This year, Texas Monthly food editor Pat Sharpe’s annual ranking of the state’s best new restaurants looks a little different. Instead of a ranked list of 10 establishments, Sharpe focuses on her favorite takeout dishes and drinks from across the Lone Star State, along with spotlighting three of the year’s most exciting new openings.
In total, the article covers 30 restaurants spread across seven regions, Sharpe writes, divided into categories such as starters and sides, sandwiches, entrees, sweets, and cocktails. All of them offer to-go. To be eligible for the list, establishments must have opened between December 1, 2019 and December 1, 2020.
Sharpe spotlights Jardín among the three most exciting openings. The aptly named Eastern Mediterranean cafe, brainchild of noted chefs Jason and Jake Dady, is located inside the San Antonio Botanical Garden, .
"Public places seem to be their new niche," Sharpe says of the Dady brothers, who also run Tre Trattoria at the San Antonio Museum of Art. Among the menu's standout items, says Sharpe, is the golden gazpacho, "a velvety mix of beets and tomatoes" and the restaurant's signature puffy naan pita, which comes sprinkled with za’atar.
In Austin, she spotlights Kalimotxo, a Spanish-inspired bar and restaurant from chefs Kevin Fink and Tavel Bristol-Joseph (Emmer & Rye, Hestia). She praises the operation, originally conceived as a tapas-style cocktail bar connected to Hestia, for its pivot during the pandemic.
And in Houston, Sharpe heralds restaurant Bludorn and chef Aaron Bludorn for blending the French techniques he honed as executive chef at New York City’s Cafe Boulud with elements of his Pacific Northwest childhood and Texas ingredients.
San Antonio restaurants are also well-represented in the individual dishes. They include: Curry Boys BBQ's Good Luck Cluck Bowl, Camp Outpost Co's Calabrian chile fried chicken sandwich, The Hayden's pastrami and Swiss sandwich, Cuishe Cocina Mexicana's enchiladas rojas, and the peach hand pies as Southerleigh.
Head to the Texas Monthly website to see the complete list selections from across the state.