The creation of the San Antonio campus of the Culinary Institute of America has all the makings of an “only in Texas” story: a local man makes a fortune off salsa, then gives back to his community by financing a world-class cooking school in partnership with the country’s most prestigious culinary college, which is based in—all together now—New York City!?! (Well, Hyde Park, but close enough.)
Food & Wine magazine revealed its 2014 list of the Best New Chefs in America on Tuesday morning via social media, and Texas chefs clearly came out swinging. Out of the twelve chefs (from ten restaurants) honored, three hailed from the Lone Star State. This is a record for Texas, which has previously had two chefs on the annual list but not three.
Dishes that clock in at no more than 475 calories make this a prime destination for those thinking ahead to swimsuit season. And flavor does not fall by the wayside in dishes like flatbread generously topped with balsamic onions, roasted red peppers, mozzarella, and garlic pesto chicken; a quinoa and citrus salad with diced jícama, sun-dried cranberries, and fresh mint; and mushrooms stuffed with lump crab, roasted shrimp, and spinach with a crunchy Parmesan-panko crust. (3/14)
It’s the United Nations of hot dogs, housed in a fifties diner complete with round windows and red vinyl stools. Pick a German or kielbasa frank and have it served up as a bruschetta dog with balsamic-drizzled tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella; a Himalayan dog with onion chutney, toasted-curry aioli, and fried onion straws; and a good ol’ bacon cheeseburger dog. The only dessert offered is a milk shake, and we recommend the Oreo one. (3/14)
Whether you eat before or after a run is up to you. Just make sure you step off the Katy Trail to replenish your culinary reserves at this unfussy spot. Who could resist a glass of freshly squeezed Granny Smith apple juice? Follow that up with a generous portion of tender chicken-fried steak elevated with amazing honey-jalapeño gravy—we scraped up every morsel. There’s a great outdoor patio for pleasant weather. (3/14)
Authentic Thai food was the last thing we expected to find on the I-20 feeder road just north of Mount Pleasant. Next to a Super 8 Hotel and occupying what may have once been a Waffle House, this unassuming spot is a diamond in the rough. We started out with the tom kha, a delightful lemongrass-scented soup with a plethora of vegetables. The brothy rad na was a perfect second course, the thick noodles blending with shrimp, broccoli, carrots, snow peas, and mushrooms. (3/14)
One would expect to find a steakhouse this outstanding only in large metropolitan areas, but Four Winds is so exceptional that it’s been known to attract diners blown in from Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana. The fare is thoughtfully prepared and professionally served, and the atmosphere is elegant yet unpretentious.
A small-town cafe on the courthouse square is an endangered species in Texas, so do a good deed and give yourself a treat: get off the highway and come here to eat honest food served by amiable proprietors. Memorabilia from the city’s Czech history decorate the walls, and the dining room, when filled with locals, has the feel of a church social. A juicy burger topped with cream cheese–filled jalapeños and bacon exceeded the norm, and the CFS had the crispiest of coats.