What We’re Looking Forward to in Houston in 2023

From restaurants to new penguin friends, we’re in for an exciting year.

Courtesy of Midway | East River
Courtesy of Midway | East River

A World Series Championship. A bar and restaurant resurgence. No devastating ice storm. Tim freaking Hortons. Houston had a pretty good 2022, wouldn’t you say? And in 2023, we plan to continue this upward trajectory. So, what’s next? Well, some of the epic projects that were slated to open last year seem to be finally (for real this time… we think) heading into the end zone, for starters. Then there’s the bevy of new hospitality concepts, bayouside developments, and even some super adorable penguins and Galapagos giant tortoises that will be joining the fun. Here’s everything we’re stoked to welcome to H-Town in 2023.

Courtesy of AvroKO Design | Andiron

So. Many. New. Restaurants.

If 2022 was about restaurants regaining their footing, 2023 is about the local restaurant scene getting a rebirth. There is a Houston-sized floods worth of new restaurants ready to take the city by storm, including but not limited to a highly anticipated modern Southeast Asian concept from a Top Chef: Houston finalist (Jūn by KIN), an elevated pizza and crudo joint from one of the former star chef-partner’s of Pass & Provisions (that’d be Terrence Gallivan’s Elro Pizza + Crudo), the long awaited brick-and-mortar opening of a local rap legend’s smashburger concept (Bun B’s Trill Burgers), and an even more luxe sushi joint from one of Houston’s sushi GOATS (Kata Robata Chef Manabu “Hori” Horiuchi’s upcoming Katami). And that’s just an amuse bouche. We’ve got a London inspired supper club, upscale Thai, a margarita garden, live-fire steakhouse, and more.

Common Table
Courtesy of Midway | East River

Running 6,000 square feet along the Buffalo Bayou, the 150 acre East River urban infill project is set to complete Phase One in 2023 (some of it’s already open, including a restaurant and nine-hole golf course, Tree Farm and Bee Haven, and drive-in movie theater). Still to come, more than a mile of bayou trails and natural areas and dynamic mixed-use spaces featuring future tenants like Lick Honest Ice Creams, Broham Grocers, El Condor Coffee, and a rooftop bar from the owners of The Astorian.

Houston Astros | Houston Astros

More (hopefully winning) hometeams!

The Houston Astros are once again World Series champs, and we’d like to keep it that way. Opening Day is Thursday, March 30, as we host the Chicago White Sox at Minute Maid Park. The Texans had a—let’s say dumpster fire of—time this last season. While we didn’t exactly snag that number one draft pick thanks to a last minute win that was probably unnecessary, we got second dibs in the 2023 draft, and in this year, we’re choosing HOPE. Same goes for the Houston Rockets… It’s a long season, so we’re hoping there’s some time for that to turn around, too.

Memorial Park
Memorial Park Conservancy | Memorial Park Conservancy

A scenic new addition to one of Houston’s best parks

Memorial Park’s already got 1,466 acres of greenspace robust with nature, diverse plant and animal species, manicured gardens and lawns, beautiful waterways, and fun things like hiking and biking trails, tennis and sand volleyball courts, soccer and baseball fields, an 18-hole golf course, and an onsite burger joint, plus a whole bunch more. It’s already one of the coolest urban parks in the city (and probably even the country), and it’s about to get even cooler with the unveiling of its nearly 100-acre Land Bridge and Prairie Project, which links the park’s north and south sides by way of an awesome land bridge spanning Memorial Drive. The grand opening fiesta is set for Saturday, February 11, featuring the open-to-the-public “Biggest Picnic in Texas.”


The boot stompin’ return of rodeo season

In 2023, Rodeo season is back to its full glory as the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo takes over our lives (in a good way) and NRG Park this February and March. This year’s gearing up to be a doozy as things kick off with the World’s Championship Bar-B-Que Contest February 23 - 25, followed by allllll the rodeo action and nightly live concerts from February 28 through March 19. So, just who’s bringing the house down? Superstar musical acts include Zac Brown Band, Jason Aldean, New Kids on the Block, Machine Gun Kelly, Kenny Chesney, Chris Stapleton, and closer Luke Bryan, to name a few.

Uchiko | Photo by Travis Hallmark

It’s been a long two years, and after patiently awaiting the onset of two new concepts from powerhouse restaurant group Hai Hospitality, Uchi enthusiasts can finally start to celebrate in 2022. First, there’s LORO, a Southeast Asian smokehouse and bar that’s reimagined a historic 1940s church in the Heights. The spot comes from two of Texas’ finest—Uchi founder Tyson Cole and the indelible Aaron Franklin of Franklin Barbecue. Chef de cuisine Marcos Leal will be responsible for putting out goods from sticky Char Siu Pork Belly to Coconut Rice Bowls peppered with oak-smoked salmon. Next, there’s Uchi’s little bro, Uchiko, which is primed to bring its grilled oysters and hard-to-score Japanese whiskies over to Post Oak sometime in Q2 (fingers crossed).

Houston First
Houston First

A facelift for Jones Plaza

Originally slated to be finished by 2021, the transformation of Jones Plaza into the Lynn Wyatt Square For The Performing Arts is currently on track to make waves in 2023 (possibly by late April). The makeover comes thanks to a generous $10 million gift from Houston philanthropist and devotee of the arts Lynn Wyatt, making his mark on the epicenter of Houston’s Theatre District (the square block is flanked by Jones Hall, Alley Theatre, and Bayou Music Center) by developing a modern urban park complete with an open-air performance areas, shaded lawn and gardens, and two-story hospitality space.

Photo by Jen Duncan

A buzzy Afro-Asian spot from a talented Top Chef

We know we said it last year, but now it’s really true. Late August (that’s the restaurant’s name, not when it’s supposed to open) is coming soon to Houston’s new Innovation District hub, The Ion. The inventive concept comes from two big names in the culinary world. Best Chef: Texas James Beard Award-semifinalist and Top Chef: Portland star Dawn Burrell (we should probably mention she’s also a former Olympian) and Lucille’s Hospitality Group founder, activist, and all-around badass, chef Chris Williams. Long story short, this is going to be a good one.

Montrose Collective
Photo courtesy of Montrose Collective

Some pretty game-changing mixed-use developments

Autry Park, The Montrose Collective, and Regent Square are just some of the real estate concepts making Houston cooler, and while each has already got their start, there is more to come in 2023. Joining things like see-and-be-seen Italian steakhouse Marmo, from-scratch scoop shop Van Leeuwen Ice Cream, and cool kid’s sunglass shop KREWE over in the Montrose Collective will be game changing omakase spot from Uchi, Austin-born healthy eatery Picnik, and beachy raw bar Graffiti Raw from the Big Vibe Group. “Bespoke urban village” Autry Park stretches over 14 lush acres across from the Buffalo Bayou Park, with hot newcomers including two concepts from B&B Butcher’s Benjamin Berg, and Auden, a vegetable-forward concept from a husband-and-wife duo with Michelin-starred experience. And not too far away, the smartly designed Regent Square strives to make the city more pedestrian-friendly, offering serene tree-lined promenades alongside Underbelly Hospitality concepts Georgia James (now open) and Pastore, the group’s Italian restaurant slated to open in late spring.

713 Music Hall
713 Music Hall

Concerts, concerts, and more concerts

Blink-182. T. Swift. Lewis Capaldi. Janet Jackson & Ludacris. Red Hot Chili Peppers. ZZ Top. Whatever your speed is, Houston’s probably got a concert tailor-made for you this year. Take a peek at the upcoming schedules at venues including House of Blues, Bayou Center, Toyota Center and NRG Park, Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, Warehouse Live, White Oak Music Hall, and the shiny new 713 Music Hall stashed over in POST Houston.

Houston Zoo
Houston Zoo

Adorable penguins popping up at the Houston Zoo

The Houston Zoo turned a whopping 100 last year, and with that milestone comes some exciting new stuff, including the soon to open Galápagos Islands Exhibit set for early 2023. That means the venerable institution is rolling out the red carpet (figuratively, of course) for a fleet of super-cute Humboldt penguins, plus sea lions, giant tortoises, sharks, iguanas, and more. Get in on the action and help the Zoo in its conservation efforts by donating now.

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Brooke Viggiano is a Houston-based writer who suddenly has a ton of weekend plans. Follow her journeys on IG @brookiefafa or on Twitter @brookeviggiano.