Nikole Christian was attending the University of Houston when she felt a desire to start a business. She became a small business owner at age 23, opening her store in 2012, and never looked back.
Heaven on a fork.
Based on sauce alone, Chimichurris South American Grill is unlike any other restaurant in the Lake Houston region. But it’s the familial bonds and worldly travels, as well as an emphasis on consistency and friendly customer service, that makes it a one-of-a-kind experience.
Specializing in Latin American flavors, Chimichurris is located at the Kings Harbor mixed-use development alongside Lake Houston. It is easily one of the best fine dining establishments in the area, offering an eclectic menu full of savory dishes alongside an extensive wine list, and gorgeous view.
“We wanted to provide something with value and service,” owner Ronald Perez said. “We feel that if you provide value and quality, you’re going to come back.”
Opened in 2008, Perez invited his father-in-law, Tony Vasquez, to run the day-to-day operations of Chimichurris. Vasquez cut his teeth working in some of the highest-rated restaurants in Houston, including La Tour d'Argent, The Glass Menagerie, and Sir-Loin under famous restauranteur, Sonny Long.
Perez made way his way in the telecommunications business, selling payphones throughout the Caribbean and South America in the late-‘90s, with a focus on cruise terminals where disembarking passengers would seek to check in with family and work. His travels brought him into contact with many different cultures and styles of food, growing his appreciation for the distinct tastes of cuisine in these regions.
He approached Vasquez with the idea of opening the restaurant, showcasing the food they both enjoyed from their time abroad, and after an extensive search, landed on their home in King’s Harbor, becoming one of the first tenants to open in the development.
It quickly became a family affair – Perez’ wife, brother-in-law, and daughter all work at the restaurant.
“This is incredible for my family’s success,” Perez said. “If my family’s happy, I’m happy. This is home away from home.”
The dining area at Chimichurris is softly lit, adorned by fine art, and all the accoutrements people expect in the best restaurants. A lakeside terrace allows larger groups to enjoy the beautiful scenery while enjoying lunch or dinner. A massive wine-rack offers a huge selection of wine from around the world and is updated often.
During the interview, Perez orders from the menu and it is all excellent: fried plantains, an appetizer of stuffed olives (an off-the-menu favorite), and the signature Churrasco a la Chimichurri, tenderloin topped with house-made, intensely flavorful chimichurri sauce, and a side of roasted vegetables.
The rest of the menu is top-notch. Peruvian-Argentinian influenced offerings of beef, poultry, pork, and fish, all colorful and packed with complex tastes. The restaurant also hosts monthly wine dinners with the theme of a different country, pairing the best vino with the perfect dish.
Perez chalks it up to the man in the kitchen, chef Pedro Morales.
“We’ve had the same chef since the beginning,” Perez said about Morales. “He has worked in some great restaurants in Houston. Our chef is amazing.”
Perez makes it a point to talk about his strong team of hospitality professionals, who have also become family. Almost every year staff members travel to Chicago for the National Restaurant Association Expo and they’ve also traveled to different parts of the world, including Italy and Peru to learn what goes into the food and hospitality in those countries.
It’s this dedicated approach that has made Chimichurris a mainstay in Kingwood and a favorite among residents, many who are regulars, or regulars just waiting to happen.
“I think it’s been successful because it's been done with passion,” Perez said. “When you do things with passion, it goes above anything else.”
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