A restaurant that's been in business for over 50 years could be tempted to rest on its laurels, but even the city's premier power broker destination understands that it has to evolve to remain relevant. Proprietor Tony Vallone tapped Austin Waiter, a 27-year old graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, to lead it into a new era. While the classics remain — salt-crusted snapper and truffle filet aren't going anywhere — the restaurant's creative spirit lies in Waiter's tasting menu, which incorporates the chef's love for delicate sauces. Given that a little theater always makes fine dining more compelling, diners would be well-advised to splurge on the dry-aged duck just to watch Waiter work the restaurant's duck press tableside.
The dramatic artwork by renowned Texas sculptor Jesús Moroles still creates a sense of occasion for any meal, but the restaurant's happy hour, as well as 75 wines by-the-bottle for $75 or less, make it more approachable than ever before.