Houston, TX – July 21, 2016 –  Downtown Houston will soon expand its culinary landscape along the Avenida de las Americas. A series of restaurants will open on the ground floor of the George R. Brown Convention Center and in the forthcoming Marriott Marquis Houston. Grotto and Bud’s Pitmaster BBQ, among other concepts, will join downtown newcomers Pappasito’s Cantina and the recently-expanded Starbucks at the Hilton Americas-Houston, beginning the transformation of the convention district into the cosmopolitan destination Avenida Houston.

 “With these new openings at the GRB and the broader convention district, we will have a concentration of restaurants in the heart of downtown that I hope will better serve both residents and visitors and function as a catalyst for even more development in the area,” said Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner. “Houston has become one of our nation’s culinary capitals, offering authentic flavors from around the world right here in our backyard. Our city has many entertainment and dining hubs, and I think the Avenida with its wide variety of options will become another great one.”

Avenida Houston will serve as a walkable, pedestrian plaza that will connect visitors to the surrounding attractions, including Minute Maid Park, Toyota Center, BBVA Compass, the convention center, Marriott Marquis, Discovery Green and the Hilton Americas-Houston. In addition to restaurant offerings, Avenida Houston will feature unique art installations and programmed events.

“The creation of Avenida Houston will be a long-awaited vision come to fruition for our city and Houston First,” said Dawn Ullrich, president and CEO of Houston First Corporation. “Often, the GRB and convention district are the only glimpse of Houston that visitors receive and we hope to leave them with a lasting, positive impression and encouraged to return.”

Restaurant highlights include: 

BUD’S PITMASTER BBQ

With over 30 years of experience in the restaurant industry, “Bud” – as he is often called by his friends and family – will bring to Houston a Southern-styled BBQ restaurant with modern flare. Built adjacent to its very own smokehouse, Bud’s uses a centuries-old technique for preparing and seasoning its meats. The resulting flavor is a combination of smokehouse-made sauce and spices. Featuring an upscale and contemporary atmosphere, Bud’s is open to locals and travelers alike, both day and night: perfect for dinner with friends or just an evening cocktail.

CUEVA & TEXAS T

Located within Marriott Marquis Houston’s “Great Room,” these two outlets welcome guests with the essentials to cater to their stay on property from day to night. Cueva, or the hotel’s Wine Cave, offers more than 200 wine selections (including selections from local Texas wineries) and 20 wines on tap, delightfully paired with bistro-style Mediterranean menu. Located across from Cueva is Texas T, an intimate alcove delivering caffeine and convenience by way of fresh, artisanal coffee, tea, pastries, and fresh on-the-go fare, perfect for guests upon arrival or for groups that are planning for their day into the city.

GROTTO DOWNTOWN

Not your typical Grotto, Tilman Fertitta’s newest Grotto will offer a revolutionized take on Italian cuisine. The restaurant’s dynamic menu will feature vibrant flavors and fresh creations in small and shareable plates, as well as a vast selection of curated craft beers. Additionally, menu selections will include many of the traditional dishes Grotto is known for such as Neapolitan thin crust pizzas, house made pastas and many other Italian favorites. Grotto will boast one of the largest Grappa collections in downtown Houston and guests can choose from over 80 wine selections dominated by Italian entries from Tuscany, Piemonte, Sicilia and Friuli. Grotto will take on a fresh look to mirror its urban location with a rustic, warehouse-style interior including communal guest seating evoking a hip, yet casual social setting welcoming to locals and tourists within downtown Houston.

NEW CONCEPT - H TOWN RESTAURANT GROUP

Known for acclaimed Houston restaurants Hugo’s, Caracol and Backstreet Cafe, Chef Hugo Ortega and Tracy Vaught will add their newest service concept, Xochi, on the ground floor of the Marriott Marquis Houston Downtown. While Hugo’s is known for its authentic regional Mexican cuisine and Caracol is a coastal Mexican kitchen, Xochi, meaning to bloom or catch fire, will be a creative endeavor, or “by author” as they say in Mexico. The H Town culinary team – Executive Chef Hugo Ortega, Executive Pastry Chef Ruben Ortega and Sommelier/Beverage Director Sean Beck - will spread its wings and let the trio’s amazing creativity guide the food and drink. With its stellar bar program, private room options and prime location overlooking Discovery Green, the restaurant is perfectly located to serve residents and visitors, conventioneers and vacationers.

HIGHDIVE

With panoramic views of Houston’s downtown, this beautifully landscaped eatery is set on the Marriott Marquis Houston’s open-air Parkview Terrace and raises the bar on cuisine for elevated al fresco poolside dining. For hotel guests only, HighDive’s New American fare ranges in options from refreshing salads to poolside snacks and hot off-the-grill selections. The restaurant also offers a full-service cocktail bar featuring seasonally focused cocktails, perfect for sipping while floating down the Texas-shaped lazy river or seated among friends at the covered bar.

KULTURE

Kulture is an exploration of the cultural contributions of the diaspora from the continent of Africa thru the Caribbean to the southern U.S. Coast and expresses its findings thru food, spirits, art and music in a casually elevated yet comfortable dining experience.

MCALISTER’S DELI

Founded in 1989, McAlister’s Deli is a fast casual restaurant chain known for its sandwiches, salads, desserts and the McAlister’s Famous Sweet Tea. In addition to its dine-in and take-out service, McAlister’s also offers catering with a selection of sandwich trays, box lunches, desserts and a hot spud bar and more. With numerous industry accolades, the McAlister’s brand has 361 restaurants in 28 states.

The new downtown offerings will also join the recently announced Biggio’s, Houston Astro Hall of Famer Craig Biggio’s sports bar concept, as well as Brasserie du Parc, the second restaurant concept for Étoile Cuisine et Bar chef, Phillippe Verpiand located in One Park Place facing the west side of Discovery Green.

For more information, visit www.AvenidaHouston.com

ABOUT HOUSTON FIRST

Houston First Corporation operates the city's finest convention and arts facilities to position Houston as a world-class destination. In 2014, Houston First and the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau aligned their operations to create a single clear voice representing the city under the brand Visit Houston. Houston First owns the Hilton Americas-Houston hotel and manages more than 11 city-owned buildings, plazas and parking facilities. For more information, visit HoustonFirst.com and VisitHouston.com.

###

Media Contacts

Houston First
A.J. Mistretta, amistretta@visithouston.com, 713.437.5206

Dancie Perugini Ware Public Relations
Laura Jones, ljones@dpwpr.com, 713.224.9115