Openings and Closings

South African-Inspired Wits Steakhouse Now Open in the Design District

Courtesy of Wits Steakhouse, photo by Kathy Tran
Last year when Oak closed, it was the end of a pretty good 10-year run for the spot in the Design District. Many high-profile chefs had led the kitchen, notably Jason Maddy and Brian Zenner.

Now the owners of the space, Apheleia Restaurant Group (ARG) — PakPao, El Bolero and Hawthorn —have opened a new concept, Wits Steakhouse. According to a press release, it’s a modern steakhouse that is both traditional and creative and includes some South African-inspired dishes.
click to enlarge COURTESY OF WITS STEAKHOUSE, PHOTO BY KATHY TRAN
Courtesy of Wits Steakhouse, photo by Kathy Tran
Oak Lawn Avenue in the Design District might soon be renamed Chandelier Row with the likes upscale spots like Town Heart, The Charles, Tango Room and now Wits Steakhouse. 

Richard Ellman, the founder of ARG, was born in coastal South Africa and went back to his family roots for inspiration for this spot. “My parents were also born and raised in South Africa, so the history runs deep within my background,” Ellman says in a press release.

The name, Wits, is a reference to the University of Witwatersrand, which Ellmans’ mother attended and is in a region with a history of being home to some of the world's largest gold mines. The theme is carried out throughout the space (lots of gold-hued decor) and on the food and drink menus.
click to enlarge Biltong is South African-style beef jerky with Windhoeck beer from Namibia. - COURTESY OF WITS STEAKHOUSE, PHOTO BY KATHY TRAN
Biltong is South African-style beef jerky with Windhoeck beer from Namibia.
Courtesy of Wits Steakhouse, photo by Kathy Tran
For starters, there's an $80 seafood tower with prawns, Alaskan crab, Malpeque oysters and Canadian lobster tail. Shorter offerings include biltong, which is South African beef jerky, an artichoke carpaccio, bone marrow and bacon jam, oyster Rockefeller and Wagyu meatballs.

On the entrée menu, there’s a Prime New York Strip (14-ounce, $78) and tomahawk steak ($120) with house-made sauces including a cognac peppercorn, bearnaise or truffle butter. Peri peri prawns ($37) are served with roasted peppers, garlic and red onion. There’s a New Zealand lamb rack and a South African braai, which is grilled chicken with roasted peppers and sunchokes. A black truffle burger is served with truffle aioli and shaved truffle. There are also lobster dumplings, black cod and duck fat-fried chicken.

In addition to all of that, there’s a sushi menu.
click to enlarge The remodeled bar at Wits Steakhouse - COURTESY OF WITS STEAKHOUSE, PHOTO BY KATHY TRAN
The remodeled bar at Wits Steakhouse
Courtesy of Wits Steakhouse, photo by Kathy Tran
The cocktail menu embraces the gold mine theme. There’s a Gold Digger cocktail made with JCB Truffle vodka, Mathilde Poir gold caviar and Perrier-Jouët Champagne. The Mine Cart serves four to six people and is made with Herradura Legend Anejo Tequila, Grand Marnier Cuvee 1880, Aur’a Natural Gold Water, Yuzu Lemon and Manuka Honey.

They’ll also have South African beers and wines by the glass and bottle.

There's no mention of who the chef is. We reached out, and if we hear back we'll update.

Update: The executive chef is Jeremy Lewis who was an executive sous chef at Whiskey Cake most recently, and a sous chef at True Food Kitchen and III Forks prior to that.

Wite Steakhouse, 1628 Oak Lawn Ave., #110. Open 5 - 10 p.m. Tuesday - Thursday, 5 - 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Closed Sunday and Monday.