Once a year, I sort through my dining notes and come up with a list of my favorite dining spots of roughly the past twelve months. We modestly call the resulting story, traditionally published in February, “Where To Eat Now.” On its face, it is an honor roll of the best and the tastiest new restaurants Texas has to offer. Practically speaking, though, I think of it as: “I Eat Out So You Don’t Waste Your Money on a Dud.”
This year I made a dozen choices, whereas normally I select only ten. (What can I say—2012 was a very good year.) The types of places covered a lot of territory, from a Vietnamese cafe in Austin to Texas-centric meat palaces in Fort Worth and Houston, and from a French (but not too French) bistro in Dallas to an international vegetable palace in Houston. In between were a seafood restaurant and a number of places that can only be described by the all-encompassing adjective “eclectic.”
The story appears in the February 2013 Texas Monthly, an issue that is special for two reasons: it takes an in-depth look at our state’s six major cities and, not coincidentally, celebrates the fortieth anniversary of the founding of the magazine (“Happy birthday to us, happy birthd … . . “). If you don’t follow the restaurant scene, “Where To Eat Now” is a quick and easy way to catch up. If you do keep up, you can see whether you agree with me or not.
You can also take a little trip back to the dining scene in Texas circa 1973, when the magazine began publication. The write-up for each city has a quickie overview of the best-known restaurants from that era (raise your hand if you remember the Sir Loin House in Houston, Karam’s in San Antonio, the Carriage House in Fort Worth, the Capital Oyster Company in Austin, Ewald’s in Dallas, or Casa del Sol in El Paso’s sister city, Juárez, Mexico).
I hope you’re a subscriber, but in case you’re not, here’s a run-down of the restaurants we selected. You can get the full details online at texasmonthly.com or in the magazine, available on newsstands now. To be eligible for “Where To Eat Now,” a restaurant had to have opened between November 1 2011, and November 1, 2012.
AUSTIN: Elizabeth Street Café and Salty Sow (honorable mention to Clark’s Oyster Bar, Lenoir)
DALLAS: Boulevardier, Driftwood, and Oak (honorable mention to FT33, Sissy’s Southern Kitchen and Bar)
EL PASO: Red Mountain Bistro
FORT WORTH: Woodshed Smokehouse
HOUSTON: Oxheart, Roost, Triniti, Underbelly (second locations were not eligible—sorry, Uchi; honorable mention to Lucille’s, Provisions, Sparrow Bar + Cookshop)
SAN ANTONIO: Bliss (honorable mention to Bite, Nao, Sustenio).