LOri Hernandez’s roots run deep in Houston‘s historic East End. Hailing from the area, Hernandez and partner Paul Siwek (another Houstonian), returned to Bayou City to open their new wine bar called Roots in the part of town she calls home. You can find Roots in EaDo at 3107 Leeland Street.
Inspired in part by London’s Vagabond Wine Bar, this duo collaborated to create a self-service wine bar in Houston with 56 wines poured in one-, three-, or five-ounce increments allowing you to try a myriad of varietals, many of which are natural, biodynamic, and those created by female winemakers. Merging the old world with the new, it’s a chance to try even just a taste of an expensive bottle of Burgundy and Bordeaux or a buzzy style you’ve never tried like a glass of “Pet -Nat” (natural sparkling). Often Riesling and Rosé wines that are naturally carbonated, bottled during the initial fermentation of a wine where the sugars from the grapes provide the sparkling action.
Here’s the drill: Log into Roots (or book ahead if you’re bringing lots of friends) and give your server your login. (Technically it’s a private club because this wine bar, housed in a former warehouse, is located in a school zone.) Then hand in your plastic, they’ll give you theirs in the form of a preloaded key card, which, when inserted into the appropriate slot, allows you to position your glass under your desired wine spout and pour yourself a glass.
Of course, you can buy a full bottle at retail (with a 20% discount) and enjoy it on the spot or take it home as well. (If you have a crush on a varietal, this might be a good idea as the sommeliers here only buy a case or more at a time and when it’s gone, it may be gone for good.)
Above the spout of each wine is a small blank printed card with tasting notes and even food suggestions, all of which are helpful because wine can only be lifted by good food. Luckily, Culinary Institute of America-trained chef Andre Garza offers happy hour, dinner bites, and a weekend brunch topped with a Roots menu built around new seasonal American dishes.
As you might expect, there are glorious cheese options with a side to complement it ($8 each), as well as a Wagyu beef tartare served with crispy house chips ($16) and a salmon ceviche. ($18). And at brunch, I plead, don’t miss Garza’s Butter and Creamy Grits and Crab Entree ($16). Wednesday nights bring “birds and bubbles” — half a fried chicken with a side of hot honey, sorghum-glazed buttermilk biscuits and a bottle of bubbly for $30.
Roots is open Wednesday through Friday from 4 p.m. to midnight, Saturday from 11 a.m. to midnight, and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. It is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.