Houston's own low-key Pepper Twins earned national dish of the year honors.
Austin's Kemuri Tatsu-ya is lauded as one of the best new restaurants in America.
Killen's STQ is already receiving national restaurant recognition.
Texas restaurants are making another strong showing on one of the most coveted restaurant lists in the land. That’s no shock of course. It’s as common as Charles Barkley saying something controversial. Or Gordon Ramsay getting mad at someone.
But the Lone Star State restaurants who made this national magazine’s 10 Best New Restaurants in America rankings are a surprise. These aren’t the super PR packaged almost-prearranged hotspots that dominate many such lists. They’re not celebrity chef driven for the most part. Instead, they’re real finds and largely authentic.
Take Pepper Twins, the low-key Houston restaurants that specialize in country style organic Chinese food. Pepper Twins isn’t trying to impress anyone with fancy press releases. It’s all about good food and service (your water glass will never go empty). And there it is being lauded for having one of the dishes of the year by GQ Magazine.
Pepper Twins’ “lung of husband and wife” — cold brisket and beef tendon, dressed in sesame paste, chiles, Sichuan peppercorns and scallions — receives breakout GQ love.
The magazine’s entire Best New Restaurants 2017 rankings focus on “immigrant chef” restaurants. Austin’s Kemuri Tatsu-ya makes the 2017 Top 10 in part because of its fun factor. GQ writer Brett Martin dubs it, “a saloon out of a Quentin Tarantino fever dream.” This is a spot that specializes in Japanese-Texan kitsch, but it would not be on this list if its wildly inventive (and seemingly unserious) food didn’t taste damn good.
These aren’t the super PR packaged almost-prearranged hotspots that dominate many such lists. They’re not celebrity chef driven. Instead, they’re real finds and largely authentic.
Martin singles out the world’s most unique riff on that Texas classic Frito Pie — a creamy octopus takoyaki covered in chili, cheese, and smoked jalapeño. This is the kind of dish you’d find almost no where else — and one you’d love absolutely no where else. But at Kemuri Tatsu-ya, it’s memorable for all the right reasons.
Killen’s STQ does not play the same type of starring role on this national magazine list, but it’s singled out nonetheless as part of 2017’s K restaurant revolution (great new restaurants that all start with the letter K).
Getting into the conversation counts when the list is this selective. In this case, a Texas trio is helping drive that talk nationally. What, you’re surprised?