered chef/owner Mark Holley, formerly of Pesce in Upper Kirby. The building was once home to red rope-lined Sushi Raku, but has transformed into a streamlined, contemporary space consisting of a dining area, oyster bar, and a special chef's table by the kitchen. Holley teamed up with chef Brandon Silva, with whom he worked at Pesce, for this Southern-influenced, upscale seafood place with can't-miss desserts.

Bosta Wine & Coffee

With Greenway Coffee's Michelle Dinh behind the coffee program, fellow Balcor establishment Cloud 10 Creamery's Chris Leung providing desserts and renowned chef Justin Basye consulting on the menu, this coffee shop and wine bar is already attracting a lot of attention. It's in Balcor Hospitality's new development, a massive Museum District mixed-use complex that will feature medical offices in the top floors and restaurants and cafes on the ground floor.

Dosi Restaurant & Soju Bar

Korean-influenced shareable plates and small bites await locals at this newly opened restaurant on Shepherd. Executive chef Jordan Asher—who's enjoyed stints at Pappas Seafood House, the Briar Club, Ibiza and, most recently, Mark's— is leading the kitchen with former Just Dinner chef Daniel Toro at his side. It's now open from 5:30 p.m. to midnight.

Common Bond Cafe & Bakery

Common Bond was one of the year's most anticipated places, and it's still boasting a winding line of patrons. Apart from the viennoiserie and decadent desserts is a savory menu of sandwiches and breakfast items former elbulli chef Roy Shvartzapel and his talented team.

Lillo & Ella

The former home of El Gran Malo now houses Roost owner Kevin Naderi's Lillo & Ella. It's a departure from Roost, where Naderi's wide-ranging menu calls on flavor profiles from all over the globe. Instead, Lillo & Ella focuses on pan Asian cuisine with fresh ingredients and flavorful cocktails.

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