It takes a village: Rice Village revamps its restaurant scene with latest updates
Rice Village has long attracted a diverse clientele: The fusion of college students with residential populations creates a complex crowd of consumers that all want different things from their stroll down Rice Boulevard. The popular shopping strip has been around since the 1930s and has gotten several facelifts over the years to address the demands of its vibrant and ever-evolving consumer audience. With a major change in property ownership earlier this year, the Village is now experiencing its first flux of major real estate developments intended to reinvigorate the historic strip’s dining scene. If you’ve grown tired of routinely jumping between Torchy’s Tacos and Hopdoddy Burger Bar for your off-campus cravings, prepare for some new and upcoming food destinations in the Village that are sure to surprise and satisfy.
New in town — Mendocino Farms
Mendocino Farms is bringing a wholesome slice of sunny California to Houston with fresh, upscale twists on classic sandwiches and salads. Wedged between Hopdoddy Burger Bar and D’Amico’s Italian Market Cafe on Morningside Drive, Mendocino Farms’ Rice Village location marks the California chain’s first venture outside the Golden State and the first of three Houston storefronts. You certainly won’t find your typical BLT or run-of-the-mill Caesar salad at this modern sandwich market, which prides many of its dishes on their deviance from typical recipes. Expect to find innovations like barbecue-smoked tempeh sandwiches, vegan taco salads with Impossible Chorizo, chimichurri steak on pretzel rolls and much more. With numerous vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options, this sandwich shop is sure to have something for everyone in search of something new.
New in town — sweetgreen
Popular salad bar chain sweetgreen proves that you can have a delicious salad that is equally as good for you, the planet and your Instagram feed. This restaurant boasts a flavorfully diverse menu with dishes like the Chicken Tostada Bowl and Spicy Thai Salad that draw inspiration from a range of cultural palettes. Like Mendocino Farms, sweetgreen’s Rice Village storefront will be the chain’s first Texas location. The salad bar chain operates with a strong ethos surrounding sustainability, placing a high value on building relationships with local small and mid-size growers who farm responsibly. In an effort to make a positive impact on the communities they serve, sweetgreen aims to increase accessibility to authentic, organic food by providing transparency around the ingredients they source. Sweetgreen will not only satisfy devout locavores but will also serve as a beacon for anyone looking to eat more sustainably or healthily.
Coming soon — Politan Food Hall
If you’re like me and are not familiar with the food hall phenomenon, I advise you to imagine a luxurious cafeteria with accomplished local chefs taking the place of lunch ladies, each doling out a different kind of unique cuisine. Politan Group, a company formerly known as Helpful Hound, is bringing the staggering success of New Orleans food halls St. Roch Market and Auction House to Rice Village with Politan Row Houston. The food hall will sit a block away from Torchy’s Tacos at the corner of Kelvin Street and Times Street and is projected to be completed by October. Politan Row Houston will offer 12 chef-driven dining concepts according to their website, and if it’s anything like its sister location in Chicago, you can expect a spread of local vendors that represent Houston’s diverse food landscape. Already announced chefs include Phillip Kim of local food truck Breaking Bao, Victoria Elizondo of homestyle Mexican restaurant Cochinita & co., Niken and Ecky Prabanto of Indonesian coffee and dessert shop Susu Kopi and Boba.
Coming soon — Sixty Vines
If you’ve ever thought that the phenomenon of beer-on-tap should be extended to wine, Sixty Vines is going to make your dream come true. This swanky, high-end bar has already earned a reputation in Dallas as “one of the city’s best wine bars,” according to Eater Houston. The bar transports their customers to Napa Valley with an extensive collection of wine labels as well as elevated cafe fare, wood-fired pizza, charcuterie boards and more. Not only does their wine-on-tap perfect the art of enjoying wine by the glass, but it has also eliminated 33,500 bottles from waste, according to their website. Sixty Vines was slated to open in late July; however, according to Eater Houston, the wine bar will open sometime this fall at 2540 University Blvd. near Gap.
More from The Rice Thresher
Main Street Theater’s production of “Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley” is a play that serves as a sequel to Jane Austen’s classic “Pride and Prejudice.” Lauren Gunderson’s clever script showcases the Bennet sisters once again, this time spending Christmas together at Pemberley. This farcical romantic-comedy focuses on awkward middle sister Mary Bennet (Chaney Moore) as she finds love with Mr. Darcy’s equally awkward cousin, Arthur de Bourgh (Aaron Alford). Main Street Theater presents an excellent production of the show with very few missteps and is only a walk to Rice Village away from campus. Performances will continue through Dec. 19 with $10 student tickets.
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It is beginning to look a lot like the holiday season with the lit up Christmas tree at Fondren, Mariah Carey playing at the President’s barbecue and lights wound around trees in Rice Village. To reel in the Houston winter vibes, look no further for a list of holiday attractions to visit during dead days to avoid studying for finals.