Houston has garnered a few more plaudits to bolster its growing national reputation as a culinary destination. GQ magazine’s just-released list of the thirteen best new restaurants in the country features Georgia James and Indigo (both also appeared on Texas Monthly’s best list, published in March). Another Texas spot, the Brewer’s Table in Austin, earned an honorable mention for one of its dishes, the smoked rabbit carnitas.
In the introduction to his selection, GQ food writer Brett Martin waxed eloquent about Texas’s largest city. “Let me begin with two dinners in Houston. These were two meals over the course of 24 hours that felt like they summed up what it meant to eat in America in 2019,” he wrote. “It was not surprising that they took place in a city I’ve come to believe is not only one of the country’s best food cities but also, increasingly, a bellwether of where its dining winds are blowing.”
Martin described Georgia James, the steakhouse opened in October by James Beard Award-winning chef Chris Shepherd in the space that used to be his flagship Underbelly, as “a palace of unrestrained pleasure as maybe only a steak house can be: loud, buzzy, giddy, awash in beef and whiskey and oil money.” Of chef Jonny Rhodes at Indigo—whose tasting menus function as a “sometimes impressionistic, sometimes literal history of the African diaspora”—Martin praised his “deft grasp of how to balance high concepts with equally compelling technique and flavor.”
Martin went on to conclude, “Driving through the Houston darkness, I felt lucky anew to have the chance to love them both.”
Texas’s two slots on GQ’s list were equal to New York’s, and only California did better, with three. Houston’s excellent showing should help compensate for the sting of having been shut out during the second round of voting for the James Beard Awards in March.
Here’s the entire GQ top thirteen, in alphabetical order:
Ale Wife, Richmond, Virginia
Angler, San Francisco
Big King, Providence, Rhode Island
Cafe La Trova, Miami
Georgia James, Houston
Henry at Life Hotel by JJ, New York
Ma’am Sir, Los Angeles
Nightshade, Los Angeles
Shabushabu Macoron, New York
Vianda, San Juan, Puerto Rico