Sichuan, salads and more: Your guide to 4 new Houston eateries

Cooking Girl. | Photo: Winnie H./Yelp

Looking to discover the newest food and drink establishments in Houston? From a health-conscious eatery to a Japanese-style pub, read on for a rundown of the newest places to open for business near you.


1931 Fairview St., Montrose
Photo: Niki V./Yelp

Vibrant is a gluten-free, dairy-free and organic eatery, which serves breakfast and lunch.

On the menu, you'll see options like the Breakfast Salad (greens, house-smoked Ora King salmon, radish, activated seed crumble, Dijon, lemon, extra virgin olive oil and a fried egg) and the Golden Bone Broth Soup (housemade chicken bone broth, coconut cream, lemon, turmeric, ginger, shredded roasted chicken, carrot and greens).

Finish your meal with a pastry, such as a Spirulina Tahini Bliss Ball with almond, coconut oil, ashwagandha, hemp and local honey. (See the full menu here.)

Vibrant has proven popular thus far, with a four-star rating out of 16 reviews on Yelp.

Beth B., who reviewed it on Sept. 1, wrote, "Really cool place for healthy food. The avocado toast and coconut yogurt were awesome! Also had a latte with coconut milk that was really good. They have a bunch of cool drinks with healthy ingredients (e.g., golden milk and apple cider vinegar tonic) and the menu explains how all the ingredients are good for your health."

Yelper Niki V. noted, "Beautiful and delicious food! No refined sugar. Wonderful ambiance. The staff are friendly and attentive. The matcha latte is the best I've ever had!"

Intrigued? Stop in to try it for yourself. Vibrant is open from 7 a.m.-4 p.m. daily.

Cooking Girl

2400 W. Holcombe Blvd., University Place
Photo: Winnie H./Yelp
Cooking Girl is a Sichuan spot that opened near the Texas Medical Center. This is its second location after the one in Sugar Land.

On the menu, you'll see spicy dishes featuring peppers and peppercorn, including the Billionaire Pork with ginger, Kung Pao Chicken with peanuts and the Colorful Beef with bell peppers and mushrooms. (See the full menu here.)

Cooking Girl has already attracted fans thus far, with a 4.5-star rating out of 18 reviews on Yelp.

Yelper H L., who reviewed it on Aug. 26, wrote, "We had the jelly appetizer, twin pepper chicken and the string beans and eggplant. The chicken dish leaves your mouth numb, so beware. Everything was tasty and service was very good."

Christy G. noted, "The food did not disappoint! The hot diving fish and red noodles are amazing."

Intrigued? Stop in to try it for yourself. Cooking Girl is open from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. and 4-9:30 p.m. daily.

Peli Peli Kitchen

101 N. Loop West, Independence Heights
Photo: Barry H./Yelp

Peli Peli Kitchen is a fast-casual South African eatery, a more casual version of the Peli Peli restaurant chain. Located inside the Whole Foods Market 365, this is its second counter-service location after the one in Spring Branch.

The South African-inspired comfort food restaurant serves menu items like The Peli, its signature peri-peri infused rotisserie chicken, served with sides; the Huguenot Pork Belly plate with blue cheese, raspberry chipotle sauce, yellow rice, fried onions, peppadews and cilantro with one side; and the Frikadelle sandwich with beef patty, Peli sandwich spread, crispy onions, peppadews and cilantro on a brioche bun. (See the full menu here.)

With a 3.5-star rating out of seven reviews on Yelp so far, Peli Peli Kitchen is getting solid feedback from clientele.

Jeremy T., who reviewed it on Aug. 28, wrote, "I haven't been to any of their other kitchens or express locations, but this location is a trimmed-down version of their fancier restaurants with a limited menu. It is sort of no-frills, cafeteria-style and you pick from plates, tacos, salads, rotisserie chicken and sandwiches. They also offer teas, coffees, desserts, beer and wine."

Yelper Barry H. added, "Anything you pick from the menu is a great choice. All of the items offered use fresh ingredients and an excellent mix of flavors. ... The pork belly platter is a must-have and the curried chicken is awesome."

Interested? Stop by to welcome the new business to the neighborhood. Peli Peli Kitchen is open from 7 a.m.-9 p.m. daily.

Blackbird Izakaya

1221 W. 11th St., The Heights
Photo: Blackbird Izakaya/Yelp

Blackbird Izakaya is a Japanese pub. As reported by Eater Houston, it's a revamped concept from chef Billy Kin of his Republic Diner, which formerly occupied the space, with the new establishment billing itself as the city's first "true izakaya."

The menu features both cold and hot small plates, skewers, ramen, noodle bowls and rice dishes. You'll see options like the Belly Enoki skewer (enoki mushroom wrapped with chargrilled pork belly), the Spaghetti Mental (squid ink spaghetti with spicy marinated capelin roe, topped with garlic chips and scallions) and the Buddha (creamy vegan broth and miso seasoning with spinach, corn, mushrooms, bean sprouts and bamboo shoots).

Blackbird Izakaya is off to a promising start with a current Yelp rating of four stars out of 10 reviews.

Yelper Michael S., who was the first to review it on Aug. 21, wrote, "Sat at the bar and ordered a couple of their skewers, tapas-style. The enoki-wrapped pork belly was my favorite. The gyoza was unbelievable -- best ginger dish I've had that wasn't overpowered."

Wilson X. noted, "Cool place. The interior is exactly like the ones in Japan. The food is cheap compared to other Japanese restaurants, plus the quality is higher."

Interested? Stop by to welcome the new business to the neighborhood. Blackbird Izakaya is open from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and 5-10 p.m. on Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and 5-11 p.m. on Friday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. on Saturday, and 11 a.m.-10 p.m. on Sunday.
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