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Saying Goodbye to (Some of) Houston's Finest Dining

Haley Kurisky
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Haley Kurisky

Haley Kurisky pays homage to some recent Houston restaurant closings, such as Américas, where she's celebrated many birthdays. Luckily, the famous tres leches cake can still be found at Churrascos.  

You don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone. How I wish this weren’t the case, but unfortunately, I’m feeling melancholically moody (yes, I’m being that dramatic about this!) about the closing of various restaurants around town. As patrons in a restaurant-dominated city, we should be used to restaurants coming and going, but sometimes, the closing of a family favorite just… hurts… especially when many of the closings can be attributed to the recent Covid-19 crisis.

Here, I’d like to pay homage to some of the recent restaurant closings so that they can live on in our memories, even though their doors have shuttered. 

Américas (2040 W Gray St)
I’m not going to lie, getting the final confirmation that Américas was closing was a stab to the heart. Everyone has a special “birthday” restaurant growing up, and this one was mine. We have numerous family photos of me celebrating birthdays throughout the years with the funky furniture of Américas in the background. And no Houston birthday is complete without a slice of the classic Cordúa tres leches cake - the best I have ever tasted. Thank goodness Churrascos is still open so I can still get my tres leches fix, but I’ll definitely be shedding a tear for Américas. 

Bernie’s Burger Bus (5407 Bellaire Blvd.)
BBB started with a regular school bus and graduated into a restaurant that became a neighborhood staple for Bellaire residents. Famous for its school-themed burgers and milkshakes, BBB had its last day on May 31. All of the locations were hit hard by Covid-19, and all locations will be closing. A fan favorite, BBB is sure to be missed by Houstonians all across the city, especially Bellaire folks. 

Pappas Restaurants (Multiple Locations)
On Friday, beloved Pappas Restaurants announced that they would be closing five of their restaurants across the city. The restaurants closing include Yia Yia Mary’s Mediterranean Kitchen (4747 San Felipe St.); Pappas Seafood House (I-45 North at Aldine Bender), Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen (2410 Richmond Ave.), Pappas Shrimp Shack (6945 I-45 South) and Little Pappas Seafood House (3001 S. Shepherd Dr.). Their other restaurants, which are now closed due to coronavirus, will reopen after the pandemic. Online ordering is still possible if you’re craving your Pappas seafood!

Tropicales (2132 Bissonnet St., Suite 100)
Tropicales was a fairly recent addition to the Rice scene, located on Shepherd and Bissonnet in that random little shopping center. An all-day coffee shop serving coffees, teas and fun drinks all day long alongside creative Central American food, Tropicales was a fun meeting spot for breakfast and lunch, alike. The menu featured an amazing guava drink that I’ll forever curse myself for not inquiring more about, recipe-wise. 

Penny Quarter (1424 Westheimer Rd.)
PQ was a victim of Covid-19, closing “indefinitely.” Although only open for about a year, PQ seemed destined for success, considering it was the idea of Bobby Heugel and Justin Yu, legendary Houston restaurateurs. However, Covid-19 showed no mercy, and PQ is closed for good. 

Starbucks on W. Gray and Shepherd (2029 W. Gray St, Suite B05)
Okay, so this isn’t a treasured Houston restaurant. But it is a semi-famous reference in our pop culture history! Once referred to as “the end of the universe,” this is the Starbucks known for being right across the street from…another Starbucks. And although one of them was eventually going to go, I will admit that this Starbucks was my favorite of the two. 

Dak & Bop (1801 Binz St., Suite 120)
Before you panic, as I did when I first read the news, it’s only the Museum District location that is closing. The new Timbergrove location is still set to open. But the original favorite location will be closing. I’ll miss the central location, but not the horrible parking. 

Ragin’ Cajun (9600 Westheimer Rd., #80)
As a former Memorial resident, this one was another one that hit hard. The nearby Westchase outpost of this restaurant was a staple for anyone needing a crawfish fix. Luckily, the Richmond location is still open, but at least to me, it just doesn’t have the same charm, you know?

Patrenella’s Italian Restaurant (813 Jackson Hill St.)
Near Washington Ave., Patrenella’s was open for 28 years, and at its closing was still operated by 85-year-old owner Sammy Patrenella. According to him, closing was on his radar, but Covid-19 was the final nail in the coffin. 

Barry’s Pizza (6003 Richmond Ave.)
Barry’s, a 37-year-old institution, is closing due to Covid-19. Even the Barry’s location at Hobby is temporarily closed (why does that hurt to hear, too!?). Thousands of loyal Barry’s fans commented on the Barry’s Facebook post announcing the closure, sharing fond memories of dates and celebrations held there. That’s what opening a popular neighborhood restaurant is all about anyways, right?

Hard Rock Cafe Houston (502 Texas St.)
Hard Rock probably wasn’t a top food spot for you, but it was a fun downtown relic perfect for a quick bite before a show. Did you know it was originally established on Kirby in 1986? It moved to downtown in 2000 but closed for good on May 27. I think the saddest thing is that every big city has a Hard Rock, and I don’t want us to be left out! We’ll see what will come of that space. 

RIP to these restaurants, and all the others not named that have also closed during this difficult period. If you have a favorite that closed but wasn’t mentioned, comment below with your own favorite memory. And to the restaurant owners, thank you for your service to the foodie citizens of Houston. We appreciate you!

Editor’s note: For more nostalgia on shuttered Houston dining, be sure to read Restaurant Memories by Russell Weil, which was published in 2014 and is one of our most popular stories to date. 

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