In our print editions this year, Community Impact Newspaper ran features of five local dining establishments. Learn more about these restaurants here.

January: Couple serves recipes fit for the whole family at Brandani's Burgers, Tacos & Brews in Missouri City

Ron and Claire Brandani have been in the restaurant industry since they were 14 and 15, respectively. Ron said he had always wanted to open his own restaurant, so when the chance came in 2015, the Brandanis could not pass it up.

That restaurant was Brandani’s Restaurant & Wine Bar, located in Township Square in Missouri City. Nearly four years later, in January 2019, when another space was available two doors down, they jumped at the opportunity again and opened Brandani’s Burgers, Tacos & Brews.

“Everybody loved our [first] restaurant, but not everybody wants to come and do a sit-down meal,” Claire said. “On a Saturday, you just want to go grab something quick, but you want something that’s still fresh and delicious and not made by a chain.”

Brandani’s Burgers, Tacos & Brews is more casual than the Brandanis’ first restaurant and serves a variety of diner-style menu options, including half a dozen burger choices, tacos with different toppings and other items, such as sandwiches, salads and chicken fried steak. The restaurant also has a vast selection of beers and wines.

February: Crab Heads Cajun Boil owner unveils his recipes to the community

From Crab Heads Cajun Boil’s soft opening Dec. 1 to its grand opening Jan. 18, co-owner and chef David Le worked to perfect the restaurant’s recipes, menu offerings and prices.

So far, he said, the restaurant has been received well by early customers, many of whom have come back several times and have provided feedback for how they can improve.

“Well, of course, you’re going to have people that don’t like it, and you have people that do really like it,” Le said. “[Our customers] say that we are progressing a lot, and we are.”

Le and his father-in-law, Loc Tran, had talked about opening a Cajun restaurant for several years, so late last year, when the opportunity presented itself, they took it.

March: Owners at Toast Breakfast Brunch Lunch offer creative menu items in Sugar Land

Tam and Renda Hoang opened Toast, a breakfast, brunch and lunch eatery, in Sugar Land in June 2019 after seeing success at their gourmet doughnut shop, The Grove Do-Nutz & Deli, which opened in 2013 in Richmond.

“Sugar Land was lacking some breakfast options,” Tam said. “There’s thousands of people that live in Sugar Land, so there was definitely a niche for it.”

Tam, who cooks at the restaurant and curates the menu, said he keeps Toast fresh by frequently changing up the dishes offered. The restaurant also serves craft mimosas and local craft beers.

November: Despite COVID-19 pandemic, State Fare Kitchen & Bar opens, thrives in Sugar Land Town Square

Even during the coronavirus pandemic, State Fare Kitchen & Bar—which opened in Sugar Land Town Square on July 8—draws large weekend and brunch crowds, leading to hours-long waits, Director of Operations Justin Yoakum said.

“The hardest part is not being able to accommodate everyone, especially when we are operating at [reduced] capacity," Yoakum said.

Yoakum, who oversees the food program at the new Sugar Land location and at the original location in Houston’s Memorial City, said most people are drawn to the restaurant for its unique identity.

“I feel like we're an upbeat Southern concept,” Yoakum said. “So we have a bunch of really cool twists on Southern favorites. Then, also, we have a couple of spinoffs of fair-type food—like, we have fried Oreos and funnel cake, as well.”

December: Gyro Republic brings fast, healthy options to Sugar Land

When Gyro Republic owner and founder Rehan Ranpuri first immigrated to America from India five years ago, he had not eaten many gyros. In fact, he said, he had not spent much time in the kitchen at all until he began brainstorming the concept that would later become the create-your-own-gyro restaurant.

However, Ranpuri, who first worked in Houston in the retail industry as the owner of 25 Boost Mobile stores, said he wanted to diversify and build a brand around his newfound passion for gyros.

“I think gyros are an awesome type of food; it’s a beef and lamb combo that tastes good. I think very few people are exposed to it, so there’s a lot of opportunity for people to get to know this food and eat it and enjoy it.”