Downtown Houston comes alive with new restaurants and bars to check out

After two years of pandemic challenges, downtown Houston is showing signs of a comeback: The Astros bats crack at Minute Maid Park; concerts and Broadway shows sing the band in the theater district; Discovery Green and Market Square are packed with family-friendly programs. According to Central Houston Inc., leisure visits to downtown in 2021 increased 62% over the previous year. Here are some of the new addresses to discover in the historic heart of the city.

Soak up skyline views at this new lounge on the 24th floor of Hilton Americas. While guests on the hotel’s executive floors have daily access to the beautiful space, R24 is open to the public from 5 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. It’s a civilized venue, perched above Discovery Green, where you can enjoy beer, wine and craft cocktails, such as Executive Eves Apple (apple, lemon and agave whiskey), Houston Heat Wave (tequila , pineapple, lime and agave juice) and Rooftop Limonade (vodka, mint and crushed strawberry). 1600 Lamar;

Pure Black

Houston’s first black-owned urban winery features a tasting room offering wine flights, special wine tastings and retail of exclusive Pur Collection wines. Owned by Kenneth and Carissa Stephens, this place serves wines made with grapes from some of California’s most respected vineyards. Chardonnay, Merlot, Petite Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel are represented in the Pur range, which also includes a rosé and a sparkling wine. Flights cost between $30 and $40 (reservations suggested); “Pur Matinee Tasting,” $15 for three wines, is a bargain offered Tuesday through Friday from 1 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. 802 Milam;


The owners of Frank’s Pizza on Travis have converted the former sliver space that used to be Frank’s Backyard Bar into a charming Mexican street food cantina with a taco truck and integrated Airstream trailer serving tacos and margaritas. The menu includes fries and guacamole, churros, tacos and tortas stuffed with carnitas, chicken tinga, beef birria, barbacoa, carne asada and roasted potatoes, mushrooms and poblano pepper. For drinks: aguas frescas, beer and margs (traditional, strawberry, peach and mango). It’s an airy, light-filled space, perfect for casual dining and packed lunches and dinners. 413 Travis;

Common Bond Brewery

The first full-service lunch and dinner restaurant in the burgeoning Common Bond empire, with its trendy design and basic bistro menu – think seafood towers, mussels fries, beef tartare, chicken roast, seared duck breast – makes a perfect pre-theatre dinner. But its weekday happy hour, offered from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., is probably the best value downtown: $3 beer and $7 select wines and snacks, including chipotle deviled eggs, crispy pork belly, hot pretzel bites and crispy Nashville shrimp. 800 Capitol;

HTX Angel Sharing

OKRA Charity Saloon closed during the pandemic and reopened as Angel Share HTX with new owner Mary Ellen Angel. But the bar’s original purpose as a vote-with-your-drink charity bar helping Houston-based nonprofit groups remains. Buy a drink from the charity menu and get a ticket to vote for an organization that will receive 100% of the profits at the end of each month. Daily happy hour is 4-6:30 p.m. with half-price draft beer, liquor, and wines by the glass; there are also recurring drag bingo nights. Congress 924;

Toro Toro

The Four Seasons’ property-wide upgrade includes this global pan-Latin steakhouse replacing the old Quattro on the hotel’s third floor. In partnership with celebrity chef Richard Sandoval, Toro Toro offers a menu that includes smoked guacamole, blackened tuna tacos, ceviche and tiradito, sushi rolls and an array of grilled steaks. The completely redesigned space also features a welcoming central bar. 1300 Lamar;


If you thought Houston’s appetite for foodie restaurants was oversaturated, this gigantic new culinary wonderland has rewritten expectations. Located in Barbara Jordan’s former post office, the food hall is brimming with local and international flavors including Andes Café (South American cuisine), ChopnBlok (West African), East Side King (Japanese-influenced World), Hawker Street Food Bar (Southeast Asian cuisine). and Latin American street food), Ramen Moto (Japanese ramen), Thai Kun (Thai), Soupreme (Vietnamese pho), Soy Pinoy (Filipino) and Taco Fuego (halal taco shop). The vendor list remains a work in progress, but we can’t help but be impressed by the cakes from Lucy Pearl’s bakery, the impeccable seafood from one of Norway’s culinary superstars at the thrilling Golfstrommen and the pizza born in Brooklyn to Roberta’s. To be hungry. 401 Franklin;

The Palm

Houston’s 40-year love affair with this steakhouse didn’t end when it closed on Westheimer. He changed. Now snugly housed in the former III Forks space in the GreenStreet neighborhood, The Palm has stepped up with all its trappings intact: the menu, familiar service faces and cartoonish decor. Go for great wines, hearty martinis, live music, steaks and Italian-inspired dishes. 1201 Fannin;

GJ Tavern

The newly rebranded steakhouse near Market Square recently installed a new executive chef, Tim Reading, who came from Ixim into the Bravery Chef Hall. There’s also a new menu – Gulf oysters cooked in chili butter, seared tuna with local greens, roasted bone marrow with chimichurri, duck confit cavatelli, roasted Gulf fish with gigante beans, brick chicken with asparagus and cabbage charred, and flank steak with kale and bone marrow dressing. 737 Preston;

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