Thu February 27, 2014 3:10 pm By Patricia Sharpe
The Perini Ranch Steakhouse, located in the tiny West Texas town of Buffalo Gap, Texas, is one of the five winners of an America’s Classics designation, a group of awards given annually by the New York–based James Beard Foundation, the nation’s most prestigious culinary organization. According to the foundation, the “America’s Classics Award is given to restaurants that have timeless appeal and are beloved for quality food that reflects the character of their community.”  
The proprietors are Perini and his wife Lisa. In an email, Lisa Perini said, “We are so flattered by this award. It’s truly an honor to our entire Perini Ranch team.”
Founded in 1983 by rancher Tom Perini, the steakhouse has become a destination for diners from all over the country, but the restaurant has long been a stalwart in the Texas dining scene. In a December 2007 feature, Texas Monthly ranked the restaurant number three on our list of the 38 best steakhouses in the state, and in April 2011, Tom Perini graced our cover for a story about traditional Texas fare, "Cook Like a Texan."
The foundation described the history of Perini Ranch and its proprietor:
Cowboy cook and rancher Tom Perini made a bold decision in 1983. With oil and cattle prices depressed, he turned a hay barn on his family spread into a restaurant, hoping to draw folks from nearby Abilene. Serving Texas standards with genuine hospitality, he has created a signature rural roadhouse. 
Grilled steaks are the heart of the menu. Tom knew that if he opted for prime beef, he would price himself out of the local market. He chose instead to grill the best choice rib eyes, strips, and filets. The appeal of those steaks owes much to mesquite. The scrubby, thorny trees grow everywhere in this arid terrain. And their coals yield a pungent smoke that perfumes the air. 
Comfort foods and chuck wagon favorites fill out the offerings, including green chile hominy and garlicky cowboy potatoes. For dessert, there’s whiskey-laced bread pudding.
The other four recipients of Classics awards are Hansen’s Sno Bliz, in New Orleans; Nick’s Italian Café in McMinnville,Oregon; Olneyville New York System in Providence, Rhode Island; and Sokolowski’s University Inn in Cleveland, Ohio. 
Honorees will be recognized at a ceremony May 5 at the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center in New York City. 
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Thu February 20, 2014 3:58 pm By Patricia Sharpe

Alan Richman, restaurant critic for GQ, has sent some big love Texas's way. Number one on his list of the best new restaurants of the year is Qui, in Austin. Also making the list, at number thirteen, is La Barbecue, in Austin. No other Texas places were included. (Qui, incidentally, is number eight on Texas Monthly’s list of the ten best restaurants in Texas, published in our March 2014 issue. La Barbecue was on our roster of the top fifty barbecue joints in Texas, published in June 2013.) Here are excerpts from Richman’s comments. 


“On the long-overlooked east side of Austin stands the most fascinating new restaurant in America. Thanks to Paul Qui and other local chefs, what used to be the toughest part of town is now the tastiest. Qui's high-end restaurant could be mistaken for a sushi bar but isn't one—you'll realize it's more than that when you see the vast, gleaming open kitchen where he prepares food displaying an array of Asian and Texan influences. Most unusual and daring are dishes from the Philippines, where Qui was born. These include dinuguan, a pork-blood stew containing mushrooms, meat, and potato gnocchi. . . . His Ode to Michel Bras pays homage to the famous foraging French chef and is one of the best vegetable dishes of the year. . . .There's also beef tartare, which wanders far from cattle country—it's spiced with kimchi. . . .If Paul Qui isn't the most fearless chef in America, he's surely the most confident.” 


“It isn’t pretty, that’s for sure. It subscribes to the new school of barbecue aesthetic, which means it’s almost a dump. You enter a compound with a dirt floor and chain-link fencing, pick up your food at a trailer, sit at a picnic table under what could be a second-hand revival tent . . . . The barbeque is some of the best ever, as good as barbecue gets. . . .The brisket is so exquisite you can ask for it lean, usually a mistake, and it will come out soft and savory.”

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Wed February 19, 2014 6:26 pm By Layne Lynch

One day after Texas Monthly unveiled its list of the Best New Restaurants of 2014, the James Beard Foundation announced their 2014 Restaurant and Chef Awards semifinalists early this morning, and there were quite a few overlapping restaurants and chefs. Here’s are the fourteen Texas chefs, bars and restaurants that were nominated to win the food industry’s Oscar equivalent.  

Best New Restaurant

Casa Rubia, Dallas 

Outstanding Bar Program

Anvil Bar & Refuge, Houston   

Outstanding Pastry Chef

Philip Speer of Uchi, Houston and Austin

Outstanding Wine Program

Café on the Green at Four Seasons Resort and Club Dallas at Las Colinas, Irving

Outstanding Service

Abacus, Dallas
Mansion Restaurant at Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek, Dallas

Best Chef Southwest

Justin Yu of Oxheart in Houston
Hugo Ortega of Hugo's in Houston
Chris Shepherd of Underbelly in Houston
David Bull of Congress in Austin
Bryce Gilmore of Barley Swine in Austin
Matt McCallister of FT33 in Dallas  
John Tesar of Spoon Bar & Kitchen in Dallas
David Uygur of Lucia in Dallas

Finalists will be announced March 19, 2014.

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Tue February 18, 2014 11:28 am By Texas Monthly Staff

Our March 2014 issue, featuring our thirteenth edition of "Where to Eat Now," hits newsstands Thursday, but we didn't want you to have to wait any longer to make your reservations. Here's the straight list of the best new restaurants in Texas and the best bars in the state, but be sure to pick up the magazine (or, for subscribers, check tomorrow) for full reviews, and much more, including lists of the best craft beers and best bites from around the state. (UPDATE: Click here to read the full reviews.)

The Ten Best New Restaurants in Texas: 

1. Spoon Bar and Kitchen - Dallas
2. Casa Rubia - Dallas
3. Osteria Mazzantini - Houston
4. CBD Provisions - Dallas
5. Arro - Austin 
6. The Pass - Houston
7. Sway - Austin
8. Qui - Austin
9. The Granary 'Cue & Brew - San Antonio
10. Little Lilly - Fort Worth

The Ten Best New Bars in Texas:

1. Qui - Austin
2. Whisler's - Austin
3. CBD Provision - Dallas
4. The Rustic - Dallas
5. & 6. Bad News Bar and Goro & Gun - Houston
7. Original Okra Charity Saloon - Houston
8. The Pastry War - Houston
9. Arcade Midtown Kitchen - San Antonio
10. Barbaro - San Antonio 

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Fri February 7, 2014 2:11 pm By Sarah Bourbon

La Kiva, Terlingua’s first well-known bar and restaurant, was dug into the banks of Terlingua Creek in 1979. The over-the-top décor relied heavily on the plentiful bones common to the desert, and on Tuesday morning, February 4, when La Kiva’s owner, Glenn Felts, was found dead outside the building, the mementi mori appeared almost grotestque.

Felts had been killed sometime the night before; his body was discovered by an early-arriving employee. The Texas Rangers and crime scene investigators from El Paso joined the Brewster County Sheriff’s Department, and together they determined that the death was a homicide. By the end of the day, local river guide Tony Flint had been charged with first-degree murder.

It would be difficult to find anyone with a bad word to say about Felts, and this tiny, close-knit community was consumed with shock and grief at the news of his death. Hundreds gathered Wednesday at the Starlight Theater, Terlingua’s remaining whisky bar*, to hug and cry, and maybe have a few more than usual. People mourned the community's loss of a friend, and some questioned what would happen to this local hangout. But most were reeling from the news of the brutal death (Felts died as as a result of blunt-force trauma to the head) and the accusations against one local taking the life of another. As one man was heard to say, “We have lost our innocence.” 

Felts, 50, with his long, curly blond hair and boyish smile, developed a loyal following for La Kiva and turned it into both a welcome watering hole for locals and a friendly tourist destination that has drawn thousands of visitors over its decades-long history. La Kiva was the demented brain-child of Gil Felts, Glenn’s uncle, who built La Kiva out of stone and old beams. To access the subterranean bar and music venue, patrons entered through a huge, counter-weighted mine-shaft door, and walked down several steps, which led to an opening revealing many rooms, grottos, and caverns to the right and left. A creekside patio draped in grapevines hosted dances, weddings, and parties. 

In the recent past live music was featured nearly every night, and each Wednesday for seventeen years, La Kiva hosted an open mic night. The Wednesday after Glenn’s death, the bar was still a crime scene, but that didn't stop a large crowd of grieving friends from gathering outside to keep the open microphone tradition alive, despite the cold temperatures and blustery wind.

If Flint posts bond, currently set at $200,000, he will be required to stay in Brewster or adjacent counties. He had asked to be released to family in Missouri, but the court nixed that idea. When a reporter contacted Greg Henington of Far Flung Outdoor Center about whether Flint would still have a job, Henington answered with one word: “No.”

The fate of La Kiva is unknown, but the grief in the community is still palpable.

*Correction: Due to an editing error, the Starlight Theater was referred to as Terlingua's only remaining bar. It is the town's only other whisky bar. 

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