100 Best Restaurants 2016

7 Spots Defining New American Cuisine in Houston

No matter the New American experience you’re seeking, you’ll find it here.

By Alice Levitt and Katharine Shilcutt September 19, 2016 Published in the October 2016 issue of Houstonia Magazine

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Pax Americana

Though no longer brand-spanking-new, Houston's recent crop of New American restaurants continues to impress with fresh and innovative food that captivates us, meal after meal.

Pax Americana

Halfway through a recent meal at chef Adam Dorris’s inviting Montrose bistro, a friend remarked in awe: “I had no idea food could be this exciting.” Indeed, it fascinates, with bottarga, buckwheat and blackberry vinegar salads and bowls of Chinese nine-spiced brisket prompting the kinds of conversations that typically might be reserved for the restaurant’s ever-rotating display of modern masterpieces by the likes of Warhol.

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Crystal dumplings at Oxheart


Houston’s most recent James Beard Award winner shuns pretension (chef-owner Justin Yu's medal is draped around a giant lucky cat) in favor of fun, five-course dinners that encourage interaction between eaters and makers.


The original benjy’s in Rice Village was a pioneer for the New American scene when it opened 21 years ago, and it’s only refined those farm-to-fork offerings in the years since.

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Bistro Menil

Bistro Menil

While not wholly the equal of the Menil Collection’s artwork next door, chef Greg Martin’s elevated museum café fare still merits favorable comparisons.

The Pass & Provisions

No matter the New American experience you’re seeking—secret supper–style dining in chic, monochromatic surrounds, or obscure sour ales and pizzas topped with house-made charcuterie, enjoyed while bellied up to a bustling bar—you’ll find it here.

Monarch Bistro

A brunch on the plush patio overlooking Hermann Park—of, say, orange-and-cinnamon buttered-brioche French toast, or short-rib-and-chorizo chili with grits and eggs—will have you reconsidering hotel restaurant dining.


The dining room’s slick Scandinavian design provides a striking contrast against chef Ryan Hildebrand’s boisterous dishes, bursting with flavor and color. The must-order? The famous Foie Gras Breakfast, for dinner.

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