Awards season

Swanky Austin restaurant nabs Texas' only spot on Esquire's Best New Restaurants 2019

Swanky Austin restaurant among Esquire's Best New Restaurants 2019

Gabe Erales Dai Due Taqueria AYX
Comedor chef Gabe Erales. Photo by @skinnypilgrim

It’s about to get a lot more difficult to get a reservation at Comedor. The downtown contemporary Mexican restaurant nabbed the No. 10 spot on Esquire'Best New Restaurants in America, 2019.

“The best Mexican food I ate this year came from the kitchen of Gabe Erales,” beamed Esquire’s food and drinks editor Jeff Gordinier, who also raved about the masa spaetzel and a chocolate tamal from pastry chef and restaurant partner Philip Speer.

Published on November 13, Esquire's write-up focused on the chefs' food, but its undeniable that the concept’s bold contemporary space is part of its appeal. Designed by acclaimed architect Tom Kundig, the new build challenges local’s perceptions about what a Mexican restaurant is supposed to look like.

Comedor was the only Austin restaurant named to Esquire’s list in a year where national critics largely seemed largely underwhelmed with Capital City cuisine. After years of being a critical darling, Austin was shut out of 2019 rankings from GQ, Eater, and Bon Appétit. Food & Wine named Suerte to its best new restaurant list in May, but that list largely honored restaurants that opened in 2018.

Carpenters Hall scored a spot on Bon Appétit's Hot 50, the long list of nominees for its annual top 10 issue. That plaudit was mired in controversy, however, due to editor-at-large Andrew Knowlton’s involvement in the project.

Still, Austin seems poised to regain some media sparkle in 2020. Two James Beard Award nominated chefs — Emmer & Rye's Kevin Fink and  Olamaie's Michael Fojtasek — have new projects in the works, and both Comedor and the red-hot DipDipDip Tatsu-Ya will eligible for next year's round of best-of lists.