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 this month. Restaurant critic Patricia Sharpe’s 2019 list of Texas’s Best New Restaurants also came out in our March issue, and you can find her latest Pat’s Pick, on San Antonio’s Savor, here.
Click “More Info” for further detail on each restaurant:
Vargas Cut & Catch
Restaurateur Paco Vargas (owner of Rudy & Paco) has done it again. This newest addition to Postoffice Street serves fresh seafood and Prime and wagyu steaks in an elegant, contemporary setting that features an open kitchen. The fried green tomatoes topped with boulders of jumbo lump crab and the lobster bisque share the spotlight for favorite starters, perfect preludes to any one of the steaks. Do save some room, though, for the Paco Dome, a chocolate dome that hides chocolate coffee cake topped with cinnamon ice cream until the waiter melts said dome with hot fudge. The service is superb, as one can expect with Paco at the wheel. Behind the two-hundred-bottle glass wine wall is Bar 21, which offers a lighter menu during happy hour.
American | ⭑⭑⭑ | $$$$ | More Info
Guests and locals alike are checking out the casual, rather minimalist dining room of the new Carpenter Hotel for happy hour and then staying for a bite to eat. The menu comes courtesy of Grae Nonas, one of the chefs who cofounded Olamaie, back in 2014. The menu is decidedly eclectic Texas-y, with assorted international influences. It’s well stocked with small dishes like non–pinto bean dip with sesame crackers and an excellent wedge of caramelized-onion pie (great sesame-seed-studded crust). More serious options run to a nice red snapper filet with crispy skin sided by a fennel salad with Castelvetrano olives (we wished for a few more) and a properly medium-rare but slightly chewy steak with decent fries and a salad of interesting mixed greens sided by creamy horseradish sauce. The unfussy chocolate mousse with Chantilly cream and chopped pecans hit the right comfort notes. The apple hand pie is begging to be sampled. P.S. The lot behind the hotel is for both hotel and restaurant guests.
Yet one more bloom in the blossoming EaDo restaurant scene, Indianola purports to represent the food of immigrants who came to our state through Indianola, once a port of entry. Setting? The usual open kitchen, banquettes, wood touches, and sleek surfaces we see so often. The food is promising, divided into snacks and small and large plates. Both of our snacks proved hefty: a crock of blue crab imperial, with lots of rich crab spiked with lemon and mustard and encircled by a row of crackers, and warm Brie en croûte with bits of sunflower seeds, bacon, frisée for texture, and a light champagne vinaigrette. Our wood-grilled Santa Maria steak came late because of a mix-up in the kitchen, but it was worth the wait: slightly chewy but full of gusto from spicy red and green peppers and tomatillo escabeche. Our only side, charred carrots in green goddess, needed some char. Servers are friendly, and the wine list is interesting.
An outpost from Dallas and a welcome addition to the Near Southside, this bar and bistro blends modern and traditional Japanese aesthetics with block-print artworks and the profuse use of warm woods. The menu pleases purists with tender pork gyoza, chicken heart yakitori, and spicy miso ramen and then lures in adventurers with out-of-left-field pleasures like roasted bone marrow topped with baked blue crab, masago, and scallions. Vegetarian goodies include roasted brussels sprouts and beets with cashews in dashi butter, while seafood fans are pampered with octopus fritters dusted with bonito flakes and served with ginger cream and garlic aioli. Among specialty cocktails, tops is the cucumber martini teased with ginger simple syrup and sake.
Walking into a Lombardi family restaurant is like coming home. The latest venture is located in Plano’s wildly popular Legacy West, where the modern but comfortable dining room lures visitors to artfully plated dishes like delicate snow crab sashimi served on a simple pottery platter and (one of our favorites) Bacon and Kimchi Fried Rice: a combo of creamy, almost smoky rice; microscopic twigs of cilantro; spring onion; and crunchy marinated cabbage topped with a fried egg. The coconut panna cotta is a sweet end to the meal.
Asian | ⭑⭑⭑ | $$$$ | More Info
Our reviews are written by critics who live in the cities and regions they cover. They remain anonymous to ensure that they receive no special treatment. The magazine pays for all meals and accepts no advertising or other consideration in exchange for a listing. Comments? Write us.
⭑⭑⭑ Very Good
⭑ Hit or miss
Prices represent a typical meal for one, not including alcohol, tax, and tip. All listed restaurants accept credit cards unless otherwise noted.
$ Less than $15
$$$$ More than $60