Photo by Mackenzie Smith Kelley

Texas Monthly editor Patricia Sharpe has published her list of Texas' Best New Restaurants in 2023. Numbered one to 10, it’s open to establishments that opened between December 1, 2021 and December 1, 2022, and it must be a restaurant's first Texas location.

Notably, it’s Texas Monthly’s first ranked list of best new restaurants since 2020. Due to the challenges restaurants faced in 2021 and 2022, the magazine shared a longer list of favorite dishes and drinks from restaurants across the state. Now, the article has returned to its familiar format.

After riffing on a few topics, including the rise of shareable dishes — she calls out shared desserts where restaurants “hand you a spoon as if it were a five-year-old’s birthday party” — diners dressing casually at all styles of restaurants, and ever-earlier happy hours, Sharpe finds the overall state of Texas restaurants to be pretty strong.

“This relaxed approach to dining works well with the trend toward creative, mix-and-match cooking, which has been gaining ground for years,” she writes. After describing the various culinary traditions represented on this year’s list — including four French-influenced restaurants — she concludes with an observation, “Cross-cultural cooking used to be dismissed as ‘confusion cuisine.’ Now it’s business as usual.”

Two Austin establishments make Sharpe's top 10: Diner Bar(No. 2), a Southern-inspired restaurant from James Beard Award winner Mashama Bailey, and Maie Day (No. 9), a casual steakhouse from Olamaie chef-owner Michael Fojtasek. Suerte's sister concept,Este, makes the honorable mentions.

Sharpe praises Diner Bar as a "bastion of unpredictability," citing Bailey's seared lobe of duck liver on Texas heirloom grits topped with a dab of sweet strawberry mostarda. "But it's the experiments that dazzle," she write, "like savory-sweet roasted young carrots and dates with an Ethiopian spice mix on a bed of barley and farro. No wonder Bailey won the 2022 James Beard Award for Outstanding Chef."

Meanwhile, at Maie Day — which Sharpe says "might be the most unexpected steakhouse in town" — Michael Fojstasek's most exciting dishes are those with a novel twist, such as the ham plate appetizer with buttery cornbread muffins; "What the Fluke" flounder crudo with pickled blueberries and fresh seasonal fruit; and the "far-from-predictable cheesecake."

San Antonio also gets two restaurants on the list — French-influenced Southern spot Restaurant Claudine (No. 4) and French bistro Cullum’s Attaboy (No. 10). Italian restaurant Allora and Mediterranean restaurant Ladino (from Austin's Emmer & Rye group) receive honorable mentions.

Otherwise, Houston restaurants lead the way with three in the top 10. They are seafood restaurant Navy Blue (No. 1), modern Israeli restaurant Hamsa (No. 3), and Pacha Nikkei (No. 6), a restaurant serving Japanese-Peruvian fusion. Southern comfort food restaurant Gatlin’s Fins and Feathers and Mexican-inspired Flora earn honorable mentions.

Up north, two Dallas restaurants make the top 10: Revolver Taco Lounge Gastro Cantina (No. 5) and Au Troisième (No. 8), the French bistro in Preston Center. Chef Nick Badovinus' prime rib restaurant Brass Ram earns an honorable mention. Fort Worth's Don Artemio, the upscale Mexican restaurant in the Museum District, also make the top ten (No.7), while Tim Love’s Italian restaurant Caterina’s and the revamped Paris Coffee Shop make the list of honorable mentions.

In terms of notable omissions, three of the four Texas restaurants that earned James Beard Award semifinalist nominations for America’s Best New Restaurant do not appear on Texas Monthly’s list. They are: Houston Mexican restaurant Tatemó, Dallas sushi restaurant Tatsu, and Restaurant Beatrice, a Cajun restaurant in Dallas.

The full list in order is as follows:

  • Navy Blue, seafood restaurant in Houston (No. 1)
  • Diner Bar, Southern restaurant in Austin (No. 2)
  • Hamsa, modern Israeli restaurant in Houston (No. 3)
  • Claudine, French-influenced Southern restaurant in San Antonio (No.4)
  • Revolver Taco Lounge Gastro Cantina, Mexican in Dallas (No. 5)
  • Pacha Nikkei, Japanese-Peruvian fusion in Houston (No. 6)
  • Don Artemio, Mexican restaurant in Fort Worth (No. 7)
  • Au Troisième, French bistro in Dallas (No. 8)
  • Maie Day, casual steakhouse in Austin (No. 9)
  • Attaboy, French bistro in San Antonio (No. 10)

Classics, newcomers, and pop-ups: Our editors share their favorite Austin meals of 2022

Top Meals of 2022

We at CultureMap love sending readers to events before they happen, but sometimes we miss out on telling y’all how we really feel once we’ve seen them, too. We spent 2022 enjoying meals all over Austin — from public openings, to private events, to our everyday favorites that aren’t necessarily making news — and we’ll remember some of them for years to come.

The Austin food scene offers lots of variety not just in cuisine, but in service style, price, formality, and wisdom imparted. Some meals say something; others are just designed to be enjoyed. That our top 10 meals run the gamut means Austin is doing all of it well — and we want to make sure those wins are celebrated.

Here are the 10 meals we thought most about in 2022.

Classic: Juniper
With new restaurants opening almost every week, some Austin diners never settle on their select few favorites. But as the pandemic so painfully taught us, we also have to consistently support the restaurants we want to survive. Juniper is one that will always make my list. First, there isn’t a bad seat in the house, thanks to interior design from architect Chris Sanders. But unlike some more recent ‘Instagrammable’ spots, the menu is even better than the view. Chef Nic Yanes’ puffy potatoes are a must, paired with the Chef’s Negroni and my favorite cacio e pepe in town. These are just a few reasons why my husband and I chose Juniper for our small February wedding last year, but we’ve loved that absolute steal of a tasting menu for years. — Hannah J. Frías, Editor: Austin and San Antonio

Out-of-the-box: A Fun(gi) Night with Smallhold
When I told my friend I was growing mushrooms in my laundry room, he was horrified. Luckily (this was important context I forgot to add), I’d just spent an unreasonably fun night at Doc's Drive In Theatre and its neighbor, a mushroom farm called Smallhold, out in Buda. We got to tour the chilly, sterile farm; pick our own ‘shrooms and bring home the substrate blocks; and head over to Doc’s for snacks and a mycological presentation on the big screen. We tried mushroom shawarma and a very stealthily vegetarian frito pie (with mushrooms rather than beef) made at the concession stand. My lion’s mane mushies grew beautifully with little to no intervention, and I know I can always check Smallhold’s recipe collection for inspiration. —Brianna Caleri, Associate Editor

Sushi: Sushi | Bar (a tie with Uchi)
This speakeasy sushi spot has been one of the most coveted reservations in town since it started as a pop-up during the pandemic: One couple we shared the 10-person seating with had driven all the way from Temple just for the night. (They planned to drive back, but I am not convinced they didn’t find a last-minute Austin hotel after all that sake). Sushi | Bar is probably one of the most intimate and unique dining experiences I have ever had, so I’d say it’s well worth the hype (and the price), but I would nonetheless consider it a tie with Uchi for my best sushi of 2022. I risked my life driving there for happy hour during that crazy August flood, but pastry chef Ariana Quant’s desserts were honestly worth it. — HJF

Ramen: Preview dinner at Marufuku
I had to wait almost a month between publishing news of Marufuku (a well-loved San Francisco ramen restaurant) opening in Austin and the actual opening, and I thought about it the whole time. I’m a Tatsu-ya girl all the way — chewy yellow noodles and the black pepper at the bottom of the lighter assari broth in the ‘Ol’ Skool’ can’t be beat — but sometimes I need the world’s cloudiest tonkotsu broth. I was excited to have any new ramen joint, and I stayed excited because I couldn’t see anything beyond a millimeter of Marufuku’s tonkotsu, as opaque as Michi’s. The next day I took a congealed block of collagen out of my fridge. It’s also the only place I know of in Austin since Daruma closed that serves chicken slices instead of pork in some bowls, and the toppings are super generous. — BC

Best Views: Nido
Austin’s rapid development definitely drives a hot debate: Are we getting better or are we just getting bigger? Nido is a new spot that walks a fine line in that regard, nestled as it is in a new luxury condo and hotel overlooking Lady Bird Lake. But even longtime Austinites who decry the decreasing number of protected views of the Texas State Capitol (hi, Mom!) would have to admit that Nido’s patio views are pretty matchless. As for the dining experience, our highlights were the Murder Point oysters (which we now seek out wherever we can find them) and the delightfully fresh cocktails. Be prepared to spend a pretty penny here, but the views did already lure us back, and I definitely plan to return in 2023. — HJF

Most camp: Tiki Tatsu-ya x Howler Brothers Launch Luau
We don’t have theme parks in Austin (and if we did, I wouldn’t wait in line), so Tiki Tatsu-ya’s island oasis is especially exciting stuff. I included this luau in our weekly food news column but lassoed a friend into paying full price with me, with little difficulty. We ate fancy spam (novel and exciting!), fried rice, and delicious tropical jams in the dimly-lit upper deck, where early afternoon does not exist. The star(s) of the show were the cocktails in fun tiki mugs and shot glasses served in rounds on model ships, with an immersive side of stormy lights and rumbling thunder. Tiki Tatsu-ya did something other serious bars often shy away from, serving us seriously over-the-top, sweet, and playful cocktails without anything understated to hide behind. — BC

Rebrand: 1417 French Bistro
Originally opened in 2021 as 1417 Bistro, this little South First Street spot rebranded to 1417 French Bistro in 2022 to reflect its more zeroed-in focus on French cuisine. In August, I sampled their fresh takes on French classics like escargot, French onion soup, and poisson meunière. Each dish shined in its simplicity, striking a savory balance without going overboard — and isn’t that really the beauty of French cuisine? That is certainly the goal chef Kyle Mulligan shared with us at our first visit, and while we haven’t made it back yet, I am sure he is only continuing to improve upon that foundation with each seasonal rotation. Bonus: Romantic date night atmosphere where you can actually enjoy an intimate conversation without shouting. — HJF

Reliable: Plow Burger
Sometimes, as a food writer, you assume your next meal will be a no-brainer. You check your calendar — nothing. You didn’t buy groceries. So you head to your favorite burger joint that absolves you of meat-guilt, Plow Burger. The trucks at Hyde Park Market and the Buzz Mill saved my day countless times in 2022, while simultaneously giving me excuses to visit great neighborhood spots. The Hyde Park truck sadly closed, but the other two Austin locations (including the brick-and-mortar on East 7th) are still happily slinging Beyond Meat patties, amazing vegan American cheese, beefy fries, and crispy “chicken” nuggets. I wish I could tell you what the specials are like, but I can’t convince myself to sacrifice a Campfire Burger for it. — BC

Homemade: Chicken Pozole Verde from The Big Texas Cookbook by Texas Monthly
Food writers might hate to admit it, but we do sometimes eat at home, so it was a delightful surprise to receive an extensive guide to Texas’ most iconic foods right on my doorstep in early fall. For their impressive roundup of Lone Star State staples, Texas Monthly surveyed both award-winning chefs and longtime Texans for homemade recipes from across the state. Even if you don’t try a single recipe, the book is a treasure trove of Texas culinary history. But experiment, I did, making the chicken pozole verde (p. 86) for my El-Paso born husband, which delighted him so much, we added it to our Christmas menu for his family’s holiday visit. Many thanks to Texas Monthly for a new staple in our home — and to Dallas chef Anastacia Quinones-Pittman for helping me hit a home run with the in-laws. — HJF

Communal: Chef Andrew Zimmern’s South by Southwest dinner at Malverde
Some press dinners are run like dinner parties, and no one throws a dinner party like Chef Andrew Zimmern of Bizarre Foods. Chef Zimmern, a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations World Food Programme in a Grateful Dead apron, was celebrating the filming of Hope In The Water, a docuseries about sustainably sourcing “blue foods” (i.e. anything that comes from the water). My favorite parts of the four-course dinner were Chef Ann Kim’s poke-like “bibim” bowl with farmed trout and Chef Tavel Bristol-Joseph’s very famous Basque cheesecake with salty sea grapes. It was interesting to learn about overfishing solutions besides not consuming fish, but I would have been happy just snacking on Easy Tiger’s bread and kelp butter, too. — BC



The cool color palette matches Juniper's namesake tree.

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Inventive Hill Country winery cracks open new tasting room in Fredericksburg


One of the most prominent names in Hill Country wines is uncorking a new tasting room in Fredericksburg. On September 22, Grape Creek Vineyard’s owners, Brian and Jennifer Heath, will cut the ribbon to their latest property, Invention Vineyards, at 4222 S. State Hwy. 16.

Heath Family Brands has used the name for some time, first as a vintage from the Grape Creek portfolio. A 2022 purchase of Slate Mill Wine Collective cleared the way for Invention to be born as its own estate label.

Under longtime winemaker Jason Eglert, Invention crafts mostly Texas blends. The line also includes several single-varietal wines, focusing on Old World grapes like Tempranillo, Mourvèdre, and Viognier.

The property echoes that approach. The tasting room is on the former 35-acre site of Pioneer Flour Mills founder Carl Hilmar Guenther’s original mill. The entrepreneur did business in Fredericksburg for eight years before volatile weather conditions prompted a move to San Antonio.

A handful of Guenther’s original stone buildings still stand near the entry to Invention, but new construction houses the brand’s tasting room and state-of-the-art production facility. Nodding to the original structures, the rustic-industrial facility utilizes weathered brick and a corrugated roof.

Though the business has been open during the build-out, the grand opening will be the first opportunity for guests to see the completed compound. Tours will be offered from 11 am to 5:30 pm, with light bites served throughout the day.

Austin art collectives bring work made by 1,000 local hands to Burning Man

Lend a Hand

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but this textile was made by a thousand hands. That's gotta be worth something in a place like Burning Man.

In 2023, the pop-up desert city made more headlines than usual; the event was rained out and every dust-covered person, vehicle, artwork, and metaphysical idea was suddenly sunk into mud. As many revelers extended their stays to avoid a grueling trek out, DJ Diplo and comedian Chris Rock — who walked miles and then hitchhiked — were consistently cited as proof that escape was possible.

But the members of Art Island had a 56-foot tapestry to worry about. The Austin-based art troupe, known for its high production value parties with dress codes, fire performers, great DJs, and more, rigged up one of the tallest artworks at a festival already famous for oversized art.

Called "1,000 Hands" in reference to the 500 Austinites who helped dye and tie scraps of fabric in a flowing mosaic, the work became an unmissable part of the landscape. All in one main corridor were The Man (the massive effigy that serves as the visual and ideological focal point of the festival), The Temple (the main shared gathering place), and "1,000 Hands," literally lighting the way to the core of Black Rock City. The work became an orienting feature in a metropolis it's impossible to accurately map.

"Because it was so tall, and so vivid, you could see it from pretty much anywhere if you just looked up," says Art Island founder Maria Gotay, who was also one of the leading co-creators of the artwork. "It was by far the most vivid daytime art piece out there. So it really did stand out against the horizon."

1,000 Hands at Burning ManPhoto courtesy of Art Island and Wevolve Labs

"1,000 Hands" was the recipient of a prestigious Burning Man grant that goes to about 75 projects worldwide each year, by Gotay's estimation. Its other main co-creator, Nic DeBruyne of Wevolve Labs, had designed a previous Honorarium grant recipient — a winged kinetic light sculpture — and the two had worked together on a different, self-funded project. Materials lead Morgan Baker and tech lead Janitha Karunaratne rounded out the materials leadership team.

The vision was to create a visual representation of climate change using the work of many community members, effectively asserting that the global issue needs to be dealt with collaboratively, rather than by acts of individual genius. An image of a sunset fits right in at Burning Man, but there was some symbolism in the way the colors changed from cool purples and blues to a hot red at the top. Visitors to the work could also swing on it to invite engagement. The piece's website explains the following:

"Participants can swing from handles at the base of the tapestry, feeling "the world on their shoulders," while witnessing the ripple effect of their actions displayed on a monumental scale. Only when participants swing in synchronicity will the piece move forward and gain speed and traction."

Similarly, the piece came together not when the image did, but when its makers did. Art Island and Wevolve held weekly work sessions in Lloyd The Warehouse, the main workspace for Burning Flipside, the regional burn held annually in Central Texas. Since it was the smaller festival's off-season, the co-creators were able to leave the giant work set up between sessions.

Community members — many of them frequent collaborators or admirers of Art Island — stopped by to help tie pieces of upcycled and new fabric on, and the team leaders organized community time outside of the warehouse to invite in even more Austinites who may not be in touch with the counterculture at all.

"1,000 Hands" made appearances at community spaces like museums, and everyone from burners to children made contributions. Even partiers who never saw the work supported it via ticket sales for a Burning Man-themed party called "In Dust We Trust," at an eclectic East Austin venue.

1,000 Hands on Burning Man playaPhoto by Mark Fromson

"We kind of formed a community while creating the piece with the 500 people that worked on it," says Gotay. "We had these work nights where we saw the same volunteers coming back, and they wanted to get involved in the new direction or the new color we're working with — they were really invested in seeing the piece grow, and we got invested in our friendships with all these folks that we didn't know before."

On The Playa, basically the grounds of Black Rock City, wanderers became part of the collaborative community by interacting with the piece. Sometimes the creative team would stop by to check on the work and find a gathering of strangers. There were weddings and DJ sets, including a performance by Italian DJ Deborah De Luca.

Since the piece was designed to bear hanging people and leave no trace in the desert, it held up well to the elements. It did not touch the ground, so the rain actually cleaned it and no mud was left on the fabric. It even got packed up on schedule. The team needs to make a few repairs, but overall the piece remains intact. It will travel to some upcoming festivals, especially during the upcoming eclipse in October, and then the team hopes that media attention will find it a permanent home.

Although nearly anyone could relate to the climate change angle (given that their current beliefs allow it, anyway), Gotay sees a distinctly Austin spirit in the work.

"I feel like only in Austin would this ever happen so casually," she says. "We just took over Morgan's backyard ... banging out tie dye pretty much all summer. So that's one element. And ... I've just found that Austin is the most open and welcoming community to people in the arts. And there's so many folks here that want to be a part of something."

1,000 Hands Burning Man(Pictured: Co-creator Nic DeBruyne admiring his work.)Photo courtesy of Art Island and Wevolve Labs

More information about "1,000 Hands" is available at 1000handsart.com. Follow the next steps for the project and see more angles on Instagram.

Austin coach shoots her shot to bring all-women basketball summit to 2024 Final Four

Share the Mic

A new, groundbreaking basketball conference is coming to the 2024 Final Four on April 4-5. Changing The Game says it's the first-ever all-female player and coach development conference, led by Austin native BriAnna Joy Garza.

Garza is a professional shooting coach and owner of Shooters Shot, a basketball mentorship and training program. She was inspired to create the conference after she witnessed female players only being asked about their experiences through a "gendered perspective," rather than through their hard work and skill development.

The action-packed conference will feature empowering speeches and panel discussions, hands-on demonstrations, and networking opportunities.

At Garza's side to lead the two-day conference is Lady Magic herself: Nancy Lieberman. Lieberman is a former professional basketball player, a two-time famed Olympian, and a member of multiple Halls of Fame.

"Nancy Lieberman was my No. 1 pick because there are few names in basketball that are more recognizable and respected than hers," Garza said in a release. "But every speaker has something unique to offer attendees. We are covering basketball development from all angles and bridging gaps between different schools of thought in the industry."

Garza continued, "We’re combating the current culture of toxic competition and fighting for a new wave of collaboration in the player development space. We’re not ‘passing the mic,’ we’re sharing it."

Additional speakers at the conference include:

  • Vera Jo Bustos – Mentality Solutions founder and former college basketball coach
  • Dr. Hillary Cauthen – Director of performance services at Texas Optimal Performance & Psychological Services in Austin
  • LaSandra “San” Dixon – Defend Your Legacy Basketball founder and director of camp programs for Dick’s Sporting Goods, Curry Brand, Mamba Athletics, and the Jr. NBA & WNBA
  • Julie Fournier – Ball Is Psych founder and director of player development at Clemson Women’s Basketball
  • Marke Freeman – ESPN analyst, Max-OUT Foundation founder, and author of Champions Creed
  • Kait Jackson – Mint Athletics founder and lead biomechanist for University of Texas, specializing in elite sports performance
  • Jasmine Jenkins – Davidson College assistant coach and recipient of Women’s Basketball Coaches Association’s 30 under 30
  • Beth Mounier – Mounshot Performance founder and former college basketball coach
  • Jess Racz –JR Performance founder
More information about the conference, registration, and guest speakers can be found on the Changing The Game website.