Teiichi Sakurai is single-handedly elevating Dallas’ sushi game at his Tei-An. 2713 East 2nd StreetAustin, TX(512) 893-5561 | kemuri-tatsuya.com. Their culinary traditions — as well as their language and polka music — have endured and fused with local culture to yield pastries and plates that are distinctly Texas. WHY: This Dallas taqueria is no mere taco spot. WHAT: A tasting-menu restaurant in middle-of-nowhere West Texas that actually lives up to the romantic fantasy of such diversions. Named one of the best steakhouses in the United States and recognized by the Texas Cattle Feeders Association for selling top quality Texas beef, Bohanan's Prime Steaks and Seafood is a must-stop destination for any steak-lover traveling through San Antonio. Carmen Valera, one of the five siblings who own the restaurant, says a third of their menu is identical to what her grandparents served at their now-shuttered restaurant in the ’60s, a third is straight from her mother’s now-shuttered restaurant from the ’80s and ’90s, and a third is all-new. But the fajita steak — smoky and tender-chewy, the ideal star ingredient to bundle into fragrant handmade tortillas — is the stuff of bucket lists and special detours. They do the best they can however, and the staff is always friendly, so I don't mind the wait. — Amy McCarthy, 11360 Bellaire Boulevard #990Houston, TX(281) 988-8098 | (no website). — Amy McCarthy, 2121 McKinney AvenueDallas, TX, 75201(214) 922-4848 | fearingsrestaurant.com. The wine list leans obscure and funky. Mai Pham is a freelance food, wine and travel writer based in Houston. A subtle dryness makes this beer far more complex than the juice bomb it sounds like. The challenge is said to go back to the restaurant's early days in the 1960s when its owner held contests among local cowboys to see who could eat the most. WHAT: A light-filled, modern American bistro that builds polished menus around a zeal for heirloom grains. Barbecue and Beyond Like most of Texas, Dallas has earned a national reputation as a go-to location for barbecue and Tex-Mex. The color comes from the high-quality eggs that are used in the dough, and the “rustic” appearance is a result of using the same recipe since the 1920s. Caroline Stanko Updated: Apr. I still love the trailer. WHAT: A taco chain to rule them all, rooted in regional tradition. But then, so did dinner at Kemuri Tatsu-ya in Austin, slurping ramen enriched with smoked brisket and banana pudding topped with kokuto (crackly Japanese brown sugar) and miso caramel. — J.R.R. America’s 20 Best Lobster Rolls Outside of Maine. WHAT: A 12-seat think tank of a restaurant, from two chef-scholars meditating on the cuisines of Mexico through tasting menus. Currently, for example, their subject is “Rediscovering the Mayan Gastronomy”; one dish, equally stunning in taste and appearance, expresses the lost empire’s trade routes by combining quinoa, fish roes, and avocado. Texas has no shortage of traditional Mexican and Tex-Mex restaurants, making it’s difficult to narrow them down to a simple list of the best. David Uygur’s homage to the pig is a stunning array of standard favorites like salami, coppa, and thinly sliced lardo that wilts to translucence under the heat of the warm bread it sits upon. Relish them simply, mounded on a woven bamboo mat alongside a dashi dipping sauce simmered with duck meat. If perfect ain’t enough, add a slunk of American, Cheddar, or Pepper Jack.”. WHAT: A border town legend, serving breakfast and lunch dishes that embody its unique corner of America — all while detailing your ride. Onions and jalapeños are served on the side, but you’ll definitely want to add those into the mix. Mixed in with shredded, slow-roasted pork shoulder topped with avocado, cilantro, and onion, all wrapped in a fresh flour tortilla, it's the star of a taco you’ll be dreaming about. Weekends are especially bad with pretty long lines at every open register. 516 Main StreetLexington, TX(979) 773-4640 | snowsbbq.com. Complete with the old-school red gingham tablecloths, this wonderful home-style Italian spot makes you feel right at home when you dine there. Its made-from-scratch sauces are works of art, and its most popular taco, El Conquistador, is a perfect showcase for the house chile pasilla sauce. Look for the po’ boy specials at lunch: They hearken impressively to McHugh’s years of cooking in New Orleans. Even after Lopez’s passing in 2015, the pillowy bites still satiate that puro San Antonio craving to the tune of 500 puffy tacos a day. It gets a light layer of whole-grain mustard and aïoli, both also made in house. Or just get the best of all worlds and order the seafood combination platter. You can blame it on us; we won’t mind. WHY: Ronnie Killen’s steakhouse and barbecue restaurant singlehandedly put Pearland, a small town south of Houston, on the national meat map. Hugo’s opened in 2002 in a restored Latin-inspired building designed by Joseph Finger (also responsible for the art deco-style City Hall) and launched into a diverse regional approach to Mexican food. Voila! This sandwich, from Austin's Noble Sandwich Company, is a work of art. — B.A. Dallas is fast becoming a magnet for the country’s brightest young chefs; Head to the best restaurants in Dallas to see why This place is adored and waits can be long; a Matcha Pain Killer laced with buckwheat shochu and tequila will tranquilize you into serenity. Its menu is small and simple, with fried fish, fried shrimp, crabcakes, fried drum fish, and fried oysters receiving a heap of praise from the locals — probably because Snoopy’s has an on-site fish house and shrimp-breading facility. Running my hands along the turquoise Formica counter at H&H Car Wash and Coffee Shop in El Paso, watching the women spoon caldillo (green chile beef stew) into bowls and folding tortillas to make egg and chorizo breakfast burritos, felt like an archetypal Texas moment. Pay 10 bucks when you arrive, take a seat at a communal table, and you’ll be treated to a family-style feast of fried chicken (some of the best you’ll ever try), creamed corn, carrots, potatoes, mac and cheese, okra, beans, cobbler, and more, all prepared according to Lizzie’s old recipes. More impressive is how consistently David produces it. He’s since claimed the James Beard Foundation’s America’s Classics award and is the Beard House’s most frequently featured Texan. But Veracruz sisters and co-owners Reyna and Maritza Vazquez did create a modern institution when they began serving breakfast tacos out of an Austin trailer in 2008. But Texas is a state so immense, so full of mythology and ambition, and so populated with such compelling and culturally specific dining options, that it stands plainly as a region unto itself. He’s run delis in both New York and Los Angeles, but today he calls Houston — and Kenny & Ziggy’s — home. On Sundays, come in and drink cheap Lone Stars, eat free hot dogs and play chicken bingo. Best food and prices are reasonable for such delicious food and wonderful service!!! 842 Fredericksburg RoadSan Antonio, TX(210) 735-5686 | no website. The meal, ticketed at $97 per person, typically careens through seven or eight courses and lasts a concise 90 minutes or so. The 2021 Best College Food ranking is based on meal plan costs and student reviews. But many of the state’s defining restaurants also reflect the rich multiculturalism of its metropolises. — Daniel Vaughn, 900 East 11th StreetAustin, TX(512) 653-1187 | franklinbbq.com. Ace pastry chef Tavel Bristol-Joseph brings the meal home with sweets like strawberry sorbet covered in salted cream and a caramelized apple tart with smoked juniper ice cream. WHAT: Austin casual with sophisticated execution. Contigo is both timeless and sturdily Texan, with a menu full of modern bar food that begs to be consumed outdoors: ox tongue sliders, oh-so-crispy green beans, hearty cast-iron pans of rabbit and dumplings, and the stellar house-made charcuterie, all rounded out with Texas fruits and vegetables. WHAT: The state’s best (and most humble) country steakhouse with a pretty fancy pedigree. Encircle the steak with all the traditional creamy and carb-powered side dishes. WHY: There was a time when shops specializing in barbacoa de cabeza en pozo a la leña (whole beef head cooked slowly in an underground, mesquite-fueled barbecue pit) dotted South Texas. If you’re looking for something on the sweeter side, check out their Strawberry Irish Cream Crème Brûlée or S’mores waffle sandwiches. — Dawn Orsak, 113 East Oak StreetWest, TX(254) 826-5151 | no website. Ask for them by the bakery’s trademarked name, klobasniki. Little wonder Rojas was long-listed for a 2018 Best Chef: Southwest James Beard Foundation Award. The pargo elegante, topped with avocado and crabmeat, is stunning. 4210 Roseland StreetHouston, TX(832) 834-3411 | bcnhouston.com, WHAT: A James Beard-nominated strip-mall sensation that beautifully showcases the uniquely Houston fusion of Cajun crawfish boils with Vietnamese flavors. The restaurant (which, in true Austin fashion, began as a food truck) is also a major booster for the local farming community — going so far as to emblazon farm names on the dining room walls. A thing of cultish devotion, Tatsu-Ya is a jewel in Austin’s ramen crown. 4601 Washington AvenueHouston, TX(713) 842-7114 | kitchen713.com, WHAT: Authentic Vietnamese pho house in Houston’s Chinatown area. — D.V. It’s a jumping-off point for the restaurant’s overall greatness: Service is amazingly engaged. Dressed in traditional Texas fashion with mustard, lettuce, red onion, and dill pickle. The time has come: We’re messing with Texas. All photos by Bill Addison unless otherwise noted. We're thrilled to celebrate the best food and drink in every state, and you can find our Texas gallery here. A recent dinner began with a serotonin-boosting plate of tangelos, snow peas, and thyme before veering funky (and peak Yu) with a stew of brisket warmed in pickle juice, crumbled white cheddar, and preserved vegetables. The Best New Restaurants in Texas for 2019 By Patricia Sharpe 2018’s 10 Best New Restaurants in Texas By Patricia Sharpe Salsa Macha Is Setting Texas on Fire By José R. Ralat Best is the seasonal special Cloudcroft Christmas Burger, combining New Mexican red and green chiles with pepper jack cheese and grilled onions atop the supple patty, all crowned with a fried egg and framed by a house-baked brioche bun. 6425 Broadway StreetPearland, TX(281) 485-0844 | killenssteakhouse.com, [Note: This restaurant closed in October, 2018]. View all stories in Essential Texas Restaurants. our second annual guide to the best food and drink in every state. — June Naylor, 915 Currie StreetFort Worth, TX (817) 332-0083 | fredstexascafe.com. Between the weather, wood, and meat, there are plenty of variables to deal with when cooking in an offset smoker, but Cattleack’s barbecue never seems to suffer. Weekend brunch crowds fill every seat in the restaurant’s cavernous dining room, clamoring for the straight-up goodness of dishes that veer closer to home: peppery fried chicken with biscuits. Spices are deftly applied to just about everything: desi fries dusted with chaat masala; barley salad with beets, toasted walnuts, and turmeric-almond dressing; and finger-licking ribs swathed, barbecue-style, with vindaloo. Served along with hand-cut fries made to order — and a cute green salad to help you feel virtuous — this giant plate is deeply satisfying. WHY: In a town changing so fast it’s perpetually in danger of losing its roots, Tamale House East is a welcome oasis of both continuity and evolution. So it goes at Franklin, where Aaron Franklin serves some of the best of Texas's greatest culinary claim to fame (a devastating fire in August 2017 destroyed the smokehouse and caused $350,000 in damages, but it reopened four months later without skipping a beat). and they all have cool names like All Thai’d Up, After Dinner Mint, and Dementor’s Cloud, just to name a few. Their kitchen turns out nearly 100 distinct dishes, many with regional Indian origins, but the key is to order gems inspired by Kaiser Lashkari’s native Pakistan. Their lasagna, layered with delicious ground beef, ricotta, Parmesan, mozzarella, and red sauce is out of this world and worth a trip to check out. Walmart. A glassed-in locker at the restaurant’s entrance displays beauties like culatello (ham made from the loin of a pig’s hind leg) aged for one year, and the kitchen assembles smart novelties such as hot goat sausage and catfish mortadella. Everything is better in Texas, including our food. The folksy Village Bakery often gets overshadowed by shinier establishments right off Interstate 35, but drive over the tracks into downtown west for quintessential Texas Czech treats. WHAT: Whole-hog barbecue done the old-fashioned way. Houstonians pack into his deli for housemade pastrami, corned beef, softball-sized matzo balls, knishes, smoked fish flown in from New York, blintzes, stuffed cabbage, and other traditional Jewish favorites, all made with love to Gruber’s exacting specifications. Two wonderfully odd tacos on homemade flour tortillas complete my ideal Garcia’s meal: one filled with a supple slice of smoked brisket, also killer with a splotch of guac, and the other wrapped around a bone-in pork chop. Every other day it’s open, you’ll have to settle for some of Texas’s best brisket, house-made sausages (get the green chile and cheese), and maybe the best spare ribs in the state. Asia Café was made for takeout (the space isn’t exactly super-welcoming), but that doesn’t mean that it’s not slammed most nights. In southeast Texas, garlic- and chile-laced beef links bursting with juice (don’t call it fat in SETX) are the barbecue gold standard, and the Patillo family has been serving them since 1912. Named for Bessie Dee Riley, the daughter of an Irish immigrant to Texas, B.D. There is a small food menu of nibbles like cheese, charcuterie, and snacks. It’s a warm and inviting restaurant with a large outdoor patio for al fresco dining, and there’s a wide variety of burritos available in some creative styles (including one with corn). WHAT: A rambling, glitzy, big-hearted chophouse that couldn’t — and wouldn’t — exist anywhere but Texas. — Robb Walsh, 2028 Postoffice StreetGalveston, TX(409) 762-3696| rudyandpaco.com. The Best Restaurant for Breakfast in Every State. Served on a toasted, grill-shined bun. One day, a contestant ate five steaks, a salad, a shrimp cocktail, a baked potato, and a bread roll; the steak came out to four and a half pounds, and so the 72-Ounce Steak Challenge was born. However, the Vazquez’s brick-and-mortar in Austin’s North Burnet neighborhood cranks out food with even more precision and also offers picadas, masa creations that split the divide in texture between tortillas and thicker sopes. the best food and drink in every state for 2019. Try the raw seafood tower, decked with seasonal shellfish, ceviches, and crab claws. — B.A. He has has since opened two additional locations, but the expansion hasn’t changed his simple mission: Serve “cold-ass” beer to wash down the finest chicken-fried steak in town, smothered in a sourdough batter and cooked just till the golden crust delivers the perfect crunch. WHY: Ninfa Laurenzo, known as Mama Ninfa, opened her restaurant in 1973 in front of her family’s tortilla factory. Indeed, along with Stephen Pyles and Daily Meal Council member Robert Del Grande, chef Dean Fearing (also a member of The Daily Meal Council) kind of wrote the book on modern Texan cooking (one of his cookbooks is literally called The Texas Food Bible). The juice will run like a faucet once you’ve cut a link open, so have a slice of white bread, or better yet, a pile of rice dressing — similar to dirty rice — ready to capture it all. Amy McCarthy is the editor of Eater Dallas and Eater Houston. This Austin ice cream shop has over 350 flavors in rotation (because everything is bigger in Texas, even the menus!) 2404 Southmost RoadBrownsville, TX (956) 546-4159 | no website, WHAT: The oldest Czech bakery in Texas, opened in 1952. Anvil Bar and Refuge was one of the first bars in the United States to serve classically styled cocktails like The Brave (mezcal, tequila, amaro, Curaçao, and Angostura bitters, served at room temperature) at lower prices. Grab a signature Turbo piña colada and head down to frolic in the waves and lounge in the sun. WHY: Is that actual artwork by Picasso and Miró gilding the restaurant’s minimalist space? WHY: With scores of options in Austin and San Antonio (for starters), and plenty of controversial and passionate words written about origins and ownership, it’s safe to say there is no one absolute best place for breakfast tacos in Texas. Where else can you find pretzels stuffed with chorizo-spiced mushrooms that taste meaty despite being vegetarian, whole chicken-fried fish heads, and breakfast pizzas topped with quail? WHAT: An exceptional and luxurious foray into Catalan cuisine. WHAT: Austin’s deserving crowd favorite for righteous breakfast tacos. And regulars will tell you that the true star of the breakfast menu is the pancakes. Visitors come to shop for fresh food and one-of-a-kind crafts, and to listen and dance to music performed by local musicians. Barbecued shrimp taco with mango and pickled red onion; barbecued short rib enchilada with queso fundido; mesquite-grilled wagyu ribeye with West Texas mop sauce; and “Texas carpaccio” — wagyu beef with Texas olive oil, grana padano, crispy capers, and pickled golden beets. For pure Texan comfort, order the upscale rendering of chicken-fried steak, golden and crisp and covered in peppery white gravy. (For more on that, read my case for Texas’s culinary superstardom.) — Nadia Chaudhury, 2027 Anchor LaneAustin, TX(512) 614-2260 | contigotexas.com. It’s like a graduate-level course for cured meats where spectacular pasta is just for extra credit. These 25 Restaurants Serve the Best Chili in America. Fan favorites include their signature beef brisket and pork ribs, but desserts aren’t to be overlooked either, with delicious options like peach cobbler, pecan pie, and blackberry. Go forth, and feast at Dallas’s most worthy dining destinations, boasting everything from incredible vegan tacos to excellent nigiri and stunning lacquered quail. Don’t mess with Texas, especially when it comes to food. Go for lunch — all Tacodeli locations are only open until 3 p.m. For more states, check out our ultimate guide to the best food and drink in every state for 2019. This sausage-centric restaurant is an Austin gem, serving sausages made in-house or by a local sausage-maker with brilliantly creative toppings. These foods are the cornerstones of Tex-Mex cuisine, and the best Tex-Mex restaurants are right here in Texas. The entire experience is about as classic steakhouse as you’re likely to find. No rice, no beans, no problem. He excels in a rarity known as hunter beef, a preparation similar to pastrami, best served cold, in thick slices, with sinus-buzzing mustard. Eater’s “Regional 38” series previously named the vital dining destinations across three fertile swaths of America: the South, New England, and the Great Lakes region of the Midwest. — J.E. Mexican flavors also murmur through McHugh’s modern American menu — masa-fried oysters over sopes with black beans and avocado mousse, bison tartare with huitlacoche puree, braised lamb neck with hominy stew. It may not be a massive breakfast menu, but everything on it is just about perfect. WHY: Lashkari and his wife, Azra Babar Lashkari, are ever-present in their boxy strip-mall restaurant in the city’s Mahatma Gandhi District. 408 W. 8th StreetDallas, TX(214) 948-4998 | luciadallas.com, WHAT: The taqueria with the little back room that’s a Mexican food game changer for Texas. 6652 Southwest FreewayHouston, TX(713) 532-2837 | himalayarestauranthouston.com. Their wine list covers many regions — Chile, France, Brazil, Italy, Argentina, Australia, and the U.S. — complimenting the varied food selections. 2969 CR 422Talpa, TX(325) 636-4556 | rancholoma.com, WHAT: The best restaurant on Galveston Island — and arguably the entire Texas Gulf Coast. Zoom in on cabrito with roasted cactus, lechón with a piercing habanero salsa, and lamb barbacoa. They even serve a cold fried chicken that’s also delicious, and that’s saying something. Pork steaks and spare ribs will have you questioning why anyone would say Texans can only barbecue beef. WHAT: An unholy yet wholly triumphant mashup of Japanese and Texan food cultures. 2775 Washington BoulevardBeaumont, TX(409) 833-3156 | no website. The Texas version of this high class dish includes black-eyed peas, corn, avocado and mango. Loaded potato salads, pickled cactus, and “chicharoni” (macaroni with a topper of crumbled, fried pork skins) are all original musts. Today the kitchen meanders into modern whimsies like roasted oysters topped with spiced crab meat in the restaurant’s wood-burning oven. I lived in Dallas a decade ago and converted then to a disciple of Lone Star foodways; since becoming Eater’s national critic four years ago, I’ve made a point of returning to the state for several weeks each year. Truthfully this is the only downside to shopping here. José R. Ralat is the proprietor of thetacotrail.com and author of the forthcoming book American Tacos: A History and Guide to the Taco Trail North of the Border. Less than a 40-minute drive from Austin is the small town of Taylor, Texas, and in Taylor, Louie Mueller Barbecue. In between you’ll find an $85 42-ounce porterhouse, a $125 six-ounce Japanese wagyu New York strip, a $125 American wagyu rib-eye, and several other luxury cuts for those looking to burn a whole lot of cash. Still, there are only a handful of restaurants that deserve top honors, and Pho Dien, which gained acclaim by serving sides of raw, marinated filet mignon called tai uop, is the finest example of Houston’s nascent pho revolution. Sourcing much of the interior directly from Ireland, the bar’s proprietors have succeeded in making the place both authentic and unique. Owner Armando Vera runs what is likely the last restaurant cooking barbacoa de cabeza with wood in the Lone Star State, opening only weekends to dole out shimmering cuts of cheek, tongue, lips, and other head cuts served with warm corn or flour tortillas. — M.P. The Pakistani affinity for beef plays so well in Texas that Lashkari dreamed up on-point “friendly fusion” weekend specials, such as smoked brisket masala, to bridge the cultures. Take the “Carolina Pork It,” for example: a 100 percent Vienna beef hot dog, stuffed with cheese and wrapped in bacon, deep-fried and topped with grilled horseradish coleslaw and house-made pimento cheese. WHY: From colorful breakfast and dinner thalis to a phenomenal Indian-spiced, gluten-free, chickpea-crusted fried chicken, three-time James Beard award nominee Anita Jaisinghani takes the stuff of traditional Indian street food — chaat, dosas, pani poori — and turns out beautiful, artistically plated food that vibrates with authenticity while still showing contemporary Gulf Coast flair. WHAT: The apotheosis of a great Tex-Mex restaurant and its irresistible comforts. Over the course of the past year we’ve honored everything from its best hot dogs and fried chicken to its best bar and craft beer in our comprehensive and wide-ranging lists and rankings, compiled through extensive research and with input from a wide network of site contributors, bloggers, journalists, and chefs. Snoopy’s Pier is swimming in a seafood shack vibe — no surprise, given that it was once an old fisherman's hangout. Ten writers with deep local roots joined me in whittling down a small nation’s worth of restaurants to the crucial 38. Get there early, though; they sell out fast. And if you want to try one of the city’s finest chicken fried steaks, that will set you back just $8.95. Here’s the bottom line: This is Austin’s best breakfast food you can get any time of day (or night). Let’s hash it out while standing in line for brisket and potato salad at Cattleack Barbeque in Dallas, or maybe over a Deluxe Mexican Plate at Garcia’s in San Antonio. As the name suggests, Big Top is circus-themed and beautifully furnished with vintage mementos. In an area of downtown Austin chock-o-block with dining options, Emmer & Rye easily distinguishes itself from the crowd. WHAT: A handmade-pasta shop whose impeccable noodles are second only to the salumi. Texans have a famous breed of zeal and loyalty for their homeland; there will be vehement disagreements over our choices. The Lower Southeast shop entices barbecue zealots with buttery brisket, sausage links stuffed with Oaxaca cheese and spicy serranos, and, on the first Sunday of every month, barbacoa — a south Texas staple.
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