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What's New in Houston

HOUSTON (February 2014)--Development never stops in Houston. Consider this your go-to guide for staying in the know on the nation's fourth largest city.

For a comprehensive list of all recent Houston openings, please click here.

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Recent Awards and Rankings

Houston named the "newest capital of great food" by Food & Wine.

Houston boasts the most dynamic and diverse food and drink scene in the country, according to Departures.
 
Houston called the most exciting food city in the country by Tasting Table.

RESTAURANTS

Barbecue Inn, Oxheart, The Pass and Provisions, Reef and Underbelly were included on Southern Living's list of 100 Places to Eat Now.

The Pass and Provisions was named one of Bon Appetit's Top 10 Best New Restaurants in America.

Ninfa's on Navigation was named one of the 20 best food destinations in the U.S. by Smithsonian magazine.

Killen's Steakhouse and Pappas Bros. Steakhouse were featured on The Daily Meal's list of America's 20 best steakhouses.

Underbelly and Pass & Provisions named one of the 33 best new restaurants in America by Thrillist.  

Green Seed Vegan was named one of the top 20 vegetarian and vegan restaurants in the U.S. by Food & Wine magazine.

Killen's BBQ included on Eater.com's list of the 16 hottest barbecue restaurants in the U.S. right now. 

Barbecue Inn, Max's Wine Dive and Al Aseel Grille and Cafe were included on Southern Living's list of The South's Best Fried Chicken. 

Oxheart and Underbelly were included on Conde Nast Traveler's list of the 70 best new restaurants in the world.

Blacksmith named one of the coolest coffee shops in the U.S. by Yahoo Travel.

NIGHTLIFE

The Pastry War and Bad News Bar were included in Southern Living's list of the Best New Bars in the South.

The Pastry War was included in Garden and Gun's list of the Best New Bars of the South.  

Hay Merchant was named one of the best gastropubs in the country by Food & Wine. 

 

Mongoose versus Cobra, The Petrol Station and Hay Merchant were named among the top 100 Beer Bars in America by Draft magazine.

Major Projects · Hotels · Restaurants
The Arts · Shops · Nightlife · Sports

 

   MAJOR PROJECTS


Downtown's Houston Entertainment Complex Becomes GreenStreet - Redevelopment to be Completed by Spring 2014

Changes to the 568,294-square-foot Convention District complex formerly known as the Pavilions include creating a vibrant, urban linear park, an installation of water features, dynamic green space and outdoor patios. The facility now includes restaurants, retail and entertainment concepts such as House of Blues, Forever XXI, III Forks, McCormick & Schmick's and Lucky Strike bowling. Once renovations are complete in spring 2014, unique programming and events throughout the property will create an inviting and synergistic experience for guests to enjoy. Owner Midway plans to announce tenant additions to the property over the course of the renovation. More...

Princess and Norwegian Cruising into Port of Houston - 2014
The Port of Houston Authority has partnered with two separate cruise lines, Princess Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Lines, to offer new service from the Bayport Cruise Terminal. Princess Cruises began making passenger cruise calls in November 2013, while Norwegian Cruise Lines will launch service in October 2014.  More...

Major Revival in Downtown's Historic District - Ongoing
A slew of new restaurant and bar openings surrounding Market Square and the Historic District has made Downtown Houston the place to be once more. New spots from well-known bartenders and chefs now mingle with tried and true favorites like La Carafe and Warren's Inn. In addition, major developments along Buffalo Bayou keep the buzz going.More...

Coming Soon

Major Developments Underway in Convention Center District - To Be Completed by 2016
Construction will begin on a 1,000-room Marriott Marquis in coming months, with an estimated completion date of mid-2016. The hotel will be connected to the north side of George R. Brown Convention Center, opposite the 1,200-room Hilton Americas-Houston that is connected to the south side of the center. Also near the convention center is the new BBVA Compass Stadium, home to the MLS Houston Dynamo, that opened in May 2012.  The Nau Center for Texas Cultural Heritage, a heritage tourism center, will break ground across the street from the convention center in late 2013.

METRORail Expansion - To be Completed in 2014
Threerail lines recently completed or under construction will bring Houston to 22.7 miles of rail, allowing locals and visitors to access a variety of neighborhoods via the train, including Downtown, Midtown, the Museum District, East End, East Downtown (EaDo), Third Ward and the Texas Medical Center.  Key attractions along the new lines include the GeorgeR. Brown Convention Center, Houston Theater District, BBVA Compass Stadium--home of the MLS Houston Dynamo, University of Houston and Texas Southern University. The north side extension of the Red Line was completed in December, adding another 5.3 miles to the existing 7.5-mile line. More...

Hermann Park's Grand Gateway Renovation - To Be Completed March 2014
The Grand Gateway, the historic main entrance to Hermann Park, is undergoing a $5 million renovation, which includes landscaping and seasonal plantings; improved walkways to increase connectivity to neighborhoods and METRORail; pedestrian-scale lighting, benches and bike racks; and new drainage and irrigation to preserve the live oaks along Main Street.  More...

Centennial Gardens at Hermann Park - To Be Completed October 2014
The existing 15-acre Garden Center site will be reborn as the Centennial Gardens in celebration of the Park’s 100th anniversary. Hoerr Schaudt, the Chicago landscape architecture firm, is collaborating with White Oak Studio in Houston on the gardens’ design, which will feature a rose garden, an interactive family garden and a sculpture promenade featuring public art donated by countries around the world. More...


Gorillas of the African Forest at the Houston Zoo - To Open Spring 2015
The $28 million natural habitat--Phase 2 of the African Forest project that opened at the Zoo in 2010--will feature a waterfall, a flowing stream, natural and artificial logs and a boardwalk for visitors to get a closer look at the gorillas. The project will also include construction of a gorillanight house--a large climate-controlled area where the gorillas will sleep and stay during inclement weather. Zoo officials initially plan to bring in four to six gorillas, a number expected to expand to 10-15 when the family grows.  Construction is already underway.  More...

Hobby International Airport Expansion - Opening 2015

Southwest Airlines is spending $150 million to upgrade William P. Hobby Airport into Houston's second international gateway. On the horizon, passengers can expect an additional parking garage, roadway modifications, new concourse and an expanded terminal, all of which will help accommodate international flights to and from Houston. The expanded terminal will make room for a new ticket counter, six additional security checkpoints, five new gates and a Federal Inspections Services facility for Customs and Borders Protection. More...


$58 Million Buffalo Bayou Park Renovation - To be Completed in 2015

The transformation of the 160-acre, 2.3-mile stretch of Buffalo Bayou from Shepherd Drive to Sabine Street is underway. The $58 million project isa public-private partnership led by Buffalo Bayou Partnership, the City of Houston's Houston Parks and Recreation Department, theHarris County Flood Control District and with catalyst funding from the Kinder Foundation. Construction began in July of 2012 to restore the area to a more natural and self-sustaining state, reintroduce native landscapes and add amenities to enhance safety and convenience for visitors. Improvements will include:

  • A restoration of natural landscapes, including trees and native grasses
  • Upgraded or new trails for walkers and hikers to enjoy nature including places for canoes and kayaks to launch
  • Two pedestrian bridges
  • An extension of the distinctive blue lunar cycle lighting
  • New destination features such as The Water Works adjacent to the Lee and Joe Jamail Skatepark, Lost Lake near Dunlavy and Allen Parkway, a dog park near Studemont and Allen Parkway and modifications to a portion of Eleanor Tinsley Park
  • Additional benches, picnic spots and drinking fountains  More...

   HOTELS

 

Royal Sonesta – Renovations Completed September 2013
The former InterContinental Houston By The Galleria began operations as the Royal Sonesta Houston last summer and completed an extensive, $25-million renovation in the fall. The endeavor will focus on interior spaces, spanning the lobby, all 485 guestrooms, food & beverage outlets, 50,000 square feet of meeting & event venues, plus a substantial enhancement of existing amenities, such as the rooftop swimming pool. More...


The Lancaster Houston Hotel – Renovation Completed September 2013

Work began in April on a $10 million renovation of the historic Lancaster Houston Hotel, which opened as the Auditorium Hotel in 1926 and reopened as The Lancaster in 1983. The family-owned boutique property in the heart of the Theater District received an extensive redesign that includes the hotel's lobby and meeting spaces, as well as all guest rooms and suites. The project also included upgrades to the property's technology and mechanical systems. More...


Westin Downtown – Renovation Completed September 2013

The Inn at the Ballpark, located across the street from Minute Maid Park, has rebranded as the Westin Houston Downtown. The conversion to a Westin began with renovations that included updated furnishings and finishes throughout, an expansion of the fitnesscenter and a brand new lobby and lobby bar. The Landry's-owned property officially changed its name in September. More...

Coming Soon

JW Marriott - Opening Spring 2014

The 102-year-old Samuel F. Carter Building at 806 Main has been gutted as crews work to transform it into a 323-room JW Marriott. Pearl Hospitality is spending $80.8 million to develop the new luxury hotel at the corner of Rusk and Main streets in the center of Downtown. The hotel will include a full-service restaurant, bar, spa, health club, executive lounge, swimming pool and 10,000 square feet of meeting space. The Carter building is hailed as one of the city's architectural gems, but had fallen into disrepair in recent years. When it was first constructed, it was the tallest building in Houston. More...


Holiday Inn - Opening Mid-2014

A development group will turn the former Savoy Hotel that straddles Downtown and Midtown into a Holiday Inn. The 17-story property on Main Street has been closed since the late 1980s, but the new owners say they have plans to turn the property into the city's flagship Holiday Inn within a year. Work on the intense renovation has already begun.


SpringHill Suites - Opening Mid-2015

Just a few blocks west of the George R. Brown Convention Center, the historic Humble Oil Building complex at Main Street and Dallas is getting a new 166-room SpringHill Suites hotel. The complex is already home to a 191-room Courtyard and 171-room Residence Inn. The property's owner, RLJ Lodging, intends to convert an existing 82-unit apartment tower into the new hotel.


Marriott Marquis - Opening Spring 2016

Last December, RIDA Development Corp. and Houston First announced plans for a new 1,000-room Marriott Marquis that will rise adjacent to the GRB Convention Center. The massive hotel, along with the existing Hilton Americas Houston, will bookend Discovery Green and dramatically increase Houston's ability to host major conventions. Construction on that property is scheduled to begin in 2014. More...

   RESTAURANTS

 

Coltivare - Opened January 2014
Revival Market co-owners Ryan Pera and Morgan Weber have opened Coltivare, a rustic Italian restaurant, in The Heights. A3,000-square-foot garden will soon provide both the trattoria and Revival Market with the freshest of the season's vegetables, fruit and herbs. The small plates, salads, house made pastas and wood-oven fired pizzas feature Revival salumi and cheese selections. More...

Max's Wine Dive - Opened January 2014
After operating the original Max’s location on Washington Avenue for more than six years, owners Jerry and Laura Lasco opened a second Houston location in the Montrose neighborhood. More...

Caracol - Opened December 2013
Caracol, a new concept from award-winning Hugo Ortega and wife Tracy Vaught, opened in the heart of Houston’s Galleria area at 2200 Post Oak Blvd. More...


El Big Bad - Opened December 2013

The new El Big Bad features handcrafted tequila infusions, specialty margaritas and a generous selection of gastro-cantina-inspired foods. More...

Vallone's - Opened November 2013
Tony's executive chef Grant Gordon and general manager Scott Sulma are opening Vallone's at Gateway Memorial City in West Houston. The new concept will have a technique-driven approach to steak, fish, chops and housemade pastas. Tony Vallone will consult on the venture. More...

Osteria Mazzantini - Opened August 2013
Chef John Sheely of Mockingbird Bistro opened a second restaurant in the new BBVA Compass Bank building near The Galleria. The northern Italian, Tuscan-inspired fare reflects Sheely's Italian heritage--Mazzantini is his mother’s maiden name.  Pasta is made in-house daily, and the stylish, comfortable space will feature a bar, patio and private room.  More...

Coppa Osteria - Opened August 2013
Owners Charles Clark and Grant Cooper, along with executive chef Brandi Key, will open Coppa Osteria, a more casual version of Coppa Ristorante, in the new Hanover Rice Village mixed-use development.The 5,333-square-foot restaurant will feature a menu that's a more neighborhood, family-friendly version of the original Coppa's chef-driven menu. Osteria will boast a full bar, sandwich program, pizza ovens for a full range of pies and a walk-up window to buy pizza by the slice.More...
 

Coming Soon

Killen's BBQ - Opening February
Chef Ronnie Killen, best known for his icehouse-turned-fine-dining-restaurant Killen’s Steakhouse, is set to open Killen’s Barbecue in Pearland. Already garnering rave reviews, folks have been lining up each weekend since last April to wait as long as two hours for a taste of Killen's smoked meats. More...


Punk's Simple Southern Food - Opening February 2014
Clark, Cooper and Key will also open Punk's Simple Southern Food, the partners' most casual concept to date, which celebrates classic southerndishes pulled from the regions from the Gulf Coast up through the Carolinas. Next door to Coppa Osteria, the spot will offer Southern farewith a twist. Half of the 3,596 square-foot-space will be devoted to patio seating. More...


Common Bond - Opening Spring 2014

A major new bakery at the intersection of Westheimer and Dunlavy is set to debut early this year. Pastry Chef Roy Shvartzapel is assembling a crackerjack team for Common Bond. A climate-controlled pastry room, 24-foot bakery case, extensive bread program and wine and beer bar are just a few of the elements that will set Common Bond in a league of its own. A fully exposed kitchen and 40-seat patio will make this café a Montrose destination. More...


Holley's - Opening Spring 2014

Chef Mark Holley heads to Midtown this spring when he opens his new namesake restaurant, Holley's. The expansive eatery takes over the space most recently inhabited by Sushi Raku in The Mix complex at Louisiana and Elgin. The contemporary seafood restaurant will feature a mix of Creole classics Holley is known for and new experiences from the celebrated chef such as a raw bar. More...


Fluff Bake Bar- Opening Fall 2014
Houston Pastry Chef Rebecca Masson debuted her Fluff Bake Bar concept in 2011. But the goal has always been to open a permanent, bricks-and-mortar spot that would serve Masson's desserts alongside a well curated wine and beer menu. After a successful Kickstarter campaign in late 2013 that raised $53,000, plans are in motion to bring the permanent Fluff Bake Bar to Houston's trendy Midtown neighborhood this fall. Fluffernutters will definitely be on the menu. More...

   THE ARTS


Hall of
Ancient Egypt at the Houston Museum of Natural Science - Opened May 2013
With hundreds of artifacts dating back more than 5,000 years, the 10,000-square-foot hall is divided up not by time period but by theme. Five areas offer a glimpse into Egyptian life: environment, religion, politics, mummies and mummification and the discovery of ancient Egypt. HMNS has partnered with museums in Boston, Germany and the United Kingdom to rotate artifacts for a more dynamic and ever-changing exhibit experience.  More...


Coming Soon

The Menil Collection Selects Landscape Architect as Part of Campus Plan - Phase One Began Late 2013
The Menil Collection has appointed Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (MVVA) to enhance and expand the landscape design of the institution’s 30-acre campus. The appointment signals the beginning of implementation of the Menil’s master plan for its urban “neighborhood of art,” as the enclave of museum buildings, green spaces, and bungalows has been called. The Menil’s project, undertaken on the basis of a master site plan by David Chipperfield Architects, calls for the creation of additional green space and walkways, new visitor amenities such as a cafe, and the addition of new buildings for art. The first new art building on campus will be the Menil Drawing Institute, a freestanding center for the exhibition, collection, conservation and study of modern and contemporary drawings, to be designed by the Los Angeles-based firm Johnston Marklee. MVVA’s work will begin with the creation of a new entrance sequence on the north side of the Menil’s campus. More...

Main Street Theater Renovation - To Be Completed Late 2014
Main Street Theater is embarking on a $3 million capital campaign to renovate and add its space in Rice Village--and it's already almost halfway there. Plans call for adding a second level of classroom/rehearsal space as well as new restrooms, a major redo of the lobby, concession areas and more. Major construction will likely start in early 2014. More...

Alley Theatre Capital Campaign - Launched April 2013
Alley Theatre announced the launch of a $73 million capital campaign called Extended Engagement to renovate the Alley Theatre building and support artistic initiatives and their endowment. Since 1968, no major renovation has been made to the Hubbard Stage--the largest of the Alley's two stages--or to the public and backstage areas of the building, the building's air conditioning, plumbing, and electrical systems. Renovation plans include stage improvements, audience amenities such as new seats, expanded restaurants and a new lobby space with a skyline view, and building upgrades with a new air conditioning system and plumbing. The design of the new theatre is by Pete Ed Garrett, principal of Houston-based Studio RED Architects, who has worked on theatre projects including Wortham Theater Center, Hobby Center, as well as renovation of the Alley's Neuhaus Stage in 2002.   The Alley Theatre has raised $32 million to date.  When sufficient funds have been raised, the Alley will announce a construction start date and a complete schedule for the renovation. More...

The MATCH Building $25 Million Community Arts Complex - Opening in 2015
The Midtown Arts and Theater Center Houston (MATCH), formerly the Independent Arts Collaborative, is a non-profit organization that was formed to create a new $25 million community arts complex in Midtown.  MATCH will serve as home base for many of Houston’s small and mid-sized visual and performing arts organizations, featuring four theaters, two rehearsal/ classroom spaces, gallery space and office space. The San Antonio-based architecture firm Lake/Flato is partnering with local firm Studio Red on the design, and the architect team has now completed schematic designs for the facility. The capital campaign is underway and the entire project is expected to take about three years.  More...

   SHOPS


Galleria - Redevelopment and expansion

Work is set to begin soon on a redevelopment initiative that will bring more high-end retail to Houston's famed Galleria. Galleria III is being demolished to make room for a new, more pedestrian-friendly space that will front Westheimer and provide room for about 35 new luxury stores and a brand new Saks. The redevelopment is slated for completion by spring 2015. 


   NIGHTLIFE


Dean's Downtown - Opened November 2013
Dean’s Downtown is the reinvention of Dean’s Credit Clothing, a Historic District hipster hangout. The bar has a new, posher look and a more elaborate cocktail and beer menu. Still, the bar plays up the classic parts of this century-old building—the original hardwood floors, the city’s first elevator. More...


The Pastry War - Opened September 2013
Bobby Heugel's Clumsy Butcher restaurant group opened a tequila and mezcal bar dubbed The Pastry War. This new concept at 310 Main Street takes its name from an 1838 invasion of Mexico by French forces. The Pastry War carries a wide selection of both liquors, many of which have never been poured in Texas previously. The spot will also offer classic Mexican cocktails, Mexican longnecks and French wines. More...

Barbarella - Opened September 2013
What makes Barbarella so special is its devotion to the music. Owned andoperated by two DJs with decades of experience, Barbarella respects quality music—you won’t find any unnecessary scratching or mixing here. Nor will you find top 40 or traditional techno. The focus is on Indie music, both vintage and new. More...

Coming Soon

The Nightingale Room - March 2014
Anew entertainment-focused lounge concept will open on Main Street in the Historic District this spring. The Nightingale Room is expected to bring a mix of jazz and blues musicians curated by partner Mike Criss tothe shotgun-style space beneath Captain Foxheart's Bad News Bar & Spirit Lodge. The new concept will offer wine and beer along with specialty punch and cocktails all in an antiqued setting complete with alarge chandelier, plenty of mirrors and exposed brick walls. The Nightingale Room pays homage to Houston musical legend Sippie Wallace, known as the Texas Nightingale in the 1920s.
More...

Prohibition - Spring 2014
Aburlesque and cabaret concept that's built a following in the Galleria area will move to a historic space Downtown this spring. Prohibition is taking over an 8,500-square-foot building on the edge of the Downtown Historic District, one block from the recently opened El Big Bad restaurant. The space has been renovated to include second-floor mezzanines and 40-foot ceilings. The bar and restaurant space will be open six days a week and a separate Supper Club will open for shows and special events. More...
 
Julep - Opening May 2014
Alba Huerta, currently the general manager of Anvil Bar and Refuge and partner in The Pastry War, is opening her own cocktail bar, Julep. While maintaining a strong emphasis on classic cocktails, Julep--named after the iconic Southern cocktail--will embrace Southern drinking culture. The bar will offer a dynamic food menu, table service, patio seating, accommodations for private events and plenty of bourbon.More...

   SPORTS


Houston Dash - Debuting April 2014

This spring, the Houston Dynamo will launch the Houston Dash, a women’s professional soccer team that will enter the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) as an expansion team. The Dash will be owned by the Dynamo ownership group and operated by the Houston Dynamo of Major League Soccer. The first Dash game will be played in April with the start of the second NWSL season, a 24-game schedule that includes 12 home games at BBVA Compass Stadium. The NWSL is supported by the Canadian Soccer Association, Federation of Mexican Football and the United States Soccer Federation and is the top-flight women’s professional soccer league in North America, featuring many of the top players from the United States, Canada and Mexico, as well as talent from around the world More...

 

   TRANSPORTATION


B-Cycle Expands Across Central Houston - Ongoing
The city's B-Cycle program kicked into high gear in April, expanding from a pilot phase of just three bike racks around Downtown to more than 25 racks stretching from Montrose to the Museum District. The bike-share program allows member users to check-out cruiser-style bikes free of charge for up to an hour and just $2 for each additional ½ hour.More...

 
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A.J. Mistretta
Public Relations Manager
Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau
(713) 437-5206
amistretta@visithouston.com
VisitHouston.com