Another year, another opportunity to acquaint yourself with Texas’s diverse food scene. We’re talking about traditional sushi and modern Japanese cuisine, fresh seafood with a New Zealand influence, a glitzy supper club that channels Zeus and a new outpost of a Chicago institution. That checks a lot of very eclectic boxes.
Now that your appetite is properly whetted, here are five of the most exciting Texas restaurants to open their doors over the past month.
The team behind Tobiuo Sushi & Bar has just debuted Money Cat, which serves what they call New Japanese cuisine influenced by the regional American foods experienced by first- and second-generation Asian Americans. That means hot and cold tastings, tempura, robata, sushi and creative desserts, all through the young founders’ collective lens. A few chef favorites include hotate chawanmushi (steamed egg custard with corn and chive taiyaki), honey vanilla milk buns with cultured butter and trout roe, a chicken katsu sandwich and maitake karaage, which is an homage to the chefs’ love of Buffalo wings. The beverage program is centered around Japanese ingredients, with cocktails, craft beers, sakes, plum wines and spirits.
2925 Richmond Avenue, Houston (map)
Quarter Acre is the culmination of chef Toby Archibald’s world travels, New Zealand roots and experience working at lauded local spots like Bullion and Georgie by Curtis Stone. The dining room leans into coastal greens and blues and is anchored by central dining pods inspired by woven fishing traps. The menu features a mix of meat, seafood and local produce, with dishes like smoked beef tartare, kingfish ceviche, Parmesan-buttered grouper and 48-hour short ribs. And to drink: seasonal cocktails and a thoughtful wine list that pulls from New Zealand, France and the Texas Panhandle.
2023 Greenville Avenue, Dallas (map)
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Frisco may be the new center of the universe, with the PGA moving its headquarters to town and Universal Studios announcing Frisco as the home of its next theme park. Today, we’re most interested in Kinzo, a new sushi joint sourcing fish from Tokyo’s famed Toyosu Market. Kinzo comes from chef Leo Kekoa, a Nobu veteran who’s serving à la carte small plates, nigiri, sashimi, maki and yakitori in addition to an omakase experience. The latter is 18 courses of Edomae-style sushi that’s meticulously prepared and presented at two seatings each night.
14111 King Road, Frisco (map)
Ciel is not shy. A trident-wielding Zeus lords over the dining room, and there’s marble aplenty. Live performances and a DJ complement dinners, which exude a party atmosphere from start to finish. So, know before you go. The menu is French-Japanese, and the kitchen embraces live-fire cooking, with dishes like charcoal-poached lobster, Jidori chicken and a tomahawk chop living alongside oysters, tiger prawn crudo and spicy yellowtail maki.
4411 San Felipe Street, Houston (map)
Portillo’s is a chain with dozens of locations in the Midwest, but that’s only helpful if you’re in the Midwest or don’t mind traveling long distances for Chicago-style hot dogs and Italian beef sandwiches. Earlier this month, the company opened its first Texas outpost in DFW and they’ve hinted at more to come. Expanding into Texas was a natural fit, as the state buys more of Portillo’s nationally shipped products online than any other. Eating straight from the source will net you a fresh hot dog topped with mustard, relish, celery salt, onion, tomato, a pickle and sport peppers. Or try the beef sandwich, which sees slow-roasted beef sliced thin, placed on French bread, topped with giardiniera and either splashed with or dipped in gravy. Better yet, get both.
4560 Destination Drive, The Colony (map)
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