Best of the best
San Antonio’s thriving food scene got another accolade on November 13 when Eater named 2M Smokehouse one of its America’s 38 Essential Restaurants. It's only the second time the website’s national critic, Bill Addison, included an Alamo City eatery on the list. (Tex-Mex institution Garcia’s Mexican Restaurant a nod in 2016.)
The annual roundup, which launched in 2015, is the result of a lot of work. According to a release, Addison spent 34 weeks visiting 36 U.S. cities and eating almost 600 meals to select the restaurants considered indispensable in their regions.
“The one-word mantra that steers my thinking, and also the city-based Eater 38 maps upon which the list is modeled, is essential,” says Addison via release. “Those nine letters, by necessity, cover plenty of territory: Which places become indispensable to their neighborhoods, and eventually to their towns and whole regions? Which ones spur trends, or set standards for hospitality, or illuminate a cuisine in fresh and captivating ways? Which restaurants, ultimately, become vital to how we understand ourselves, and others, at the table?”
Joining 17 newcomers, 2M made the cut thanks to owners Esaul Ramos and Joe Melig’s combination of Texas barbecue traditions mixed with their Mexican-American heritage. Addison praised the “near-custardy brisket and sausage flecked with chopped poblanos and queso Qoaxaca."
“Fold them into speckled flour tortillas, topped with pickled nopales and interspersed with forkfuls of borracho beans and Chicharoni Macaroni (macaroni and cheese dusted with fried pork skins),” he advised. “This is how the leading edge of Lone Star barbecue looks, smells, and tastes.”
Overall, barbecue made up half of the Texas entries into his list. Austin’s world-famous Franklin Barbecue, continuing its five-year winning streak, made another appearance. "A spread of brisket, ribs, pulled pork, potato salad, and pinto beans still merits the wait, which every omnivore should brave once in their lives,” Addison wrote.
Elsewhere in Texas, Houston had two entries on the list. Strip mall eatery Himalaya, from Kaiser Lashkari and Azra Babar Lashkari, drew high marks for its curries, hunter beef (a pastrami-like preparation), and weekend-only brisket masala special. Hugo Ortega and Tracy Vaught’s Xochi continued its string of plaudits for its dive into “Oaxaca’s earthy, exhilarating, spicy-sweet cuisine.”
Dallas, however, received no love. Though Addison was the Dallas Morning News restaurant critic from 2007-2008, the city has been conspicuously absent since Dallas Japanese restaurant Tei An made its second appearance in January 2016.