Patricia Sharpe grew up in Austin and holds a master’s degree in English from the University of Texas at Austin. After working as a teacher (in English and Spanish) and at the Texas Historical Commission (writing historical markers), she joined the staff of Texas Monthly, in 1974. Initially, she edited the magazine’s cultural and restaurant listings and wrote a consumer feature called Touts. Eventually she focused exclusively on food. Her humorous story “War Fare,” an account of living for 48 hours on military MRE’s (Meals Ready to Eat), was included in the anthology Best Food Writing 2002. Many of her stories appear in the 2008 UT Press collection, Texas Monthly on Food. In 2006 her story about being a restaurant critic, titled “Confessions of a Skinny Bitch,” won a James Beard Foundation award for magazine food writing.

Sharpe has contributed to Gourmet, Bon Appétit, Saveur, and the New York Times. She writes a regular restaurant column, Pat’s Pick, for Texas Monthly.

Articles by Patricia Sharpe

Dough Pizzeria Napoletana

May 31, 2008 By Patricia Sharpe

When you dine out for a living, you can get a bad “been there, ate that” attitude. While other people are e-mailing each other like crazy over their latest find, you’re hitting the “delete” key as fast as possible. But a few months ago, notes from readers about a San…

This Little Piggy

May 29, 2008 By Patricia Sharpe

Here’s something that fits right in with the local food craze: “Nose to tail eating.” I just gave it a whirl at Feast, in Houston. Granted, the idea of eating the whole critter, inside and out, may not be everybody’s cup of tea, but what they’re doing at…

A Perfect Lunch

Apr 30, 2008 By Patricia Sharpe

I pity anyone who doesn’t live in Austin, because they can’t have lunch at La Traviata. Today chef-owner Marion Gillcrist did ravioli with lamb shank in ragu, a marvel of parchment-thin pasta filled with fluffy ricotta in a deeply meaty sauce swimming with fava beans, crisp green peas,…

The Grove

Mar 1, 2008 By Patricia Sharpe

How many downtown Houston restaurants look out on real, honest-to-God trees? Whatever the number—and I suspect it’s in the single digits—you can add another to the list: the Grove. I’ll get to the food in a minute, but first let me say one word about the Grove’s setting: wow. You…

New and Noteworthy

Mar 1, 2008 By Patricia Sharpe

Merchants Grand Café San Antonio You might wonder what this simple, white, “big box” space used to be. Then a local tells you it was a hardware store. Ah, that makes perfect sense. The Alamo Heights newcomer has a name chef at the helm (Jonathan Parker, from the River…

New and Noteworthy

Feb 1, 2008 By Patricia Sharpe

Café Central El Paso What’s new at venerable Café Central? The decor, for one thing. The border stalwart has shed its animal-print upholstery and New York–bistro look in favor of a classic redo, with sleek chocolate-brown chairs, chrome sculptures, unusual art, and floor-to-ceiling beveled mirrors along the back wall.

Eat Their Words

Feb 1, 2008 By Patricia Sharpe

What will dining, both out and in, be like in decades to come? We asked the state’s top chefs and food folk, from Dean Fearing and Hugo Ortega to David Bull and Charles Butt.

Au Petit Paris

Feb 1, 2008 By Patricia Sharpe

If I close my eyes tight, I can still taste the cloudlike custard filling of Au Petit Paris’s tartelette de tomates confit, with its milky hint of mozzarella and sweet, delicate bits of tomato; the warm, flaky pastry crust is simply museum quality. On the side is a pristine salad…

North

Jan 1, 2008 By Patricia Sharpe

Bear with me—I’m trying to remember the olden days when a restaurant with more than two locations was by definition terrible. Nope, chains have changed. Sure, we’ll always have mass feeders like Chili’s and the Black-eyed Pea, but upscale chains are a different proposition altogether. And as much as I…

Recipe for a Perfect Cookoff

Dec 1, 2007 By Patricia Sharpe

What makes for a great steak? Is it grade, aging, type of feed, breed of cow? After personally visiting twenty steakhouses and trying more than fifty steaks for my portion of our December 2007 cover story, “Meat Your Maker,” I still couldn’t decide. Often the expensive ones were the best,…

New and Noteworthy

Dec 1, 2007 By Patricia Sharpe

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,…

New and Noteworthy

Dec 1, 2007 By Patricia Sharpe

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,…

Meat Your Maker

Dec 1, 2007 By Patricia Sharpe

From city to country, fancy to down-home, the state’s 38 best steakhouses. Plus: the Japanese beef that everyone should be eating, our favorite butcher shops, and how to grill a ribeye that even your father-in-law will love.

Recipe for a Perfect Cookoff

Dec 1, 2007 By Patricia Sharpe

What makes for a great steak? Is it grade, aging, type of feed, breed of cow? After personally visiting twenty steakhouses and trying more than fifty steaks for my portion of our December 2007 cover story, “Meat Your Maker,” I still couldn’t decide. Often the expensive ones were the best,…

Trio

Oct 31, 2007 By Patricia Sharpe

It was the long-ago winter when my family’s two superannuated cats expired right before the holidays that Mother issued a surprising edict: “We’re having Christmas dinner at the Four Seasons this year.” It took three days to pry the reason out of her: She couldn’t bear the thought of…

The Art of the Meal

Jun 30, 2007 By Patricia Sharpe

Five of the best museums in the state have cafes designed to tempt the most refined tastes and sophisticated palates. A few have masterpieces on the menu; others are works in progress.

New and Noteworthy

Jun 30, 2007 By Patricia Sharpe

Trader Vic’s Dallas Imagine King Tut’s tomb, but with tikis. After nearly twenty years in mothballs, the Dallas edition of the glamour bar of the Rat Pack era—Trader Vic’s—has been brought back to life. Miracle of miracles, the South Seas paraphernalia that filled the space did not turn to…

Armandos

May 31, 2007 By Patricia Sharpe

“Everybody goes to RicK’s.” Isn’t that the play they made into Casablanca? The film was on my mind the other night at the Houston enclave that houses the third and grandest incarnation of locally renowned Mexican restaurant Armandos. Conversation and top-shelf margaritas swirled around us, and owner Armando Palacios…

Silo Elevated Cuisine

Apr 30, 2007 By Patricia Sharpe

When i heard that popular San Antonio restaurant Silo was in the family way, I was excited for the mother-to-be. The modest but excellent dining room in exclusive Alamo Heights had been childless for years, while far less worthy restaurants were reproducing like hamsters. It was high time, I…

Lamberts Downtown Barbecue

Mar 1, 2007 By Patricia Sharpe

AUSTIN IS A CITY WHOSE schizophrenic self-image is suspended between its laid-back, small-town, beer-swilling past and its high-speed, big-city, wine-sipping present. That gap can be hard to bridge, and restaurants that open here tend to go for one side or the other. But when chefs and business partners Lou Lambert…

Grill at Leon Springs

Feb 1, 2007 By Patricia Sharpe

IT’S A LITTLE EMBARRASSING to admit this, but I’m a sucker for off-the-wall restaurants. Just say “Tasmanian-Eskimo-Zulu vegan fusion” within earshot of me and I’ll be making reservations in a flash. This strange condition is something that happens if you eat out all the time—you become terminally bored with good,…

Where to Eat Now 2007

Feb 1, 2007 By Patricia Sharpe

Well, first and foremost, Dallas, since four of the year’s ten best new restaurants—including the top three—are there. But if you’re hip and hungry in Houston, Austin, or San Antonio, my list won’t disappoint.

Cibo

Jan 1, 2007 By Patricia Sharpe

NORMALLY I WOULDN’T DO THIS: mention tripe, tongue, and sweetbreads in the first sentence. No, no, no. The very thought of organ meats makes some people woozy. But here’s my point. A chef who makes a cow’s innards appealing—and Will Packwood emphatically does—can make anything else taste great. At two-month-old…

The Greatest Tacos Ever Sold

Dec 1, 2006 By Patricia Sharpe

Sixty-three of them, to be exact: from picadillo in Dallas and brisket tinga in Houston to carne asada gringa in San Antonio and chorizo-and-jalapeño in McAllen. Be sure you don’t leave this earth without trying each and every one.

The Chop Is in the Mail

Nov 1, 2006 By Patricia Sharpe

You want to send your granny a grapefruit this Christmas? Your bro a brisket? Your pop a pie? We’ve taste-tested more than four hundred foodstuffs that Texas companies will happily ship to your door, and more than forty are first-class.

Trece

Aug 31, 2006 By Patricia Sharpe

IT HIT ME THE MINUTE I looked at the press release for Trece, Dallas’s newest Mexican restaurant. There, emblazoned across the first page, were the words “Trece brings ‘Alta Cocina Mexicana’ to Dallas.” Ha, I thought. “Alta cocina mexicana” indeed. No one would ever put the phrase “French haute cuisine”…

Shinsei

Jul 31, 2006 By Patricia Sharpe

IN MY 31 YEARS AS A RESTAURANT REVIEWER, I’ve never seen this before: The wives of two of the most famous chefs in Dallas have gotten together and opened their own restaurant. No, they’re not cooking, but they are definitely running the show, and, as might be expected given the…

Glass Wall

Jun 30, 2006 By Patricia Sharpe

BACK WHEN HOTSHOT Houston chef Lance Fegen was at Zula and Trevisio, there was a whole lotta shaking going on: a lot of food on the plate, a lot of flash in the kitchen, a lot of figures on the check. But that was then and this is now, and…

Tryst

May 31, 2006 By Patricia Sharpe

YOU GOTTA GIVE THE POSSE behind Dallas restaurant Tryst credit for one thing: They’re not afraid to go out on a limb (just pray they’re not blithely sawing it off at the same time). Owner Brittney O’Daniel’s first big risk is taking a chance in a still-rather-marginal part…

Amuse

Apr 30, 2006 By Patricia Sharpe

“EXCUSE ME, WAITER. Knowing that life is short, we’d like to eat dessert first. I’ll have the funnel cake, and my friend wants the s’mores. After that, we’ll split the banana split and the fudge brownies. And—wait, we’re not through, come back—bring us some of those PB&J lollipops.” I know,…

Dolce Vita

Apr 1, 2006 By Patricia Sharpe

IT WAS RIGHT about the time I was tearing into the second hunk of homemade Italian sausage, while simultaneously reaching for the pizza and passing the Gorgonzola, that it hit me: I love Dolce Vita because it’s a shut-up-and-eat kind of place. Yes, it’s owned by Marco Wiles,…