Back to Press + Awards

Global grilling, barbecue restaurant from celebrity chefs sets opening date at CityCentre

Houston Business Journal | 06.18.2018

Two celebrity chefs have set an opening date for their first Houston concept. 

Located in CityCentre at 800 Sorella Court, International Smoke will debut July 5, a spokesperson said. Guest can make reservations starting June 18 by calling 713-714-0126. 

James Beard Award-winning chef Michael Mina partnered with celebrity cookbook author Ayesha Curry to craft the concept that incorporates global grilling, barbecue and smoke techniques. Mina and Curry tapped local chef E.J. Miller as the restaurant’s executive chef to oversee day-to-day operations. Miller has cooked at Ryan Lachane’s Riel in Montrose and Clark Cooper Concepts’ SaltAir, Punk’s Simple Southern Food and Coppa Ristorante.

International smoke will first serve dinner and a happy hour, and later in the summer it will also offer lunch and brunch options, according to a June 18 press release. Dishes include double duck wings, lemongrass pork chop, binchotan-grilled lobster, Indian fish fry, smoked pork ribs, wagyu-shaking beef, kalua instant bacon and Argentine ribeye. 

The 6,000-square-foot restaurant and bar was designed by Los Angeles-based Bishop Pass and features a color palette of reds, browns and black steel along with architectural elements to offer a “twist from the traditional American steakhouse” and “an ethos of global ambiguity that resonates with the city itself,” per the release.

The restaurant’s bar and lounge includes reclaimed wood, copper mesh and oxblood leather booths. The bar is connected directly to an open kitchen with a subway tile motif and suspended beams. An outdoor space includes charred wood walls, fireplaces and vine trellises. 

In total, International Smoke has two patios seating 140 people, the spokesperson said. The interior has room for 130 people and offers private dining options for special events, per the release. Within the first three months of opening, the Houston location is expected to have about 100 employees, chef Mina told the Houston Business Journal in May.

California-based Terra Nova was the general contractor. A $950,000 commercial building permit was filed in mid-April for the restaurant by Shawn Cable, but any other investment costs were not disclosed. 

Initially, International Smoke will serve dinner Sunday through Thursday from 5 to 9:30 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 5 to 10 p.m. Happy hour will be Monday through Friday from 4 to 6 p.m.

News that International Smoke would open at 800 Sorella Court, the former home of Straits, emerged in November. Chef Mina previously told HBJ that he chose Houston-based Midway Co.’s CityCentre for several reasons: the development’s tenant mix, clientele and management as well as west Houston’s population growth.

The idea for International Smoke began about seven years ago, Mina said in May. It debuted in Hawaii inside Mina's food hall in Honolulu and opened in San Francisco in November. After the Houston location opens, San Francisco-based Mina Group will take International Smoke to San Diego, California, and Aventura, Florida, near Miami, per the concept’s website. 

Mina started his restaurant group in 2003 and now has roughly 30 restaurants in San Francisco, Chicago, Dubai and other cities, per the Mina Restaurant Group website. His concepts include Pabu, Bourbon Steak, Arcadia, Michael Minaand Margeaux Brasserie.