OK, we’re all tired of talk about how hot this summer has been. But there’s a neighborhood that’s even hotter than the temps. It’s the Heights, where more than a dozen restaurants and clubs have opened since the heat wave began in June.
Mike Knapp, chief operating officer of Beck’s Prime, says it is the right time for a Heights location. Even with this sizzling summer, the chain that is known as much for its collection of pretty patios as its mesquite-grilled burgers has been doing very well.
“We think the Heights (store) is going to be a great addition,” Knapp said, pointing out that it gives Beck’s an even dozen restaurants in Houston. The chain currently is looking to find a spot for its first non-Houston store in Dallas.
“I just hope there’s room for everybody,” Knapp says, noting it’s a small restaurant. (Though certainly not as small as the original Beck’s Prime, which opened on Kirby 26 years ago.) To maximize the dining room, prep work takes place upstairs and grilling downstairs.
Here are recently opened or soon-to-open restaurants and bars that should be on your radar. (And before you get your panties in a knot, this roundup includes spots that are not in the Heights proper. Call it Super Heights, which includes the Washington corridor and its fringes, where owners are self-identifying as a “Heights-area” business.)
Co-owner Lea McKinney is almost giddy just days before the opening.
“(The Heights) is the perfect community for doing something like this,” McKinney says of El Gran Malo, which translates to the Big Bad.
McKinney and partners Dimitre Dimitrov, and Steve and Shaun Sharma have been developing and tasting cocktails made with tequilas infused with Texas pecans, black pepper and cayenne, as well as a variety of fruits and herbs. The cocktails will be “different,” just like the Heights, McKinney says.
Hubcap Grill, 1133 19th, 713-862-0555
All those folks who hate venturing downtown — and you know who you are — now have the opportunity to try what critic Alison Cook considers a three-star burger. Even with Houston’s record heat, the beer garden has been a hit with customers who feast on Ricky Craig’s over-the-top Philly Cheesesteak Burgers and feta-topped Greek Burgers. Take it from us, you’re gonna need a bigger napkin. Open at 11 a.m. Monday-Saturday. Debit cards and cash only. (Opened July 25) hubcapgrill.com
Revival Market, 550 Heights, 713-880-8463
Seating is limited at this market that stocks locally grown produce, artisan breads and house-cured meats. That doesn’t deter folks from lining up at the deli for corned beef sandwiches with homemade kraut and sausage banh mi on Slow Dough bread. Open daily. revivalmarket.com
The Corkscrew, 1308 W. 20th, 713-230-8352
Fans of the original on Washington are finally making their way back to this less-chic but just as friendly incarnation of the wine bar. Consider a visit on Tuesdays for Steak Night. And for those who care, there are cocktails available. Open at 4 p.m. daily. (Opened June 30) houstoncorkscrew.com
Hughes Hangar, 2811 Washington; 281-501-2028
This sprawling bar kicked off the Heights growth spurt when it opened Memorial Day weekend. Its name is a tribute to one of nearby Glenwood Cemetery’s most famous — ahem — residents, Hughes Hangar includes an elegant indoor bar with a speakeasy theme and a huge lounge under the stars. Open Wednesdays-Saturdays. Happy hour (4-7 p.m. Wednesdays-Fridays) features $5 appetizers. hugheshangar.com
Christian’s Tailgate, 2820 White Oak, 713-863-1207
There’s much to love about the third location in this local burger-and-beer chain: the covered outdoor bar, the comfortable indoor dining room, it’s dog friendly, and there’s more to the wine list than “house.” It’s going to be one of our go-to spots for watching the Texans. (Opened June 17) christianstailgate.com
BB’s Cafe, 2701 White Oak, 713-868-8000
The oyster bar and a large covered patio make this our favorite outpost for Brooks Bassler’s Cajun/Tex-Mex fare. It sits on a lively corner of the Heights across from Fitzgerald’s. Plans are under way to add brunch to the Sunday lineup. Open at 11 a.m. daily. (Opened June 26) bbscafe.com
Coppa, 5555 Washington, 713-426-4260
When chef Chris Shepherd left popular Catalan to open his own restaurant, Ibiza/Brasserie 19 owners Charles Clark and Grant Cooper decided to reinvent the space. Gone are the white table clothes, the formal lighting and the Spanish theme. Hello, Italian fare, chef Brandi Key and a handsome (and large) bar. Key’s menu puts the kitchen’s new brick oven to good use with a selection of intriguing pizzas such as potato with leeks and salsa verde, lamb sausage with feta and mint, and summer squash with ricotta and green-onion pesto. Open at 11 a.m. weekdays and 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. copparistorante.com
Grove Park Lounge, 140 S. Heights, 832-582-0611
From the folks who run Chatter’s Cafe & Bistro comes this comfortable lounge with a lovely patio bar. The emphasis is on classic cocktails and tapas.
Menchie’s, 512 W. 19th, 713-861-9600
This California-based frozen yogurt franchise celebrated its grand opening earlier this month. Customers are invited to build their own desserts, which are priced by the ounce. It is the third Houston-area store for Andrew Martin and Andy Brantner. Open 11 a.m.-midnight daily. menchies.com
H Town Bar & Grill, 5111 Washington, 713-868-1005
Don’t let the industrial touches worry you. This bar is warm in spirit and a hot time when it comes to happy hour with its $5 Reubens and shrimp kabobs. Open at 5 p.m. Tuesdays-Sundays. (Opened June 10.) htowngrill.com
Bambolino’s, 1504 Airline, 713-802-2221
The Laurenzo family opened this casual pizzeria in late July in a spot occupied by the short-lived Chipas del Tiempo. It opens at 4 p.m. daily and offers delivery. bambolinos.net
Ruggles, 11th Street Cafe 748 E. 11th, 713-862-0089
This longtime cafe has gotten a makeover and a more lively, more appealing menu (pizzas, goat cheese-topped salad and white chocolate bread pudding) thanks to Ruggles’ Bruce Molzan. (Opened June 18)
The Blue Fish, 5820 Washington, 713-862-3474
We’re addicted to the Shrimp Popcorn Tempura, just one of the plates available for $5 on the happy hour menu. (It’s also on the regular menu.) This is the second Houston location for this upscale Dallas-based sushi chain. (The other Houston location is downtown in Bayou Place.) The music is as vibrant as the décor. Open for lunch weekdays and for dinner at 5 p.m. daily. (Opened Aug. 7.) thebluefishsushi.com
SHH, IT’S OPEN
Beck’s Prime, 115 19th
Houston’s hometown hamburger chain has quietly opened its 12th Houston-area location in a vintage-looking building that previously housed a bank. We suggest you admire the deck, which is built with ipe wood, one of the world’s most durable hardwoods. We guess they plan a long run in the Heights. becksprime.com
El Gran Malo 2307 Ella, 832-767-3405
The folks behind Dirt Bar have bigger, badder plans for the Heights. The focal point of this tequila bar is a huge Latin-inspired mural by Kevin Hernandez. Behind the bar, more than 50 tequilas, a dozen house-infused tequilas and more than 25 craft beers. The infusions will change seasonally, but expect concoctions such as cucumber-mint margaritas. Former Voice chef Greg Lowry has created the menu, which includes empanadas filled with crab, cotija cheese and poblano and specialty tacos served by the bucket. (Yes, I said bucket.) elgranmalo.com
Convivio 700 S. Durham, 832-250-6980
Decco Cafe owner Oscar Aguilar’s new tapas restaurant and lounge is scheduled to open Sept. 2. Expect late-night hours, paella-fueled weekend brunches and sexy sleek décor. The last thanks to designer Jay Clues, who did the stunning dining room at 51Fifteen. conviviohouston.com
D’Amico’s Italian Market Cafe 2802 White Oak
When this family-owned-and-operated cafe opens (approximately the second week of September), it will boast a menu similar to its sister operation in Rice Village. The popular steam-table lunch will be available weekdays, as will a large menu of pizzas, pastas and sandwiches. We love that its beer and wine list will include two tap wines from Heights-based Vintner’s Own. damico-cafe.com
Sammy’s Wild Game Grill 3715 Washington, 713-868-1345
The name tells you exactly what to expect at this little spot expected to open in mid-September. Hotdogs, sliders and hamburgers will feature farm-raised antelope, elk, buffalo and ostrich, among other things. Sausages will include rabbit and duck and come with kicked-up condiments such as habanero ketchup and cilantro aioli. Expect a full bar, patio seating and service into the wee hours on the weekends. sammyswildgamegrill.com