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 July 2021 issue. Click “More Info” for further detail on each restaurant:
The crowd is young, the skyline view stunning, and the food lives up to the hype at this modern Italian restaurant from the mind of Chicago super-chef Danny Grant. Veteran Dallas chef Eric Dryer helms the kitchen, turning out wood-grilled entrées and crowd-pleasing pastas. Try this: Fried cacio e pepe translates to croquette-like fritters with a crunchy breadcrumb crust and a peppered, béchamel-style filling, luscious and cheesy. Rich, savory short rib bolognese coats casarecce pasta, topped with hazelnuts and creamy ricotta. The seared salmon was outstanding, the moist filet topped with pistachio gremolata and heirloom citrus supremes, resting in an ethereal broth. Pro tip: The pulsing club music is louder on the south side; the north side offers the best views, from the forty-ninth floor of the National. Business-casual attire or better required.
Italian | ⭑⭑ | $$$ | More Info
Cafe Leonelli is the first of two new restaurants to bring Michelin star–proven chefs to the Museum of Fine Arts Kinder Building. Top New York toque Jonathan Benno is the talent behind the menu of this casual counter-service spot with all-day dining and a spectacular pastry program. The striking modern interior seats 100, and the patio can accommodate 50. Try this: For breakfast, think Italian pastries galore (sfogliatelle; a bacon, egg, and cheese cornetto), all of them scrumptious renditions from the wildly popular Leonelli Bakery, in New York. Later in the day, hearty ribollita soup with kale, country bread croutons, potatoes, and cabbage pairs well with a deli sandwich or one of the creatively flavored focaccias. Executed with authority are the beef meatballs over polenta with marinara and Parmigiano Reggiano and the roasted salmon with lemon, capers, and Swiss chard. Only the marinated shrimp with cannellini beans, olives, and sundried tomatoes disappointed, suffering from too much salt and oil and not enough acid. Pro tip: If you’re picking up a to-go order, plan on a $10 parking tariff.
Italian | ⭑⭑ | $$ | More Info
This tiny family-run bakery-cafe operation near TCU scores big points for its pretty French pastries and lovely birthday cakes. Sandwiches and salads keep the lunch crowd happy, and a limited brunch menu is offered on weekends. But it’s the Thursday-night Indian specialties that command the most attention. Try this: Each Thursday brings a new prix-fixe menu; the full dinner is $40 for two and $70 for four. Best bets so far are the chicken biryani, with cuts of whole bird in a spicy tomato curry mixed with rice, cilantro, and fried onions, and the butter chicken curry served with fluffy basmati. Naan and vegetable samosas are on point, as is the mango chutney. Dessert is the pastry chef’s choice; keep your fingers crossed for the chocolate-dipped cookies. Pro tip: Go next door to Put a Cork in It and ask for wines specially chosen to go with the Thursday dinners.
Bakery | ⭑⭑ | $$ | More Info
From the doorman to the DJ booth, this swanky, gorgeously designed restaurant in downtown’s Littlefield Building feels more Miami than Austin (or Greece), but that’s not a bad thing. Order this to go: From the grand (and pricey) menu come items like the Shrimp Casserole, which is so much better than its name would suggest: a garlicky, rusty-red sauce brimming with shrimp and sausage, with grilled bread alongside. The lamb kebabs are nicely done, with pickled red onions and a drizzle of mint yogurt. Fresh whole fish lounge atop a bed of ice near the kitchen; we shared a whole fagri (red porgy) simply grilled and served with lemon and a smattering of capers and caper berries. Pro tip: As the evening progresses, the music volume nears Mykonos-beach-club levels.
Seafood | ⭑⭑ | $$$$ | More Info
Patty Scalisi moved to McAllen from Chicago and brought along a delicious slice of the Windy City. Her deep dish is the real deal, with a two-inch crust cradling sauce, cheese, and your choice of toppings. Try this: Any of the pizzas. The dough is house-made and hand-tossed (and also offered in a thin and crispy style). We loved the Italian beef sandwich too, with thinly sliced meat atop a crunchy Gonnella Italian roll with peppers and a side of jus. Pro tip: Bring a bottle of wine.
Pizza | ⭑⭑ | $$ | 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.