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 2021 issue. Click “More Info” for further detail on each restaurant:
Austin is for taco lovers—even these from California. Order this to go: It might be tempting to blow off this West Coast import, until you take a bite of these legitimately delicious tacos. Golden corn tortillas, pliable but sturdy, hold copious chunks of juicy ribeye, marinated chicken breast, or pineapple-planked pork al pastor. Vegetables get a chance to shine too, with fusion stylings like spicy gochujang-sauced cremini mushrooms tempered by a black bean puree and soft golden cauliflower given an umami crunch with a layer of griddled cheese. A cold salad of roasted corn with whipped mascarpone was a refreshing side. Pro tip: It’s not a bad idea to call to make sure your food is ready, even if you’ve ordered online.
Mexican | ⭑⭑ | $$$ | More Info
The team behind Oishii honors its Vietnamese roots at this new, takeout-centric spot named for chef Thanh Nguyen’s mother, Vui. Besides traditional phos and banh mis, there are specialty spring rolls constructed with sushi ingredients like spicy tuna, avocado, and tempura flakes. Order this to go: The salmon carpaccio rivals any at a more upscale restaurant; the sushi-grade fish is cured with a lime dressing, tossed with julienned cucumbers and carrots, and sparked with fresh herbs and shallots. Tender, rustic dumplings are savory delights, filled with herb-flecked pork, shrimp, and cabbage; they’re especially tasty with the spicy dipping sauce. Beef pho dac biet features an aromatic, star anise–kissed broth (packaged separately), meatballs, rare steak, and rice noodles. Dial up the seasonings with the accompanying herbs and sliced jalapeños. Pro tip: If your to-go pho contains rare beef, be sure to microwave the broth to piping hot so that it cooks the meat.
Vietnamese | ⭑⭑ | $$ | More Info
Just in time for the pandemic, Mary Perez picked up and moved her operation—starring her mama’s various enchilada recipes—from a tiny shop to an ample space with a bar. Things went so well she opened a second restaurant, in North Richland Hills, a few months later. Order this to go: Thick, creamy, white-cheese queso proves completely addicting, but save room for the hefty 3:13 Burrito, filled with rice and beans and your choice of meat (pick the slow-smoked brisket). The Trinity plate provides the option to mix and match any three enchiladas (or tacos); know that passing up the velvety mole with grilled chicken or the Hatch chicken would be a sin. Pro tip: To feed a crowd, order the family enchilada meal, with a dozen enchiladas and a choice of sauce plus rice, beans, chips, and salsa. Order and pay online; call upon arrival to give your vehicle description, and staff will deliver to your car window.
Tex-Mex | ⭑⭑ | $ | More Info
Houston native Travis McShane returns home in triumph from New York and opens a spot worthy of his star chef status. Order this to go: Simple and simply superb is the huge half chicken au jus spiked with lime. Three juicy, tender, harissa-bathed whole shrimp traveled well in their shells and tasted great; also good were al dente fusilli with pistachio pesto and burrata and sections of corn on the cob, charred and oh so sweet, touched with aioli and pecorino. Pro tip: Pull up near the valet, who will direct you to a parking spot. Then either go in or ask for your food to be brought to your car.
Italian | ⭑⭑⭑ | $$$ | More Info
Chef Cameron West has delivered another culinary treasure, named for his grandfather, Dirk West, the famed Texas Tech cartoonist and former mayor. The small, straightforward menu is comfort food at its best (CFS, shrimp and grits, lots of chicken), and in fitting Lubbock fashion, the servers are friendly as can be. Order this to go: the chicken tenders with every sauce Dirk’s offers. You would be hard-pressed to find better than these—juicy, lightly breaded, and packed with flavor. All the sides are delicious, but the fried okra is breaded so delicately that the vegetable takes center stage. Pro tip: Any fried leftovers are best reheated in a 375-degree oven for about 10 minutes.
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.