Top 10 Savory Bites
1) Tasting menu at El Naranjo This stunning contemporary Interior Mexican meal prepared by chef Iliana de la Vega expanded my thinking about the cuisines of Mexico.
2) Mexican Street Corn This popular item is showing up on appetizer menus all over town. I love it on the cob at Fresa's Chicken al Carbon and in a cup at Torchy's Tacos.
3) Goat Bolognese over pasta from East Side Show Room Chef Paul Hargrove really knocked me out with this robust and rustic dish, my favorite at La Dolce Vita at Laguna Gloria.
4) Lobster Bisque from the Driskill Grill Jonathan Gelman's luxurious and sophisticated bisque ran a close second to the East Side Show Room's earthy pasta dish.
5) Lobster salad topped with caviar on corn blini from Clark's Oyster Bar Sweet, toothsome lobster and briny caviar on ethereal corn blini expertly balanced flavors and textures – another winner at La Dolce Vita.
6) Goat tartare at the Home Grown Revival dinner Chef Sonya Coté rubbed goat loin with spices and shaved it thin for a dramatic and delicious presentation.
7) Barbecue side dishes at Opie's BBQ Their meats are always first-rate, but the sides here are the best I've ever found: spicy creamed corn, hearty butter beans, and a killer tater tot casserole.
8) Fried Chicken, Steak with mushroom sauce, and Bud's Smash at Royers Round Top Cafe I went for the Sunday dinner fried chicken, plus a perfect steak and the heart-stopping mash of potatoes, creamed corn, and bleu cheese – OMG.
9) Chile Relleno del Mar at Manuel's A big, beautiful roasted poblano pepper stuffed with shrimp, crab, and scallops in a creamy sauce, reclining on a bed of savory rice.
10) Braised short rib on celeriac puree with pickled shallots from Trace at the W Chef Ben Hightower's entry at Food for Thought made my eyes roll back in my head. I'm really gonna miss him at Trace.