Food & Drink | August 1, 2023 6:34 am

Eat Birria Soup Dumplings, Tomahawks and Oysters at Texas’s Best New Restaurants

This summer has provided an embarrassment of steak- and seafood-related riches

Dining room in Mister Charles.
Eat at five of Texas's best new restaurants.
Douglas Friedman

Summer used to mean three months of freedom. Now it’s just three months of hot days, still-hot nights and all the same responsibilities you had before. It’s a little hard to reconcile. Maybe that’s why half of Texas seems to head elsewhere during the summer, whether it’s to Colorado, New Mexico, original Mexico or anywhere else that temperatures are measured in two digits.

But for those who’ve remained, there’s some consolation: The past couple months have ushered in a spate of highly anticipated restaurants that are here to assuage our collective woes with steaks, seafood, pasta and enough cocktails and wine to cure our collective malaise. These are five of the most exciting new restaurants in Texas.

Spread of food on a table
Elementary is a playful take on fine dining.
Chad Wadsworth



What to know: Opened by friends Chris Arial, Allan Bautista and chef Colter Peck, who’s worked at top Portland restaurants Le Pigeon and Proud Mary, Elementary is a playful take on fine dining with a seasonal menu that highlights Central Texas farmers. The airy dining room pulls from modern Bauhaus inspiration, with lots of primary colors — think red floors and a bright blue accent wall. 

What to eat: It would be foolish to pass on the birria soup dumplings, so start there and then work towards a banh mi eclair, al pastor tortellini, short rib pappardelle and the half chicken with saffron honey, chorizo, potatoes and pickled fennel. Arial’s beverage program includes a smoking Paper Plane (there’s fire!), a Kool-Aid Cosmo and an espresso martini riff made with vodka, espresso, chocolate bitters, cereal milk and Eggo waffle syrup. You will have fun here — and also next door, because the same trio has also opened Hopscotch, a small bar serving natural wines, cocktails, tinned fish and other snacks in the adjacent building.

2026 S Lamar Boulevard, Austin (map)

Interior of Mister Charles
The menu leans into French and Italian cuisines.
Douglas Friedman

Mister Charles


What to know: The Duro Hospitality train keeps on chugging, and the team behind Sister, El Carlos Elegante and The Charles recently debuted a new project, the decidedly upscale Mister Charles. It’s inhabiting the iconic Highland Park Soda Fountain building, which has anchored the Knox Street location for more than 100 years. Duro’s founders describe the restaurant as The Charles’ sophisticated and well-traveled relative, who has spent a lifetime savoring fine continental cuisines and luxuriating in Europe’s most elegant hotels, restaurants and bars.  

What to eat: The menu leans into French and Italian cuisines, evident right off the bat in a canapes section that features a mini egg salad sandwich with caviar, a cured salmon tart and a foie gras croquette. Larger plates include seared diver scallops, whole Dover sole with sauce meunière and lobster thermidor, plus a wagyu New York strip and lamb loin Wellington for two.

3219 Knox Street, Dallas (map)

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Spread of food with a fish at the center of the table. texas best new restaurants
Pastore has seafood — and lots of it.
Duc Hoang



What to know: Underbelly Hospitality has already given Houston several great places to eat, including Georgia James steakhouse, Wild Oats and Underbelly Burger. Now it’s here with Pastore, a coastal Italian concept. The garden-like space has floor-to-ceiling windows, statement murals, antique brass accents and other adornments to set the scene, and the dining room will soon be joined by a rooftop terrace, so you can partake in pasta and spritzes al fresco. 

What to eat: Seafood, and lots of it. We’re talking generous seafood towers, oysters, scallop crudo, crispy anchovies with sage and hearth-roasted branzino puttanesca. But don’t miss the flatbreads — one has mission figs, lemon ricotta and lardo — or the handmade pastas, like the squid ink linguine and swordfish amatriciana. 

1180 Dunlavy Street, Houston (map)

Horse-shapes crystal chandelier at the center of a round bar
Trick Rider pays homage to Texas rodeo culture.
Omni PGA Resort/werner segarra photography inc

Trick Rider


What to know: The Dallas suburbs need another steakhouse like they need another strip mall — but then you find Trick Rider and realize it might be the road trip-worthy steakhouse you were missing all along. Situated inside the new Omni PGA Resort, the handsome dining room is anchored by a horseshoe bar, above which sits a 16-foot-long crystal chandelier in the shape of a horse. You’re probably noticing a theme, and you’re right — this place pays homage to Texas rodeo culture. 

What to eat: The menu includes chilled seafood dishes like shrimp cocktail and oysters, plus salads, salmon, a whole branzino and Australian lobster tail. Red meat selections range from prime filets and New York strips to a handful of shareable steaks served tableside, like a tomahawk and a wagyu beef tasting. Trick Rider is not reinventing any wheels here, but they are nailing the classics. And when you want a steak, whipped potatoes and asparagus, it might as well be really good steak, whipped potatoes and asparagus.

4341 PGA Parkway, Frisco (map)

Oysters on ice texas best new restaurants
You won’t go wrong with oysters on the halfshell.



What to know: This new Midtown restaurant embraces all things Gulf Coast and also highlights Southern dishes that executive chef and Mississippi native Lucas McKinney grew up eating. Opened inside the departed Izakaya space, the restaurant — which is named both for McKinney’s grandmother and an old steamship that sank in the Gulf of Mexico — was redesigned to feature a raw bar for oysters and other chilled seafood.

What to eat: Amberjack crudo, smoked redfish dip and oysters on the halfshell are all great ideas. From there, move into hushpuppies with pickled jalapeño tartar sauce, biscuits and onion gravy, barbecue shrimp, po’boys, blue crab rice bowls and Mississippi hot catfish nuggets. Drinks include a couple frozen cocktails and other refreshing options, like the Happy Little Accidents, with strawberry-infused Suze, vermouth and bubbles.

318 Gray Street, Houston (map)