- Americas – The excitement and once even some magic associated with the Latin American-inspired Americas at its original Post Oak location had long since become muted as the years wore on and the city’s dining scene advanced. With that and that the founding Cordua family had been forced out not so long ago, made the closure of this long enjoyable stop more bearable.
- Atlas Diner – Richard Knight, formerly of Feast and Hunky Dory and now this counter-laden space Bravery Chef Hall, is one of my favorite chefs in Houston and I believe among the best. Hopefully, his always adroitly rendered and often imaginative offerings rooted in British, French and American antecedents find a suitable home in the future.
- Barry’s Pizza – The thick Sicilian-style pies were a draw at this casual pizza parlor that made it nearly four decades, announcing that it was shuttering for good at the end of May.
- Bernie’s Burger Bus – All four locations closed of the city’s best burger joint closed on May 31.
- Bombay Pizza Co. – Something different and usually quite enjoyable on a particularly scruffy short stretch part of Main Street, this closure seems more than temporary, unfortunately.
- Burger-Chan – One of Houston’s best burger places, it couldn’t really continue in an office food court when the offices are emptied of workers. Thankfully, another one is reportedly in the works.
- The Classic – The contemporary diner on the western part of Washington from the folks at benjy’s and Local Diner never really excited too many diners, myself included.
- Dak & Bop (Museum District location) – Less fun for the kids in the Museum District and most of us who enjoy spicy fried stuff that is well made.
- Emmaline – A decent spot for a fairly upscale dining experience though never nearly among the city’s top dozens, but it was near my office. My endearing memory is their valet service damaging tow of my co-workers’ vehicles during one lunchtime visit.
- Helen in the Heights – Though a welcome addition to the Heights, this never seemed to catch on as it might.
- Indika – Though it had lost its shine when founder Anita Jaisinghani sold it to concentrate on Pondicheri, it was still quite worth a visit until changes were made in the menu and emphasis, which didn’t really endear until many, most diners had moved on.
- Kaneyama – On Westheimer near Gessner, this sushi purveyor had its fans over the years but closed in May.
- Kenny & Ziggy’s (Buffalo Speedway location) – Owner Kenny Gruber cited the smallish dining room as making operations unprofitable with the necessary restrictions for service during the pandemic. A shame, as it is much more convenient for me than the Galleria area spot. A place I like to go when I feel my cholesterol is too low.
- Morningstar Coffee and Donuts – Well-liked and -regarded, this quirky and likeable Heights-esque spot just closed in December.
- Night Heron – From the folks at Coltivare, Indianola and Vinny’s, this never resonated with its Menil area neighbors – an odd menu off the bat didn’t help – nor too many others as did its predecessors.
- Pappas Seafood – Along with the location of Pappadeaux a little west on Richmond, this little Pappas Seafood place with its largely locally attuned seafood at Shepherd shows a Pappas move away from the inner loop (excepting the grand steakhouse downtown). Another on Aldine-Bender and I-45 also closed.
- Pappadeaux (Richmond east of Kirby location) – Large and with a seemingly usually filled parking lot during popular dining hours, there are other Pappeadeaux’s left, though none now in the heart of town.
- Poitin – Nicely set with a cool view of downtown to its east, with a fairly expansive dining room and bar area, the odds were stacked against it during these tough times.
- Politan Row Food Hall – Some really neat and well-operated recent vendors made this a destination, more of note as its Rice Village surroundings has become more chain-oriented with its restaurant choices.
- Ragin’ Cajun (Westchase location) – The original location on Richmond Avenue remains open, and this near westside address made it for a couple of decades, a good run for any restaurant.
- Treebeards (on Market Square) – The Cloisters location is still open for your fix of southeast Texas-style red beans and rice.
- Yia Yia Mary’s – Pappas most explicit nod to their Greek heritage was a nice option to have in the area that did not survive the pandemic, either.
- Alice’s Tall Texas – On North Main west of I-45, the cheap Lone Star that was its hallmark has possibly become less of an attraction as surrounding area at the edge of the Heights has become less working class.
- Penny Quarter – One of Houston’s best wine bars, and certainly the noisiest, it will be missed, but the able team behind it – including principals Bobby Heugel of Anvil and Justin Yu of Better Luck Tomorrow – should hopefully be adding to the bar map once the pandemic clears.
- Public Services – This attractive bar a block south of Buffalo Bayou was excellent in turns for its cocktails, wines and spirits, especially whisky, and with service that was always a cut above.
- Acadian Bakers – A longtime favorite for cakes closed in March.
- Boomtown Coffee (Main and Congress location) – The smart-looking Main Street location of Boomtown closed its doors in mid-July.
There is also Dolce Vita that was long the city’s best pizzeria – in a city rather lacking in quality pizza. It’s closure was a decision by owner Marco Wiles independent of the pandemic to focus on his other two concepts, Da Marco and Poscol, as he has gotten older.
The whimsical Ants on a Log from the Atlas Diner