Alan Richman, restaurant critic for GQ, has sent some big love Texas’s way. Number one on his list of the best new restaurants of the year is Qui, in Austin. Also making the list, at number thirteen, is La Barbecue, in Austin. No other Texas places were included. (Qui, incidentally, is number eight on Texas Monthly’s list of the ten best restaurants in Texas, published in our March 2014 issue. La Barbecue was on our roster of the top fifty barbecue joints in Texas, published in June 2013.) Here are excerpts from Richman’s comments.
“On the long-overlooked east side of Austin stands the most fascinating new restaurant in America. Thanks to Paul Qui and other local chefs, what used to be the toughest part of town is now the tastiest. Qui’s high-end restaurant could be mistaken for a sushi bar but isn’t one—you’ll realize it’s more than that when you see the vast, gleaming open kitchen where he prepares food displaying an array of Asian and Texan influences. Most unusual and daring are dishes from the Philippines, where Qui was born. These include dinuguan, a pork-blood stew containing mushrooms, meat, and potato gnocchi. . . . His Ode to Michel Bras pays homage to the famous foraging French chef and is one of the best vegetable dishes of the year. . . .There’s also beef tartare, which wanders far from cattle country—it’s spiced with kimchi. . . .If Paul Qui isn’t the most fearless chef in America, he’s surely the most confident.”
“It isn’t pretty, that’s for sure. It subscribes to the new school of barbecue aesthetic, which means it’s almost a dump. You enter a compound with a dirt floor and chain-link fencing, pick up your food at a trailer, sit at a picnic table under what could be a second-hand revival tent . . . . The barbeque is some of the best ever, as good as barbecue gets. . . .The brisket is so exquisite you can ask for it lean, usually a mistake, and it will come out soft and savory.”