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!
Here are a few highlights from the new restaurants reviewed this month. And don’t forget to read restaurant critic Patricia Sharpe’s pick—Saint-Emilion). Click “More Info” for further detail on each restaurant:
With their Full Moon Dinners, Brian and Amanda Light have long brought customers to their family farm. Now they’ve also settled into downtown Bryan’s century-old Ice House, where they’ve kept much of the interior intact and implemented a revolving menu that features their farm’s meat and produce. For a recent Sunday brunch, we feasted on huevos rancheros with guacamole, refried beans, and a dollop of tomatillo salsa; the accompanying flatbread, reminiscent of an airy sopaipilla, was particularly divine. Equally delicious was the chicken-fried steak with slightly spicy cream gravy and heirloom potatoes.
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New American | ⭑⭑⭑ | $$$ | More Info
Emma + Ollie
The beautifully renovated house, the place settings, and the staff are all as charming as you’d expect from celeb chef Rebecca Rather. And the same goes for the food. We opted for Sunday brunch, with the lighter eater going for avocado toast made with freshly baked sourdough and a side of house-made sausage. The hearty eater loved Papa’s Plate: perfectly poached eggs under a blanket of hollandaise and perched atop a tender and crisp chicken-fried steak. And, of course, warm beignets were a must. We plan to go back until we have tried everything on the menu.
New American | ⭑⭑⭑ | $$ | More Info
With big appetites, we settled in next to a window overlooking the Houston Street action—skaters, bikers, dog walkers, lowriders—and ordered three starters. First up, fried green tomatoes with the requisite tone, tartness, and cornmeal crisp. Next, queso fundido, texture-perfect with chorizo and oregano and bringing just the funhouse feel we were promised by the glitzy, shiny, sparkly, modern, just-a-bit-scary dining room (yep, this is another Andrew Goodman and Stefan Bowers venue and menu). Finally, char siu cauliflower, smoky and savory, jumped right in on the ride. Then we ordered two generous pies, a red-sauced S&M (fennel sausage and mushrooms) and a white-sauced Flavor & Fear (mozzarella topped with generous slivers of really hot peppers and a drizzle of honey). Both arrived perfectly timed and baked from the massive 3,500-pound brick-and-tile oven, shiny and bulbous as the restaurant’s restored bumper car from the mythic Broadway amusement park to which Playland pays homage
Pizza | ⭑⭑⭑⭑ | $$ | More Info
Our meal was delightful in this country-coastal, light-bathed space with soaring windows, fabric-draped chandeliers, curved bench seating, and a vibrant bar. Said bar is where we sat to enjoy stellar Gulf Coast cuisine, starting with the crab tartine—a generous scoop of chilled blue crab sprinkled with sesame seeds and dill, atop toasted multigrain bread smeared with avocado—and crispy boudin balls, breaded in cornmeal and served with a spoonful of grainy mustard. Equally dazzling was the jumbo shrimp sautéed in sausage gravy and served over creamy green-chile grits. One of us loved the okra-based smoked chicken and sausage gumbo chock-full of tasso; the other thought it too salty (though he ate every bite).
Cajun/Creole | ⭑⭑⭑ | $$$ | More Info
The minute the host leads you through the antique turquoise-painted doors into the main dining room of this new Dripping Springs restaurant, you’re immediately transported to a different time and place. Perhaps it’s the intricately carved beams and woodwork of the building, transported from Vietnam by owner Whit Hanks, an Austin antiques dealer. Or the many Catholic saints displayed in small alcoves along the far walls. Certainly there’s some traveling going on on the menu, which asserts its Texas identity with two steak offerings at the top of the list and then feathers into a variety of Asian and Latin flavors farther down the menu. We devoured every leaf of the chile-jam sautéed brussels sprouts with mandarin oranges and crispy shallots, as well as the charred carrots bathed in spicy green curry and served with pickled shrimp relish. Beautifully poached salmon arrived on a bed of long, tender strands of “potato noodles,” but our favorite dish of the night was the juicy roasted chicken served in a Thai curry vinaigrette over fragrant jasmine sticky rice with roasted baby eggplant. We look forward to our next transformative experience.
New American | ⭑⭑⭑ | $$$ | More Info
Our reviews are written by critics who live in the cities and regions they cover. They remain anonymous to ensure that they receive no special treatment. The magazine pays for all meals and accepts no advertising or other consideration in exchange for a listing. Comments? Write us.
⭑⭑⭑ Very Good
⭑ Hit or miss
Prices represent a typical meal for one, not including alcohol, tax, and tip. All listed restaurants accept credit cards unless otherwise noted.
$ Less than $15
$$$$ More than $60