Ruling the roost

New East Austin wine bar uncorks spot on New York Times list of 50 exciting restaurants

New east side wine bar uncorks spot on NYT exciting restaurants list

Birdie's Austin
Birdie's opened earlier this year but can already add a feather to its cap. Photo by Mackenzie Smith Kelley/New York Times

The east side’s newest neighborhood darling should be proud as a peacock about the latest praise it’s getting. Birdie’s, the natural wine bar and cafe on East 12th St. from husband-and-wife team Arjav Ezekiel and Tracy Malechek-Ezekiel, has been selected by The New York Times as one of the 50 American restaurants it’s “most excited about right now.” 

Published Monday, October 11, the list spotlights “the 50 most vibrant and delicious restaurants in 2021. ... They’re not ranked, but together they reflect the rich mosaic of American dining,” the article states. Four other Texas restaurants also made the list: San Antonio Mexican seafood eatery Fish LonjaRoots Southern Table, a Southern restaurant near Dallas from Top Chef alum Tiffany Derry; Houston’s Blood Bros. BBQ; and Sylvia’s, a taqueria in Brownsville. 

Times reporter Brett Anderson praises Birdie’s and chef Malechek-Ezekiel’s “bright, graceful food,” which includes steak tartare, roasted eggplant, and vanilla soft serve, describing the wine bar as “the leading edge of what makes eating great in this booming town.”

Meanwhile, Times food reporter Priya Krishna applauds San Antonio chef Alejandro Paredes for his creative approach to Mexican seafood at Fish Lonja. Citing dishes such as shrimp aguachile and a shrimp-and-chorizo quesadilla, Krishna writes that the restaurant’s food “tastes so fresh, you might wonder if San Antonio is a coastal town.”

Houston’s Blood Bros. certainly qualifies when comes to being “vibrant and delicious.” Founded my pitmaster Quy Hoang and brothers Robin and Terry Wong, the restaurant blends traditional Texas barbecue with a diverse set of influences that include Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, Mexican, and more. 

“The daily changing menu at this strip mall barbecue restaurant in a Houston suburb is a product of the seemingly endless ideas for cooking Texas barbecue whirling through the brains of the owners and staff,” Anderson writes in the short profile of Blood Bros. “One day, brisket burnt-end steam buns and smoked chicken karaage. The next, char siu pork banh mi and Thai green curry boudin balls.” 

Krishna hails the Louisiana-influenced Southern food chef Derry is serving at Roots Southern Table, writing, “If eating [Derry’s] cornbread with smoked butter is like a warm embrace, the duck-fat fried chicken — which should certainly be ordered with a side of duck-fat-fried potatoes — is the equivalent of a bear hug.”