Texas Monthly adds and updates approximately sixty restaurant listings to our Dining Guide each month. There’s limited space in the print issue, but the entire searchable guide to the best of Texas cuisine is at your fingertips online!
Below are a few highlights from the new restaurants reviewed in our April 2020 issue. You can also read up restaurant critic Pat Sharpe’s latest Pat’s Pick, Austin’s Hestia.
Click “More Info” for further detail on each restaurant:
Franklin Barbecue’s Tacos & Coffee
Even if you have no intention of sacrificing much of your day to the gods of smoked meat, you can still enjoy a taste of Franklin’s at their new taco trailer, a vintage Airstream set up to overlook the long line of complicit captives waiting to get their plastic tray piled high with glistening hunks of bovine (and porcine) splendor. The name says it all; it’s a simple operation serving build-your-own tacos and (mostly) coffee drinks. Fillings include the basics (bacon, potatoes, beans, cheese) as well as chorizo and crumbly breakfast sausage made in-house and chopped brisket a la plancha, the meat crispy from a spell on the griddle.
Tacos | ⭑⭑ | $ | More Info
Stylish, yet relaxed, this hot spot welcomes with a chic L.A. vibe. Floating Japanese lanterns, lush potted palms, blond woods, and curvy banquettes frame a dining room that screams “date night” (the Shag Room—a secluded mirrored cocktail lounge—is a bit over the top, though). The locally sourced menu, created by chef Matt McCallister, is impressive. We nearly stuffed ourselves with the Whipped Ricotta Toast, the grilled bread topped with earthy kale pesto, fluffy cheese, and microgreens. Farm-fresh radishes with bottarga and seaweed butter made a lighter starter, and crispy salt cod fritters with “fancy tartar” were a fun riff on the classic tapa. Silky pappardelle with luscious beef cheek ragù was outstanding; little hits of horseradish gave the dish a nice yet subtle kick. Tasty Texas wagyu short ribs had a dense, steaklike texture; the accompanying baby turnips and maitake mushrooms in aerated hollandaise paired nicely. Sweet potato cheesecake made a comforting finale.
New American | ⭑⭑⭑ | $$$ | More Info
On the basement level of a stunningly renovated 1929 building, this cozy-fancy steak palace infuses contemporary detail into an art deco setting. Pulling attention away from the decor, Rappahannock oysters demand focus on sweet plumpness and salinity, tempered beautifully with a mignonette hinting of serrano chile. Prime beef tartare, served with pickled mustard seeds, a lush raw quail egg, and bright micro-herbs, comes with freshly cooked potato chips for scooping. From a selection of dry-aged steaks, the thick, supple bone-in ribeye proves a winner, made somehow even better with red wine–shallot butter. Individual cast-iron dishes filled with crunchy hash browns and twice-cooked marble potatoes rather gild the lily, while broccolini with chile-spiced lemon seems rather less gluttonous.
Steaks | ⭑⭑⭑ | $$$$ | More Info
If you’re not familiar, you might want to watch a YouTube clip on how to eat shabu-shabu, also known as Japanese hot pot, before visiting this newcomer (pronounced “Shabu Squared”). However, the friendly staff at this bright, modern eatery with big booths and a large central bar will guide you through every step. Onomatopoeia for swish-swish, shabu-shabu is tabletop cooking featuring raw, thinly sliced meat or seafood and vegetables cooked in a large pot of broth. Anticipate a few appetizers, such as truffled edamame and spicy Persian cucumbers—a cool, crisp way to start—but hot pot is the bulk of the menu. Of the five broths, we chose the tonkotsu, to which we added vegetables—a wide array, from bok choy to watercress—and swished in tender beef ribeye, which cooked in seconds. Then we dipped the meat into two tasty sauces (which can be doctored with fresh garlic, scallions, and so on) and ate it over rice. It’s fun, interactive dining and healthy to boot.
Japanese | ⭑⭑ | $$ | More Info
Wild Hare Bistro
Just when you thought all dining out came with a brawny bill and boisterous bands, you chance upon a new eatery with delicious comestibles and potables, with conversation-accessible ambience, for less than a whole paycheck. There’s a tiny boutique, a charming wine bar, and a gracious dining room tucked into one main-street building. The chef is French-trained, and it shows in the selection of lofty bar food: sandwiches, salads, and pizzas with hand-tossed crusts and delicious toppings. We tried one of just about everything: steak salad topped with an abundance of tender, medium-rare beef; Greek pasta salad chockablock with assorted olives, tomatoes, scallions, and feta; amazing poutine featuring silky roasted-beef-bone gravy lapped over pommes frites with plump, melty cheese curds. Dessert was their rendering of affogato: vanilla bean ice cream blended with custard and whipped cream and topped with Italian espresso and in-house-distilled rum.
American | ⭑⭑⭑ | $$ | More Info
Our reviews are written by critics who live in the cities and regions they cover. They remain anonymous to ensure that they receive no special treatment. The magazine pays for all meals and accepts no advertising or other consideration in exchange for a listing. Comments? Write us.