Liberty Bistro, New Braunfels
At this patriotic spot in the former city hall, founder Darren Scroggins has concocted a brick-and-mortar civic lesson. Portraits of presidents, and a few first ladies, preside (benevolently, we hope) over the tables, and even the private dining rooms have righteous names: the House, the Senate, the Supreme Court—you get the idea. All-American in the broadest sense of the term, the contemporary menu ranges from a wood-fired, smoked-salmon pizza dolloped with crème fraîche (shades of Wolfgang Puck’s Spago) to a tender beef filet sided by garlic custard. We exercised due diligence by sampling the generous crab cakes, as well as an interesting salad topped with green apple, artisan-crafted goat cheese, and crunchy granola bits. Colorado lamb chops were crispy-edged and succulent. Chef Michael Mancias’s name will ring a bell with fans of Reggiano’s, in San Antonio, where he was executive chef. Check out the modern lighting design in the main dining room, inspired by, of course, Old Glory. Bar. 200 N. Seguin Ave (830-624-7876). Open Mon–Thur 11–10, Fri & Sat 11–11, Sun 10–3. $–$$$ W+ Via elevator.
Joe DiMaggio’s Italian Chophouse, Austin
Would the legendary New York Yankees center fielder be pleased with this use of his name? No doubt. The restaurant (with one other location, in San Francisco) has a thirties-supper-club vibe, cool fifties music (Deano, Frankie, et al.), and a wide-ranging modern menu that mixes steaks and chops with Italian (and non-Italian) classics. The braciole had flavor to spare, offering thinly sliced veal rolled with prosciutto cotto and provolone, then baked and served over creamy polenta. A garlicky tomato demi-glace gave it a nice little kick. Not particularly Italian but tasty nonetheless was crab mousse battered in cornmeal and served as a crispy fritter. Mainstream types will welcome a straightforward list of red meat, plus lamb and pork chops. And who wouldn’t warm up to chocolate soufflé with a light crème anglaise? Be sure to take a look at the photographs of Joe, Marilyn, and friends. Bar. Domain shopping center, 11410 Century Oaks Terrace (512-835-5633). Lunch 7 days 11–3. Dinner Sun–Wed 5–10, Thur–Sat 5–11. $$–$$$ W+