Restaurants & Bars | December 23, 2022 7:48 am

The 10 Biggest Texas Dining Stories of 2022

From major openings and accolades to lawsuits and controversy

A bagel tower at Sadelle's
A bagel tower at Sadelle's
Major Food Group

Another year is in the books, which provides an opportunity to look back at all that transpired in the Texas food scene over the past 12 months. We’re talking about big openings, fresh trends, national awards and even some controversy, all viewed now with fresh eyes and a bit more perspective. These are the 10 biggest Texas dining stories of 2022. 

Major Food Group Bet Big on Dallas

The New York-based hospitality group operates more than two dozen restaurants across the globe, and this year it entered the Dallas market with a big splash, opening three concepts across March and April. First up was Sadelle’s, the brunch institution known for its bagel towers. Next came Carbone, the Italian restaurant named for Major Food Group co-founder Mario Carbone and famous for serving pastas and steaks in a grandiose setting. And shortly thereafter, we were introduced to Vino, a new concept that sits beside Carbone, has a 1,000-bottle wine cellar and serves a few Carbone favorites, plus pizzas and salumi.

STK Steak and Lobster
STK Steak and Lobster
STK

STK Followed Suit

Not to be outdone, another New York staple with a global presence finally came to Dallas, several years after first teasing the expansion. STK embraces “vibe dining,” which sees DJs playing alongside tables filled with tomahawk chops and A5 wagyu steaks. It’s a place to get dressed up, pop some bottles and stay awhile.

The “Red Sauce Wars” Heated Up

Speaking of Carbone, let’s not confuse it with Carbone’s, the Dallas-specific restaurant run by chef Julian Barsotti that opened in 2012, one year before Carbone opened in New York. Alas, that’s what many diners and delivery drivers did while the two similarly named restaurants shared a city. In what became dubbed “the red sauce wars,” Carbone’s sued Carbone for trademark infringement. If you were rooting for the little guy, well, he kind of won. Barsotti is temporarily closing his restaurant and will rename it, but the New York Carbone is providing assistance in the endeavor. So, in a rare turn of events, it seems that both sides are happy.

Jesse Griffiths
Jesse Griffiths
Jody Horton

Austin Chefs Racked Up the James Beard Wins

The James Beard awards debuted a Texas category in 2019, and then the world shut down, and no awards were given in 2020 and 2021. But this year, they shined a light on Austin, with three winners based in the city. Iliana de la Vega of El Naranjo won Best Chef: Texas. Edgar Rico of Nixta Taqueria won for Emerging Chef. And Jesse Griffiths of Dai Due won for his cookbook, The Hog Book: A Chef’s Guide to Hunting, Butchering and Cooking Wild Pigs.

Spread from Canje
Spread from Canje
Canje

National Accolades Poured in for Canje

Canje opened in Austin last fall, serving a Caribbean menu inspired by executive chef Tavel Bristol-Joseph’s Guyanese roots. One year in, and the national media can’t get enough. In September, Canje was named one of America’s 50 best restaurants by both The New York Times and Bon Appetit, and in November Esquire named it the fourth-best restaurant in the country.

Austin Chef Jesse Griffiths Wants You to Eat More Wild Hogs

His new project, The Hog Book, shows you how to hunt, butcher and cook feral pigs

Pasta from Caterina's
Pasta from Caterina’s
Kevin Marple

Caterina’s Banned Cell Phones

Chef Tim Love is Fort Worth’s most famous chef, known for popular restaurants like Lonesome Dove, Gemelle and Love Shack. He opened Caterina’s over the summer, embracing old-world, fine-dining Italian, with leather banquettes, exposed brick and a menu featuring tableside cocktails, rigatoni alla vodka, linguini with clams, and veal chops. But the real story is that men are required to wear jackets in the dining room, and phones are locked away in individual pouches before diners take their seats. In this strange new world, dinner companions are forced to look up and talk to each other, rather than take pictures of their plates.

The Pearl Welcomed Carriqui and Ladino

Two of San Antonio’s biggest restaurant openings happened in the same month at the same place, as September saw the debut of Carriqui and Ladino at the Pearl complex. The former is an ambitious 11,000-square-foot, 380-seat restaurant named for the green jaybird that’s native to South Texas, and the menu is inspired by the bird’s flight path. Ladino comes from Austin’s Emmer & Rye Hospitality Group (who’s also behind Canje) and serves food that’s centered around a charcoal grill, with dishes covering Middle Eastern and Balkan cuisines.

The Carte Blanche Kerfuffle

Everyone fibs on their resume a little. You know, saying you’re proficient in Excel and hoping no one asks you to prove it. But the chef behind Dallas’s pricey tasting menu spot, Carte Blanche, was embroiled in controversy when a story came out questioning whether he worked at all those Michelin-starred restaurants on his now-scrubbed LinkedIn profile. It included comments from other industry workers who questioned his experience, and representatives from several of those restaurants had no record of his employment. The chef hit back, claiming that he did in fact work as an unpaid stagiaire at said restaurants. He provided a few emails to support his points, but other positions were left unconfirmed. 

Panther City
Panther City
Marshall Tidrick

Panther City BBQ Set a Guinness World Record

The Guinness Book of World Records issues awards for all manner of inane categories. But let no one besmirch the sanctity of Longest Barbecue Marathon (Team). From July 13 to 15 (yes, this thing covered three days), a trio of pitmasters from Fort Worth’s Panther City BBQ stood at the grill, cooking meat and vegetables for an incredible 40 hours, 49 minutes and 17 seconds. And because the summer takes pity on no one, they were forced to do it in 100-degree heat. When the smoke cleared, they bested the previous record held by an Italian team since 2017, bringing the title back to Texas.

Wild in Houston Dosed Dishes with THC and CBD

Legal, not legal…it’s all a little hard to understand these days, with Texas shops selling Delta this and hemp-derived that. But while it’s easier than ever to score flower and edibles, one Houston restaurant is putting it straight into their food. Wild opened in the Montrose neighborhood with a menu featuring coffee, cocktails and food that can all be optionally dosed with CBD or THC. So, you can slather a prime steak with THC butter, put some CBD chili crisp on your Thai-style whole fish, or down a dozen oysters topped with THC caviar. If eating gives you the munchies, there’s always dessert.