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Saturday, December 2, 2023

6 of Houston’s Secret Bars, Eating places, and Speakeasies

Juliet’s retro film theatre façade, full with a lit-up marquee, a ticket window, and a concession stand. Picture: Juliet

AS with a hide-and-seek sport, half the enjoyable of eating at a few of the metropolis’s trending sizzling spots is discovering them. A wave of new eating places and cocktail bars has opened in Houston that mimic the speakeasy-style ideas which have lengthy been widespread in New York Metropolis, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles. These institutions could not seem like a lot at first, however a deeper dive reveals a lot to be desired—a lackluster exterior with zero curb attraction makes method for a ritzy eating room or a glamorous cocktail bar. 

One of many restaurateurs becoming a member of within the newest pattern is James McGhee, proprietor of the well-known Sweet Shack daiquiri bars and the newly launched Juliet, a contemporary speakeasy eating idea cleverly hidden on Westheimer Highway within the Galleria space.

“I used to be impressed by Magnificence & Essex in Los Angeles, which has a useful pawn store on the entrance with a full-service restaurant hidden behind it,” he says. 

His plans for Juliet included a number of comparable concepts. “I wished to construct out an actual laundromat however nixed the thought after I came upon how a lot the tools prices,” he laughs. As a critical movie buff, he determined {that a} mock movie-theater entrance can be becoming. “My purpose at Juliet is to shock individuals,” he says. And shocked you’ll be—when you take the restaurant at face worth. 

At first look, Juliet seems to be nothing greater than a movie show within the nook of a retail strip. The sprawling restaurant lies by way of double doorways past the foyer, and it packs in a non-public eating room, an attention-grabbing bar, and greater than 2,000 sq. ft of patio house centered round a stay oak.

For his first full-service restaurant, McGhee drew inspiration for the design of the house and the menu from his travels worldwide, noting that he wished to convey a few of the thrilling issues he had tasted and skilled to Houston. “I traveled to Dubai and went to a restaurant which served a steak lined in pure gold,” he says. “No one was doing something like that in Texas, so I put it on the menu at Juliet.” Whereas he wouldn’t go as far as to say that Juliet is a steakhouse, he shares that the restaurant is enjoyable and vibey, reflecting fashionable interpretations of various meals.

Since opening its mock movie-theater doorways in February, Juliet has welcomed keen diners desirous to get the entire scoop on this curious idea. As anticipated, picture ops are aplenty, nevertheless it’s obtained substance. Go forth, and enterprise in; then, share the key together with your closest associates.

In a metropolis fraught with retail-strip eating places, it may be refreshing to discover a distinctive vacation spot constructed out not like anyplace else within the metropolis and tucked away from the chaos of the surface world. Take a look at Houstonia’s picks of a few of the metropolis’s best-kept-secret eating places and bars.


5857 Westheimer Rd, Ste P

Whereas it could seem like this cinema performs all the previous classics, there is just one characteristic presentation right here: Juliet. Past its retro movie-theater façade, full with a lit-up marquee, a ticket window, and a concession stand, Juliet is an upscale, fashionable American restaurant boasting old-Hollywood glam. Movie stills adorn the partitions; the movie-inspired menu sections off into Preview, Important Occasion, and Co-Stars; and as a substitute of bread service, friends are given bowls of popcorn when they’re seated. Curated by beverage consultants Girls of Libation, the cocktail program options dreamy drinks worthy of a photograph. And save room for the Credit: Juliet touts a spherical chocolate dessert with dulce de leche and bourbon caramel that may make you need to return for a sequel. Simply please do not ask when the movie might be proven. 


1344 Yale St

No have to double-check the deal with—when you pull as much as Savoir in hopes of eating at Patton’s, you’ve reached your ultimate vacation spot. The intimate, 38-seat steakhouse is a real hideaway, situated behind Savoir’s bar and thru a speakeasy-style entrance. The high-end idea differs from its casual-chic counterpart in its Outdated World design and elevated steakhouse menu that includes prime cuts of steak and an intensive wine record. Company can take pleasure in a sublime Waldorf salad, adopted by a New York strip sourced from Colorado’s Gable Cattle Co. Dimly lit and romantic, the L-shaped house gives cozy corners by which to dine and an unique bar with six extremely sought-after seats. Whereas Patton’s is out of sight (in additional methods than one), the restaurant serves because the Heights neighborhood’s solely devoted steakhouse, making it all of the extra engaging to hunt out. 


1300 Lamar St

Downtown’s posh 4 Seasons Lodge homes two fantastic food-and-drink locations: the foyer bar, Bayou & Bottle, and Toro Toro, helmed by movie star chef Richard Sandoval. However it additionally boasts an ultra-exclusive cocktail bar tucked past a mock bookcase and utterly hidden from friends. Bandista, the resort’s new 20-seat bar, is an upscale speakeasy — one which requires a secret numerical code to enter. As soon as inside, patrons can expertise the bar’s progressive cocktail program, together with libations poured over dry ice and introduced in classic glassware. There are uncommon spirits, with pours priced as excessive as $8,000, and cocktails massive sufficient for {couples} to share. A seat on the bar permits friends to witness all the considerate prep that goes into crafting drinks, however the intimate house boasts a snug lounge space, affording dazzling nighttime views of the town. Bandista is reservation-only, with friends receiving a affirmation by textual content and directions on the place to satisfy to be escorted up. 


5353 W Alabama St #102

What seems to be a comic book e book retailer on the surface is an omakase-only eating expertise in Uptown, appropriately named Hidden Omakase. The multicourse expertise is exactly that: an expertise from begin to end, and with solely two seatings per evening, it is among the hottest chef-led dinners on the town. Upon getting into the entrance door, friends discover themselves in a eating room anchored by a big, wraparound sushi bar with solely 14 seats. Within the heart of the room, chef Niki Vongthong and her crew of expert sushi cooks put together course after course, hand-delivering items of 11-day aged fish, Wagyu nigiri, noodle bowls, and extra to every diner. The mounted menu leaves no room for modifications or substitutions, however friends can select from a whole a la carte menu of add-ons, together with hand rolls and foie gras, ought to they be hungry for extra. 


518 W eleventh St, Ste 500

With solely 10 seats inside a slim, 400-square-foot house, Kanpai Membership is among the most unique ingesting locations in H-City. These within the know can entry the bar by way of a shared door situated inside Hando, its sister hand-roll restaurant, and partake of craft cocktails, martinis, sake, beer, and wine. As a perk of being proper subsequent door, friends can order a lot of Hando’s small plates, together with Brussels sprouts, edamame, and Wagyu gyoza. Guests in search of a nightcap can even rating heartier eats like rooster karaage and curry fries from the late-night menu, served from 10 p.m. to midnight Sunday by way of Thursday and 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday.


5120 Washington Ave

Nestled amid the energetic bars alongside Washington Avenue is a pastry store that includes glass instances stocked with macarons, truffles, and sugary concoctions. Upon additional investigation, guests will understand that there’s way more to the harmless storefront past an unassuming pantry door. A big, dimly lit, speakeasy-style cocktail bar, Sugar Room, lies by way of the passage. The swanky bar with Twenties-inspired décor transports you to the Prohibition period, when hidden bars have been extra necessity than luxurious. Head-turning cocktails are purpose sufficient to linger round, however when you’re not a drinker, there’s additionally hookah on the patio. 

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