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!
Here are a few highlights from the new restaurants reviewed this month. (Restaurant critic Patricia Sharpe’s pick—this month, it’s Chris Shepherd’s UB Preserv in Houston—can be found here.) Click through on the links for more detail:
Despite an odd name and gimmicky concept, the food is worth a trip to this newcomer near the American Airlines Center. The decor evokes a slick, glammed-up saloon (think booths upholstered in faux tooled leather). Sophisticated, well-executed fare ranges from Gulf snapper crudo (tricked out with peach and orange) to venison tartare (spiced with juniper and studded with tart cherry bits) to Hot Fried Quail, a tasty take on Nashville hot chicken, as well as an interesting wine, beer, and craft cocktail list. If you long for something closer to saloon food, you can get a burger and fries or a bowl of red chili. For dessert: homey cinnamon-spiced cobbler with a biscuit crust.
As food halls go, Fareground is tiny: just six vendors and one bar. But the variety and quality are excellent and the mood so pleasant that we frequently brave the heat and walk the seven blocks from our office to get there. Light filters into the airy, atrium-like space from Austin’s go-to restaurant designer, Michael Hsu, and there’s seating at long communal tables, well spaced, in the food hall and lobby. Come cooler weather, you can sit at small tables outside under shady trees, an oasis in downtown’s concrete-and-asphalt desert. What are your choices? It’s only logical to begin with Easy Tiger, previously owned by ELM Restaurant Group, which spearheaded the whole project. You can get their house sausages and sandwiches, plus a small selection of killer pastries and soft pretzels (and avocado toast for breakfast!). Henbit is an offshoot of Emmer & Rye, but the menu is its own thing (think a crispy short rib bowl with roasted sweet potatoes and local greens). Dai Due caters to Austin with a pure taco menu, offering the likes of chicken with a nut-and-seed-based pipián sauce and a side of chicken-skin chicharrones. Antonelli’s has the cheese market cornered with sandwiches, boards, charcuterie, and a mac and cheese bowl (eight cheeses!). Contigo reprises its famous burger while adding rotisserie chicken and breakfast. Komé’s entry is Ni-Komé, offering ramen, sushi, and rolls. Helpful hints: Fareground is below street level, accessible by stairs on the southeast corner of Congress and Second. You can park at the One Eleven garage (on Brazos between Cesar Chavez and Second) for $3 a half hour if you make a purchase.
If you’re keen on homemade and a fan of Southern breakfasts, this place has you covered. Stella (unaffiliated with Bryan’s Stella Hotel) is not a hotbed of healthy eating, but neither was your grandmother’s kitchen. Expect such comforting items as made-from-scratch buttermilk biscuits, stone-ground grits, fresh-squeezed orange juice, and even homemade mimosa jam. (There are more-lunchy items too, like a burger with jalapeño pimento cheese). The decor adds to the charm, with hanging Mason jar lights and Southern sayings on the walls, while managing to stop short of corniness.
It’s early in the game, but this new CityCentre transplant (owned by James Beard Award winner Michael Mina and celebrity chef Ayesha Curry) had us cheering. The concept is to explore the way different cultures “use fire, grilling, and smoke.” So around the world we went with Punjabi-spiced fried snapper and a hefty rack of ribs in three styles: American barbecue, al pastor, and sesame-gochujang. Knowledgeable, enthusiastic staffers working as a team made for a nigh perfect evening.
This downtown gastropub, housed in Polk Street’s newest building in generations, offers two stories of dining, inside and out, complete with spaces for games and live music. And the menu is a compact set of local ingredients combined with international ideas, like the crave-worthy Cubano Medianoche, with its pimento cheese croquettes, and the Lengua Grilled Cheese with tomato jam. The staff is passionate and eager to help with beverage pairings. This isn’t your dad’s pub, that’s for sure.