As part of the magazine's November 2014 issue, Food & Wine magazine devotes attention to featuring the 20 best dishes in Texas. Rather than send some clueless Yankee to tour the state with little more than an outdated Zagat guide and a GPS, the magazine wisely chose to ask a few high-profile Texans to select their favorite spots.
Love makes a slightly unusual choice by selecting the porterhouse at Italian fine dining restaurant Da Marco instead of one of the city's traditional steakhouses but also finds spots for brandade from Provisions and mesquite-smoked roast pork from Underbelly.
"Chris Shepherd cooks a lot like I do: big pieces of big things," Love explains. "He has a way with large cuts of meat . . . . There’s some good, punchy chile flavor in there—it’s not a shy dish."
Not surprisingly, Vaughn picks a smoked meat — in this case the bone-in pork belly from Killen's Barbecue — which so entranced the writer who travels the state eating barbecue that he awarded Killen's an almost perfect 4.75 out of 5 rating back in July.
"Everything is flawless," Vaughn writes about Killen's. "The bone-in pork belly is Killen’s way of adding flair to the menu while still keeping it traditional. It’s a sparerib bone with a thick layer of pork belly on top that’s not too fatty. I don’t know anyone else who serves pork belly this way."
For those keeping score, Austin leads the way with six dishes, including brisket from Franklin Barbecue and crudo from Qui. Dallas and San Antonio show up just behind Houston with three each.
If one were inclined to nitpick, it would be nice to see a dish from either the Ghandi district on Hillcroft or Bellaire's Chinatown among Houston's representatives. Also, maybe next time the magazine could tap someone who'll give a shout out to a place serving Gulf seafood: Barbecue crabs at Benno's or roasted oysters at Gilhooley's, anyone?
Oh well, there's always next time.