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 May 2021 issue. Click “More Info” for further detail on each restaurant:
What are the odds? Graham Campbell, a 2019 contestant on Netflix’s The Final Table and the recipient of a Michelin star at the age of 25 (when he headed the kitchen at Ballachulish House, in his native Scotland), has set up shop in McAllen, with an eye on Dallas. Enjoy his tasting menus on the outdoor patio of the swanky dinner spot, or enjoy a more casual experience with recently inaugurated to-go poke bowls. Order this to go: We loved the smoked pork cheek on the dinner menu (a dish that was showcased in this magazine’s “Where to Eat Now” feature, in March), and we were quite happy with the unusual pork cheek poke with tender braised meat, cremini mushrooms, and spinach. Campbell’s expertise shines in the jumbo prawn poke with avocado and shredded carrot topped with a Marie Rose sauce (sort of an English twist on rémoulade). Pro tip: Call to order 24 hours before your planned pickup time. Poke bowls may be picked up between noon and 3.
New American | ⭑⭑ | $$ | More Info
Toltec Tiki Room
Tropical cocktails and pu-pu platters are in short supply in El Paso, but this fantastic spot downtown will make you feel as though you’ve left West Texas far behind. Order this to go: Transform your kitchen counter into a glorious Hawaiian luau with fat hand-battered coconut shrimp, pork belly bao, and a giant poke bowl filled with yellowfin tuna (vegetarians can substitute crispy tofu). Beverages as well as food can be packed to go, and the daiquiri with rum, hibiscus, and lime is light and perfectly matched to the offerings. Pro tip: Curbside pickup is easy, and after 6 you no longer need to feed the parking meter.
Hawaiian | ⭑⭑ | $$ | More Info
The slogan here is “Tacos, Tequila, y Todo.” We’ll take all three at this new Mexican/Middle Eastern joint from the folks at La Fisheria. It may even become our new taco go-to. Inside a brightly painted building at the lower end of Westheimer, the kitchen cooks up fusion fare like Mexican hummus, lamb kebabs, and chicken shawarma tacos, as well as more traditional offerings and excellent cocktails. Order this to go: There was nary a loser in our choices, selected from a menu of elaborately constructed tacos and machetes (long corn-tortilla quesadillas). Fillings range from smoky birria (pulled beef) and Baja-style fried fish with chipotle mayo to tart and nuanced chicken shawarma and shrimp diabla laden with fried leeks. We also finished happily, dipping hot, sugary churros in cajeta and chocolate. Pro tip: There’s no curbside delivery, and you’ll want to allow for a little wait time (fifteen minutes for us).
Eclectic Mexican | ⭑⭑ | $ | More Info
Turkish chef and Instagram star Nusret Gökçe (a.k.a. Salt Bae) has brought his flashy, Kardashian-worthy steakhouse concept to Dallas, complete with a gold leaf–wrapped tomahawk steak for $1,100 (sans gold it’s $275). Everything is far pricier than what you’d get at the city’s best steakhouses, but, hey, you’re paying to see your meat sliced table-side (with all the flair of a Benihana chef). If Salt Bae is visiting—he has twenty-plus steakhouses worldwide, so don’t count on it—he’ll do the slicing and bounce the salt flakes off his well-muscled forearm. Otherwise, your server stands in. Order this to go: Our Istanbul (a strip loin) had plenty of flavor and was perfectly tender. A pretty side is the whole fried Onion Flower (think Chili’s Awesome Blossom). The Saslik, an off-skewer kebab with shallots and meat long marinated in cream, was tasty but a tad mushy. Pro tip: Honestly, why would you pay these prices and not dine in? So, is the table-side show worth it? Check @nusr_et Instagram videos. (See—we just saved you a lot of money.)
Steaks | ⭑⭑⭑ | $$$$ | More Info
After the successful launch of a ghost kitchen in the Ridglea area, chef Jesus Garcia makes a strong return to the scene in the same space where he started a different ramen shop a few years prior. This time both menu and shop are streamlined, and Garcia’s handiwork has never been as deft. Order this to go: The gyoza here ruins us for any others, thanks to handcrafted paper-thin wrappers stuffed with pork and cabbage, then seared to provide a crispy exterior and tender interior; the vinegar-soy dipping sauce is the ideal complement, and the cucumber-seaweed salad in sesame vinaigrette proves a perfect companion. Chicken karaage finds juicy thigh meat within a crunchy coating, with the one-two punch of yuzu-teased mayo and bright, piquant togarashi spice for dipping. Pork belly tonkotsu undergirds a satisfying ramen, but the bowl of lamb birria, with a soft egg and added pickled red ginger for brightness, brings tears of joy with its depth and nuanced flavor. Pro tip: Avoid the peak dinner hour, or there’s likely to be a wait.
Japanese | ⭑⭑ | $$ | 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.