None of the outstanding restaurants that opened in Houston last year made the James Beard Awards semifinalist list, but a James Beard Award winning restaurant critic thinks the Bayou City has something special to offer.
Two Houston restaurants make the Top 10 of GQ magazine restaurant critic Alan Richman's list of the 25 Most Outstanding Restaurants Of 2015. Taken from the March issue on newsstands now, the list ranks Pax Americana fifth and Killen's Barbecue 10th.
Richman writes that Pax Americana is "a throwback to a vanishing time when young chefs were discovered in their kitchens, not on television."
Richman writes that Pax Americana is "a throwback to a vanishing time when young chefs were discovered in their kitchens, not on television." He praises chef Adam Dorris' "exuberance, intelligence and complexity" that's displayed in Pax's ever evolving menu.
"It's rare — and worth celebrating — when promising chefs wield so much freedom," Richman concludes.
"I streamed it for the staff yesterday on Apple TV during preshift," owner Shepard Ross tells CultureMap via text. "They are still bursting with pride! Underneath that beard, Adam is glowing. We can't stop smiling. I'm so proud to be a part of such an incredible team . . . Best crew in the city!"
Ross concludes by promising that Pax's much anticipated brunch will debut in April.
Turning to Killen's Barbecue, Richman is head over heels for the restaurant's signature beef rib, which he describes as "the Mona Lisa of beef." He adds that everything, including the pinto beans and creamed corn, is "first rate" at the Pearland barbecue joint. Even more importantly, he writes that Killen's has helped restore his faith in the future of Texas barbecue.
"I used to worry that Texas barbecue was in decline, the great old pit masters long gone, but it's suddenly better than ever," Richman writes. "The new guys are behaving like chefs, sourcing better products and doing more than just sitting in folding chairs by the smoker all day, drinking beer."
"Houston is our fourth largest city in population, but in food, it's poised to move into the top three."
Chef/owner Ronnie Killen says he met Richman after the critic ate at the restaurant that will celebrate its first birthday on Sunday. "Mona Lisa, that's pretty cool," Killen tells CultureMap in a text.
Killen recalls speaking to Richman after he had eaten. "He told me (the beef rib) was life changing," Killen says. "I didn't know who he was . . . They emailed me about one-and-a-half months ago and said I was going to be in a best of feature. Then I Googled his name."
In a sidebar, Richman describes Houston as America's next great food city. "Houston is our fourth largest city in population, but in food, it's poised to move into the top three," Richman writes.