he cool, sophisticated in teriors of the new Houston restaurant Graffiti Raw belies its name. The fourth restaurant from The Big Vibe Group — creators of the Houston restaurants Flora, Coppa Osteria and Gratify — is located in the upscale Montrose Collective development. If the name conjures up images of illicit graffiti tags to some — think a New York City subway car or highway overpass marred with gang tags — defacement of public property isn’t exactly the connotation the trio of owners had in mind.
No, instead as Grant Cooper, co-owner along with his wife Jacy Cooper and Josep Prats, explains: “Graffiti Raw’s name comes from the raw creativity, originality and inclusivity of street art – reflected in the approachability of its menu — presenting high-quality ingredients in a raw relaxed package.”
At Graffiti Raw, the beachy interiors are easy on the eyes. The room, its niches reflected in mirrors hung about the space, features a layered look of soft blond woods and chic saddle-colored woven leather dining chairs in a room lit with a diffusion of light emanating from a panoply of Moroccan-crafted rattan fixtures dangling overhead. The new Houston restaurant’s talisman is the raw man, depicted in stone, welcoming diners from just outside on the tiled patio.
Reminders of the raw man’s bearded face can be spotted throughout the restaurant. Houston artist Haley Bowen has created elegant figurative murals reminiscent of the ancient sort of sepulchers in the catacombs of Rome or Pompeii discreetly painted on the way to the bathrooms.
The food and vibe at Graffiti Raw are meant to transport you vicariously to the ocean side (think Venice Beach) with fare that borrows from a Californian melding of cuisines. It’s a little Asian, a little Mediterranean and a little Mexican.
The all-day kitchen and bar feature cocktails with a tropical edge — not sugary sweet, mind you — but made with fresh juices from beet to cucumber. These cocktails lean on spirits like tequila and rum. While the wine list is concise, with about 30 primarily organic varietals, there is also a sake program on the list, with 4-ounce, 8-ounce pours and full bottles available.