Three Texas restaurants are basking in the national spotlight. On July 10, Eater named establishments in San Antonio, Dallas, and Houston to its list of the 16 best new restaurants in America for 2019.
San Antonio's The Jerk Shack joined Houston's Indigo and Dallas' Khao Noodle Shop among the winners, a mix that includes nationally prominent restaurants like Atomix, the Korean restaurant in New York City that was a finalist for a James Beard Award, as well as more obscure places like Tacos 1986, a buzzy taco stand in Los Angeles.
While The Jerk Shack may not be as well known as some of the restaurants on the list, it did win the CultureMap San Antonio Tastemaker Award for the Best New Restaurant of 2019. Chef-owner Lattoia Massey serves Jamaican cuisine — including jerk chicken, naturally — along with steamed fish, goat curry, and other dishes.
“A row of perfectly crispy jerk fried chicken wings and an array of equally fiery jerk sauces for dipping sit on a tray lined with fake newspaper,” writes Eater Austin editor Nadia Chaudhury, who calls the restaurant "chef Lattoia Massey’s love letter to Jamaica."
“On another tray are the sturdy Jamaican patties, which can be sandwiched between torn pieces of buttery coco bread," Chaudhury continues. "But this is Texas, so there are tacos too, a worthy vehicle for piquant jerk-seasoned jackfruit."
For Indigo, the recognition joins the growing national chorus that has praised chef Jonny Rhodes’ innovative tasting menu concept that reinterprets African American culinary traditions by considering the political and social contexts that shaped its dishes. Food & Wine, GQ, and Texas Monthly have also included the restaurant on their various best-of lists. Rhodes also earned a James Beard semifinalist nomination for rising star chef.
At Khao Noodle Shop, chef-owner Donny Sirisavath, a nominee for Rising Star Chef of the Year in the 2019 CultureMap Dallas Tastemaker Awards, creates spicy Laotian food, including handmade boat noodles, fried shrimp balls, and more. Eater Dallas editor Amy McCarthy writes that the restaurants provides “proof that Houston isn’t the only city in Texas with a multifaceted, diverse dining scene.” She should know; the Dallas-based writer also serves as the editor of Eater Houston.
For 2019, restaurant editor Hillary Dixler Canavan (with an assist from Eater’s various city editors) took over compiling the list from Bill Addison, who left his role as Eater’s national critic to work at the Los Angeles Times. It includes places that opened between May 2018 and May 2019. Texas, New York, and California dominate the list, claiming three spots each.