Searching for the best food the state has to offer, plus authentic Texas recipes and restaurant reviews for Houston, Dallas, Austin, Fort Worth, San Antonio, El Paso, and everywhere in between.
Let’s play a guessing game. I’ll say the words “small, new, refined French restaurant,” and you tell me where it is. If you answered Fort Worth, congratulations.
Just walking into the dining room at Starfish is fun. Clear acrylic jellyfish lights dangle from the ceiling; piscine portraits adorn century-old brick walls. The star here is indeed fish, a category that includes critters with fins, shells, and tangly legs.
This rustic Italian restaurant opened to such anticipation that you would have thought the people in line were waiting to get into a Beyoncé concert. A year later, customers know the drill: get on the list, order a drink from friendly bartender and co-owner Morgan Weber, and wander around the garden inspecting the baby lettuces and herbs.
Of course you want the 240. It’s the most famous steak in Texas. Meticulously dry-aged in-house for 240 days until it attains an almost truffle-like intensity of flavor, this USDA Prime tomahawk ribeye has few peers. After an initial shortage, plenty are stacking up in Knife’s special meat locker (one 30- to 36-ounce bone-in 240 costs $125 but easily feeds two to four). If you just want a conventional steak, though, no problem.
The name means “Wild Saint,” with the emphasis on “wild.” This riotously decorated venture from 62-year-old Dallas chef Stephan Pyles takes you on a border-hopping culinary tour of Mexico, South America, Cuba, and beyond. Yet despite the unfamiliar words on the menu, many of the dishes are surprisingly comforting. A case in point? The causa.
Fine dining wears a comfort-food guise at Odd Duck. The restaurant seems conflicted, as if it’s trying to hide its complex flavors and artful plating behind quaint mismatched china, chipped paint, and burlap lamp shades.
You will eat your vegetables at Pax Americana, where mounds of dewy lettuces, crunchy young sprouts, and teeny microgreens are scattered with abandon on almost everything but the desserts. Thirty-one-year-old chef Adam Dorris has turned a garnish into a delectable signature at a New American venue that already stands out from the crowd.
Some chefs yearn to reinvent the wheel. Stephen Rogers, 44, wants to give you the smoothest ride possible. In his hands Gemma has evolved from a halting start into one of Dallas’s most sought-after dining destinations. His New American and Mediterranean menu takes established traditions, applies a bit of a spin, and burnishes them until they shine.
By any logic, Olamaie belongs in the South, with places like Husk and Catbird Seat, which are revolutionizing that region’s delicious if sometimes hidebound cooking. But Olamaie’s chefs, Michael Fojtasek, 35, and Grae Nonas, 28, didn’t want to live in the South. They wanted to live in Austin, and that is how Olamaie came to occupy a near-downtown cottage transformed inside to resemble a sleek, contemporary country club.