Marble Falls is the only location on the "Hill Country" list that is actually in the Hill Country. Just sayin'.
By Amy McCarthy
By Scott Reitz
By Scott Reitz
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Alice Laussade
By City of Ate
2458 N. Main St., Fort Worth
It's said that Fort Worth is where the West begins, and that sense is always keenly felt as you approach the Cattlemen's Steakhouse, located smack in the middle of Fort Worth's still-bustling stockyards. The restaurant that Jesse E. Roach opened on a whim in 1947 has become internationally renowned for its aged beef and massive steaks. These days, it's a clamorous riot of a restaurant that's so proud of its charcoal-broiled steaks it refuses to recognize the validity of "medium-well" or "well done" as serious options. Although Roach passed away in 1988 and Cattlemen's was bought out in 1994, it remains a Fort Worth favorite and a monument to Texas' Wild West sensibilities.
1601 McKinney Ave., Dallas
There were cries of foul when El Fenix was sold in 2008 to an investment group after 90 years as a family-owned business, but the legacy of the Dallas-based restaurant chain remains intact. El Fenix perfected the Tex-Mex combo plate and helped popularize the food throughout the state and eventually the nation as chains popped up in other cities and emulated the El Fenix model. Generations of families have dined at El Fenix since it was first opened in 1918 by Mike Martinez and return regularly for heart-melting portions of cheese enchiladas and tortilla chips that are perfectly crunchy down to the last crumb.
2121 McKinney AVE., Dallas
Kentucky-born Dean Fearing is credited as the father of Southwestern cuisine thanks to his 20-year tenure at the glitzy Mansion on Turtle Creek, a Dallas institution. In 2007, however, Fearing moved away from his signature cuisine and the Mansion to open the equally glamorous Fearing's inside the imposing Ritz-Carlton hotel. The lavish eight-roomed restaurant quickly secured itself a spot in the Dallas culinary firmament with Fearing's upscale Texas fare and earned plenty of national accolades along the way. Want to splash out like a modern-day oil baron? Fearing's is the place to do it.
Louie Mueller BBQ
206 W. 2nd St., Taylor
Louie Mueller has a history in Taylor that extends beyond his barbecue joint, first arriving in the little town to manage its newly opened Safeway grocery store. But it's his barbecue he's famous for, cooked the same way since 1949. Although Louie himself passed away in 1992, his son Bobby has carried on the family tradition in such fine form that Louie Mueller BBQ was awarded an America's Classic award by the James Beard Foundation in 2006. The black-pepper-rubbed fatty brisket and pork ribs fall apart before they reach your mouth and melt on your tongue once there.
The Mansion on Turtle Creek
2821 Turtle Creek BLVD., Dallas
Even if its full name is "Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek," true Texans will always refer to this timeless restaurant as simply "The Mansion." This is where Dean Fearing established New Southwestern cuisine during the high-spirited '80s in an estate-like setting that — to this day — oozes class. What was originally built in 1925 by cotton magnate Sheppard King as a sophisticated Italian Renaissance-style residence remains, according to Bill Addison, formerly the food critic at The Dallas Morning News and now at Atlanta Magazine, "a classic that keeps reinventing itself brilliantly." And although new chef Bruno Davaillon promised to remove The Mansion's famous tortilla soup after taking over in 2010, it remains on the menu to this day.
1722 Routh St., Dallas
"This is my favorite restaurant in Dallas," recalls Addison, "and certainly one of the finest Japanese restaurants in Texas, if not the country. Owner Teiichi Sakurai is a chef who keeps his head down and concentrates more on his cooking than his national reputation. He studied the craft of making soba in Tokyo and blesses Texas with his seasonal riffs on hot and cold noodle dishes. His omakase — ever changing, frequently surprising with unusual ingredients — is an immersion course in Japanese cuisine."
Joe T. Garcia's
2201 North Commerce St., Fort Worth
Although it's hard to imagine today when you're seated inside the enormous gardens and grounds of Joe T. Garcia's in Fort Worth, there was a time when the restaurant seated only 16 people instead of 1,000. That was when Joe T. Garcia himself established one of the state's most famous Tex-Mex restaurants with his wife on Independence Day in 1935. Nearly 80 years later, it's still family-owned and -run and the lush patio the Garcias installed in the 1970s is just as popular as the restaurant's chile rellenos and fajitas. In 1998, an America's Classics award from the prestigious James Beard Foundation all but solidified its standing as one of Texas' truest institutions — even if it still doesn't accept credit cards. "Bring cash, reverence," notes Kearney. "It's considered a holy place by many."
Blue Bonnet Cafe
211 Highway 281, Marble Falls
This precious diner only a few blocks away from a limestone cliff that tumbles into the Colorado River below (or, as it's called in these parts, Lake Marble Falls) is the epitome of a small-town restaurant. This means you can't leave without ordering a piece of pie, which has been Blue Bonnet's claim to fame — along with breakfasts that will keep you full for days — since 1929. There's even a daily happy hour that features pie and a drink during the week. Breakfast is served all day, which means you can have a piece of German chocolate or peanut butter pie for dessert. Just remember to bring cash.
Marble Falls is the only location on the "Hill Country" list that is actually in the Hill Country. Just sayin'.
I do not feel much pity for those in cities that have/cuisines that have already been well represented. If you re-search, I am sure you will find food in east and west Texas that also has deep roots and is delicious. Maybe do something on those areas in the future? Or small town food? Something, to make up for this representational oversight.
Go to perini ranch and you will be amazed! Incredible food / perfect sharing sizes! Incredible authentic flavors and great atmosphere! Their beef is incredible and this place makes one proud to call Texas home!
When I first moved to Dallas, I was constantly told to head over to Fort Worth for Joe T's.¬† I finally went after¬†being here for about two years, and boy was I disappointed.¬† I've never seen a place so over-hyped.¬†The food tasted as if it came out¬†of a supermarket freezer.¬† ¬†Then after that, I found that every hyped place I tried in Fort Worth was the same, a major disappointment..Kincaids, Cattlemen's, Angelo's BBQ, and Reatta were all nothing special.¬† No wonder the last time I was in Cow Pie, all the new restuarants are either¬†chains or Dallas area transplants.¬† Fort Worth is a lousy restaurant town.
What......no chili on the list. I'm a D@# Yankee and I love me some Texas chili. My place of choice, Tolbert's in Grapevine. I take any fellow Yankee that visits to Tolbert's for a great bowl of red. I love to share the stories of Frank X and Terlinqua.¬†
I live in Beaumont, and the Patillo's BBQ on 11th Street has been gone for a year and a half. ¬†It was torn down and replaced by a Jack in the Box.
How could you not include City Market in Luling?¬† Better than Kreuz's or Smitty's and a real restaurant rather than a hobby like Franklins.
Sorry if this is double-posted... I'm a little disappointed that South Texas (the coast and Valley) and pretty much overlooked.¬† I would at the least add Kings Inn located in Rivera Beach, just south of Kingsville and on Baffin Bay.¬† Family-style fried seafood (locally caught speckled trout, shrimp and oysters) and sides.¬† True, its fried, but damn its good and steeped in tradition and history.
I have serious problems with Cattleman's Steakhouse & Joe T. Garcia's being on this list.¬† I've eaten at both, knowing about their reputation and renown, and was very disappointed.¬† Cattleman's had some of the worst steaks I've ever had, and Joe T. Garcia's food is bland, uninteresting, and I always feel sick after eating there.
There are much better food choices in Fort Worth (Lonesome Dove, H3 Ranch) which are curiously absent from this list. ¬†
Excellent choices I agree. ¬†These top places show the wide personality of Texas cuisine from barbecue Texas style to finest dining establishments to Tex Mex to southwest cuisine to a STEAK. ¬†Come to Texas but bring your appetite when you do.
The only one on this list worth the trip is Mi Tierra. I love that place.
And I am so ticked off that you didn't include THE BOILING POT in ROCKPORT, TEXAS.¬†
Here's a template for responding to this article:
Dear (insert cuss-word or other denigrating name),
I am so (insert word to cover your emotional state) that you didn't include (insert restaurant name here). ¬†(Repeat restaurant name) is by far the best (style of food) in the world/country/state/region/city (select one or more). ¬†
Obviously you have never traveled to city/county/region (select one or more) because you failed to include this establishment. ¬†If you had been there you would have enjoyed (signature dish/off-menu item/drink) prepared with (insert emotion) by the (insert adjective) chef/cook/food preparation/owner (pick one) expert, (insert name of chef/cook/food preparation/owner).
I'm never going to read one of these ridiculous lists, until you publish next year's list.
(your name here).
I have to ask if any of the contributors to this list have ever been east of Dallas? What about Stanley's Famous Pit BBQ in Tyler? Johnny Cace's in Longview? The Big Pines Lodge in Karnack? Country Tavern in Kilgore? These are all legendary places that have shaped the food and eating habits of our state.
When will you be doing the West Texas/RGV version of your list? Or am I to assume there are no restaurants there that are worth visiting? If you had actually tried, I'm certain you'd have found any one of 1,000 Mexican restaurants there that put El Fenix to shame.
When will you be doing the West Texas edition? Or am I to assume there are no restaurants in that part of the state worth visiting?
The article states "restaurants that define Texas" - El Fenix deserves a spot. Glad to see Houston getting big food props- it's a dynamite food town and has been for 25+ years. I credit a lot to the lax zoning laws.
I'm seriously disappointed that food writers though El Fenix should be on this list. If I was going to take someone visiting from out of town out for Tex Mex, it would NOT be to El Fenix.
I WILL say that speaking on seminal Texas restaurants, not the best restaurants, yes, El Fenix does deserve a place on there. Then again, so would places like Luna's, Sonny Bryan's and definitely Stubb's. Not only are those quintessential TX restaurants, they actually serve good food, unlike El Fenix.
I've been to most of these restaurants and can only give most of them an "eh" rating....and I agree with Kendall....El Fenix...barf.
@melissamyers2¬†You didn't really follow the template. ¬†C-
@Vndallas¬†You are so wrong...that's what I hate about Dallas people...so snobby and hateful!!!!¬† Fort Worth is an awesome city with great food and friendly people!!!!¬† Unlike Dallas!!!!
Allow me to repost using the correct template as suggested below:
Dear Are you a Texan,
I am so ASTOUNDED that you didn't include TOLBERTS. TOLBERTS is by far the best CHILI/BOWL OF RED in the region (I'll refrain from saying the world since I have not yet had what the entire world has to offer as far as Texas chili). ¬†
Obviously you have never traveled to GRAPEVINE because you failed to include this establishment. ¬†If you had been there you would have enjoyed ORIGINAL BOWL OF RED, FRITO CHILI PIE and DONKEY TAILs prepared with LOVE & RESPECT to the original FRANK X TOLBERT.¬†
@wood.scott¬†man i love the City Market!!
@wood.scott¬†You almost followed my template. ¬†Thanks.
@douglas.davis¬†You almost used my template correctly. ¬†Good try.
@Chubby_Kid¬†I don't get down with Joe T's myself, but it is a quintessential Texas place. I think that's what the article was going for.
@BobDobbs¬† Boiling Pot is a rip-off.
@joneckberg¬†Good question! I answered it here: ¬†http://blogs.houstonpress.com/eating/2013/01/the_30_essential_texas_restaur_1.php
@joneckberg¬†Buffalo Gap not far enough west?
@cbren30301¬†Excellent work. A+
@cbren30301¬†You gotta read the follow-up articles. Tolbert's is one of the places that just missed the cut...