Texas Monthly food editor Pat Sharpe has delivered her annual assessment of the state's best new restaurants. Published Monday, February 17, on the magazine's website, the article, titled "The Best New Restaurants in Texas for 2020," provides a ranked list of Texas' 10 best new restaurants as well as honorable mentions.
To be eligible for the list, establishments must have opened between December 1, 2018 and December 1, 2019, and it must be a restaurant's first Texas location. Sharpe notes that this year's list has an international feel with eateries that take their inspiration from places such as Italy, Japan, Goa, and Spain. She finds another tie that binds most of her choices.
"I've noticed a trend that has been growing growing since since the craft cocktail movement began a couple of decades ago; restaurants are becoming more like bars," Sharpe writes. "That is, more casual and (sigh) noisier than ever."
Savor, the restaurant at the Culinary Institute of America, provides San Antonio with its lone entry in the top 10, but both Evo and Kindling Texas Kitchen (in the suburb of Cibolo) earn honorable mentions for the Alamo City.
Sharpe points out that what makes Savor remarkable is, in essence, that it is a classroom. "Savor’s global menus are devised by the CIA’s faculty chefs, and over the past year, customers have been treated to dishes as diverse as pan-seared Gulf red snapper with spicy Thai red curryand tagliatelle tricked out with crispy pancetta and crème fraîche. Given that all the players are amateurs, the quality is impressive," she writes.
Sharpe also notes the prices — $39 for three course, $46 for four — are a bargain for the restaurant's global-inspired fare.
Austin's Comedor takes the top spot, the first time a local restaurant has taken the top spot since 2011. It also marks the second year in a row that one of the city's Mexican restaurants made a strong impression on the critic (Suerte took second last year).
Sharpe raves about the modern Mexican restaurant, comparing it to Houston chef and James Beard Award-winner Hugo Ortega's three Mexican restaurants as well as Pujol, the Mexico City restaurant ranked 12th in the world.
"Be advised that the Texas Mexican Food Timeline does have a significant new date: 2019," she writes. "In other words, there's Before Comedor (BC) and After Comedor (AC). It's just that simple."
No surprise to see Vixen's Wedding on the list in eighth place; Sharpe's had her eyes on it since she authored a rare preview of the Goan restaurant from chefs Todd Duplechan and Jessica Maher. Honorable mentions go to Nixta Taqueria and DipDipDip Tatsu-ya.
Houston and Dallas lead the way with three entries each, but give a slight edge to the Bayou City — all of its entries rank in the top five: Squable (No. 2), Davis St. at Hermann Park (No. 3), and MAD (No. 5). One Fifth Gulf Coast and Rosie Cannonball earn honorable mentions.
Sharpe praises Squable owners Justin Yu and Bobby Heugel for "wisely staying out of the way" of the creative dishes being served by chefs Mark Clayton and Drew Gimma. Davis St. earns a spot thanks to chef Mark Holley's seafood-oriented menu. The critic seems utterly delighted by MAD's whimsical cuisine and decor, writing that chef Luis Roger is "having the time of his life" with the modern tapas that are the restaurant's standout dishes.
Homewood (No. 4), Salaryman (No. 6), and Khao Noodle Shop (No. 8) represent Dallas, with Ka-Tip Thai Street Food and Beverley's making the honorable mentions. Fort Worth's sole spot on the list belongs to Gemelle, the Italian restaurant from celebrity chef Tim Love.