To keep tabs on every Texas restaurant and bar opening is folly. But to keep tabs on the most worthy? Yeoman’s work, and we’re proud to do it. Thus we present Table Stakes, a rundown of five must-know spots that have swung wide their doors over the past month. Let’s eat.
Spring has sprung, and with the new season comes a bunch of new restaurants eager to meet you.
We’re betting the feeling is mutual. So you’ll be glad to acquaint yourself with Michelin-starred Italian food, perfect fried chicken and one of the nicest looking Mexican restaurants you’ll find, well, anywhere. Collect them all.
You’re here because: The husband-and-wife duo’s L.A. restaurant of the same name opened in 2020 and was awarded a Michelin star just one year later. Now, they’ve brought that same fine-dining sensibility and a pasta-focused tasting menu to an intimate 10-seat space in East Austin.
You’re dining on: A prix-fixe menu featuring fresh pastas, meats, seafood and vegetables, preceded by a welcome drink when you arrive. Expect the menu to change with the seasons, but your table will be graced with 10-plus courses that merge Texas flavors with Italian techniques.
1017 E 6th Street, Austin (map)
You’re here because: This passion project from a Monterrey businessman occupies 15,000 square feet of a former warehouse space in the Design District. It’s outfitted with Mexican art, a stunning bar and dining room, a glass wall of 300 backlit tequilas, a multi-level patio and an upscale cigar bar — one of the few in town.
You’re dining on: Beef tenderloin and bone marrow tacos, grilled steaks, ceviche and lobster elote. Plus a lot of tequila. The display wall is flanked by a tasting table, where the city’s only tequila sommelier can lead you through a flight. If you prefer margaritas, they’ve got several, including the $250 Pancho Villa, which features Clase Azul Ultra Añejo Tequila, Grand Marnier Cuvée 1880, fresh lime juice and citrus gold salt.
1401 Turtle Creek Boulevard, Dallas (map)
You’re here because: It’s the new concept from acclaimed chef Donny Sirisavath, best known for his exceptional Laotian restaurant, Khao Noodle Shop, which Bon Appetit named as the number two best new restaurant of 2019. Post-pandemic, Sirisavath has reconfigured the space into Darkoo’s Chicken Shack, a casual joint for fried chicken and fresh sides that he opened with Jimmy Niwa of Deep Ellum favorite Niwa Japanese BBQ
You’re dining on: Perfectly crispy fried chicken, but don’t stop there. Also try the Khao Mun Gai (a variation of Hainanese chicken rice) and as many side dishes as you can fit on your table, including Lao-style elotes, macaroni salad and pickled cucumbers with fermented crab. You’ve got a few options to drink, but every meal should include a bottle of Laotian beer and a juice box filled with sake.
4812 Bryan Street, Dallas (map)
You’re here because: This new restaurant comes from the group behind Houston’s popular Tiger Noodle House. The San Antonio version specializes in fiery Szechuan cuisine, and since opening, it’s been packing its small dining room with crowds of people eager to dive headfirst into xiaolongbao (soup dumplings) and other delights.
You’re dining on: Dishes you won’t find at every other Chinese restaurant in town. Start with the xiaolongbao before moving onto frog’s legs, chicken feet with pickled peppers, a spicy whole fish, noodle soups and hot pots loaded with beef, pork or seafood. When you’re done eating, your tongue will tingle with the Szechuan peppers’ trademark numbing sensation. Pat yourself on the back and have another beer.
2730 W Interstate 10, Suite 312, San Antonio (map)
You’re here because: It’s an outpost of the popular Asian Smokehouse from Austin (there’s also a Dallas location) that’s a collaboration between two of the state’s heaviest hitters: Tyson Cole (Uchi) and Aaron Franklin (Franklin Barbecue). Housed in a 1940s-era church, the space features a vaulted ceiling and a white oak bar, where happy hour begins each weekday at 2 p.m.
You’re dining on: Shareable plates like curry brisket rice, sesame noodles, crispy potatoes, chicken karaage and fresh salads, so bring a friend. Then dive into larger slabs of smoked brisket, turkey and salmon. PSA: Don’t miss the smoked baby back ribs, which are only served Sundays and Mondays.
1001 W 11th Street, Houston (map)
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