Houston lags behind Dallas in best new restaurants magazine rankings, but Bayou City bars dominate
Texas Monthly food critic Patricia Sharpe has revealed her list of Texas's best new restaurants that opened between Nov. 1, 2012 and Nov. 1, 2013. Unlike last year when Houston restaurants so thoroughly dominated the rankings that Sharpe had to expand her list to 12 to avoid slighting other cities, this year the Bayou City only merits two spots on the list, compared to three each for Dallas and Austin.
The Houston representatives are Galleria area Italian restaurant Osteria Mazzantini at No. 3 in the state and The Pass, which opened late in 2012, at No. 6. Sharpe's rankings match my take from the end of the year, which is that in 2013 some solid new options opened but nothing as attention-grabbing as 2012 superstars Oxheart and Underbelly. Former Top Chef contestant John Tesar's Dallas seafood restaurant Spoon tops the Texas Monthly rankings.
However, Sharpe does recognize Houston in her best new bars rankings. Spots five through eight on the list are all part of downtown's Uberblock at Main and Congress including (in order) Captain Foxheart's Bad News Bar & Spirit Lodge, Goro & Gun, The Original OKRA Charity Saloon and The Pastry War. All four also appear on CultureMap's ranking of the Best New Bars. If Sharpe were inclined to be especially generous, she could have found a spot for ice house D&T Drive Inn, but then other cities would realize how far behind their bar scenes are.
The most interesting thing about the new list is that Sharpe taps Goro as a bar instead of a restaurant, despite the fact that it employs an executive chef and serves food from open to close. Then again, the bar list also includes Austin hot spot Qui and Dallas destination CBD Provisions, which are both most assuredly restaurants, so at least Goro is in good company. Owner Josh Martinez doesn't seem to mind, writing on Facebook that "I'm ok (as long as) I was called anything top 10."
Which of 2014's most anticipated opening will show up on next year's list? Picking the restaurants that find statewide attention is always tricky, but, both Caracol and Coltivare both opened late enough in 2013 and are off to fast enough starts to merit strong consideration. As for restaurants that have yet to open, the top candidates look to be Killen's BBQ and bakery Common Bond.
In other words, Houston could be back on top pretty quickly if everything comes together.