Tiny restaurants and intimate bars are trending in Houston

Intimate dining in Houston usually translates to romantic settings with soft lighting and plush décor.

Intimate dining in Houston usually translates to romantic settings with soft lighting and plush décor. But a new wave of restaurants with very limited seating and specific service and menu offerings might become the new darlings. In a business where high volume usually dictates success, these pocket-size rooms are defying norms with their small-scale specialness.

Chef Billy Kin, formerly of Blackbird Izakaya, is presiding over a tasting-menu-only omakase (“chef’s choice”) dinner available to only 14 people per seating. Diners sit around a U-shaped bar where they will be served 10 to 12 courses that could include sushi, sashimi, scallops and caviar, wagyu sliders and a series of hot plates. The restaurant, hidden in a strip center in the Galleria area at 5353 W. Alabama, charges $150 per person for this experience that is available by reservation only on resy.com (with $100-per-person deposit). For now, it’s BYOB and only two seatings per night Thursdays through Sundays.

Degust

Chef Brandon Silva of The Kirby Group (Wooster’s Garden, Heights Biergarten, Holman Draft Hall) offers eight-course dinners at this new 20-seat restaurant at 7202 Long Point. Inspired by his Spanish and Mexican heritage, Silva’s debut menu includes dishes such as Gulf oyster with Meyer lemon granita; Gulf fish with satsuma leche de tigre; cauliflower purée with hackleback caviar; seared tataki-style venison with recado negro and Jalisco salsa; smoked and charred preserved tomatoes with shaved raw mushrooms; and a main course where salsas and house-made tortillas star while duck, short rib and pork are the accoutrements. His kitchen uses vegetables and herbs from Kirby Group’s urban farms. There are three services per night Thursdays through Sundays by reservation only ($75 per person; $120 with beverage pairings).

Diversión

This sister bar concept adjacent to Degust at 7202 Long Point is a passion project from Kirby Group CEO Steven E. Salazar, who has long envisioned a cocktail bar where nearly everything is made in house — cordials, tinctures, infusions, preserves, ferments, vinegars and garnishes. The 32-seat enterprise has eight bar seats that can be reserved, and the remainder are first-come, first-served. Three cocktails on the menu are labeled “immersive” and fetch prices between $25 and $35 each; others are $16. There’s also a menu of small Spanish plates — pintxos or Basque-style tapas — including cheese and charcuterie, chips and dips, Spanish blue fin toro conserva, scallop conserva, Texas venison croquettes, Texas duck confit slider, Texas Gulf mackerel slider and two caviar services. Open 5 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. Thursdays through Saturdays.