Houston has welcomed an unprecedented number of excellent new restaurants over the past year, as last week’s record-breaking number of James Beard semifinalist nominations demonstrates. Now, one of Texas’ foremost food authorities has added her own praise for the city’s ascendant culinary scene.
Texas Monthly food editor Pat Sharpe has ranked four Houston establishments on her list of Texas’ best new restaurants. That’s up from two last year. Dallas and Austin each earn two spots on the list with Fort Worth and San Antonio claiming the other two places. New restaurants that opened between December 1, 2016 and December 1, 2017 are eligible for inclusion in the article, which is titled "Where to Eat Now," but reopened restaurants that kept their original names — Sharpe cites the French Room in Dallas — are not.
“There will be steaks— that’s a given. And Mexican food. And Gulf seafood,” Sharpe writes. “But our annual roundup of the ten best new restaurants in Texas contains surprises too, including a place with a Canadian chef, as well as a Japanese-Texan mash-up that almost defies description. I’ve been putting together this list since 2002, and I can’t remember a year that included two such distinct outliers.”
Houston’s representatives on the list begin with James Beard Award winner Hugo Ortega’s Oaxacan restaurant Xochi, which Sharpe ranks as the state’s best new restaurant. Ortega also earned the top ranking on the 2015 list for Caracol, his Mexican seafood restaurant near The Galleria.
Killen’s STQ, Ronnie Killen’s ode to steak and barbecue, ranks fourth of the list. James Beard Award winner Justin Yu earns the sixth spot for Theodore Rex, the bistro-style follow-up to his acclaimed restaurant Oxheart. Ryan Lachaine, the Canadian chef Sharpe references in her intro, earns eighth place for Riel, his genre-bending Montrose restaurant. Houston also earns three honorable mentions, courtesy of One Fifth Romance Languages, the second of Beard Award winner Chris Shepherd’s rotating restaurant concept, and Astros owner Jim Crane’s two Italian restaurants: casual Osso & Kristalla and fine dining Potente.
Austin’s Kemuri Tatsu-ya, a barbecue-influenced izakaya from the owners of Ramen Tatsu-ya that, like Xochi, has been hailed as one of the country’s best new restaurants, takes second place. Pitchfork Pretty, the stylish restaurant that blends Hill Country and Asian influences, takes seventh. Casual French restaurant Bonhomie and Spanish-influenced El Chipirón earn honorable mentions.
Dallas takes third thanks to Sachet, a Mediterranean-inspired restaurant from Gemma chef/owner Stephen Rogers and his wife Allison Yoder. Fifth places goes to Bullion, the downtown Dallas restaurant from former Mansion chef Bruno Davaillon that offers a lighter take on classic French fare. Trendy Mirador and over-the-top steakhouse Town Hearth earn honorable mentions.
San Antonio’s representatives consist of Range, chef Jason Dady’s steakhouse on the Riverwalk, which comes in ninth, and two honorable mentions: Battalion and Nonna Osteria. Fort Worth’s Piattello Italian Kitchen rounds out the list in tenth place.