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10 Wine Stars in the Lone Star State

Texas does wine in a big way at these Restaurant Award–winning dining darlings
Photo by: Terri Glanger
Pappas Bros., with Restaurant Award winners in Dallas (pictured) and Houston, knows how to pair beef and wine.

Posted: January 19, 2017

Whether you’re heading to Houston for 2017's Super Bowl LI or traveling to Austin, San Antonio and farther afield, don’t miss the bounty of excellent dining opportunities Texas has to offer. These 10 restaurants from around the state go well beyond the grill and griddle—though there's plenty here for steak lovers, too—with worldly wine lists to satisfy a full slate of tastes.

For more options to please your palate around the world, see our more than 3,500 Restaurant Award–winning restaurants, including our 86 Grand Award recipients and our guide to great restaurant wine lists in Dallas.

Do you have a favorite you’d like to see on this list? Send your recommendations to restaurantawards@mshanken.com. We want to hear from you!


Pappas Bros. Steakhouse

Three locations in Dallas and Houston
Telephone Dallas: (214) 366-2000; Houston: (713) 780-7352; Houston Downtown: (713) 658-1995
Website www.pappasbros.com
Open Dinner, Monday to Saturday
Grand Award (Houston Galleria and Dallas), Best of Award of Excellence (Houston Downtown)

Jack Thompson
The dining room at Pappas Bros. offers Texas-style elegance.

With two Grand Award–winning wine lists clocking in at more than 3,500 selections, Texas chain Pappas Bros. Steakhouse proves that everything is indeed bigger in Texas. The Houston Galleria location’s list, manned by Steven McDonald and Robert Smith, earned its first Grand Award in 2010, while the Dallas outpost’s list, run by wine director Barbara Werley, earned the accolade the following year. Both programs offer heavy-hitters from California, Burgundy, Bordeaux, Australia and Piedmont to pair with the chain’s signature steaks, which are dry-aged in-house for at least 28 days to develop a slightly nutty flavor while remaining juicy and tender. New to the family, the downtown Houston location earned its first Best of Award of Excellence in 2016. Each Pappas Bros. location also hosts nine to 10 wine tastings and seven to eight wine dinners a year, each focused on a particular wine style, wine region or winery.


Bohanan’s Prime Steaks and Seafood

219 E. Houston St., San Antonio
Telephone (210) 472-2600
Website www.bohanans.com
Open Lunch and dinner, daily
Best of Award of Excellence

In downtown San Antonio, Bohanan’s Prime Steaks and Seafood makes its home just a block from the River Walk. Located in a historic storefront dating back to the 1800s, the restaurant adds to its Old-World charm with preserved pinewood floors, antique lighting and the option to enjoy a choice from its cigar list. Chef and owner Mark Bohanan’s menu features classic steak-house fare, while the wine list, curated by Fabien Jacob, highlights wines from California and France. With 585 selections, the program has earned a Best of Award of Excellence every year since 2006.


Café Central

109 N. Oregon St., El Paso
Telephone (915) 545-2233
Website www.cafecentral.com
Open Lunch and dinner, Monday to Saturday
Best of Award of Excellence

At Café Central, you'll find the largest Restaurant Award–winning list of any in El Paso.

Café Central originally opened in 1918 in Juarez, Mexico, moved closer to the border following Prohibition and eventually settled in downtown El Paso. Today, the Best of Award of Excellence winner, with its 1,200-selection wine list and extensive art collection, makes for a stylish dining spot for enophiles. Though Phillip Bocutto’s moderately priced list focuses on California bottles, guests will also find plenty of options from France, Italy, Spain and South America. In the kitchen, chef Aldo Mora designs dishes such as octopus carpaccio, maple-leaf duck breast and tomahawk pork chop with pineapple mole.


Caracol

2200 Post Oak Blvd., Houston
Telephone (713) 622-9996
Website www.caracol.net
Open Lunch and dinner, daily
Best of Award of Excellence

Shannon O'Hara
The menu at Caracol includes wood-roasted gulf oysters with chipotle butter.

In uptown Houston, just a short drive from Super Bowl host NRG Stadium, you’ll find Best of Award of Excellence winner Caracol. There, restaurateur Tracy Vaught and chef Hugo Ortega provide a culinary tour of coastal Mexico, showcasing seafood from the Pacific, the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico alongside chicken chile relleno, wood-roasted ribs and a cheeseburger with chorizo, avocado and black beans. Wine director Sean Beck’s 395-selection list provides plenty in the way of fish-friendly crisp whites and light-bodied reds, with strengths in California and Italy. Those who prefer spirits can choose from a large selection of tequilas and mezcals.


Grace

777 Main St., Fort Worth
Telephone (817) 877-3388
Website www.gracefortworth.com
Open Dinner, daily
Best of Award of Excellence

After having your fill of the shops, galleries, gardens and entertainment options in downtown Fort Worth’s Sundance Square district, treat yourself to an evening at Grace. A Best of Award of Excellence winner since 2011, this elegant dinner destination offers a 900-selection list particularly strong in choices from California, France, Italy and Oregon. When it comes to cuisine, choose between chef Blaine Staniford’s seven-course tasting menu, with optional wine pairings, and à la carte dishes like Jerusalem artichoke tortellini, striped bass with parsnips, and bacon-wrapped fillet of beef stuffed with cheddar and mushrooms.


Jeffrey’s

1204 W. Lynn St., Austin
Telephone (512) 477-5584
Website www.jeffreysofaustin.com
Open Dinner, daily
Best of Award of Excellence

Annie Whitehead
At the helm at Jeffrey's are longtime friends June Rodil (left) and Rebecca Meeker (right).

Though Jeffrey’s has been a staple of Austin’s historic Clarksville neighborhood for decades, chef Rebecca Meeker and wine director June Rodil recently joined the team to revitalize the institution, and they've taken the restaurant to new heights. The longtime friends and dining leaders work together to match the restaurant’s French-American cuisine with its Best of Award of Excellence–winning wine list. Dishes such as sesame-fried oysters, shellfish risotto and seared Muscovy duck breast with collard greens liven up Meeker’s menu, along with a section devoted to dry-aged beef cuts. Rodil’s list presents an abundance of options from France and California, including more than two dozen large-format bottles.


The Funky Door Bistro and Wine Room

6015 82nd St., Lubbock
Telephone (806) 687-0505
Website www.thefunkydoorwineroom.com
Open Lunch and dinner, daily
Award of Excellence

Combining an eclectic menu with an Award of Excellence–winning wine list, the Funky Door Bistro and Wine Room is a culinary go-to spot with a twist: 525 wine selections, 48 of which are available to guests for self-serve pours out of Enomatic wine dispensers in 1.5-, 3- and 6-ounce servings. Lovers of Californian, French and Italian styles will particularly appreciate wine director Carrie Britton’s list, while chef Aniesto Garcia’s menu offers something for everyone, from fondue to flatbreads to steaks.


KUU Restaurant

947 Gessner Road, A180, Houston
Telephone (713) 461-1688
Website www.kuurestaurant.com
Open Lunch and dinner, daily
Award of Excellence

An elegant eatery in Houston, KUU Restaurant features artful Japanese cuisine alongside an Award of Excellence–winning wine program. Chef and owner Adison Lee’s Japanese menu highlights fresh sushi, nigiri and sashimi, as well as creative small plates for sharing, such as crispy duck breast with compressed apple, Texas wagyu beef with unagi and salt-grilled mackerel with Brussels sprouts. Pair the cuisine with a bottle or two from wine director Ricky Cheung’s 200-selection list, well-stocked with California bottles and offering more than 20 sake options.


Olive and June

3411 Glenview Ave., Austin
Telephone (512) 467-9898
Website www.oliveandjune-austin.com
Open Dinner, daily
Award of Excellence

You'll find an Award of Excellence–winning wine list and comforting Italian cuisine at Olive and June.

For Italian wine and dining in Old West Austin, head to Olive and June. Enveloped by the canopy of a 200-year-old oak tree, the three-level restaurant provides both indoor and outdoor dining spaces, making for a magical dinner setting. On chef Brian Moses' menu, choose from a variety of handmade pastas, sharable plates like arancini and pork meatballs, and hearty meat dishes such as braised Texas lamb leg and New York strip. When it comes to the beverage menu, Paul Ozbirn’s 240-selection, moderately priced list earned its first Award of Excellence in 2016 for its strength in Italian bottles. A variety of amari and grappa is also available.


Perry’s Steakhouse and Grille

700 Baybrook Mall Drive, Suite H 110, Friendswood
Telephone (281) 286-8800
Website www.perrysrestaurants.com
Open Lunch, Friday; dinner, daily
Award of Excellence

With 12 Award of Excellence–winning locations in Texas, Colorado and Illinois, Perry’s Steakhouse and Grille means business when it comes to pairing steak with wine. Prime beef offerings are a fixture of the menu, as are classic dishes such as bacon-wrapped scallops, pecan-crusted snapper and steamed lobster tail. The flagship location moved from Clear Lake to Friendswood, which lies between Houston and Galveston, in 2016, and has earned an Award of Excellence each year since 2008. All 12 locations’ lists are curated by wine director Susi Zivanovic and offer 215 selections, with picks from California and around the world.

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