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 December 2019 issue. In case you missed it, restaurant critic Patricia Sharpe’s 2019 list of Texas’s Best New Restaurants came out in our March issue, and you can also read up on her latest Pat’s Pick, Houston’s MAD.
Click “More Info” for further detail on each restaurant:
After a five-year hiatus, this revived eatery is back in the heart of Fredericksburg. Huge tacos, served on doubled corn tortillas, run the gamut, from grilled mahi sporting cilantro lime crema, cabbage, and pico to tenderloin drizzled with bright chimichurri, pickled red onions, and crumbles of cotija. Other options are chicken-fried steak (so-so) and a New York strip (deliciously tender and well-cooked). Your best bet in the appetizer section is the Quatro (Cuatro?), featuring heaping bowls of house-made guacamole, spicy queso, a smoky puree of black beans, and a chunky chipotle dip (a real bargain at happy hour, which starts at 3 p.m.). Cocktails are big, beautiful, and potent.
American | ⭑⭑ | $$$ | More Info
Deep Southern roots branch out in new directions at this former gas station. Liver and onions are reimagined, transforming the expected Southern staple into decadent melt-in-the-mouth bites of foie gras with caramelized onions and brown gravy (save some cornbread for that), all of it topped with crispy fried rings of purple onion. The chicken-fried steak is more traditional, with an expert breading, a splatter of good cream gravy, and a bed of mashed potatoes with texture enough to prove their provenance. Everything presented by chef Tim Rattray (who also runs the Granary) is made in-house and served with panache. Sides of collard greens and squash casserole are good enough to merit double orders. In fact, all of the portions are modest but priced accordingly, unless you are expecting a country-cafe bill. The outdoor patio offers games and shade, while the interior is cozy with comfy banquettes.
Southern | ⭑⭑⭑⭑ | $$$ | More Info
Davis St. at Hermann Park
Welcome back, Mark Holley. The roomy, elegant space and gracious service make a fine backdrop for your seafood and steak menu. We recently began our meal with the delightful Benne Seed Parker House Rolls, served with poblano pimento cheese and a lovely smoked drum mousse. Then we relished two appetizers: the New Orleans–style charbroiled oysters, seven little beauties in a buttery, cheesy mix with rosemary and grilled bread for sopping up, and Korean-style beef lettuce wraps with carrots and cucumbers and a line of soba noodles. Our 18-ounce Berkshire pork chop with a sorghum glaze and fried apples came off moist and perfectly pink, and it tasted grand with our order of truffled mac and cheese with crunchy bread crumbs on top. But the juicy, perfectly cooked halibut and lump crabmeat dish had perhaps too many ingredients—orzo pasta, smoked onions, confit tomatoes, root vegetables, some of which were oversalted.
New American | ⭑⭑⭑ | $$$$ | More Info
To enter, you’ll walk through perhaps the prettiest courtyard in town, framed by twinkly-lit trees and tables. It’s a magical setting, shared with the restaurant’s cocktail lounge sibling, Botanist, for whom Paradiso prepares bar bites. But do go inside for a full menu and bohemian-chic decor. With soaring ceilings, high-hung windows, and plants aplenty, the space evokes a glammy greenhouse redo straight out of Architectural Digest. The menu features dishes from the wood-fired grill, fresh pastas, and seafood. We slurped down briny East Coast oysters dressed with a lovely grapefruit–Fresno chile mignonette to start. A smoked beet salad was less exciting than its menu description, but an order of fried baby artichokes made up for it. Next up was a small pizza, with the best vegetable toppings we’ve had: slices of confit potato zinged-up with tangy pickled shallots and a habanero-carrot relish. Whole grilled branzino, big enough for two, had wonderful crispy skin topped with zesty salsa verde; flanking it was a side of tender chickpeas cooked with tomatoes (had we known, we’d have skipped the white shell beans, which were good, though not as tender).
Mediterranean | ⭑⭑⭑ | $$$ | More Info
The creative energy at Springdale General (“a community of makers and creatives,” per the website) is palpable, especially in the space shared by a curated group of food purveyors. Tucked in the middle of the two-story building, with soaring windows and communal tables, is a walk-up Japanese counter where the sushi chefs take a sheet of crisp nori and roll items like grilled unagi, scallops, and hamachi with a shiso leaf into the best temaki in town. The daily specials are the stars, but the regulars, from the sprightly pickled vegetables to the unctuous beef tenderloin tartare, are all worth venturing east of Airport. If you want to augment your hand roll, go for the smoked oyster dip, mellowed by cream cheese and a handful of fried savories. The chefs, Masazumi Saio and Takehiro Asazu, execute an express omakase dinner that we are eager to try, and they teach classes on sushi-making on Thursdays, but despite the adage about teaching someone to fish, we would rather get in the car for their creations than make our own.
Japanese | ⭑⭑⭑ | $$ | 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.