Eunice: Upper Kirby restaurant draws on chef’s Louisiana roots, experience

Eunice Drake Leonards
Executive Chef Drake Leonards is no stranger to shucking oysters. He opened Eunice, named after his Louisiana hometown, in 2018. (Matt Dulin/Community Impact Newspaper)

Executive Chef Drake Leonards is no stranger to shucking oysters. He opened Eunice, named after his Louisiana hometown, in 2018. (Matt Dulin/Community Impact Newspaper)

Just over two years ago, Drake Leonards and his family set out from New Orleans to Houston. His goal: Open a restaurant bringing over a decade’s worth of experiences and his upbringing to Houston’s culinary scene.

Then Hurricane Harvey rolled into town.“During Harvey, I had just moved here. My wife left with the baby to stay with my parents in Eunice. ... Next thing you know, I’m cooking out in my front yard for guys from the restaurant, for other chefs, whoever could make it,” Leonards said.

For a newcomer with only a handful of local connections, this “baptism by hurricane” earned invaluable goodwill.“I saw firsthand the power of the food community here ... and the power that a hot meal can have for people who have really suffered,” Leonards said.

When it came time to open Eunice, named after his hometown, in 2018, Leonards said the people he has met and worked with over the years made it possible.

“It takes a lot of people to make this work, and I treasure the people who have helped, and we just want to see them all do well,” he said.

Cooking was always a people-oriented family ritual for Leonards, but it became his vocation. He took a dishwashing job at 15, enrolled in culinary courses in college, worked in respected New York restaurants, and traveled to Europe to learn and experience more food.

“I’ll never forget being in Florence. ... There was a little bar, an old restaurant. We had braised rabbit and peas on paper plates. It wasn’t fancy. There’s an old grandmother cooking, and there may have been a drunken card game going on in the back,” he said.

It hearkened back to his upbringing in Louisiana.

“I thought hey, there’s something to this. ... It pulled all of my experience together, and that’s the spirit we try to put back into Eunice,” he said. “It was always about a warm plate of food and a cold drink.”


3737 Buffalo Speedway, Ste. 100, Houston


Hours: Mon.-Fri. 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Sat. 3-10 p.m., Sun. 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
By Matt Dulin

Matt joined Community Impact Newspaper in January 2018 and is the City Editor for Houston's Inner Loop editions.


A Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County study on eliminating ride fares left both METRO board members and officials seemingly unconvinced of the likelihood of implementing it in Harris County. (Kelly Schafler/Community Impact Newspaper)
METRO board of directors say free fare 'not realistic' for transit authority

A METRO study on eliminating ride fares left board members and officials unconvinced of the likelihood of implementing it in Harris County.

Houston City Council approves revisions to 2015 flood buyout processes

New guidelines adjust single-family and multifamily home buyout process for those affected by 2015 floods.

The interior of Eighteen36 will include a mural based on Houston's original map. (Courtesy Eighteen36)
New Houston-themed bar Eighteen36 joins Roadster Grill at former Owl Bar location

Eighteen36 will operate on the first floor, with Roadster Grill, a Greek-American restaurant based in Bellaire until 2017, on the second floor.

(Jen Para/Community Impact Newspaper)
Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo concert tickets go on sale Jan. 16

Lower-level seating options are already very limited.

Texas oil and gas industry could see a major slowdown in 2020

The oil and natural gas industry paid a record-setting $16.3 billion in taxes and royalties to local governments and the state in 2019, the Texas Oil and Gas Association announced Tuesday.

HGA driver Derek King picks up a patient from David Wayne Hooks Memorial Airport in Spring before transporting her to the Texas Medical Center. (Courtesy Derek King)
Houston Ground Angels seeking volunteers to drive patients to Texas Medical Center

Houston Ground Angels is a nonprofit organization that provides transportation between local airports and the Texas Medical Center for patients with cancer and other life-threatening diseases and illnesses.

Chevron Houston Marathon
Chevron Marathon 2020 street closures, places to watch and cheer on

This year’s Chevron Houston Marathon will bring 27,000 estimated participants into the area on Jan. 19.

The Texas Department of Transportation has announced a major road closure on Loop 610. (Courtesy Fotolia)
TxDOT: Section of Loop 610 will shut down overnight Wednesday, Thursday

The Texas Department of Transportation will close a section of Loop 610 overnight this week as construction continues on the elevated bus lanes project.

GreenStreet is a 570,000 square foot mixed-use, walkable development located in downtown Houston along the METRORail, an area that would be subject to new development guidelines being considered by the city.
Public has final chance to weigh in on new policies aiming to make Houston more walkable

Proponents of two upcoming policy changes say they will make Houston pedestrian-friendly but opponents say they will cause more traffic and parking headaches.

Courtesy Voodoo Doughnut
Houston's first Voodoo Doughnut opens to the public Jan. 15

Portland-based Voodoo Doughnut will open in the Washington corridor this week.

Courtesy Drift Bar
Beach-themed Drift bar opens in the Heights, sporting big screens, ample patios

The latest Heights bar is big on beach vibes and watching the next big game.

 A line of thunderstorms with severe wind gusts is likely to roll through southeast Texas on Friday night. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Friday night storms could bring 75 mph wind gusts; how to prepare for strong winds

The Storm Prediction Center has issued tornado, wind, and hail probability maps for Jan. 10. The greatest threat for severe weather remains north of I-10. ABC 13 will get four more updates of all these maps from the Storm Prediction Center throughout the day.

Back to top