Since Austin’s dining scene first started attracting outside attention, it has become a bit of a sport debating the endless supply of best-of lists. That’s especially true when national food writers wade into these turbulent waters.
On July 25, Eater national restaurant editor Bill Addison fired the latest salvo with his unranked list of the 18 Best New Restaurants in America. For the third time since the feature began in 2015, an Austin restaurant made the cut. Olamaie received the nod in 2015, followed by Kemuri Tatsu-Ya in 2017.
Agreeing with the local critical consensus, not to mention exultant word-of-mouth, Addison lauded East Sixth Street’s Suerte as Austin’s most inspiring freshman eatery. He was particularly taken with owner Sam Hellman-Mass and executive chef Fermín Nuñez’s heirloom masa, praising the tlacoyos with pork belly carnitas and the “incredibly thin” blue corn tostadas.
Addison was also captivated with the tortillas. “If the Texas sun had a fragrance” he wrote, "it would smell like the small, speckled tortillas that cradle confit brisket tacos with 'black magic oil' (made from sesame and smoked morita chiles) and come alongside grilled fish with bacon salsa or a whopping goat shoulder cooked barbacoa-style.”
Suerte was among three Texas restaurants to make the exclusive list. Perhaps the most surprising addition to the list comes from San Antonio. Carnitas Lonja, a counter service restaurant that is far less fancy than most of the upscale eateries cited, won raves for its “devotion to one specialty rendered spectacularly well.” It marks the first time an Alamo City restaurant was included.
Theodore Rex — the Houston hot spot helmed by James Beard Award winner Justin Yu — continued its streak of accolades. Addison called it a worthy successor to Oxheart, saying it "showcases Yu cooking at the exact same level of exuberance and ingenuity."