Four Texas restaurants are basking in the national spotlight: They've been named by Esquire magazine on its list of America's 40 best new restaurants.
No. 1 on the list was Dhamaka, an Indian restaurant in New York. Two Texas restaurants made the top 10.
The four Texas establishments that make the list include a critical favorite from Dallas, plus two restaurants from Houston and one from Austin, as follows:
- Roots Southern Table: Top Chef alum Tiffany Derry's restaurant devoted to Black Southern cooking in Farmers Branch (19th)
- Hestia: chef Kevin Fink's live fire restaurant in Austin (fourth)
- March: a Mediterranean-inspired tasting menu restaurant in Houston (sixth)
- Degust: a Spanish and Mexican-inspired tasting menu restaurant in Houston (17th)
The list was authored by four writers — Omar Mamoon, Joshua David Stein, former Esquire food and drink editor Jeff Gordinier, and culture and lifestyle director Kevin Sintumuang — who traveled the country in search of candidates.
Texas was covered by Stein, a Brooklyn-based writer and former critic for the New York Observer and the Village Voice.
At Tiffany Derry's restaurant, he praises the fried chicken, brined and fried in duck fat, and her unique version of shrimp & grits, which he compares to an Italian-style arancini.
"Roots is plangent proof that Black Southern cooking from the Creole coast, incorporating as it does elements of French, Spanish, African, and Caribbean traditions, alchemizing as it does migrations forced and otherwise, is both the country's greatest culinary patrimony and its path ahead," he writes.
Roots is definitely catching the New York media's eye; the restaurant was just included on the New York Times' "50 most vibrant and delicious restaurants in 2021."
Both of Houston's representatives on the list represent a new breed of tasting menu restaurant. Stein hails March for its menus that take inspiration from different regions of the Mediterranean. "March, as the name implies, is a steady movement toward the avant-garde," he states.
He finds similar thrills at Degust, where two chefs put a playful spin on Spanish and Mexican-inspired dishes like double-fried octopus.
Austin restaurant Hestia, which came in at No. 4, earns praises for its 20-foot, wood-fired hearth where temperatures can reach 1,200 degrees. "Hard to believe that the same fire that tenderly cooks the halibut — kept three feet above the flame and served with an iridescent mirror glaze of a brown-butter sauce — is responsible for the ferocious char on the dry-aged Wagyu bavette, with its sunset-red center, accompanied by lacquered layers of potato and butter coiled into a tight, croissant-like bun," Stein writes.