The Lymbar is Coming to The Ion, Niko Niko’s Heads to The Woodlands


The Lymbar, 4201 Main, is on track to open later this fall at The Ion. The concept was first announced in May 2021 as we reported here in the Houston Press. The upcoming craft cocktail bar and restaurant comes from the Cordua family with father and son duo Michael and David Cordua combining years of experience in the restaurant and hospitality industry to create a new concept that allows the pair to draw on their shared culinary vision.

With a blend of Latin and Mediterranean flavors on the food menu, the kitchen will be helmed by Houston native Adolfo Lopez Jr., whose experience includes Brenner’s on the Bayou and Uchi. Lopez Jr. also served as executive chef for Churrascos, a Latin American steakhouse which was founded by Michael Cordua under the Cordua Restaurant Group in 1988. In 2018, the Corduas left their namesake hospitality group and Churrascos is now under the umbrella of the Churrascos Restaurant Group.

The Lymbar invites the neighbors over.

Photo by Gin Design Group

Other veteran team members joining the Corduas at The Lymbar will be Jaime Rangel as general manager and Travis Wingate as manager. Sean Stapleton, formerly of The Refuge in The Woodlands, will take on the role of bar manager.

Not only do longtime employees have a part to play in the new concept, but former neighbors of the Corduas are putting their stamp on The Lymbar as well. Gin Braverman of Gin Design Group is the familiar name behind the design of the new restaurant and bar; familiar not only to Houston’s restaurant scene as a premiere designer, but also as David Cordua’s childhood babysitter years ago when the families lived on Lymbar street in the Meyerland neighborhood. The restaurant’s name is a nostalgic tribute to the street where the Cordua family’s legacy was born.

The dogs are in da haus!

Photo by Dog Haus

Dog Haus, 2115 Spring Stuebner, will officially open October 22 in Spring. It’s the third location for the Houston area and the 11th in Texas. It was founded by friends Hagop Giragossian, Quasim Riaz and Andre Vener in Pasadena, California in 2010. For the grand opening weekend, it will donate 15 percent of food and beverage sales to the Spring Independent School District Education Foundation.

Angus beef burgers are also in da haus.

Photo by Dog Haus

It serves all-beef hotdogs and hand-crafted sausages with no added nitrates, plus 100 percent Angus beef burgers. The dogs and the burgers are all served on Hawaiian King Rolls. How is that possible, one might ask. Well, the dogs are served with three attached rolls and the burgers and chicken sandwiches are on two, with sliders available on one roll.

Dog choices range from the Sooo Cali with arugula, avocado, tomato, crispy fried onions and basil aioli to the Chili Idol, a basic chili dog with cheddar cheese sauce and onions. A number of the dogs get the bacon-wrapped treatment, while the Haus Sausages include options like The Fonz, a tribute to Happy Days stud Arthur Fonzarelli’s Italian American heritage, with Italian sausage, pastrami and mozzarella cheese.

The Bad Mutha Clucka is a chicken sandwich that is made with tenders, either fried or grilled and there’s a Nashville hot version as well. For vegetarians, there are plant-based burger, sausage and chicken options like the Impossible Burger, Beyond Brat and Beyond Chicken.

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Niko Niko’s is bringing its gyros up north to The Woodlands.

Photo by Dimitri Fetokakis/Niko Niko’s

Niko Niko’s, 922 Lake Front Circle, is coming to The Woodlands in fall 2023 in a space which formerly housed a Luby’s restaurant. This will be the fourth Houston area location for one of Houston’s longest and most-loved Greek restaurants, which was first founded in Montrose in 1977. It has since expanded to a kiosk location at Market Square and a full restaurant near Memorial City.

Owner Dimitri Fetokakis told CultureMap Houston that two of his cousins purchased The Woodlands property to help him grow the brand. That brand includes its famous gyros, kebabs and, according to this writer’s husband, the to-die-for fries. Other Greek and Mediterranean favorites like chicken avgolemono soup and the sweet honey balls will be on the menu as well.

Souvlaki is one of the must-haves at Niko Niko’s.

Photo by Niko Niko’s

There may  be a second rotisserie, allowing for the possibility of serving lamb at the new location. There will also be a drive-thru window that will offer a limited menu of easily executed dishes plus a convenient way to pick up orders placed ahead of time.

We reached out for a little more information from Fetokakis who said in an email, “This one will be our biggest one so far and will be using the drive thru for curbside and mobile order pickups. We are in the design phase and are laying it all out. We estimate 10 to 12 months till opening. This is exciting for us because we have always wanted to be in the Woodlands and it’s great timing for us as a company.”

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First Watch is now serving elevated breakfast, brunch and lunch in the Lower Heights.

Photo by Stuart Rosenberg

First Watch, 2799 Katy Freeway, opened at the Lower Heights District October 10. Serving breakfast, brunch and lunch, the concept is one of three fast-casual brands under the umbrella of Mack Haik Enterprises which includes commercial real estate development and automotive dealerships among its numerous ventures.

For breakfast, there are traditional dishes like bacon and eggs, waffles and eggs Benedict plus healthy choices like the ubiquitous avocado toast and A.M. Superfoods Bowl. Omelets, frittatas and a variety of pancakes are on the menu as well. First Watch also offers a selection of entree salads, quinoa bowls and a number of sandwiches.

With so many daytime concepts trending these days, many distinguish themselves by going beyond the coffee and orange juice of the typical diner. First Watch has done the same and features a juice bar and brunch cocktails. 

Scissors & Scotch, 2799 Katy Freeway, is also open and it’s the first Houston location for the men’s grooming and cocktail lounge. It is located directly above the new First Watch so it’s a convenient stop after brunch or lunch to get some above-the-neck man-scaping done. It offers a membership program with tailored packages of grooming services with drink discounts and other amenities.

The Elote and OG are OMG.

Photo by Zalat

Zalat Pizza, 9703 Barker Cypress,  is debuting a pick-up and on demand delivery pizza spot at Kroger Marketplace Towne Lake in Cypress October 21. This is the first Zalat Pizza within a Kroger supermarket, part of a multi-unit development partnership with the mega-grocery retailer. It will be the first of two pilot locations, with the second opening at Kroger’s Conroe Marketplace in December. There are plans for more joint openings in 2023.

Founded by CEO Khanh Nguyen in Dallas in 2015, the late-night pizzeria takes traditional pizza recipes to another level with pies like Pho Shizzle and Nashville Hot Chicken & Pickles. The dough is made from scratch and the tomato sauce is made with oven-roasted Roma tomatoes and fresh basil. The pepperoni is 100 percent beef and the pizzas are baked in old school deck ovens, creating a crust somewhere between crispy and chewy.

Khanh Nguyen is building a pizza empire.

Photo by Zalat Pizza

Nguyen came to the United States as a Vietnamese refugee. Eventually landing in Houston, he graduated from Klein Forest High School and the University of Houston, before embarking on a career as a corporate attorney. He then opened his first restaurant, DaLat, in Dallas serving dishes that gave an American twist to Vietnamese comfort food. Its success led him to open his first Zalat Pizza next door to DaLat. It has since expanded to 24 stores across Dallas and Houston.

As for his partnership with Kroger, Nguyen says, “Kroger is the largest grocery retailer in the world with over 2,500 locations among its many iconic brands and we are elated to partner with them on this project.”

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Slim Chickens has the wings despite supply chain shortages.

Photo by Slim Chickens

Slim Chickens, 11919 Westheimer, is having a grand opening October 24. This will be the 7th location for the Southern-inspired chicken brand in Houston. The new location is owned by TX-SC Ventures a Houston-based restaurant company that owns six additional Houston locations with five more planned for the near future. From the restaurant’s website, those future locations will be in Kingwood, Humble, Pearland, Katy and another in Houston on FM 1960.

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The Buffalo Ranch Sandwich won’t keep you a slim chicken but it will make your taste buds happy.

Photo by Slim Chickens

The fast-casual chicken concept first opened in Fayetteville, Arkansas in 2003 and has since expanded to over 175 stores in 30 U.S. states and locations in the United Kingdom. It goal is to open more than 600 restaurants in the next decade.

Its main menu item is the chicken tenders which are marinated in buttermilk, hand-breaded, then cooked fresh-to-order. The tenders can be paired with one of its 17 house-made sauces. The menu also includes sandwiches, wraps, salads, wings and its signature chicken and waffles. Its famous Southern sides include potato salad, mac and cheese, coleslaw, fried okra, fried mushrooms and fried pickles. And,of course, French fries.

Just GRK, 11325 Katy Freeway, closed its doors the first week of October, according to the Houston Chronicle. The Greek restaurant from brother and sister Chris and Anastasia Nikolas first opened in November 2017, just a few months after Hurricane Harvey flooded much of Houston. While it took a while for the city to get back to normal, a number of restaurants were also dealing with the after effects of a natural disaster on the rate of business. Just GRK got a boost when the Houston Chronicle‘s Alison Cook put the strip mall eatery on her Top 100 Restaurants list for 2018.

Then, the COVID pandemic hit with dine-in restrictions, supply chain issues and the subsequent inflation. A May 2020 article for Cook’s Burger Friday in the Chronicle helped to highlight the take-out options at Just GRK, but it wasn’t enough to combat all of the other obstacles. Finally, a May 2022 burglary, which caused damage to the restaurant’s menu screens and other financial losses, took its toll on the siblings’ American dream.

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T’is the season to have a hot brew.

Photo by PJ’s Coffee

PJ’s Coffee, 2533 W. Grand Parkway, is coming this month, though we weren’t able to get a definite date. Located in a new community hub, The Crawford at Grand Morton, PJ’s is bringing the New Orleans-based coffeehouse to Katy. It’s the third location for the brand in Houston and the 15th in Texas.

In addition to its multitude of coffee drinks, cold brews and Velvet Ices, PJ’s has a menu of pastries, breakfast sandwiches and beignets.

Limited-time seasonal treats include Pumpkin Latte, Pumpkin Sweet Cold Foam, S’Mores Velvet Ice and Bananas Foster coffee.

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Artsians will still have its open chef’s kitchen when it relocates next year.

Photo by Troy Fields

Artisans, 3201 Louisiana, will relocate in June 2023. And the new digs for the French fine dining restaurant will be none other than the former space of the recently closed James Coney Island at 5745 Westheimer, as reported by CultureMap Houston. It will continue to operate at its current location until the move.

Artisans owner/Master Chef Jacques Fox has purchased the former home of the Houston-based hot dog restaurant in order to transform it into a beautiful space for his French concept that has made its home in Midtown since 2011. Instead of paying rent, Fox will own the property on which his new location will stand. As we see so often in Houston, restaurant owners are sometimes at the mercy of rising rents and landlord disputes. Owning the property takes that uncertainty away.

The new location will also allow for a patio and, for the first time, Artisans will serve brunch, hoping to bring in nearby churchgoers and Galleria shoppers.

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Salata is keeping it fresh in Magnolia.

Photo by Salata

Salata Salad Kitchen, 6209 FM 1488, will celebrate its grand opening October 20 in Magnolia.  There will be a build-your-own succulent bar for paying customers and chef-curated pairings with samples of Salata’s homemade dressings and its signature organic teas and lemonades. Guests who sign up beforehand with Salata’s Tastemaker’s Rewards Program will receive a free small salad or wrap (without protein) on grand opening day when mentioning the free deal. The first guest in line will win a free swag kit and the first 100 people will receive a free custom T-shirt designed by Texas artist and influencer Alli K.  The Magnolia High School Drumline will be performing from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. A portion of the proceeds from the grand opening day will go to Inspiration Ranch, a charitable organization that uses equine therapy to enrich the lives of children and adults with physical, mental and emotional challenges.

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In addition to a sleek dining area, Salata offers online ordering, pick-up and delivery,

Photo by Salata

The new Salata will offer 3,000 square feet of space located in the heart of Magnolia. It is the 89th location nationwide for the Houston-based chain and the fourth location for franchisee Kyle Schomburg. Its popularity stems from its customizable, built-to-order salads and wraps with a multitude of fresh ingredients and homemade, gluten-free dressings to choose from.

Lombardi Cucina Italiana, is coming to Uptown Park, 1121 Uptown Park Boulevard, in the first half of 2023. It will be the second location of the Italian restaurant from Lombardi Family Concepts, which opened the first location in Frisco, Texas in February 2022.

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The Martini Tree is pretty. Just don’t let your klutzy friend sit next to it.

Photo by Brandon Holmes

The Warwick, 5888 Westheimer, is launching its Sunday brunch service October 23. The new brunch will run Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and the offerings are one of a kind. The Board Room Brunch Platter takes its cue from the ongoing popularity of charcuterie and cheese boards. This board, however, is loaded with butter pecan waffles, four eggs, candied bacon, sausage, green chili hash, fruit muffins and croissants. It serves four to five guests for $100.

Its new eye-popping Martini Tree is perfect for a group of fun-loving friends and offers 6 ($150) or 12 ($300) Casamigos Reposado lemon drops in a variety of flavors. Other brunch items include Tres Leches French Toast, Lobster Benedict, Smoked Oxtail Hash, and Warwick Fried Chicken & Waffles. There are also several new brunch cocktails to linger over.

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The new Ceviche at Spanish Village brings freshness to the table.

Photo by Jenn Duncan

Spanish Village, 4720 Almeda, has expanded its menu with six new items. With a 70-year history, the restaurant has earned numerous regulars over the years and has recently been bought by a new owner, Steve Rogers. He has made some much-needed updates to the interior and now, the menu. Though the usual favorites are still available, some new seafood plates add a freshness to the offerings.

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Fresh vegetables and seafood offer the lighter side of Mexican fare.

Photo by Jenn Duncan

On the food menu, there are new seafood dishes like Ceviche with shrimp, fish, onions, serrano peppers, lime juice and avocado, served with plantain chips. There’s the spicy Shrimp ala Diabla and the Shrimp Plate with either grilled shrimp or bacon-wrapped shrimp. There is also a Seafood Plate and Seafood Reno and Grilled Fish Tacos. Most of the seafood plates are served with rice and vegetables.

The famous Spanish Village Margarita is still available and now, guests can even order it to-go in individual and bulk portions. However, there are six new margaritas to try like the Cucumber, Cucumber Tajin, Frozen Strawberry Mango, Jalapeno, Spicy Pineapple and Tamarind. For the indecisive types like moi, there’s a Margarita Flight of four different flavors.

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Go ‘Stros!

Photo by Voodoo Doughnut

Voodoo Doughnut, 9320 Barker Cypress, 3715 Washington and 1214 Westheimer, are offering 50-cent special Astros-themed Sprinkle Cakes on Game Days during the ALCS. By the winning-way the Astros are playing, the deal may not last long.

Voodoo’s Katy store at 1301 N. Fry is coming soon. We’ll get back to you on that one.