Restaurants / Lists

Vaunted Best New Restaurant Rankings Put Houston, Dallas and San Antonio Hotspots in National Top 15: Texas Makes a Foodie Capital Case

BY // 11.28.18

Few places are quite as tantalizing for your taste buds as Texas. That’s a well-known fact in these parts, but now the whole country is fixing to find out. Esquire magazine just put three Lone Star State restaurants on its exclusive list of the Best New Restaurants in America, 2018.

In a sea of hotspots, restaurants in Houston, San Antonio and Dallas stood out — all making the Top 15 of 20 of this exclusive 20. Texas is holding its own with foodie havens such as New York and California — the only two states to place more restaurants on the list.

We’d say we should give ourselves a pat on the back — but really, we should chow down. We’re champions, so you could say we’ve earned it.

Culinary kudos were heaped on Houston’s Nancy Hustle, which earned the No. 3 spot, San Antonio’s Carnitas Lonja, which came in at No. 10, and Dallas’ Petra and The Beast, which earned the No. 13 ranking.

Houston’s had national food critics salivating for a while now, and it’s refreshing to see its sister cities of Dallas and San Antonio earning the attention and praise they so deserve. The cities are far-flung, but there’s something to satisfy your palate.

Here’s the bite-sized breakdown: San Francisco’s Angler snagged that coveted No. 1 space, New York’s Atomix was runner up, Nancy’s Hustle got the bronze, Misi in Brooklyn came in at No. 4 and Massachusetts’ Celeste rounded out the Top 5. Nearby New Orleans got No. 18, courtesy of Longway Tavern.

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Read on to find out just why this Texas trio won the appetizing accolades. The three are true dining destinations. Fair warning — your stomach might start rumbling.

Nancy’s Hustle

In Esquire‘s estimation, Nancy’s Hustle is roadside diner meets Michelin starred-talent, all thanks to executive chef Jason Vaughan and pastry chef’s Julia Doran’s synchronization.

Writer Jeff Gordiner was all about Nancy cakes, the fluffy flapjacks composed of corn, trout roe, cultured butter and wild honey. This line says it all, “God in heaven, these cakes must’ve been chemically engineered to turn my palate into their willing puppet.”

You know a restaurant means serious business when its early morning eats inspire that kind of reaction. Gordiner found all meals at Nancy’s Hustle irresistible, from leeks vinaigrette to “a cheeseburger worthy of a drag race in a James Dean flick.” High praise, indeed.

Carnitas Lonja

Gordiner underscores the delicious simplicity of Alejeandro Paredes’ Carnitas Lonja with a step-by-step explanation. Paredes makes crackly, creamy carnitas in slow-melted fat, and then he makes chewy tortillas, heavy on that corn taste.

Then, it’s up to you, Esquire notes. You order a couple tacos bursting with said carnitas, sit outside at a picnic table “and eat your food and send up prayers to whichever deities govern the realm of tacos and appetite, because in this instance you are fortunate beyond measure.”

And then the kicker: “Mexican food in the United States doesn’t get any more delicious and honest than this.”

Petra and The Beast

Dallas’ Petra and The Beast is a beauty to Gordiner, even if an unconventional one, located in a 1930s gas station, splattered with anime posters against a soundtrack of Rage Against the Machine.

“Chef Misti Norris is conjuring funk,” Esquire writes, creating dishes “that seem to writhe with flavor.” It’s the fifth, not-so-official F in their motto: farm, forage, fermentation and fire.

The men’s magazine and respected food source considers it magical, Narnian even, with fried chicken hearts wrapped in a green garlic crepe and pigtails with sour purple cabbage.

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