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Review: Loro Houston hits all the spots with Asian-inspired barbeque in opening week

Sydney Park / Thresher

By Sydney Park     2/22/22 11:15pm

Rating: ★★★★

When I received an invitation to dine at Loro during its pre-opening trial, I suspected the quality food given its high-profile chefs. Even amid the hype, there’s simply no other way to put it: Loro is just too good. Located in Houston Heights, about a 20 minute drive from Rice campus, the Asian fusion smokehouse opens for service on Feb. 23. 

Tyson Cole and pitmaster Aaron Franklin, both James Beard Award-winning chefs, first established Loro in Austin, Texas in 2018. Since then, the two have also expanded to Dallas, with the Houston location marking their third smokehouse. The Texas chain combines Franklin’s background in Texas barbeque with Cole’s expertise in Japanese cuisine. 

Loro’s appearance resembles a Southern style home with its red brick exterior and spacious front porch, designed to recreate the friendly outdoor patio culture that Loro is known for. Long wooden benches dominate the space, making it an ideal place to gather with family and friends. The restaurant’s interior feels modern yet cozy with woven light fixtures and several plants decorated across the walls. 

Loro’s menu offers a variety of plate options from bar snacks and shareable appetizers to smoked meats and rice bowls. Being a barbeque smokehouse, I obviously had to try their oak-smoked beef brisket sandwich priced at $14 each. Take my word for it: this is the best brisket I’ve ever had. The meat itself is delectable; the cut is very high quality and its rich smokiness is incredibly intense and flavorful. The sandwich is served on a brioche bun and includes an Asian-style radish coleslaw and sliced peanuts, adding coolness and a crunch to the dish. There are also small halved yellow tomatoes, which incorporate subtle notes of sweetness. Altogether, the texture and flavors are divine without becoming greasy or overly rich. This new interpretation of barbeque is delightful; I don’t say this often, but this sandwich is truly to die for. 

Although the brisket is my favorite bite, the other dishes from Loro receive similarly outstanding reviews. The restaurant’s renowned crunchy sweet corn fritters are priced at $8 and arrive warm, sprinkled with salt and filled with a corn-based dough filling. They are served with sriracha aioli and make for a tempting appetizer to share with friends.

Another noteworthy menu item is the $12 crispy smoked chicken sandwich. With a large portion size, the chicken is impressively tender and juicy while its crunchy exterior is quite spicy, as it is tossed in smoked hot sauce. A reinterpretation of a classic Nashville hot chicken sandwich, the dish contains a citrus-cabbage slaw, homemade pickles, sriracha aioli and a brioche bun. The flavors are superb but are definitely on the spicier side, which makes it more difficult to taste all the elements. 

Finally, if you’re looking to grab dessert, I would recommend their $6.50 peach-yuzu cobbler. The cobbler is garnished with a dollop of whipped cinnamon mascarpone, which sits on top of a buttery crumble. As you dig in, the fruit confection emerges; the peaches are deliciously ripe, sweet and are complemented by the tartness from the yuzu. It makes for a solid finish to a stellar meal. 

Between their casual ambiance, quality you can taste and mouthwatering flavors, Loro is a new favorite place of mine. I absolutely love the food and definitely plan to return again in the near future. I would give it five stars, but the only thing holding me back is the distance, as it is a bit of a drive from campus. However, I do think it is worth it and the value is excellent given the quality of the food. Loro Houston gets my approval — go beyond the hedges and visit this new Asian fusion smokehouse. 

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