December 2, 2022

Long-awaited Lyric Market adds yet another food hall to downtown Houston

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Houston was behind the game when it came to food halls, but has steadily made up for lost time, adding Washington’s Railway Heights Market to the Heights and Blodgett Street Food Hall in Historic Third Ward. Downtown Houston alone is home to five food halls: Finn Hall, Understory, Underground Hall, Bravery Chef Hall, and Post Market. The latest entry is the highly anticipated Lyric Market located at 411 Smith, on the ground floor of the Lyric Tower, an office space and mixed-use building, which opened this month after a long delay.

Lyric Market is operated by reception HQan advisory and management group led by Akhtar Nawab, chef, restaurateur, television personality and cookbook author. Hospitality HQ operates several other food halls across the country. The project was announced in 2018 and was originally scheduled to open in 2019. The opening was delayed and then the pandemic hit. A website for Lyric Tower touts a market of more than 31,000 square feet and twenty-two different vendors, but so far it’s open with nine vendors, with concepts that include sushi, smash-burgers, Cajun food and Israeli cuisine.

The only way to describe Lyric Market is “elegant”. While other downtown food halls have a laid-back vibe, Lyric’s location in the heart of the theater district, next to the Wortham Theater and Leisure center, invites the crowd to dress to impress. It’s no surprise to see guests dressed up for a night out on the town or men in suits making a deal.

In the center of the market is Rhapsody Bar, where you can saddle up with a libation. The myriad of food choices begins with Horu Sushi, the first stall you see when entering through the main entrance. It is led by Chief Chin “Steve” Liang and there are three other locations in food halls across the country, including Legacy food hall to Plan. The menu offers your standard sushi and sashimi, poke bowls and specialty rolls, including the namesake Horu Scroll with tuna, salmon, bacon tempura, crab, avocado, masago, green onions, spicy mayo and eel sauce.

People at a food counter
Horu Sushi at Lyric Market. Photo by Minh Truong.

If you’re looking for a barbecue before a show, there’s Lottie’s Smokehouse, by Pitmaster Scott Lottie who took his longtime food truck to the South Side at 6404 Tierwester in the city. Expect Texan breast, ribs and turkey, but leave room for cookies made from scratch. Another local stand is 1929 Po-Boy Kitchen, Houston native and chef Monique Landry. She and partner, Garfield Landryoffer the complete New Orleans experience with po-boys dressed with mayo, remoulade, lettuce, tomatoes and pickles and topped with scraps, shredded roast beef that has been slow cooked and simmered until it creates a sauce, and yakameina beef noodle soup with oxtails and a boiled egg, which according to their menu “isn’t quite pho nor ramen, with a Creole twist.”

Assorted food bowls
Hummus, chicken shawarma and falafal sandwich at Alenbi in Lyric Market. Photo by Minh Truong.

The most anticipated food stall is Alenbi Falafal + Hummus. The Middle Eastern street food concept is run by Soft Hospitality, the group behind Doris Metropolitan, Bādolina Bakery & Café and Hamsa, the recently opened Israeli restaurant in Rice Village. Alenbi’s menu is a casual, scaled-down version of Hamsa, focusing on hummus, shawarma, and falafel. Those who have dined at Hamsa will recognize Alenbi’s hummus as the complete hummus, the creamy spread is sprinkled with chickpeas, topped with tahini, olive oil and a slice of hard-boiled egg. It was easily one of the best things I ate during my visit.

If you’re craving Mexican food while passing through New York, next door is Mexology, modern Mexican cuisine from chef Ivy Stark, who is no stranger to food halls. She runs MexologyNYC and BKLYNwildboth located at Time Out Market in New York. Try the taco al pastor which is shaved straight from the trompo, an upright, rotating spit of marinated pork shoulder.

Mexology at the Lyric Market. Photo by Minh Truong.

Venture next to an Indian street food stall, Kati Roll Wala, a franchise set to open in other East Coast locations. A kati roll is basically an Indian wrap; flatbread filled with meat, vegetables, onions and sauce. For more casual fare, there’s BAD CHX, another food truck making its food hall debut with southern and Nashville sandwiches and hot fried chicken tenders, and Mission Burger, offering smash burgers, hot dogs and onion rings. End (or start) your food tour with Press Waffle, the Belgian waffle vendors that featured on Shark Tank.

Does Houston Really Need Another Food Hall? Now that Lyric Market is finally open, we say, “Sure, why not? » The lights, the buzz and the artist’s massive art installation Alex Arzu brings more life (and food options) to downtown – and that can’t be a bad thing.

Lyric Market is open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. weekends.