Sparrow Bar + Cookshop: The Best Bar in Houston

For a drinking and dining experience that is never the same, be sure to check out Sparrow Bar + Cookshop in Houston, TX.

The bar and restaurant features a menu on its website, but warns that it changes vastly on a daily basis, “so you might not find these things when you get here. So don’t be getting all mad.”

One thing striking about the venue’s menu is the drink and cocktail selections. They feature a long list of wine and beer selections, but at the bottom are their 12 $10 cocktails.

Skipping the witty names, each drink is known as simply a number, but the drink makes up for that in sheer number and variation of ingredients. For example the “5” is made up of Boca Loca Cachaca, Red Bell pepper puree, muddled basil, OJ, sweet n’sour, worcestershire, tabasco, & lime, while the “1” is made of Tito’s vodka, texas red wine, sangria fusion, sparkling water and fresh fruit.

On their website, the bar is careful not to “blow any smoke” about themselves, but invites customers to stop by because “this is (their) home, and (they'd) like to see your face.”

Sparrow Bar + Cookshop: The Best Bar in Houston - Recipes

Dubbed the "Alice Waters of the Third Coast," German-born, Texas-reared chef Monica Pope has been revolutionizing Houston's culinary scene since she debuted her first restaurant in 1992. Pope shares her passion for connecting local farmers and consumers with cooking classes, an online cookbook Eat Where Your Food Lives, plus Sparrow Bar + Cookshop and Beaver's restaurants. Pope has enjoyed national recognition in the form of a James Beard award nomination and a spot competing on the 2010 second season of Top Chef Masters on Bravo. She is the only female Texas chef to be named Best New Chef by Food & Wine magazine thanks to her inventive, "eat where your food lives" cooking style.

Hailed by Travel & Leisure magazine as "one of the most ingenious restaurateurs around," Pope first learned to cook from her Czech grandmother and went on to earn her Chef's title from Prue Leith's School of Food and Wine in London. After working in Europe and San Francisco, she returned home to Houston to open the Quilted Toque, which was followed by a succession of acclaimed restaurants, including Boulevard Bistrot and t'afia.

Pope is the founding chair of Recipe for Success Foundation's Chefs Advisory Board and current Board Member of the Houston-based non-profit, which is dedicated to fighting childhood obesity. She taught the very first Chefs in Schools™ class at MacGregor Elementary in September 2006 and has taught monthly cooking classes there ever since. Pope regularly appears as an RFS media spokesperson and national advocate and was invited as part of an RFS delegation to the White House for the launch of Michelle Obama's Chefs Move to Schools initiative.

Ryan Pera-਌hef/Owner at Agricole Hospitality
"The diversity of regional foods is one of the many things that makes Houston a great city. I&aposm always exploring."

Hugo Ortega-਌hef/Owner at H-Town Restaurant Group
"Houston has an ‘open door policy.&apos It has welcomed me-and many others-with its arms outstretched. It is rich with ethnic urban markets, shops and eateries. Many Mexican products are available here, so it feels like home."

Sparrow Bar + Cookshop

Once a year, I sort through my dining notes and come up with a list of my favorite dining spots of roughly the past twelve months. We modestly call the resulting story, traditionally published in February, “Where To Eat Now.” On its face, it is an honor roll of

‘Where the Chefs Eat’ Culinary Tours Feature Top Houston Chefs, Diverse Cuisines

Exciting news for all the Houston foodies out there: the city is hosting a myriad of chef-organized, chef-led culinary tours in 2013. The “Where the Chefs Eat” Houston Culinary Tours started in 2010 as a means of teaching diners about the Houston food scene and all its intricacies and diversities. Proceeds from the tours benefit

Monica Pope discusses her new Houston restaurant Sparrow Bar + Cookshop

Barely over a month ago, Monica Pope unveiled her newest restaurant creation – Sparrow Bar + Cookshop – in Houston’s Fourth Ward. Through her years of cooking in professional kitchens, Monica has built a remarkable reputation as a pioneer in

Monica Pope discusses her new Houston restaurant Sparrow Bar + Cookshop

Barely over a month ago, Monica Pope unveiled her newest restaurant creation – Sparrow Bar + Cookshop – in Houston’s Fourth Ward. Through her years of cooking in professional kitchens, Monica has built a remarkable reputation as a pioneer in the local food movement as well as one of the most talented chefs in the state of Texas. In a recent interview with TEXAS MONTHLY, Monica talked in detail about the concept behind Sparrow Bar + Cookshop and where she is at in the second act of her culinary career. Throughout my conversation with Monica, I was surprised by how remarkably candid she was about her decision to start all over again with a fresh, new restaurant concept that was unlike any she had ever done before. In a conversation that last over an hour, Monica admitted she felt disconnected from her culinary roots while running her former restaurant t’afia over the past few years. This year, however, Monica made a myriad of bold changes in order to reconnect with her lifelong mission of “changing the way Houston eats.” Sparrow Bar + Cookshop is without a doubt Monica’s most authentic creation thus far – a true reflection of how far she has come as a Houston chef. The restaurant’s food is non-fussy, affordable, and, oh yeah, delicious – exactly what you would expect from a chef who is remarkably gifted but doesn’t take herself or her fame too seriously. Housed in the same location as its predecessor, t’afia, Sparrow Bar + Cookshop is a restaurant that will certainly be one of the best new Houston restaurants of 2012. Here, Monica discusses the inspiration behind Sparrow Bar + Cookshop, the Houston culinary scene, and the brand new Monica – or Monica 2.0, as she likes to call it. Monica Pope. Photo taken by Debora Smail. What planted the seed for the new restaurant concept? In a lot of ways, it’s an ongoing evolution of myself. Coming from a teenager saying that I was going to change the way Houston eats and me trying to understand what that’s meant to me personally. Five or six years ago when Hurricane Ike hit, it was a wakeup call for me. I started thinking about my daughter and what her life will be like, and that turned into me thinking about my own life and my own purpose. I said to myself, “If the world were to end tomorrow, would I want to continue to live my life the way I am right now?” And I wasn’t sure I could answer that affirmatively… A couple of years ago, a chef friend of mine was crashing with us at my house. He and I would be talking in the kitchen, and my daughter would run in and try to interrupt us. She’d be dying to say something, and one day she randomly shouted out, “It’s like you guys are having a campfire.” It’s weird, but what she said really got me thinking. I thought about our primal beginnings as caveman going out, creating fire, and gathering around the campfire. It made me realize that that’s what I’ve been trying to do for twenty years: create a campfire discussion with different restaurants and different foods. I started thinking about my place in all this and what I meant when I said I wanted to change the way people eat, how they eat, what they eat, where they eat, where they get their food from, etc. For me, it’s so tied into slow food, eating locally, and practicing Alice Waters’ tenants of good cooking. Let’s move on to t’afia. Why did you decide to do away with the restaurant? Did it not work anymore? I wouldn’t say that. The restaurant business has changed. I’ve changed. There were challenges and questions I had that I needed to answer for myself. I’ve talked to food writers, photographers, and other chefs, and we all notice a change. The world now has Twitter, Facebook, and social media, and I feel like I’m being thrust into dealing with all that. Twenty years ago, I’d open a restaurant and people just came. Nowadays, you have to be in the kitchen, but also connecting with diners and the media in order to stay relevant. It’s a completely different thing, and I’m not sure how to keep up. When you’re life is changing dramatically around you, it can be frightening to know what’s your role in all of it. In some ways, I felt like I was stuck in a box that wasn’t me anymore. It didn’t work for me, and it didn’t work for Houston. I took the opportunity to say, “I need to create a space that I want to be in.” I wanted to start over and show where I’m at in my life and where I think Houston is at in 2012. Sparrow Bar + Cookshop. Photo taken by Debora Smail. How is the food different at Sparrow Bar + Cookshop than it was at t’afia? I’m pushing myself more. I understand that a restaurant and a chef have to reinvent themselves in order to keep up with what’s going on. I knew what the impression was with t’afia through the years, like ‘Oh that’s that weird, healthy place.’ or ‘Oh yeah, that place is really preachy about local food.’ Nowadays, farm-to-table is no big deal it’s not weird to people anymore. I’m at a place in my life where I feel like the local-food community has finally been created. A lot of restaurants and chefs are now committed to using local food, like I did twenty years ago when everyone thought it was crazy. I’m finally putting what I believe in on the plate. Do you think Houston is where it should be at in terms of respecting and utilizing local ingredients? They say it takes nine years to grow a farmers market. It has taken us nine, ten years to grow ours, so I think that’s definitely accurate. It’s amazing where we’ve come to. When I started talking about local food twenty years ago, people thought I belonged to a cult or something and needed to be saved. Ten years ago, things started to shift. Five years ago, it was like ‘”Okay, this is really coming together.” Once the chefs got more involved, that’s when things really started to change. Customers started paying attention to what chefs were doing, and I think Houston chefs are pushing Houston forward, despite the fact that not that not many years ago we were dead last in a lot of sustainable issues. I want to talk about that. How do you think Houston ranks compared to places like Austin and Dallas in terms of working with farmers and utilizing local ingredients? I’ve always said – and I don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings – but we’re never going to be like Austin. It’s a whole different culture there. The chef-farmer connection there is much stronger. The whole agenda of “Keep Austin Weird” is what makes it work there. That’s the hip thing to do there, and that’s great, but the depth of Houston’s ethnic communities, culinary communities, and overall culture is so deep and textured. We’re trying to take credit for that, and people keep pushing us aside. I mean, you can’t do Top Chef Texas and not put Houston in there. Seriously, who did we tick off? Houston has more of a secede mentality than any other city in Texas, and Texas already has a reputation for wanting to secede from the rest of the nation. Houston is like, “Whatever, we’re better than Dallas, we’re better than Austin, we’re better than San Antonio, and we know that.” We’re just a more interesting town across the board. Are you entering the most creative period of your life? I’m in a period of my life where I know what makes me feel good. I’m comfortable with who I am and what I am. There was a rocky moment at the restaurant when I didn’t know if I could handle it all. It’s been challenging for twenty years. All of my restaurant team has been with me through these years, and we’ve become a family. I’m taking charge, and I have to be okay with that. I’m unbelievably grateful to my staff for allowing me figure out what it is I want to express. When I first talked about this project, everybody got behind me and said, “Great, let’s do this.” To see that enthusiasm and faith is breathtaking. I’m finally trusting myself and what I want to do. I’m not questioning things like I used to. There seem to be a lot more celebrity chefs in Texas nowadays. You personally appeared on Top Chef Masters. Is being a celebrity chef something you have wanted to shy away from in recent years? I don’t want to have twenty restaurants all over the country. I don’t even want two restaurants in the same city. That’s not me. I love my food family, my home, my restaurant, my city. I’m not interested in more money or more fame. What I’m interested in doing is changing the way Houston eats and continuing to share my story. Sparrow Bar & Cookshop – 3701 Travis Street in Houston. Lunch: Tuesday – Friday 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. Dinner: Tuesday – Saturday 5 p.m. – 11 p.m. Brunch: Saturday 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Bar menu: Tuesday – Thursday 10 a.m. – 11 p.m., Friday – Saturday 10 a.m. – midnight. 713-524-6922, www.sparrowhouston.com, Facebook, Twitter.

Burger Friday: One of Houston's best at Sparrow Bar & Cookshop

In the long and distinguished history of Burger Friday, I don't think I've ever featured a burger from a restaurant I've reviewed that same week. But Monica Pope's Built Burger at Sparrow Bar & Cookshop impressed me so mightily that I'm making an exception. There just wasn't enough space in the review of the restaurant to detail the glories of this particular sandwich.

If you are among the burger faction who believe that paying double digits for a chef-driven burger is some kind of sin against nature, stop reading right now. Just save yourself the aggravation. To the three people still left, here's why the Sparrow burger is so eminently worth your time and money.

Price: $15 for the Built Burger with your choice of cheese and house-made condiments, plus a side of seasonal slaw or fries. It's available on the lunch menu and, all day long and into the night, on Sparrow's "bar bites" menu - although the bar version comes with cornmeal-fried onions and doesn't offer all the build-your-own options.

Ordering: Table service only. A host will seat you in the dining room, in the bar with its handsome wooden sweep of community table, or out on the inviting patio, which offers both covered and community-table seating.

Architecture: This is a basic burger you compose yourself from various ingredient options. Through genius or dumb luck, I managed to end up with a combination that yielded one of the best burgers in town. On a slightly sweet bun topped with salty seeds and beautifully toasted on the griddle went a half-inch patty of ground Longhorn beef topped by a melted tangle of cheddar cheese. That's it. But that's not it, either. On the side came a glossy heap of so-called "hot dog onions" and a separate cup of the sauce I chose: in this case, a "Sparrow special sauce" that combined a garlicky aioli with a red-curried ketchup made in house. Best of both worlds. I piled on the onions and swiped the pink secret sauce on both halves of the bun.

Quality: I think "wow" pretty much covers it. The Longhorn beef was on the lean side, but with the expansive meatiness I prize, and with a reasonable amount of juiciness left in the patty once it was cooked to the medium side of medium rare. Everything else just clicked: the sharp, lush cheddar the heat and tart tang of the burnished-mahogany onions the slightly exotic savor of that red-curried ketchup cut with the rich aioli. Those onions, in particular, turned out to be an electrifying stroke of genius. Bite after bite, this was a spectacular burger, and the well-made bun held up to its task.

Ooze rating: fair. There were adequate beef juices but no drippage.

Grade: A plus.

Bonus points: Good beers or wines by the glass for them as wants 'em truly lovely iced tea for them as don't. And the side of slaw is invigorating stuff, ever so lightly dressed with miso vinaigrette and sparkling with the crunchy raw vegetables of the season. The mix changes by the day, but there are always little bursts of sweet dried fruit or nuts or twinge-y green herbs, and you'll feel good about yourself (and the world) after you finish it.

Minus points: You'll have to valet park unless you want to brave the crowded streets, which accommodate the overflow from the Breakfast Klub and assorted nearby bars and restaurants.

Local color: The clientele is an interesting mix of Midtown, downtown and Museum District types. The patio is especially lovely this time of year, with its landscaping of fruit trees, herbs, vines and native plants. And part of the pleasure of eating at Sparrow is just drinking in the small ingenious design details in the industrial-chic dining room: the funny little magnets with which you can affix a stray menu to the metal wall covering by your table the laboratory-glass receptacles for filtered water, salt and pepper the metal-mesh lantern over your head. Look again: It's made out of vintage pizza pans.

Lee Ellis of Cherry Pie Hospitality (and Lee's Fried Chicken & Donuts) has taken over and rebranded Pour Society, 947 Gessner, into State Fare, a Southern food concept with offerings like oysters, pork chops, mac 'n' cheese.

It was back in 2008, as the Houston food and wine renaissance was just beginning to take shape, that the owner of the city's only progressive wine bar at the time needed to take a long weekend off to get married. In what must have b.

When the weather is blessedly mild, Houstonians go running, not for the hills but for the best restaurant patios in the city. We've gathered 20 of Houston's best and ranked them not just for their good looks but for the food and ser.

Whether you want to gift the host a special treat or bring holiday eats for the party to share, here are 5 Awesomely Delicious Local Treats to Bring to Your Next Holiday celebration: Exotic Artisan Chocolates Where to get them: Coca.

Drink up these summer cocktails

1 of 14 Brennan's of Houston takes the edge off the heat with its Margamelon, which is made with watermelon purée, Sauza Hornitos Reposado, Grand Marnier, fresh lime juice and agave syrup. Nick de la Torre/Staff Show More Show Less

2 of 14 Brennan's of Houston's Captain & Cantaloupe. Courtyard Cantalopue puree, Captain Morgan Spiced Rum, fresh lime & orange juice with just a hint of ginger. Photographed, Friday, June 14, 2013, at the Port of Galveston in Houston. R( Nick de la Torre / Houston Chronicle ) Nick de la Torre/Staff Show More Show Less

4 of 14 Perry's Steakhouse has stepped up to the bar with a number of new cocktails, including the Blackberry Basil Smash. Karen Warren/Staff Show More Show Less

5 of 14 Sparrow Bar & Cookshop serves up a sunset in a glass with its No. 5 cocktail made with Tito's Vodka, cachaca, chipotle sour and rosemary syrup. Show More Show Less

(NYT4) NEW YORK -- June 24, 2008 -- BLENDER-DRINKS-2 -- Everyone loves blender drinks, so stop snickering and take them seriously. Cartagena Limeade. (Andrew Scrivani/The New York Times)

8 of 14 Margarita cocktails, close-up Jonelle Weaver Show More Show Less

10 of 14 Umbrellas on the beach with surf in background choicegraphx Show More Show Less

11 of 14 CIRCA 1955: A man and woman recline on the beach, drinking bottles of cola under a striped parasol, 1950s. They wear swimsuits. (Photo by Camerique Archive/Getty Images) Camerique Archive/Contributor Show More Show Less

13 of 14 ADVANCE FOR WEEKEND EDITIONS, JULY 24-26--FILE -- Author Ernest Hemingway is shown in this undated photo. An exhibit commemorating Hemingway's centennial has opened in Madrid, 99 years after his brith. It's not a mistake, the organizers assure, but rather a indulgence of one of 'Papa' Hemingway's white lies. Anxious for adventure, Hemingway added an extra year to his age so he could drive ambulances on the Italian front in WWI. (AP Photo/FILE) Ernest Hemingway: In Love, In War, In Movies: The South Bank Show 12/30/96 HOUCHRON CAPTION (08/25/1998): Ernest Hemingway HOUCHRON CAPTION (01/11/1999): Hemingway Show More Show Less

Ernest Hemingway knew how to beat the heat.

He wrote of his favorite daiquiri - the Papa Doble - that it "had no taste of alcohol and felt, as you drank (it), the way downhill glacier skiing feels running through powder snow."

Several of Houston's restaurants and bars offer their versions of the Hemingway daiquiri. I recently had a terrific version at Captain Foxheart's Bad News Bar on Main.

It wasn't slushy, like Papa preferred, but it was light and refreshing and just the post-work comfort I was seeking on a scorching day. It actually made me feel like sitting al fresco on Bad News' jewel box of a balcony.

Hemingway probably would have been happy at Beaver's Ice House, where his daiquiri often is the frozen cocktail du jour. This rum lover likes that Beaver's offers them by the carafe ($22), as well as the glass ($8). A nonfrozen version is always available, too.

Made with Panamanian white rum, lime and grapefruit, the Hemingway Daiquiri ($10) is on the 100 List at Anvil Bar & Refuge. The List is Anvil's much-ballyhooed bucket list of must-try cocktails, all of which are half price during its new happy hour (4-5 p.m. Mondays-Fridays).

Of course, daiquiris aren't the only drinks of summer. All across town, restaurant diners are greeted with tabletop advertisements with enticing photos of fruity sips of summer. Take the watermelon margarita ($9.95) at Pappasitos: It's summer return is as sure as Christmas in December.

Speaking of watermelon margaritas, Brennan's of Houston has a refined version for summer. The Margamelon is made with watermelon purée, Sauza Hornitos Reposado, Grand Marnier, fresh lime juice and agave syrup.

Brennan's Courtyard Bar also is featuring the Captain & Cantaloupe for summer. It's made with Cantalope purée, Captain Morgan Spiced Rum, lime juice, orange juice and ginger. Both drinks sell for $12.

Anvil Bar & Refuge: 1424 Westheimer, 713-523-1622

Beaver's Ice House: 2310 Decatur, 713-864-2328

The Bird & the Bear: 2810 Westheimer, 713-528-2473

Brennan's of Houston: 3300 Smith, 713-522-9711

Captain Foxheart's Bad News Bar: 308 Main

Mellow Mushroom: 16000 Stuebner Airline in Spring, 832-698-8888

Pappasito's: Find the nearest at pappasitos.com.

Perry's: Find the nearest at perryssteakhouse.com.

Reserve 101: 1201 Caroline, 713-655-7101

Sparrow Bar & Cookshop: 3701 Travis, 713-524-6922

Mellow Mushroom, the cheerful hippie-themed pizza parlor in Spring, is celebrating all things Thai through mid-July. The Georgia-based franchise chain has created three boldly flavored cocktails - all priced at $9 - that can stand up to the Texas heat.

Thai One On is a Thai take on the margarita but with coconut tequila and basil. The Siam Cooler is a blend of gin, elderflower liqueur, basil and fresh ginger. And the Himalayan Happy Ending is a variation on a whiskey sour with an injection of ginger and honey. It's served with a lemon ginger sugar rim. Sweet.

Sparrow Bar & Cookshop touts the thirst-quenching capabilities of its No. 5 cocktail. Made with Tito's Vodka, cachaca, chipotle sour and rosemary syrup. It looks like a sunset. The cocktail generally sells for $10, but plan your visit for July 4 and enjoy all-day holiday pricing of $5 on all Sparrow specialty cocktails.

At the Bird & the Bear, summer tipplers have several ways to sip and save. On Tuesdays and Fridays from 2:30 p.m. to close, patrons can enjoy $3 martinis at the bar. The Ginger Julep and the Pear Tini are terrific choices on a hot day. From 2:30 p.m. to closing on Wednesdays and Thursdays, margaritas are just $2 when you're seated at the bar. Nearly a dozen variations are on the menu, but I'm partial to the peach and strawberry versions.

Not all cocktails come in a glass. Take the popular Push Pop Cocktails at Reserve 101.

These adult treats come in two flavors: Chocolate Chip Mint Julep (made with chocolate milk, mint leaves and Woodford Reserve Bourbon) and Salted Caramel Bacon and Bourbon Creamsicle (made with Buffalo Trace Bourbon). The Push Pops cost $7 each. Watch out because these are addictively good.

If you fear an ice cream brain freeze, Reserve 101 also has a summer cocktail menu. Among its offerings is the Cactus Juice ($12), which owner Mike Raymond created. The Cactus Juice includes Spike vodka with Velvet Falernum, lemon juice, agave nectar and a dash of housemade smoked cherry and espresso bitters.

And finally, I've recently become a fan of the bar program at Perry's Steakhouse. The cocktails are works of art, and I enjoy watching the bartenders muddle, shake and fuss over their creations.

My favorite is the Blackberry Basil Smash ($12). Made with vodka and amaretto, blackberries and fresh basil, it has restorative powers after a muggy afternoon of chores. Trust me.

Use Your Noodle

Monica Pope has been changing the way Houston eats for more than 20 years.

And with her fourth restaurant, Sparrow Bar + Cookshop, she continues to push boundaries, introducing diners to locally sourced ingredients like rabbit heart, veal cheeks and broccoli flowers.

Pope describes the cuisine at Sparrow as "global comfort food." Dishes like Thai-style mushroom stroganoff and steamed chard with fish sauce, sesame oil and soy sauce often inspire questions from patrons--an interaction the chef welcomes.

The recipe Pope shared with us, soy-dressed soba noodles with seared scallops (see the recipe), is actually a throwback to her early cooking days, when she first experimented with the concept of umami.

We topped the versatile dish with scallions, carrots, pickled red onions and pickled ginger, and doused it with wasabi paste and hot mustard for heat. A few bites in, our mouth was burning, but the meaty scallops and soba provided cooling contrast.

Gluten-free eaters can substitute rice noodles we can't wait to customize it with different toppings and sauces.

The Origins of ‘Farm-to-Table’ at Sparrow Bar + Cookshop

Chef Monica Pope cooks with one fundamental concept in mind: What grows together goes together. She also believes that food simply tastes better when you eat where your food lives. And believe me, it does at Sparrow Bar + Cookshop, the latest Go Texan restaurant from the iconic Chef Pope in Houston, Texas.

For a nearly two decades, Chef has worked hard to revive the true nature of her city by supporting local farmers, ranchers and food producers. She’s herself is responsible for bringing the idea of ‘farm-to-table’ to Houston! Creating (and sustaining) a local food community, as well as being one heck of an advocate for the names and faces behind these homegrown products.

Chef Pope and I caught up for a sampling safari — among the standouts a few recipes for Goodtaste viewers…first a super delicious Tandoori Chicken Salad , and cooking tips from Chef Pope for this Texas Wild Caught Brown Shrimp dish, plated with a zhough chile sauce. Global comfort food with local ingredients. Something we can all agree to!

For more delicious recipes and fun food and wine pairing ideas, subscribe to my newsletter .

Sparrow Bar + Cookshop: The Best Bar in Houston - Recipes

Though she's been a fixture on Houston's foodie scene for two decades, written a memoir with recipes called Eating Hope, and competed on Top Chef Masters in 2010, Monica Pope admits she didn't know what her next venture would look like when she closed her still-popular restaurant T'afia.

"I had to let it die," Pope, a James Beard Award nominee, says of closing T'afia last summer. A new perspective on dining inspired her to open Sparrow Bar + Cookshop (3701 Travis, Houston SparrowHouston.com) in its place -- at the same address, to be specific. "I'm trying to make the food more flexible and sharable." That approach has led to a revamped menu of crafted cocktails and a menu updated daily based on the best of local producers? fare.

Eating at a restaurant that has a clear ethos about food can be a bit of a chore. Though there's a solid locavore and farm-to-table ethos at work at Sparrow, there's never even the subtlest hint of a lecture about the food you're eating when you're not here. The chickpea fries, venison, grits, mac and cheese, rabbit tenderloin, or seared scallops, prepared with Southern, Mediterranean, and African spices and techniques, all make convincing arguments for themselves. Most menu items are under $20, and the reservation books have been nearly full since the restaurant opened in August.

The dining room, with its wood, iron, and distressed brick decor and industrial furnishings, has a comfortable patina, as if Sparrow had ever been thus. The tables are made from repurposed farm equipment, and the large slab of wood counter in the open kitchen is a century old.

Customers who come into the bar area for a cocktail and some shared nibbles often end up staying much longer than they had planned -- and that's another part of Pope's ethos.

"Why wouldn't I want to make a place where people want to stay all evening?" she asks.

Watch the video: The Bar Guide: How we picked em (January 2022).