Your new downtown watering hole beneath the glow of the marquee lights.
We believe dishes and drinks that bring you back again and again are the true test of a neighborhood restaurant. Sure, we have the same philosophies on sourcing, technique, service and attention to detail as our sister steakhouse. But we've got dishes you want to eat every day—salads, sandwiches, burgers, and yes, cast-iron seared steaks, along with entrees cooked in a wood-burning oven and simple, comfortable desserts. Think Houston-American classics, Underbelly-style.Menu
Whether you want a casual patio bottle or a sought-after allocated wine, we've got you. Our list is extensive and approachable with small producers alongside tried and true well-known producers, varietals and regions. It can be hard to have something for everyone, but this time, wine director Matt Pridgen nailed it.Beverage List
We've got great spirits on the bar, and we're not holding back on our allocated whiskeys (bourbon and scotch alike). As for the cocktails, we've got a few familiar classics, dialed up a bit, and some very fun originals that push boundaries.Beverage List
Matt "Tally" Coburn
Chef de Cuisine
Matthew Coburn grew up in Tallahassee, FL, and started cooking at the Black Bean Cuban Café where he worked for his former football coach. While working at the Black Bean, Matt attended Florida State’s Dedman’s School of Hospitality and quickly realized he enjoyed working more than school. He applied to Cypress Restaurant, a Tallahassee staple, to work under Chef David Gwynn, and his culinary career began. During his four years at Cypress (three years as a sous chef), Matt learned technique and refined his love for cooking Southern food and working with local farmers.
In 2016, Matt visited Houston to stage at several restaurants across the city, closing with Underbelly on the last day of his visit. It didn’t take long before he knew he had found his restaurant home in Houston. He moved to Houston shortly thereafter, and immediately earned the nickname of “Tally” after his home city. At Underbelly, Matt embraced the diversity of cultures that makes Houston so special and reinforced his reverence for farmers, ranchers and the extensive efforts involved in raising an animal or growing a vegetable. After Underbelly closed, Matt worked as sous chef at Georgia James for two years before accepting the position as chef de cuisine at Georgia James Tavern.
Fremmiot Rodriguez grew up in a blended Puerto Rican and Midwestern family, spending most of his formative years in Puerto Rico. Fremmiot's first restaurant job was shucking oysters and dishwashing. From there, he was able move up the ladder in the hospitality industry in Corpus Christi, Texas, and eventually made his way to Houston in 1995 where he worked front of house at Pappa Mia. He then transferred to Pappas Bros. Steakhouse where he was a reservationist, cigar steward, office administrator and sommelier for 25 years. Fremmiot joined Underbelly Hospitality in 2018 as assistant general manager for Georgia James and moved to Georgia James Tavern as general manager in 2021.
Lucas McKinney, originally from Ocean Springs, MS, began working in the restaurant industry in 2014. He cooked under Chef Kelly English at The Second Line, a po’boy shop in Oxford, as well as Vishwesh Bhatt at Snackbar, while he was studying Hospitality Management at University of Mississippi. Lucas moved to Houston in 2018, where he was a part of the Georgia James opening team. After almost two years, he was promoted to Sous Chef at Hay Merchant, and in 2021, Lucas transitioned to Georgia James Tavern where he currently serves as Sous Chef.
Florida native Alison Robbins started her journey with wine when she moved across the country at 24 to Napa Valley and worked at a wine cellar for 8 months. Over the past 17 years, Alison has experience working at establishments in New York City, Sonoma, and Miami, including several Michelin-starred restaurants like Eleven Madison Park and The Musket Room. She has worked all kinds of front of house positions, including head sommelier, food and beverage manager, and server shift leader. Alison became a Houston resident in January of 2020, and previously worked with Southern Smoke as a case manager before taking on her role as sommelier for Georgia James Tavern.
Victoria Dearmond has been a member of the Underbelly team since the restaurant opened in March 2012. In addition to managing the pastry departments for all Underbelly Hospitality concepts, she serves as Chris Shepherd's consigliere—managing his schedule, collaborating on recipe development and overall project management. Prior to joining Underbelly, she worked in the pastry department at Triniti and at a ski lodge in Washington State. The Lake Jackson native graduated from Le Cordon Bleu in Austin. In 2016, she was an Eater Young Guns semifinalist, and in 2018, she was named Eater Houston's Pastry Chef of the Year.
Matthew Pridgen was raised in a farming community—and he understands the hard work involved in the production aspect of the food industry. The Houston native started in the restaurant business as a bartender at Mark’s American Cuisine, where he was eventually promoted to General Manager and asked to take over the wine list. From there, Matthew accepted the general manager position at Catalan, where he worked alongside Chris Shepherd for five years. Because of their shared philosophy on using small-farm produce and supporting family-run businesses, Matthew followed Chris to Underbelly, where he was hired as general manager. Matthew employed the same attitude in crafting Underbelly’s wine list, choosing selections from wineries that are family owned and operated. Matt was promoted to wine director for Underbelly Hospitality in 2017 and runs the wine programs at One Fifth, UB Preserv, Georgia James, Hay Merchant and Georgia James Tavern.
Wine Enthusiast, recognizing Matthew's expertise, named both Underbelly (2015-2016) and One Fifth (2017-2019) to its list of America's 100 Best Wine Restaurants. In 2021, Georgia James made Wine Enthusiast's list of 50 Wine Restaurants We Love. Georgia James earned a Best of Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator in 2020 and 2021.
Director of Bars
Westin Galleymore grew up in the restaurant business and learned about wine from his chef/sommelier dad, who also introduced him to cocktails at Anvil Bar & Refuge. Westin was hooked. Not long after, he accepted a job at Anvil, completed the bar’s notoriously rigorous training program and developed a strong understanding of cocktail architecture. Two years later, he opened One Fifth Steak as bar manager. In 2018, he was promoted to Underbelly Hospitality's director of bars and manages the cocktail programs at Hay Merchant, UB Preserv, One Fifth, Georgia James, and Georgia James Tavern. Westin was named a Rising Star Bartender by StarChefs in 2019.
Midwest-raised, James Beard Award-winning Chef Chris Shepherd has helped change the landscape of the Houston culinary scene since opening Underbelly in 2012. He built the restaurant to support the Houston food community and its suppliers by buying local and drawing inspiration from the people and cultures that live in the city. Thanks to Chris’ vision and passion, Underbelly was a James Beard Award semifinalist for Best New Restaurant, was named one of the best new restaurants in the country by Bon Appetit and Esquire and was named one of 38 essential restaurants in America by Eater. Chris was named one of the 10 Best New Chefs in America by Food & Wine in 2013 and was then awarded the 2014 James Beard Award for Best Chef: Southwest.
In 2017, Chris opened One Fifth, a five-year restaurant project that changes concepts every year. He closed Underbelly in March 2018 to convert the building into Georgia James. He also opened UB Preserv as his culinary interpretation of Houston’s evolution. He continues to tell the story of Houston food, but without limitations of locality and whole animal butchery. He formed Underbelly Hospitality in 2018 to preserve the ethos of Underbelly—learning about diverse cultures through food. In 2019, all three restaurants—UB Preserv, One Fifth Mediterranean and Georgia James—nabbed the No. 1 spot on Texas Monthly’s list of the Best New Restaurants in Texas, and Georgia James was included on GQ and Robb Report’s lists of the best new restaurants in America. He was a semifinalist for the James Beard Award for Outstanding Chef in 2019 and was named Robb Report’s Chef of the Year the same year. Chris’ first cookbook, Cook Like a Local: Flavors that Will Change the Way You Cook—and See the World, was published by Clarkson Potter in September 2019 and was nominated for a 2020 James Beard Foundation Book Award.
Chris began his fine dining career at Brennan’s of Houston, where he spent seven years in the kitchen and then ran the wine program for two. He left Brennan’s in 2006 to open Catalan Food & Wine, which was named one of Esquire’s Best New Restaurants in America that same year.
Chris’ foundation Southern Smoke has distributed more than $8.8 million—both directly to people in the food and beverage industry in need via the Emergency Relief Fund and to organizations that represent the needs of people in the industry.
Georgia James Tavern is located at 737 Preston on the first floor of Market Square Tower. Valet parking is complimentary at Market Square Tower.