Food News

Smoke'N Ash and Sister Make The New York Times' Restaurant List

Sister was recently named to The New York Times' The Restaurant List.
Sister was recently named to The New York Times' The Restaurant List. Alison McLean
Each year the editors and writers at The New York Times create The Restaurant List, a compilation of 50 places they're "most excited about." (They use the word "best" only in the URL, but nowhere in the title or article.) Last year the list included chef Tiffany Derry's Roots Southern Table, which we applaud thoroughly.

On Sept. 19 the Times released its new list. From the article:
"We traveled widely and ate avidly as we built the annual list of our favorite restaurants in America. From Oklahoma City to Juncos, Puerto Rico, to Orcas Island off the coast of Washington State, our food reporters, editors and critics found revelatory Ethiopian barbecue, innovative Haitian cooking and possibly the most delicious fried pork sandwich in the United States."

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A platter of doro wot served with traditional Southern and Ethiopian sides.
Smoke'N Ash
This year's list has two North Texas restaurants. One is the family-run Ethiopian and barbecue restaurant in South Arlington, Smoke'N Ash. Waco-native Patrick Hicks and his wife, Fasika, from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, combine injera with brisket. As Eric Mayne wrote in a first look, standard smokehouse fare is served alongside classic Ethiopian dishes like doro wot. Mac and cheese is infused with berbere sauce.

Priya Krishna with The New York Times writes, "The vibrant Ethiopian flavors — brisket comes lacquered with awaze, a spicy sauce made with berbere — are an ideal match for barbecue."

The other North Texas restaurant so honored is Sister, which occupies the space on Greenville Avenue that used to be The Grape. Sister opened in 2021 and is from Duro Hospitality Group, which is also behind the swank The Charles, Bar Charles and the Italian-inspired Cafe Duro.
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Calabrian chili ravioli at Sister.
Alison McLean
In Chris Wolfgang's review of Sister this summer, he noted a menu that hopscotches across both Mediterranean and Italian themes, offering a true casual neighborhood bistro with meals made with "passion and aplomb."

Krishna thinks likewise, calling Sister a worthy successor of The Grape. She cited ingredients that add a "funky depth" to dishes, like an eggplant dip "darkened in color and heightened in flavor by black sesame."

In other recent national nods to the North Texas culinary scene, Bon Appetit released its 50 Best New Restaurants list just a couple of weeks ago.

The publication's editors and writers called out another obscure restaurant in North Texas, El Rincon del Maiz, housed in a former Sonic on Belt Line Road in Garland. The small, family-owned and -run restaurant serves up from-scratch fare from Tabasco, Mexico. The owners told the Observer they had no idea they were going to be featured in the magazine and actually thought a call requesting photos was a scam. Their menu includes a hefty amount of vegan fare, along with meat-filled tacos wrapped in colorful, house-made tortillas.

La Onda in Fort Worth, which smokes fresh seafood straight off a boat in Hawaii, was also on Bon Appetit's list. Chef Victor Villarreal and his wife Misty, who runs the bar and front of the house, said after being anointed they went from a decent amount of business this summer to being booked for weeks out in a matter of 48 hours.

Tip o' the hat to Canje in Austin for making the lists of both Bon Appetit and The New York Times.

Two national publications have recently reminded us of the interesting culinary landscape that thrives in North Texas. It's a great time to be hungry. 
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Lauren Drewes Daniels is the Dallas Observer's food editor. She started writing about local restaurants, chefs, beer and kouign-amanns in 2011. She's driven through two dirt devils and is certain they were both some type of cosmic force.