Austin proves its culinary chops once again. Three local restaurants have made a big-deal list: nominees for Bon Appetit's Best New Restaurants 2013. Restaurant editor Andrew Knowlton "spent countless hours and traveled thousands of miles" crossing the country to compile the list of 50 contenders.
The list — mercifully available at a single glance — spreads its wealth from California to New York and includes a surprisingly robust six from Texas:
- FT33 (Dallas)
- Jeffrey's and Josephine House (Austin)
- The Pass and Provisions (Houston)
- Ramen Tatsu-Ya (Austin)
- Spoon (Dallas)
- Sway (Austin)
In his write-up for Jeffrey's, Knowlton comments that fine dining is alive in Austin, thanks to "empire-builder" Larry McGuire, who gave this local institution and its sibling new life:
These are places where the flowers matter, the customer matters, and — of course — the food matters, whether it's lunch and cocktails at Josephine House or a 35-day dry-aged Texas porterhouse for dinner at Jeffrey's. The attention to detail at is evident in every little thing, from brass valet parking tickets to a roving Martini cart to laser-cut leather-bound menus.
At Sway, Bon Appetit loves the off-the-menu "Moo Sway"— a family-style meal of raw oysters and a whole, slow-roasted Thai-style pork shoulder — at this "stunningly designed" new restaurant:
The outdoor patio with its modern chairs and tables is straight out of Dwell, while the lively interior glows with warm wood and the buzz of hungry diners. The menu is full of sophisticated, Thai-inspired noodles, grilled meats and curries from Austin's beloved Rene Ortiz, best known for his Mexican cooking at La Condesa.
Knowlton calls Ramen Tastu-Ya a "Japanese gem" hidden in a strip mall and advises ordering "kaedama" — extra noodles — to add to bowls of broth:
The dining room's bright red chairs and red-accented lamps set a fun, energetic vibe, but it's the steaming bowls of ramen with hunks of pork belly that cause fans to line up outside the door.
On August 14, the magazine will reveal its list of the 10 best new restaurants and the editor's pick for the best new restaurant in America.