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When mega developer Hines wanted something special as a food and beverage amenity for its Enterprise Plaza at 1100 Louisiana, it turned to one of Houston’s most accomplished restaurateurs.
The result is Real Agave, an upscale agave spirits-inspired cocktail lounge led by restaurateur Bill Floyd, opening September 13 on the ground floor of the downtown skyscraper. Floyd, whose extensive resume includes Reef, El Real Tex-Mex, Jackson Street BBQ, Potente, Osso & Kristalla, and Porta’Vino, assembled a team including general manager Dan Mellott and chef Derek Cooper to create a new player on the downtown dining scene inspired by (but not an extension of) his beloved El Real.
The posh enclave, designed by Gensler, gives Enterprise and downtown workers a new outpost for high-end tequila/mezcal/sotol cocktails paired with elevated takes on Mexican dishes designed for after-work enjoyment (it eventually will serve lunch).
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The 76-seat space is a handsome set-up, featuring a bar, booth seating and a light-filled lounge done up in dark woods with chic navy blue seating, marble tables and custom light fixtures. While Hines lavished big bucks to create the lounge as an amenity for its building, Real Agave is sure to become a new hotspot for downtown workers. Currently, Real Agave’s hours will be Monday through Friday 4 to 8 p.m. with lunch coming (the space also can be let out on weekends for private functions).
Cooper’s food menu is fashioned as sharable plates and indulgent bites meant to pair well with beer, wine, and cocktails. Real Agave has no on-site kitchen; the menu items are prepared in El Real, the downstairs tunnels restaurant that Floyd opened in May, and sent up by dumbwaiter. Real Agave’s dishes are not iterations of the El Real menu but designed specifically for the upscale lair.
On the menu: Tuna tiradito (sashimi tuna on planks of jicama with leche de tigre and purple potato coins); shrimp campechana (poached shrimp with avocado and orange guajillo sauce served in a bowl instead of traditional goblet); tuna tacos (diced tuna and guacamole in wonton shells with salsa agridulce); shrimp beignets glossed with spiced honey and sweet tomato jam); carnitas confit sliders with guajillo barbecue sauce; grilled steak and poblano rajas sliders); barbecue chicken flautas with guajillo barbecue sauce and guacamole; and guacamole and chips with salsa verde.
Mollett created the cocktail menu which includes margaritas (traditional made with blanco tequila and Jalisco orange liqueur; “skinny” fashioned with fresh lime juice and agave nectar; and an upscale with Maestro Dobel tequila and house-made sweet and sour), classic cocktails, and proprietary craft cocktails including Lobos in Sheep’s Clothing (tequila, fresh basil, mango and jalapeño), The SOB (mezcal, lime, agave, and basil), and Naked in West Texas (sotol, herbal liqueur, Aperol and lime juice). A select wine list echoes Floyd’s choice bottles featured at Porta’Vino, includes labels such as Cakebread, Far Niente, Jordan, Silver Oak, and Caymus.
Downtown, things are about to get Real.
Greg Morago writes about food for the Houston Chronicle. Follow him on Facebook or Twitter. Send him news tips at Hear him on our BBQ State of Mind podcast to learn about Houston and Texas barbecue culture.
Greg Morago was a features editor and reporter for The Hartford Courant for 25 years before joining the Houston Chronicle as food editor in 2009. He writes about food, restaurants, spirits, travel, fashion and beauty. He is a native Arizonan and member of the Pima tribe of the Gila River Indian Community.
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