A Dallas restaurant has earned a major nod from international magazine Robb Report: Meridian, the acclaimed restaurant from esteemed chef Junior Borges, has nabbed a spot on the publication's annual 10 Best New Restaurants in America, coming in at a laudable No. 5 on the list, along with buzzy Houston restaurant March and eight other top eateries from around the U.S.
Robb Report fancies itself an expert in the realm of luxury, and is known for its numerous lists on topics such as Most Anticipated Restaurants, Most Beautiful Restaurants, and most famously, its World's 50 Best Restaurants.
This Best New list, which was released on June 14, spotlights 10 establishments that are "curating indulgent menu's alongside fun, relaxed ambiences."
It's mystifying that they'd publish the article with a typo as blatant as the apostrophe in what should be a plural "menus." There also seems to be an error in the intro, which cites two restaurants not on the list — one of which is Monarch, the Italian steakhouse in downtown Dallas. Was Monarch a contender that got replaced at the last minute?
The theme of the list is not just best, but also restaurants that are fun:
... As Robb Report traveled across America this past winter and spring, visiting restaurants in the wake of the industry being battered by Covid-19 for two years, we sensed a new mood emerging. Offering exceptional cooking was no longer enough. If a restaurant’s business recipe didn’t include some joy and swagger amid an atmosphere of conviviality, it found itself noticeably emptier than those that did.
A populace starved for the once-routine act of going out wants to go big. Restaurants are more than willing to accommodate with theatrical tableside service and dishes that practically beg diners to break out their phones and broadcast the opulence of their outings on social media. After two years of pandemic cheerlessness, diners want a taste of the good life, and the best new restaurants in America are giving it to them.
The list is compiled by Jeremy Repanich, Robb Report's culinary editor, along with digital editor Justin Fenner and they have a pattern of including restaurants and chefs from Texas, which other coastal publications sometimes ignore.
Meridian is the exciting Brazilian restaurant that opened in Dallas' The Village in 2021. It's a big critical favorite, earning accolades such as CultureMap's 2022 award for Best Restaurant in Dallas, as well as two nominations in 2021 for Best New Restaurant and Best Chef. Meridian was also on the 2022 list of best new restaurants by Texas Monthly.
The Robb Report applauds Borges' ability to "take the familiar and have fun with it."
At chef Junior Borges' modern Brazilian restaurant, Meridian, he’s highlighting food from his childhood in Rio de Janeiro and then incorporating flavors from around Texas—and the world. So a plate of capicola and pickles comes with tapioca Brazilian cheese fritters that are chewy inside and perfectly crisp on the outside; quail is stuffed with foie gras and served with a jus made with the Brazilian guava paste goiabada; and there’s Texas Wagyu beef, but the steak on offer is the picanha, a cut that was first popularized in his native country.
At Meridian, Borges is taking the familiar and having fun with it. Restaurant menus are flooded with Little Gem Caesar salads, but he’s opted for a kohlrabi-based version. In Meridian’s rendition, ribbons of the German turnip offer a crisp and refreshing counterpoint to the anchovy-filled aioli they’re nestled in, while fresh mint leaves provide herbal punch to an already flavorful dish. It’s a testament to Borges that a salad could be this memorable.
The other Texas restaurant on the list is March, the highly rated Mediterranean fine-dining restaurant in Houston, which came in at an impressive No. 2. March has racked up its own set of awards including a nomination for Best Restaurant of 2022 in CultureMap's annual Tastemaker Awards.
No. 1 on the list is San Ho Won, a San Francisco restaurant featuring dishes from Korea from fine-dining chefs Corey Lee and Jeong-In Hwang.
Others on the list include Kasama, a Filipino restaurant in Chicago; Les Trois Chevaux, a Chinese restaurant employing French techniques in New York; Horses, a Los Angeles spot from a husband-and-wife chef team; Audrey, a Nashville eatery from famed chef Sean Brock; Tomo, an Asian tasting restaurant in Washington State; Mena, a New York restaurant with a global menu; and Callie, a Mediterranean spot in San Diego.