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 March 2020 issue. You can also read up restaurant critic Pat Sharpe’s latest Pat’s Pick, Cibolo’s Kindling Texas Kitchen.
Click “More Info” for further detail on each restaurant:
Chef Kevin Fink doesn’t do predictable. The chef-owner of Emmer & Rye opened Hestia in December, with originality and complexity front and center. The minimalist glass-walled room on Shoal Creek is dark and sexy at night, and the service is beyond attentive (enthusiastic waiters explain everything). The name honors the Greek goddess of the hearth, and cooking takes place on or over a twenty-foot grill. Top bites on an early visit included sliced raw avocado and ember-roasted beets, richly flavored with beef tallow and tricked out with a beet pickle. Another favorite was Alaskan king crab leg in a delicious roasted kelp butter with a touch of persimmon vinegar. Dry-aged wagyu skirt steak (impressively tender for that cut) came with Hestia’s one-of-a-kind soy-based steak sauce made with eels (anchovies are way too obvious). Emmer’s pastry chef Tavel Bristol-Joseph is on hand with stylish desserts like lemon streusel cheesecake.
New American | ⭑⭑⭑ | $$$ | More Info
Art is clearly the theme of this restaurant; a light sculpture of a molecular structure hangs over the dining room like a constellation, and there’s a self-guided art tour. With neutral tones and white floors, the handsome space is anchored by a bright quadriptych (the patio’s mosaic is a stunner too). Chef Eric Dreyer (formerly Oprah’s chef and a sous chef at Fearing’s) revamps classic sixties dishes, many inspired by recipes from Craig Hall’s mother, Ellie—think crab Louie, deviled eggs, Salis- bury steak (at lunch). At dinner we started with Texas Beef Meatballs, an appetizer version of that Salisbury steak, made of ground brisket, beef rib, and chuck, in a satiny gravy with garlic and mushrooms. It succeeded as a nostalgic redux, but the salads we ordered lacked pizzazz. A perfectly cooked maple-glazed salmon with tender Carolina Gold rice restored our faith. A seared scallop dish was well executed but played it safe with flavors, echoing the bivalves’ sweet note with sunchoke puree and roasted carrots; a brightening element would make this good dish great. A delicious bowl of ancient grains with mushroom salad and cauliflower proved more exciting (perhaps a glimpse of Dreyer’s prowess when freed of sixties-era constraints). Chocolate pie—a tartlet with an unwieldy toasted marshmallow—couldn’t top the diner classic.
American | ⭑⭑ | $$$ | More Info
Tim Love ventures to the Iberian Peninsula for his new rooftop perch overlooking the historic Stockyards, downtown, and much of the city. Sit on a fancy stool at one of two counters overlooking kitchen or cocktail operations or in the cozy bar area. From a menu starring noshes from the smoker, grill, or wood-burning oven, a sure hit is Jose’s Tacos, tissue-thin slices of cured jamón iberico crowned with caviar. Smoked hummus with roasted sweet chiles spread on toasted bread makes a good companion to both the roasted Island Creek oysters, topped with lemon, Parmesan, and micro-basil, and the spicy, buttery whole grilled shrimp. Bigger plates include tender, juicy pork shoulder slathered with aji amarillo chiles and chimichurri; ask for some of the house-made tortillas alongside.
Spanish | ⭑⭑⭑ | $$$ | More Info
With a mid-century-modern look and a large central bar, the bustling, chef-driven Politan Row food hall offers a wealth of culinary talent, like Evelyn Garcia, one of about a dozen vendors in the space, who is dishing up Thai food that incorporates a variety of Southeast Asian flavors. Her menu features snacks, wraps, soulful curries, and roti, with the barbecue brisket roti being a definite highlight. We would also come back for the wonderfully spiced yellow curry with seasonal vegetables, crispy shallots, and chile oil. Ditto the laab lettuce wraps with spicy citrus pork and coconut rice. Can’t decide? Do the Kin tasting menu and try everything—ideal for four to six people. Hall menus do change, so don’t get your heart set on one dish. And bring your earplugs, as the music is unrelenting and loud.
Thai | ⭑⭑⭑ | $$ | More Info
Mi Familia de Mi Tierra
The Christmas-all-year twinkle lights and glittering bulbs of Market Square’s Mi Tierra have moved north to the Rim, and if opening-week crowds (and our excellent meal) are any indication, it’s a gift to north-side San Antonians that won’t go unappreciated. The restaurant (and bar in one wing) is wrapped around a sunny courtyard strung with tin-punched lights and a Frida Kahlo–blue wall, so every table feels festive. A new appetizer, Chicharrón de Ribeye, makes a pretty package: double-cooked morsels of steak on a tower of chunky guacamole with roasted-tomato-and-chile salsa. Start with that and then sample your way through flautas with tart tomatillo sauce, egg-battered and picadillo-filled chiles rellenos, thin-crusted carne asada empanadas with avocado salsa, and a generous platter of tender cabrito, all worth the wait for a table. Polished service and a kitchen that has its act together are appreciated. Do note: big families, parties, mariachis, and a bit of mayhem are the norm (expecting a quiet, romantic dinner would be like finding that at your own clan’s Christmas table).
Mexican | ⭑⭑⭑ | $$$ | 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.