NYT's favorite Houston restaurants
New York Times names 2 must-try Houston eateries to coveted 50 most exciting restaurants list
The New York Times has included four Texas restaurants — including two from Houston — on its new list of “The 50 places in the United States that we’re most excited about right now.”
Houston’s representatives are Gatlin’s Fins & Feathers, a Southern restaurant from Gatlin’s BBQ owner Greg Gatlin, and El Hidalguense, a Mexican restaurant in Spring Branch. They’re joined by two Austin eateries — Mexican seafood restaurant Este and Wee’s Cozy Kitchen, a Malaysian comfort food near the University of Texas.
Published Tuesday, September 19, the list mixes newer restaurants that have opened since 2022 with more tenured establishments. Overall, 28 states are represented. Texas’s four spots rank it third with New York and California tying for first with five entries each.
“Despite the upheavals in recent years, this is an expansive moment for independent restaurants. We can’t help but feel that cities and towns in the United States are better to eat in today than they have ever been,” the article states.
Food reporter Priya Krishna writes the entries for all four Texas restaurants. At Gatlin’s Fins & Feathers, she praises the biscuits, barbecue shrimp, fried catfish, and “warm-hug hospitality.” “From the cozy booths to the televisions mounted on the walls, it’s a place where you’ll want to stay a while. Just don’t leave without having the cobbler,” she writes.
“Being listed among the best restaurants in America by the New York Times is a huge honor and a testament to the hard work of everyone behind the scenes at my restaurant," Gatlin tells CultureMap. "My goal has always been to bring high quality, Southern-inspired dishes to my community and being recognized on a national level is extremely gratifying. I also want to thank my family for supporting this dream and always being in my corner. It is a true testament to our cornerstone values of Faith, Family, and Food.”
Turning to El Hidalguense, Krishna feasts on the signature roasted goat and caldo de res. “This is the rustic cooking of Hidalgo, a state in central Mexico whose famously colorful houses are depicted on the restaurant’s sign and splashed onto the table decorations. Grab a big group, order several platters of meat and enjoy the kind of Mexican cooking that you can’t easily get elsewhere — and that’s saying something in Houston,” she writes.
Este chef-owner Fermín Núñez earns recognition for adding global touches like hummus and brown butter to his Mexican seafood dishes. Krishna praises Wee’s Cozy Kitchen for the way chef Wee Fong Ehlers serves dishes like curry laksa in a West Campus gas station “past the cases of Coors Light and off-brand iPhone headphones.”
Gatlin’s has already received regional attention, earning an honorable mention onTexas Monthly’s list of 2023’s best new restaurants (as did Este). Owner Greg Gatlin has made a number of media appearances, including serving as a guest judge on a barbecue-themed episode of Top Chef and in Netflix’s High on the Hog documentary series. Prior to opening Este last year, Núñez earned a Food & Wine Best New Chef award for his work at Suerte, his masa-focused Mexican restaurant in Austin.