Houston restaurateur Matthew Mitchell is a worldly man of many talents. He moved to the city when he was five, and wanderlust hit hard in his twenties. He attended Emory University in Atlanta, studied in France, Italy, and England, and then worked as a journalist in London, Paris, and New York City. He later came back home to Houston and started a drug-development company with his dad. “I’m afraid my feet will go to sleep if I stay in one career too long,” Mitchell says.
In October of 2019, Mitchell and his wife, Thy, opened a restaurant in Montrose. “Maybe right before a pandemic wasn’t the best time to sell a drug company and open a restaurant,” he says with a laugh. But so far, things are working pretty well for Traveler’s Table, which is located in the former Aqui spot on lower Westheimer.
Thy grew up in Houston working in her family’s Vietnamese restaurant, and she’s currently working on a master’s degree in business management. “A neighbor introduced us, and we went for sushi on our first date,” Mitchell recalls. “I think she was impressed when I ordered jellyfish instead of a California roll.”
It was this foodie couple’s love of travel and food that inspired the Traveler’s Table motto: “Exploring the world through food and drink.” And for those who aren’t exactly sure what they’re in the mood for, this restaurant is perfect because the menu offers a bit of everything.
How about a warm Indian-spiced mango salad, or Peking-style duck dumplings? There are Vietnamese dishes, as well as plates from Thailand and Jamaica. If you’re looking for something closer to home, try the Mexican street corn soup, the Cajun oysters (on Wednesday oyster nights), or the New Orleans shrimp and grits on the weekend brunch menu. You can also pair your meal with a Good Morning Vietnam cocktail, which is made with Hennessy VS, espresso, condensed milk, and coffee beans.
Mitchell doesn’t have a favorite dish (he says choosing one is like picking a favorite child), but lately he’s been liking the lamb ragù, crab samosas, and jerk chicken.
Mitchell is also the family chef (unless his mother-in-law is around), and when the restaurant opened in October of 2019, he was in the kitchen every day for the first six months. He has a degree from the International Culinary School at the Art Institute of Houston, and has worked for several restaurants around town. “But now we have a great team of diverse chefs, and they’ve been coming up with some great new dishes,” he says.
Mitchell and Thy live very near the restaurant in Montrose with their three-year-old daughter, who says she wants to be either the chef or general manager of Traveler’s Table one day. The family also enjoys sampling Houston’s diverse restaurants, including Kata Robata, Thai Gourmet, and Cool Runnings Jamaican Grill.
“Houston is a great restaurant city,” Mitchell says. “I think we’re in for a couple of more difficult months, but we’ll get through it. We’re putting in more outdoor seating, and we’ll open for lunch sometime down the road. But once things get better, I hope it’s like when prohibition ended. Everyone’s going to want to go out and eat!”
For more information on Traveler’s Table, visit travelerstable.com.
This article appears in the February 2021 edition of OutSmart magazine.