With the complete dumpster fire that was 2020 in the rearview, we are actually kind of maybe starting to get excited about the future again. For one, there’s the whole end of a global pandemic thing that we really, really hope is a part of our 2021, and then there is all of the awesome stuff that the city of Houston has to look forward to this year. From super exciting restaurant openings to the total transformation of historic local spaces, here’s what Houston has in store for 2021:
Last year, we were given nine glorious days of the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo before the city rightfully shut down operations to help curb the spread of the coronavirus. And so far this year, the HLSR is planning to return in all its boot stompin’ glory, albeit a little bit later in the season. The new Rodeo season is slated for May 4 - 23, rocking safety protocols that will hopefully allow the show to go on once again.
Finding even more vendors and one of the city’s best chefs at The Houston Farmers Market
The historic Airline Drive farmers market has been showcasing local farmers and mom-and-pop vendors since the 1940s, eventually selling its space to commercial real estate investors with plans of becoming a world class culinary and retail experience back in 2017. Today, the market will host those same mom-and-pop vendors, plus a whole lot more. The Houston Farmers Market is currently open during its construction phase, but soon-to-come are things like a restaurant from Underbelly Hospitality’s Nick Fine, open-air pavilions, and a greenspace for things like cooking demos and live music.
The Lounge at MARCH | Photo by Julie Soefer Photography
The real deal opening of fine dining concept MARCH
Goodnight Hospitality’s MARCH restaurant opened its badass lounge—appropriately dubbed “The Lounge at MARCH”—late last year, but it’s yet to unleash the full power of the fine dining concept. The intimate, 28-seat Mediterranean restaurant plans to push the boundaries of what Houston knows as fine dining in 2021, with Master Sommelier and industry vet June Rodil and Chef/Partner Felipe Riccio as just some of the talented minds behind it. Until it fully opens, the caviar service and remarkable bouquet of wines at The Lounge will do (you can purchase a ticket rezzy to experience it here).
Another killer sushi spot from MF Sushi’s Chris Kinjo
With its grand debut at the turn of the new year over on White Oak, Ume Sushi comes from the genius team behind popular Museum District sushi gurus MF Sushi (and that includes chef-owner Chris Kinjo, aka “Magic Fingers"). Consider this a more casual little sibling to MF, one that you can enjoy after a cocktail at the nearby Permission Whiskey, or patio beers at Bobcat Teddy’s.
Back in 2019, Houston philanthropist and devotee of the arts Lynn Wyatt gave a $10 million gift to the capital campaign for the renovation of Downtown’s Jones Plaza. Since renamed the Lynn Wyatt Square For The Performing Arts, the transformed block will feature a modern, open-air performance space, shaded lawn and gardens, and a buzzy restaurant, all acting as a centerpiece of Houston’s Theater District. Original groundbreaking was set for the summer of 2020 with expected completion in the summer of 2021, but alas, delays are inevitable due to that damn pandemic.
The opening of Michelin-starred Hong Kong dim sum spot Tim Ho Wan
Gaining fame as the world’s most inexpensive Michelin-starred restaurant, the Cantonese-style dim sum specialists at Tim Ho Wan will be opening up shop at the new Katy Grand Square this year. Expect carts zipping by filled with everything from its house favorite barbecue pork buns and steamed egg cake to shrimp dumpling and petite Hong Kong French toast.
| Photo by Travis Hallmark
Two more concepts from Uchi’s Hai Hospitality
Pretty much the entire city of Houston fell head over heels for Tyson Cole’s playful sushi and Japanese spot, Uchi, back in 2012; and we have a feeling we’re about to fall in even deeper when Cole and his Austin-based restaurant group introduce its offspring, Uchiko, and Southeast Asian smokehouse, LORO, this year. The restaurants will open in the Galleria and Heights, respectively, bringing things like a sushi and sashimi, wood-fired yakitori, and hard-to-find Japanese whiskies (Uchiko) and char siew pork belly, oak smoked salmon, and boozy slushies along with ‘em.
Thirteen, a restaurant from James Harden coming to Midtown
It’s questionable how long Harden will be staying with the Rockets, but at least The Beard will be keeping his presence in Houston well above radar with the opening of his upscale restaurant, Thirteen, set to take over the former Mr. Peeple’s space on Badby. The website currently shows a countdown clock, that will presumably lead to the opening date soon. We’re excited to see what kind of magic Houston’s beloved point guard has in store for our culinary scene.
POST Houston Market Hall | Photo by OMA/Luxigon
The international food and market hall at POST Houston
Downtown’s getting a hot new culinary destination complete with 30+ restaurants, counter-service food stalls, and kiosks, plus a seriously cool looking glowing metallic staircase, in the old Barbara Jordan Post Office (that’s the space that used to host music and lights fest, Day for Night). Completely revamped, the 550,000 square foot mixed-use development POST Houston is set to host eateries like Salt & Time Butcher Shop from Austin, South Houston’s popular Taco Fuego, and Vietnamese pho and bun bo hue concept SOUPreme. There’s also a 5 acre Skylawn, a rooftop park that’ll house even more restaurants, and a farm. The highly anticipated project is slated to open in fall 2021.
A new Israeli restaurant from the Doris Metropolitan crew
Fan of the high-end Israeli steakhouse, Doris Metropolitan? Us too. Looks like we’re all in luck, because this year, the restaurant team is preparing to open Hamsa, a modern Israeli concept, over in Rice Village. Soon enough, you can sit under the tree-shaded terrace and dive into a rich palette of shareables, from traditional Jewish fare to Arabic-influenced dishes. With its original opening set for summer of 2020, owner Itai Ben Eli confirmed the restaurant is now on track to open in 2021.
| Photo by Kirsten Gilliam
New American restaurant and bar The Nash opening in Downtown
Set to open in mid-January in the historic Star (formerly known as the Texaco building) in Downtown, The Nash is the kind of place you’ll want to post up for a late-afternoon cocktail before settling in for a full-on gustatory experience. Omar Pereney (of A La Carte Consulting Group and formerly at Peska Seafood Culture) is the skillful chef behind the kitchen, offering dynamic New American eats that take a nod from Houston’s crossroad of cultures—think Venezuelan tequeños, mussels with Spanish chorizo and grilled sourdough, and a 12-hour ragu short rib pappardelle.
Brooke Viggiano is a Houston-based writer who thinks things are looking up for 2021 but she doesn’t want to jinx it so let’s just pretend she didn’t say that. Share your 2021 hopes and dreams with her @brookiefafa on IG or @brookeviggiano on Twitter.