The downtown Houston food and drink scene just became much cooler. Tucked in between skyscrapers on Main Street and brushing elbows with the METRORail line, Goro & Gun is one of the freshest concepts that downtown has seen in years. Dubbed Houston’s “first and only” ramen noodle restaurant, it is an innovative creation by co-owners Joshua Martinez (known for his Modular gourmet food truck), Brad Moore and Ryan Rouse along with the spirited expertise of Alex Gregg, one of the city’s most buzzed-about cocktail mixologists.
Named after characters in a Japanese comedy from the ’80s, Goro & Gun is a breath of fresh air for the area. From the outside, G&G, which added lunch service in early May, could be mistaken for a trendy bookshop or café, but once you peek inside its doors, there’s no mistaking the restaurant. The décor is fun and quirky, just like its adventurous menu choices. There’s a splash of red on the walls, mounted horns, vintage artifacts, an expansive bar with floor-to-ceiling bottles, and a massive stuffed lion greets you from above whenever you make your way back to the washing facilities.
Though G&G is mostly known for being a ramen restaurant, the diverse menu is strong from start to finish. Still, when asked which dish he is most proud of, Martinez says the miso ramen without the slightest hesitation. The time and effort that goes into the selection shows that this group loves what it does. The noodles are pulled fresh in house; the tender, crispy pork belly is cooked to perfection; while the pickled beech mushrooms will convert even the biggest of fungus skeptics to believers. Finally, the 63-degree egg, slowly cooked at just the right temperature, adds the ideal finishing touch to the ramen broth.
The non-noodle stars on the menu include the Brussels sprouts with pickled raisins, pine nuts and itogaki (dried bluefin tuna), and the Tupac wings with pickled Thai chilis, sambal, lime and fish sauce. The kitchen uses a special drying method for the wings that eliminates the need for breading, giving the skin just the right amount of crispiness.
Gregg, the resident craft cocktail expert, had his own vision for what the libations at G&G would taste like. Although the artsy crowd in an area such as Montrose is adventurous with its drinks, some of the downtown traditionalists needed to be hooked with old standards like margaritas and mojitos. So, Gregg decided to cater to his audience, while still using only the freshest ingredients and sprinkling a modifier or twist in recipes to get patrons curious about the other things on the menu. Using syrup from G&G’s own sugar cane juice press, along with mint, lime, piloncillo (which adds a slightly smoky caramel flavor) and light rum, the fresh cane mojito is light, smooth and refreshing. One of his personal favorites is Life is Beautiful, a treat made from Antica Carpano vermouth, aquavit, lemon, orgeat syrup, egg white and Fernet. It’s light, smooth and has a distinctive-yet-delicious flavor with just the right amount of sweetness. Another unique creation from the bar is the Cookie Monster, made from white rum, cookie milk, piloncillo and angostura.
Downtown drinkers and local foodies are hopeful that Goro & Gun is just the beginning of a widespread re-imagining of the area’s restaurant scene. But until that happens on a large scale in Houston, you have at least one place to go for imaginative dishes and fun cocktails in a festive environment.
Photos courtesy of Beth DeLozier-Hayes