Zagat, the venerable restaurant ratings guide, recently released the 30 Most Exciting Food Cities in America, and Austin tops the list. Well, nearly.
Pointing to the slew of accolades bestowed on local restaurants this year (James Beard nominations for pastry chef Laura Sawicki and chef Bryce Gilmore; Food & Wine's Best New Restaurants spot for June's All Day among many others), Zagat crowned Austin the No. 2 most exciting food city in the country. Los Angeles took the top spot.
"Austin’s food scene has been gaining momentum for the past several years, and in 2017 it proved to be more 'here to stay' than 'up and coming,'" writes Veronica Meewes.
Zagat gives the overall refinement of Austin's food scene as a reason for the nod. As Meewes notes, 2017 saw stalwart restaurant groups like McGuire Moorman Hospitality (Jeffrey's, Josephine House); New Waterloo (Sway, Otoko); and El Chile Group (El Chile, El Alma) expand into new cuisines with the openings of Pool Burger, Le Politique, and Yuyo, respectively.
Meanwhile, chefs like Philip Speer and Callie Speer, both of whom spent years at the helm of Austin's most beloved eateries, forged ahead with opening restaurants of their own.
Austin wasn't the only Texas city to make the list. Zagat lists chef Hugo Ortega's 2017 James Beard win and the long-awaited opening of Chris Shepherd’s One Fifth among the reasons why Houston deserves the No. 13 spot.
Dallas-Fort Worth also lands on the list, coming in at No. 16. In addition to receiving six James Beard noms, the region welcomed a host of new openings this year. "Diversity of cuisine, spectacular design and an emphasis on food over pretense helped usher in an exciting new era of dining," writes Steven Lindsey.