Houston is large, diverse and a mix of everything from food and culture to architecture and green space. So it happens that there are beautiful pockets in the city that go unnoticed until something new comes along to showcase their charm.
This is the case with a grove of century-old live oak trees that provide the perfect setting for the restaurant Eunice. Twenty-foot windows not only allow in ample light, making the restaurant feel large and airy, but they also allow for unobstructed views of the majestic trees.
Named for Executive Chef Drake Leonards’ hometown Eunice, Louisiana, the restaurant opened in fall of 2018. This Cajun-Creole brasserie pays homage to Leonards’ roots with scratch-made food with a Cajun twist.
“I want people to feel like they are eating at my home,” said Leonards. “Houston is so close to Louisiana, it makes sense that a lot of what we eat has a Cajun influence. I also wanted to cook what I love – much of this is the food that I grew up with.”
In addition to the gorgeous views, the décor in Eunice is beautiful. Different shades of blue and gray can be found throughout the restaurant. With both rustic and contemporary touches, it is comfortable and chic. It’s also hard to overlook the muslin-draped lighting and the large quartz-topped bar – a showstopper.
A taste of something chilled and delicious is a great way to start off any meal; you might be thinking about a cold cocktail, but we are talking about the fully-stocked raw bar. Oysters, ceviche, tartare and crudos are available, along with daily specials. Eunice also boasts a daily happy hour with 75 cent oysters, as well as drink and appetizer specials. (Is there a better way to kick off happy hour?) The signature cocktails also can’t be missed – the St. Landry Sidecar and Fallen Angel are both smooth and tasty; don’t let the egg white scare you off or you’ll truly be missing something special.
Leonards’ dynamic menu offers something for just about everyone. There is a nod to millennials with avocado toast, but this hearty layer avocado is served on a thick slice of whole grain and topped with chunks of blue crab – fantastic. The Hand Pulled Burrata topped with Cajun caviar is just as tasty, served with a dollop of jalapeno jelly which cuts the creaminess of the smooth burrata with its sweet spice.
One of the highlights on the menu is the Drew’s Smoked Chicken & Sausage Gumbo. It seems that everyone has an opinion on how gumbo should taste – the rice and protein choices often up for endless debate – but the gumbo at Eunice is delicious just as it is. Dished out with a serving of potato salad on top, Leonards explained that is how he ate it growing up. “I could probably make it a little fancier, but this is how I would serve it if you came to my house, and this is how I ate it sitting at my grandmother’s table.”
Leonards takes pride is serving local food farmed or raised as close to Houston as possible. Many of the dishes on the menu are prepared with ingredients from Urban Harvest Farmers Market, one of the largest farmer’s markets in Houston, which happens to be located across the street. “We are lucky that the market is so close to the restaurant. I am there every weekend trying and buying for the menu,” said Leonards.
It seems that Cajun and creole flavors are having a moment in the Houston food scene right now. Diners everywhere should rejoice that this Louisiana guy decided to cook his nostalgic food for the masses in Houston.
Cover photo Kirsten Gilliam
Gabi De la Rosa lives in Houston with her husband and three children. You can usually find her at a great local restaurant or out exploring HTX with her family. Visit her on Instagram @gabioftheroses_htx