Bob's Steak and Chop House

Opening just in time for the legislative power brokers, this tony Dallas-based chain faces plenty of competition nearby but obviously feels secure. The interior is wood paneled and clubby, even preppy, while the beef menu encompasses roast duck and smoked salmon on toast points. A crab cake with a punchy mustard sauce was staid but solid, as was the surf and turf, featuring a filet and an Australian loster tail. Our favorite, though, was the generous rack of tiny lamb chops (also from Down Under).

Backspace

A casual spot for wine and nibbles after work, Backspace is now serving lunch, a most welcome development. The menu is the same, including the pocket-size list of antipasti (addictive spicy cauliflower with a citrusy dressing of lemon and capers, heavenly burrata with olive salad). Make your main course a Neapolitan-style pizza, like the fennel sausage with roasted peppers, its thin, crisp crust blistered in the Italian brick oven. (Updated 3/13)

La Barbecue

Boy, is the meat here good! A spicy dry rub did wonders for a paperlined tray of smoked brisket, smoked beef short ribs, pulled pork, and prime rib (a special). The chipotle-spiked coleslaw overshadowed the other sides, while cold Lone Star beer from a cooler made it go down smooth. Get there early. More than half the menu items were sold out within an hour of opening.(2/13)

Texas French Bread

The rare neighborhood restaurant where you can actually converse, Texas French Bread has finished its facelift and presents freshly painted white walls, bare concrete floors, exposed rafters, and simple curtains to the world.

Larry McGuire: King of Austin's Fine Dining Empire

Thirty-year-old Larry McGuire, Austin’s most prolific high-quality restaurateur, sits down to lunch at his newest restaurant, Josephine House in the capital’s central Clarksville neighborhood. With impeccably clean hands, he straightens his Rag & Bone shawl collar cardigan before placing a crisp napkin into his lap. Josephine House opened last month, and its dining room, with white-washed wood-paneled walls and marble counters, is already packed with neighbors and food aficionados.

How Bryce Gilmore and Chris Shepherd Celebrated Their James Beard Noms

Bryce Gilmore, of Barley Swine, in Austin, and Chris Shepherd, of Underbelly in Houston, were among the eight Texas chefs, writers, and restaurants nominated for a James Beard Award, the highest honor given in the food world. Garden and Gun magazine recently caught up with the two chefs to ask them how they celebrated the news:

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