04/25/12 4:47pm

A NEW YORK POST REPORTER’S LOST HOUSTON WEEKEND Exhausted and content, I retired to the patio at El Gran Malo, a cool but divey tequila bar on a superbly awful corner facing a shoot n’ stab gas station, a Mexican restaurant and other assorted random Houstonia; I went here because every chef I encountered during my visit told me that this was the spot. I absolutely had to go, they said. So I went and I drank tequila, because that’s what I saw everyone else doing. A lot of it too, apparently — by the end of the night, I vaguely remember being on the other side of town stalking a food truck selling lobster that may or may not have actually existed. Which was fine — it would be days before I was in a position to eat a proper meal again.” [New York Post] Photo of El Gran Malo: Almost Veggie Houston

07/14/11 6:06pm

The almost here, the already here, and the soon-to-be-departed:

  • Opening Soon: City inspection issues having been conquered, Hubcap Grill‘s new Heights-ish outpost in Shady Acres is now aiming for an opening “mid/late” next week, tweets burger-slinger Ricky Craig. The converted drive-up at 1133 W. 19th St. is just around the corner from Cedar Creek. Plenty more patio seating in back.
  • Already Open: So sorry you missed the christenings, but the nightclub, restaurant-bar, and wading pool carved out of the former Settegast Kopf funeral home at 3320 Kirby, have been open and holding events for a week or 2 already. That place wearing its paneling on the outside is Hendricks Pub and Eatery. Roak is the nightclub; the atrium pool has its own name: Rush. The bars and their neighbors in the David Crockett subdivision immediately to the west will have plenty of time to become acquainted with each other before their court date next May. Some local residents have filed suit against the bars’ owners, claiming the clubs are in violation of local deed restrictions:


07/06/11 2:43pm

The owners of Pub Fiction and Shot Bar in Midtown plan to make over the former Shady Grocery at the corner of Bevis and 23rd St. in Shady Acres into Crisp Wine Bar and Eatery, which will also feature craft beers on tap, an “Italian-influenced” menu (including pizza and deli-style hoagies), a retail wine shop, and a separate entrance for customers who just want to order takeout. Also: a patio next to the kitchen’s new herb-and-vegetable garden that’ll be carved out of the asphalt. Guy-in-charge Al Scavelli tells Swamplot many of the details are still being worked out, but he hopes to open the place at 2220 Bevis up by next January.

07/05/11 6:03pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: THE RESTAURANT RUSH IN SHADY ACRES “Given the success of hugely popular Cedar Creek just down the street…and the new Hubcap Grille opening about a block away on 19th…and Gatlin’s BBQ…and the new spot opening soon on 23rd…I’d say this part of town has a hungry (and thirsty!) population who will ensure that this new Corkscrew location does well. Welcome to the neighborhood – very happy to have you here!” [LaLa, commenting on The Corkscrew Pops Open in Shady Acres]

07/05/11 11:40am

Reopened in a new location over the weekend, after a year or so of mellowing: wine bar and former Washington Ave nightlife pioneer The Corkscrew. That mysterious Heights location turns out to be in Shady Acres, in the former strip-center Washateria at 1308 W. 20th St., where there’s now this patio out front.

Photo: Candace Garcia

11/01/10 2:13pm

Is there an Onion Creek magnet effect? Reader Mary Ellen Arbuckle notes a second location of stylized Midtown Mexican-food joint Tacos A Go-Go will be shimmying into this strip-center spot at 2912 White Oak, just a few doors down from the Onion Creek Coffee House. The location is the former home of the International Ballet of Houston; there’s a TABC application notice up in one of the windows. Also scheduled to move in nearby, closer to the Onion Creek vortex: Christian’s Tailgate.

Meanwhile, half a mile west of the Heights’ western border, owner Ricky Craig has leased the former home of Mi Cocina Victor’s Cafe at 1133 W. 19th St., where he plans to open a second non-mobile location of tiny Downtown burger joint Hubcap Grill:


08/06/10 1:55pm

The third-most-famous retractable roof in Houston opened up for visitors last Friday for the first time in 2 years. Artist James Turrell’s Skyspace — in the Live Oaks Friends Meeting House at 1318 W. 26th St. in Shady Acres — will again be coaxing in the night sky for the public every Friday evening, starting an hour before sunset. What shut out the twilight for so long?

The ceiling’s hatch runs on rails that until recently were mounted on a wooden support that was sheathed in metal. Thanks to Houston’s semitropical climate, water worked its way into the wood and began rotting it out, [property clerk Philip] Koch said.

“We didn’t know this for sure until we actually did the repair work, but it was making some pretty ominous noises and was getting stuck,” Koch said. “We didn’t want it to get stuck in the open position because we’re open to the heavens and the rain comes in.”

Members initially thought the system could be repaired, but further assessment showed it would need to be redesigned and replaced, adding a $50,000 price tag to the $100,000 the Live Oak Friends Meeting had already received from the Houston Endowment based on early estimates.

The new design replaced the metal-sheathed wooden curb with what Koch described as “a piece of pipe, basically, that’s square in cross section and that has special pieces on the side – both to keep the hatch from moving off the rails and also to keep it in place in the event of a hurricane. That had to be custom made, and so did the pieces to attach it to the roof.”

Photos: Flickr user TxTamz (Meeting House); Devin Borden Hiram Butler Gallery (Skyspace)

05/04/10 8:14am

Come June, promise
the owners of SSQQ, the popular social dance studio will reopen just to the west of Restaurant Depot, in the former Kmart beached on the asphalt shores at 20th St. and T.C. Jester near Timbergrove.

Last weekend, SSQQ shut down the Bellaire strip-center site it had occupied for 30 years. Why’d it up and leave? Doctors’ orders, reports the Bellaire Examiner‘s Steve Mark: First Street Hospital, which owns the center on Bissonnet just outside the Loop, is planning an expansion that would slice the center in half, knocking out SSQQ, Sweetwater Pool & Patio, and a Radio Shack. (Not all is lost, though: Charlie’s Hamburgers and that nail salon in the center at 4803 Bissonnet will get to stay.)

Besides easy access to restaurant supplies, what’s in store for students taking a swing at new Bachata and Whip moves at SSQQ’s new location?


11/18/09 5:31pm

Now that a suspect for at least one of the recent Heights-area arsons is in custody, blogger Fred Eats Houston feels a bit more comfortable sharing his photos of some local burn victims.

There have been 18 “suspicious” fires in the Heights area since mid-August. Here are 2 views of a playhouse on Ashland St., part of one of the first structures to burn:


06/12/09 5:24pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: DRUG STORE LOCATOR “The Young & Restless children’s consignment shop moved from the red wooden house to the blue metal warehouse, a year or two ago. A CVS won’t go in there because there is no Walgreen’s across the street. Must have a Walgreen’s in place in order to plant a CVS.” [Miz Brooke Smith, commenting on Daily Demolition Report: Larsten Space]

04/21/09 7:45am

This 1,300
-square-foot, 2-bedroom, 2-bath home planted in a lot-sized subdivision in Shady Acres called “Cottages in the Heights” just shed $5K from its asking price and is resting at $184,000 after a month on the market. But Heights home shopper John Whiteside still isn’t buying it:

These things always seem like the real estate equivalent of conjoined twins with birth defects. “I’m sorry, ma’am, but your children are stuck together, and their garage doors are bizarrely oversized, and their internal organs are jumbled around in unfortunate ways.”


12/07/07 12:54pm

Having perhaps exhausted other methods of communicating his distress at City of Houston Ordinance 19, Article III, Division 3, Sec. 19-43 — which now restricts the abilities of homeowners in floodways to improve their properties — White Oak Bayou-area resident Jay Green has, unfortunately, turned to poetry. And wouldn’t you know it, his poem begins “’Twas the night before . . .” but for some reason changes the holiday from Christmas to New Year’s and the tale from a rooftop landing to a collapse in property values.

Most of the poem would be too painful to reprint here, but let’s just say Mr. Green doesn’t think much of Mayor White, and throws just about every rhyme in the book at him. As a caution to readers against any future forays into the real-estate-poetry genre, only a couple of the uh . . . better stanzas are excerpted below: