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 January 2020 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, Dallas’s Salaryman.
Click “More Info” for further detail on each restaurant:
With a touch of traveling show vibe and a sound track that mixes Southern rock with crooner ballads, this first foray outside of its Dallas home base finds Ida Claire with an admirable number of hungry patrons. Even with opening-week jitters, the plates were a delight. To start, fried green tomatoes came battered in a near tempura lightness, beautifully spiced with peppers, fresh herb aioli, and Parmesan (not exactly Mama’s recipe but probably better). Beautifully cooked steelhead trout had a corn cream sauce standing in for tartar that added a little sweetness and, served alongside a smoky bacon-and-corn succotash, just went South all the way. Holding its own on the casual side of the menu, a big, fat, absolutely sloppy Sloppy Joe, slathered with sweet, hot barbecue sauce, was given texture with the thinnest and crispest onion rings imaginable. Seating and space range from plate-decked nooks to large communal counter-height tables and an outside patio with all the charm of the original Cementville offices.
American | ⭑⭑⭑ | $$$ | More Info
Hot Box Biscuit Club
After a three-year run of weekly sold-out pop-up brunch events, former cooking teachers Sarah Hooton and Matt Mobley have opened a proper cafe in a renovated South Main Village machine shop. Greatest hits include starters like crunchy hush puppies filled with pimento cheese and dipped in a spicy ranchlike dressing and deviled eggs made with sour cream and topped with fiery Cheetos dust. But the focus remains on their monster biscuits, barely browned at the edges yet tender and fluffy within, lovely spread with just whipped butter tinged with sea salt and delicious seasonal fruit jam. Those beauties provide the framework for a prize sandwich called the Dolly Parton: sugar cane–brined chicken breast fried (they nail the crispy crust) and topped with cheddar cheese and sausage gravy. Stars among the sides are the butter-braised green beans cooked with ham hock and the tater tot casserole enriched with yellow cheese and green onion. Sarah’s signature buttermilk pie is gilding the lily but hard to resist.
American | ⭑⭑⭑ | $$ | More Info
This is not your mama’s Tex-Mex. Omar Flores elevates the classic cuisine via ingredient upgrades, top-chef skills, and real-Mex touches. There’s an upcharge for this, and an audience too, judging from the well-heeled weeknight crowd. The decor straddles “chic ranch” and “Texas resort”: comfortable, with Longhorn taxidermy, tooled leather, and cowhides. We were blown away by the blue corn molotes: fried masa “empanadas” stuffed with chorizo, sweet potato, and Oaxaca cheese, perched on creamy, spicy avocado salsa. The hearty El Capitan plate was another winner, anchored by smoky-delicious brisket enchiladas with a touch of molten cheese, under a cap of earthy ancho chile sauce. Mesquite-grilled Angus flap steak—well seasoned and juicy, with a nicely charred crust and rosy center—starred in the tampiqueña platter; flanking it were two cheese enchiladas, rice, and refried beans. Even the beans impressed: a loose, silken mash of tender, barely broken beans.
Tex-Mex | ⭑⭑⭑ | $$ | More Info
The Annie Café & Bar
Robert Del Grande still runs the kitchen of this reboot of his legendary Houston restaurant, but he has joined forces with Benjamin Berg and Sam Governale. Both the menu and the decor, a handsome combo of white brick walls and black trim, have been updated. Some favorite dishes remain—tortilla soup, quail, and good grilled rabbit—but new, more-casual dishes are offered (even a burger). We went with the new. Our best dishes came first: a luscious wild mushroom soup, thick and rich with a center of duck prosciutto and huitlacoche, which lent an earthy flavor and a little kick, then creamy ricotta with a spicy chile paste and honey; grilled bread cut the sweetness of the dish. Our lump crab cake had more bread and less lump than we like, though its side of charred chile rémoulade added interest. Lamb chops, wood grilled and tender, didn’t gain much from their base of pulled lamb and roasted hominy. A side dish of green beans cried out for seasoning, but the crock of roasted potatoes with queso and strips of poblano more than compensated. Watch those perfect, crusty rolls at the start—we practically made a meal of them.
American | ⭑⭑⭑ | $$$ | More Info
The Gap Café
In the petite hamlet of Buffalo Gap, just a couple of minutes from the famous Perini Ranch Steakhouse, morning shines bright in a sunny room warmed by stone walls and antique furniture. The kitchen, overseen by owners Tom and Lisa Perini, scores points with a spread of breakfast delights, starting with a cast-iron skillet filled with scrambled eggs, diced crispy potatoes, and chunks of peppery ground sausage mixed with sliced green onions and grated cheddar cheese. A forthcoming lunch menu promises chicken-fried steak and “the ultimate grilled cheese sandwich.” Pastries threaten to steal the show, though, thanks to the adjacent Salty Roan Bakery, run by Chelsie Herje. Be warned that you’ll want a take-away box filled with Parmesan-prosciutto scones, sticky buns, monkey bread, and almond croissants.
Cafe | ⭑⭑⭑ | $ | 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.