As part of the magazine's November 2014 issue, Food & Wine devotes attention to the 20 best dishes in Texas. Rather than send some clueless Yankee to tour the state with little more than an outdated Zagat guide and a GPS, the magazine wisely asked a few high-profile Texans to select their favorite spots.
The panelists — Fort Worth celebrity chef Tim Love, Texas Monthly barbecue editor Daniel Vaughn and Austin hotel owner Liz Lambert — deemed four dishes from Dallas-Fort Worth restaurants worthy of inclusion. Not everything on the list is meaty — like the date pudding at Cochineal in Marfa or the bean burrito at Elva's Taco Casa in Odessa — but most dishes are, including all the ones in DFW:
- Whole pig's head, CBD Provisions
- Open-face beef cheek sandwich, Knife
- The Big Rib, Smoke
- Lamb brisket, Woodshed Smokehouse
Love calls the pig's head at CBD, which comes with salsas, cilantro and tortillas, a "showstopper," an "outlier on the steak-and-burger menu" and "a challenging dish for Dallas." He also likes that it's presented "in grand style, just like St. Francis."
Vaughn drives the commentary about the other three picks, starting with the open-face beef cheek sandwich at Knife (which also got props in Esquire recently, as one of the country's best new restaurants): "I've eaten plenty of beef cheek in barbacoa tacos, but I've never tasted any as tender as [John] Tesar's," Vaughn writes. "Normally, if you roast it for that long, it won't have any flavor. Tesar cooks his sous vide and then dresses it with a creamy, rich morel gravy."
About Tim Byres' Big Rib at Smoke, Vaugh coos, "It's a sight to behold. It's giant, served on green-chile hominy with chimichurri on top. To me, the chimichurri is Tim's way of saying: 'Screw you, barbecue purists. I like chimichurri, so I'm going to put it on my beef rib. Deal with it.'"
Vaughn also praises his fellow Texan in this endeavor, Love, for his lamb brisket, to which Love adds smoke and rosemary seasoning. "Woodshed is a fun place; it's right on the Trinity River, with a lot of picnic tables," Vaughn adds. "There are dogs and live music and plenty of people drinking."
For those keeping score, Austin leads the way with six dishes, including brisket from Franklin Barbecue and crudo from Qui. Houston walked away with four, including bone-in pork belly from Killen's Barbecue and mesquite-smoked roast pork at Underbelly.
Rounding out the list, San Antonio had three dishes, and Marfa, Odessa and Taylor each had one.