Another Day, Another National "Best of" List That Mostly Ignores Houston

Categories: Leftovers

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Photo by Troy Fields
Crispy-skinned snapper at Reef.
According to The Daily Meal, Texas is still primarily home to barbecue and Tex-Mex. Oh, and, okay, maybe a little bit of seafood.

The national food website released its list of The 101 Best Restaurants in America this morning, and, as expected, Texas -- and Houston -- was mostly ignored, with only six Lone Star State restaurants being spotlighted.

The one area in which the list and the recently announced James Beard Award semifinalists agreed was that Reef, helmed by Beard-nominated Chef Bryan Caswell, is still one of the best restaurants in Houston, going strong since opening in 2007.

Reef, however, was the only restaurant spotlighted in Houston.

To spare you the agony of clicking through the entire slideshow to see the other Texas restaurants that made the cut, here's the list:

  • Fearing's, Dallas
  • Fonda San Miguel, Austin
  • Kreuz Market, Lockhart
  • Lambert's Downtown BBQ, Austin
  • Lonesome Dove, Ft. Worth

The list was topped, nationally, by California's French Laundry in the No. 1 spot and New York's Per Se at No. 2. And while neither of these are particularly exciting or groundbreaking choices, I can't really fault The Daily Meal for branching out a bit and including 'cue connoisseur favorite Kreuz Market on its list.

"Naming the 101 best restaurants in the country is tricky business, needless to say," said Colman Andrews, the editorial director of The Daily Meal, "and we expect controversy."

"But we drew on the opinions, and the votes, of many of the top food experts in the country. Only with the help of their experience and expertise could we have put together such a wide-ranging and definitive list."

And while The Daily Meal proclaims that a "distinguished panel of food writers, bloggers, and critics from coast to coast" was responsible for coming up with these entries, it still poses the same question that last week's Food & Wine list did: Exactly who are these bloggers and critics in Houston?

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32 comments
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Allen Graziadei
Allen Graziadei

Sorry but Reef isn't all that. Houston has a lot better restaurants. Daily Meal FAIL.

Guest
Guest

I agree. I've tried Reef again and again over the past few years, and the food and service were always disappointing, even without considering how hyped up it is. I think the Houston food scene could gain a lot more credibility if it stopped shilling for mediocre, but heavily marketed restaurants. If I were an out of towner who went to Reef and was told that was the best food Houston had to offer, I wouldn't want to bother exploring the rest of the local food scene.

CL91
CL91

I can't weigh in personally, having never been, but that's exactly what I've heard. Over salted and underwhelming (based on several visits).

Maggie May
Maggie May

So, even my measly one (1) visit outweighs your Actual Reef Experience. (Well, that's one time in the dining room; I've downed numerous Shrimp Shooters during happy hour in the bar.)

Liked it fine & plan to return. Check it out for yourself! Or let us know which restaurant(s) you prefer, rather than just badmouth a successful one.

Thirdfromleft
Thirdfromleft

Thank God horrible Uchi in Austin isn't on the list.

Do you really want our Houston secrets known to all? You'd never be able to stun out-of-towners with amazing food. Fun, isn't it?

gaston
gaston

Whaddya expect? New York is the media capital of the world, so of course all cuisine is better (i'm using my sarcasm font) there. The truth is, immigrants give "American" food it's best flavor, and Houston is now, proudly, the immigrant capital.

tinyhands
tinyhands

When reviewers who have never even been to Houston award us with dubious "Best of" honors, everyone gets all excited and retweets it until even my non-tweeting gramma gets sick of reading about it. Why get so bent out of shape when reviewers who have never even been to Houston ignore us? Just as I would no sooner take advice from a Houston Press writer about any city farther away than one can reasonably drive in a day (no offense), we're clearly not the target audience of reviewers who have never even been to Houston. Thusly I reject the notion that reviewers who have never even been to Houston have any expertise on the subject. Whether it's praise or neglect, I say "meh."

Winelush
Winelush

you upset you are not included in those critics?  I'm sure they have critics they follow and to be fair, if they said who that was it would open more arguments. Texas is still, the suburban chain restaurant capital of the world and we will not be taken seriously until that culture is weakened.

redonthehead1
redonthehead1

Winelush is mistaking Houston for Dallas, clearly. DALLAS is the suburban chain restaurant capital of the Southwest, if not the world. Houston has hundreds and hundreds of amazing non-chain, Mom-n-Pop, one-owner restaurants! Are you NOT from here? Or don't get out much? Good Lord...take a look around and stay out of Katy and The Woodlands!! Houston proper is teaming with restaurants from every ethnicity known to man and most of them are fabulous!! What a weird comment.

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

I'm absolutely not upset. That wasn't the intention of this post at all. Why did you read it that way, I'm curious to know?

I'm upset that Houston's national coverage continues to be so confined and so restricted. That's all.

ec
ec

The coverage in the Houston Press continues to be so confined and so restricted as well. To recommend Reef and Yelapa as the best Houston has to offer is comical.

Winelush
Winelush

I just noticed my bad grammar. It was a question not a statement, I see how shocking it came across, sorry about that. Iphone fail. But, because that's what you ended with, the final point of your article is wondering who the critics are, and implying that Texas specifically isn't represented. I seriously take these national lists with a grain of salt. And let me stir up an old hornets nest, I think the service at restaurants in this town is terrible. I also think that until the Houston chefs and owners vest time and money into properly training and supporting their staff, they wont be consistently recognized, top restaurants are about the restaurant, not just the chef.

Kristen Gerner
Kristen Gerner

I'm not even a huge fan of Reef- I've tried it a few times and there is soo much better in Houston

Gary Packwood
Gary Packwood

As a fairly recent transplant to Houston I can sure tell you about one difference I see between our fair city and the East Coast, the Upper Mid-West and other older parts of the country.

Houstonians blathers on about who owns the restaurant whereas older more established parts of the country talk about and honor the Chef...who is seen as a performing artist.

That is an old cultural phenomenon we inherited from our European and Asian ancestors.

I still scratch my head wondering why friends want me to know who owns a restaurant if the owner is not the Chef!

Why would I care?

Albert Nurick
Albert Nurick

I think that both matter. The chef (usually) determines the menu, but the owner determines everything else - attitudes toward customer service, decor, pricing, etc., etc.

And chefs come and go. The restaurants that endure are the ones with smart, hands-on owners who can provide a great experience for their guests no matter who's helming the kitchen.

Unterdersteinleben
Unterdersteinleben

I agree, chef/owners like Marco Wiles of Da Marco really matter much more than the prima donnas like DeiMaggi or LL CoolJ Wiley who flit from place to place.

Rebelnine
Rebelnine

I agree with you Unter.....a chef/owner captures the best of both worlds. Thanks for the reminder about Da Marco, I haven't been in about a year and think it's one our city's best, without trying to be all cutesy and loopy.

trisch
trisch

Fonda San Miguel and Lambert's Downtown BBQ are the best restaurants in Austin? Huh?

Vonderstadt
Vonderstadt

Who? I'm just guessing, but I suspect our community 'elders' in Houston are: Alison Cook, John Demers, Teresa Byrne Dodge. Nearly two centuries of combined culinary experience!

Garson
Garson

I started to think this ridiculous post was by Randy Rucker, but since it slams Alison Cook, his biggest cheerleader, it definitely cant be him. Or can it? Ah, anonymity and game play! John Demers is hardly a Houston "elder," having been here shorter time than most of the local media.

Lnsmdove
Lnsmdove

I hardly think it 'slams' Alison Cook; she is after all the doyenne of Houston dining. And she would, I think, agree that Houston should be more represented in these national lists. I thought Misha was Randy's biggest cheerleader...maybe male cheerleader?

Unterdersteinleben
Unterdersteinleben

The list noted Pat Sharp of Texas Monthly, whose alias is Terese Byrne Dodge.

She's picked some real winners over the years.

CL91
CL91

Teresa Byrne Dodge was my neighbor until about 5 years ago, that's definitely her actual name. I played with her son growing up, and so unless the "alias" carried over to her husband's and son's names (that's impressive dedication if it does) then these are two different women. Although I have no knowledge of Pat Sharp, so THAT could be an alias. I won't read too much into it, just know that Mrs. Dodge is an actual person.

Taylor
Taylor

A tribute to our ancestors, it is a shame more people don't do that. -Taylor

Jesslover2
Jesslover2

I don't mean to be a jerky boy, but why do these folks have so many names? It's either terribly pretentious or a nice tribute to their ancestors.

TB-R
TB-R

Hey neighbor, why you hatin' on our names?

WhitbredoxleyII
WhitbredoxleyII

That is true. Teresa Byrne Dodge Cox Whitney is now a neighbor of mine, and I've seen her daughter Taylor Byrne Dodge Cox Davis Ledger visiting her on certain occasions. This Pat Sharp? I can't attest for her.

Helmsleynan
Helmsleynan

I think you mean doppelganger, as opposed to alias. They both have similarly flaccid takes on Houston food. It's like they are getting their notes from the same person.

Saturnalian
Saturnalian

Interesting take that. I've noticed a similarity between My Table and Texas Monthly restaurant coverage, but I just chalked it up to Paula Murphy, the in-house promotions person for My Table, and the hostess for many Texas Monthly visiting lunches and dinners.

guest
guest

So, you're saying older, established food critics are less in-the-know than angry hipsters and Yelpers?

Albert Nurick
Albert Nurick

I've met both women, and I assure you they are two different people.

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