One of Houston's most-acclaimed chefs is once again basking in the national spotlight.
Eater national restaurant editor Bill Addison named Theodore Rex, the modern bistro helmed by James Beard Award winner Justin Yu, to his coveted list of the 18 Best New Restaurants in America. Theodore Rex is the second Houston restaurant to make the annual list, following Hugo Ortega's Oaxacan restaurant Xochi in 2017.
Addison admits that he was skeptical about Yu's decision to transform his acclaimed restaurant Oxheart into Theodore Rex, but the restaurant won him over.
"The signature starter is tomato toast, a layering of fresh and cooked flavors that flings umami thunderbolts with each bite," Addison writes. "From there, look to the Texas seasons — to dishes like cauliflower braised in Bordelaise sauce and smeared with a roasted kale sauce in the mild winter, and pickled cantaloupe in cold melon broth with sorrel and peppers to cool summer’s swelter."
The acclaimed bistro was among three Texas restaurants to make the exclusive list, which includes national luminaries like David Chang's Los Angeles restaurant Majordomo and Cote, New York City's game-changing Korean steakhouse. Addison also expressed admiration for Austin Interior Mexican restaurant Suerte and the heirloom masa on which most of the menu is based, calling it “next-level Mexican-Texan cooking.”
In San Antonio, he bypassed the big names to highlight casual Carnitas Lonja, recognizing it for owner Alex Parades' handmade tortillas, complimentary red and green salsas, and signature carnitas. Those three restaurants gave Texas the second most of any state, just behind California's five.
CultureMap's Brandon Watson contributed to this article.