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 November 2019 issue. In case you missed it, restaurant critic Patricia Sharpe’s 2019 list of Texas’s Best New Restaurants came out in our March issue, and you can also read up on her latest Pat’s Pick, McAllen’s Salomé on Main.
Click “More Info” for further detail on each restaurant:
El Naranjo has transported itself into bright, airy new digs (formerly El Chipirón, on South Lamar). Celebrate chef Iliana de la Vega’s good fortune with a starter of pastel azteca. You must share—no sensible person could finish this layered creation of corn tortillas with spinach, almonds, raisins, and goat cheese all under a crown of tomato chipotle sauce. Then, for a novel crudo, check out precisely cut cubes of raw tuna and avocado; they’re richly drizzled with sesame oil infused with chile pasilla Mixe and perched on three crisp tostaditas. The most meat-centric dish we tried was braised beef ribs in a sauce with the depth of a classic demi-glace; alongside were intensely rich goat-cheese mashed potatoes and a green salad. But our favorite of the evening was a sort of deconstructed chile relleno based on chile pasilla Mixe (seductive and smoky) with mild, melty Oaxaca cheese and black bean sauce. From a changing lineup of desserts, we checked out the not-too-sweet almond torte topped with chocolate ganache and sided by blackberry ice cream.
Mexican | ⭑⭑⭑⭑ | $$$ | More Info
Perched at the extra-long bar on some of the hardest-to-score seats in town, amid iconic Santorini blues and whites, we imagined Aegean breezes while thoroughly enjoying cool cocktails and mezedes (Greek tapas). The grilled calamari is uniquely presented, sliced accordion style, its nutty flavor nicely balanced by a frisée salad with capers and citrus vinaigrette. Lamb sliders feature grilled patties with marinara (we wished for more) on fresh brioche buns. Stuffed grape leaves, elevated with ground wagyu beef, come served with pistachio pesto and chunky tzatziki. Said pesto also garnishes impeccably fresh New Bedford sea scallops, their surfaces prettily caramelized, sided by a vibrant relish of tomatoes, olives, shaved fennel, and lacy, ultrathin croutons. The fresh fish display is gorgeous and adds to the seaside feel of the space.
Mediterranean | ⭑⭑⭑ | $$$$ | More Info
Downtown El Paso is thriving, and this new eatery is an excellent fit. A visit feels like a quick trip to northern Mexico. The preparations are traditional, with beautiful ingredients that pay tribute to the farmers and farmland that supply them. Tortillas are gigantic, made with both yellow and blue corn, and the tacos are unbelievable, whether you choose the suadero, filled with confit brisket, or the pato al pastor, with slow-grilled duck and roasted pineapple. Don’t miss the quesadilla “del momento,” which means filled with whatever is inspiring the chef at that moment. Mexican wines from vineyards in Baja California are paired perfectly.
Mexican | ⭑⭑⭑⭑ | $$ | More Info
Spanking-fresh fish, just the right seasoning for each variety of nigiri, and fun sushi bar chefs make this eatery in Bravery Chef Hall worth the trip downtown. Uchi veterans Daniel Lee and Patrick Pham are bringing their A-game with seafood sourced from local and international waters and specialty dishes like the terrific negima yakitori: savory marinated grilled chicken and green onion. Ditto the rich salmon roe bowl and a side of chicken fat rice crowned with a fried egg. Sushi rolls to share include the invigorating maguro (bluefin tuna) with chives and wasabi and the vegan “avo,” composed of avocado hunks, tamari, and crispy shallots. Unlike the other downtown food halls, BCH has three cocktail bars, including Secret Garden, an enchanting glass-enclosed space that feels like a cool greenhouse.
Japanese | ⭑⭑ | $$ | More Info
Cowtown Brewing Co.
The latest brewery to offer solid barbecue, this one in a renovated mechanic’s garage ups the ante with a serious selection of specials. Visiting at the risky evening hour, we found plenty of moist brisket left, crusted in a suitable ring of the salt-pepper-sugar-cayenne rub. Jalapeño-cheddar sausage satisfied too, as did crunchy, uncomplicated coleslaw. The beer-friendly choices score top points, particularly the queso packed with brisket and pico. On Friday, the giant double-cut pork chop demands that you get there by lunchtime, and on Sunday, the crusty, spicy burnt ends are a sort of religious experience. Ask the barkeeps for the right brew pairings, or just order the Cow Tipper, an imperial milk stout, for dessert.
Barbecue | ⭑⭑ | $$ | 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.