6 things to know about food: Restaurant openings and people on the go

Editor’s note: Houston’s restaurant scene is moving pretty quickly. In order to ensure that CultureMap readers don’t miss anything, let’s stop and look around for all the latest news to know.


Japanese restaurant in Osaka moved from a strip center at 515 Westheimer Rd. to the former Dolce Vita space at 500 Westheimer Rd. Known for its friendly service and meals that include dessert, the restaurant has been a Montrose staple for 20 years.

The second location in the Houston area Ike’s love and sandwiches opened at Rice Village (2518A Rice Blvd). As The Heights’ first location to open in 2019, it’s owned by franchisee Mark Appel, a Houston native and former Major League Baseball draft prospect.

Founded in San Francisco in 2007, Ike’s is known for its creative combinations and signature Dutch Crunch bread. A date has yet to be announced for a grand opening which will include free sandwiches, giveaways and a meeting with Appel and Ike founder Ike Shehadeh.

“It’s been a blast as a co-owner in Houston since opening our first Ike location in the Heights two years ago,” Appel said in a statement. “Since I first tried Ike’s in college, Ike’s has been the best sandwich I’ve ever had. I knew Ike’s would be a hit in my hometown here in Houston.

Torchy Tacos opened its 21st Houston-area location in downtown Brazos in Rosenberg (24401 Southwest Freeway, Suite 100). The restaurant will serve its familiar menu of creative fusion-style tacos, queso and more.

“After we opened in Richmond last summer, it has been a priority to continue to grow across Texas outside of our hometown of Austin,” Torchy Founder and CEO Mike Rypka said in a statement. “Our new location in Rosenberg will allow us to reach even more taco lovers in the area and further strengthen our presence in the Houston area.”

people in motion

Uchi Houston appointed Stephen Conklin as its new head chef. Former La Table executive chef, Conklin succeeds Shaun King, who will lead the Houston location of sister concept Uchiko in the Galleria area. Both restaurants are operated by Hai Hospitality, which will also open a Houston location of its Loro Asian smokehouse concept in the coming weeks.

“We have such stellar culinary talent in place at Uchi and Uchiko in Houston,” said Hai Founder and Executive Chef Tyson Cole. “I’m really looking forward to seeing what Conklin and King bring to each location.”

Downtown Steakhouse Guard and Grace appointed Elliot Wood as its new chief executive. A veteran of Pappas Bros. Steakhouse, Wood comes to Guard and Grace from Rice Village’s Sixty Vines restaurant.

Kitchen & Bar Back Table, the casual restaurant at Woodlands Resort, has hired executive chef Jonathan Lestingi. He brings a full resume to his role, including at three-star Michelin restaurant The Inn at Little Washington and restaurants in New Orleans including Brennan’s and Willa Jean.

The chef has expanded the restaurant’s comfort food menu with dishes such as truffle and crab deviled eggs, steak fries, blackened rockfish and Bordeaux-braised short ribs with black-eyed peas, pecan gremolata and fresh horseradish.

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