10 Wine Stars in the Lone Star State

Texas does wine in a big way at these Restaurant Award–winning dining darlings

10 Wine Stars in the Lone Star State
Guests can expect regional classics like chicken-fried steak at farm-to-table restaurant, Ronin, in Bryan, Texas. (Courtesy of Ronin)
Nov 17, 2022

Texas offers a bounty of excellent dining options, from a steak house at the Dallas Cowboys’ headquarters to a farm-to-table eatery not far from Texas A&M University's main campus to a cozy Italian gem in the East Texas city of Marshall. These 10 Wine Spectator Restaurant Award winners from around the state go well beyond the grill and griddle—though there's plenty here for steak lovers, of course—with worldly wine lists to satisfy a full slate of tastes.

This is just a small sampling of standout wine spots. For more wine-and-food destinations around the world, search all of Wine Spectator’s Restaurant Award–winning restaurants, including stellar wine restaurants in Houston and Dallas, as well as all our Grand Award recipients.

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!

Note: Opening hours and menus are subject to change as the industry continues to adjust to evolving regulations.


Big Easy Ranch Camellia Grill

Big Easy Ranch, 2400 Brunes Mll Road, Columbus, Texas
Telephone (979) 733-8635
Website www.bigeasyranch.com
Best of Award of Excellence

 The grassy grounds of Big Easy Ranch and a small body of water
Big Easy Ranch sits on picturesque grounds in Columbus, Texas. (Courtesy of Big Easy Ranch Camellia Grill)

Set on the rolling greens of Big Easy Ranch—a sprawling sporting club in the foothills around Columbus, Texas—Camellia Grill combines destination dining with outstanding views. Reflecting the 2,000 acres of surrounding hunting grounds, executive John Eason’s menu focuses on game, offered with home-style twists that represent the cuisines of both Texas and Louisiana. Overseen by wine director Scott Benjamin, the wine list features about 815 selections, with emphasis on Sonoma and Napa, including verticals from Chateau Montelena, Opus One and Jordan. Even better, you can rent out a wine locker at Camellia Grill to stash a few favorite bottles for your next visit; locker holders are also the first to receive word about the restaurant’s wine events and bottle allocations.


Café Central

109 N. Oregon St., El Paso, Texas
Telephone (915) 545-2233
Website www.cafecentralh.com
Best of Award of Excellence

 Steak and garlic on a platter
At Café Central, you'll find American fare and the largest Restaurant Award–winning wine list in El Paso. (Courtesy of Café Central)

Clad in white marble and leather, Café Central is a landmark luxury dining experience in El Paso. Originally opened in Juarez, Mexico, in 1918, the restaurant moved to downtown El Paso during Prohibition to be closer to the border. It earned its Best of Award of Excellence in 2020 and currently boasts 1,200 wine selections from a 7,500-bottle cellar overseen by wine director Francisco Gonzalez; most labels come California and France, with a strong lineup from grower Champagne houses and Napa Valley leaders, including Duckhorn, Far Niente and Heitz. Executive chef Kasey Kaplan’s menu offers distinctive plates like beef tenderloin carpaccio with jicama and shaved black truffles, or Scottish salmon with a fermented carrot and black garlic risotto. Throughout the year, Café Central hosts special events, offering guests an opportunity to dive into rarer and older gems from the cellar.


Dee Lincoln Prime

6670 Winning Drive Suite 400, Frisco, Texas
Telephone (214) 387-3333
Website www.deelincolnprime.com
Best of Award of Excellence

 The dining room at Dee Lincoln Prime, with bronze-colored, rounded columns that blend into a ceiling of narrow brown slats; gray cloth and leather chairs sit at tables with wineglasses, and a wall of wine bottles can be seen in the background; contemporary-design chandeliers hang above
Dee Lincoln Prime mixes contemporary flare with steak-house classics. (Courtesy of Dee Lincoln Prime)

If offering a Best of Award of Excellence–winning steak-house experience wasn’t impressive enough, Dee Lincoln Prime does it within a Texas landmark: the Star in Frisco, headquarters of the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys. That’s a tough combination to beat. Executive chef Craig Walter prepares a wide range of meats, including prime, dry-aged cuts dubbed “the Cowboys Way” and “Chairman of the Board.” Guests will also find plenty of seafood options, including sashimi and sushi, as well as traditional steak-house sides. Under wine director Steve Orozco and sommeliers Randolph Hollo and Garrett Larson, the wine list has almost doubled since 2021 and now features 800 selections. With both Enomatic and Coravin systems on-site, guests can indulge in a range of impressive by-the-glass options, such as Burgundy from Domaine de la Vougeraie. As for bottles, the list is packed with wines from leading wineries throughout California, France and Italy.


Ellerbe Fine Foods

1501 W. Magnolia Ave., Fort Worth, Texas
Telephone (817) 926-3663
Website www.ellerbefinefoods.com
Best of Award of Excellence

 Cory McBride showing a bottle of wine to two diners at Ellerbe Fine Foods, with other guests in the restaurant’s dining room, with a white cloth wall and golden paintings of antlers on the wall
General manager and sommelier Cory McBride (center) helps oversee the 2,800-bottle inventory at Ellerbe Fine Foods. (Courtesy of Ellerbe Fine Foods)

On the restaurant-lined Magnolia Ave in Fort Worth’s Near Southside neighborhood, Ellerbe Fine Foods pairs farm-to-table cuisine with Best of Award of Excellence–winning wine service. The restaurant, which pivoted to takeout and delivery during the COVID-19 pandemic and has successfully returned to in-person dining, prides itself on sourcing from local farmers. Co-owner and executive chef Molly McCook’s rotating menu features dishes such as citrus-poached Gulf shrimp, cornmeal-crusted Louisiana redfish and roasted quail with prickly pear syrup. Co-owner and wine director Richard King, along with general manager and sommelier Cory McBride, curates a 625-selection list, plus shorter lists with seasonal recommendations. Highlights include wines from Ceretto, Ridge and Joh. Jos. Prüm, among other well-known wineries. Ellerbe also offers retail wine selections, plus “White Gloves, Purple Teeth,” a concierge service geared toward devoted collectors.


Grace

77 Main St., Fort Worth, Texas
Telephone (817) 877-3388
Website www. gracefortworth.com
Best of Award of Excellence

 The wood-lined, modern-design dining room at Grace, with a wine room full of bottles, behind a glass panel
Grace has grown into a Fort Worth dining destination, with nearly 1,000 wines to choose from. (Courtesy of Grace)

After having your fill of the shops, galleries and gardens around downtown Fort Worth’s Sundance Square—or perhaps before a concert at the glittering Bass Hall—treat yourself to an evening at Grace, one of the city’s leading dining destinations. Chef Blaine Staniford’s modern American menu includes dishes such as Texas quail with andouille-cornbread stuffing and Maine diver scallops with American caviar butter, and diners looking for beef can’t go wrong with the steak selection. Wine director Tony Fino-Fraser curates a 900-wine list with strength in California, France and Italy, featuring mature vintages from Mayacamas, Château Mouton-Rothschild and other famed estates. Each November, Grace holds an upscale clambake with wine pairings on its Main Street–facing patio, in addition to other special wine dinners throughout the year.


Next Bistro

5003 Colleyville Blvd., Colleyville, Texas
Telephone (682) 325-4046
Website www.nextbistroTX.com
Best of Award of Excellence

 A wall of wine bottles held horizontally at Next Bistro
With a collection of 4,000 bottles on hand, wine is central at Next Bistro. (Courtesy of Next Bistro)

Tucked away in the quiet suburb of Colleyville in north Texas, a quick drive from DFW Airport, is one of the area’s most notable dining destinations: Next Bistro. A labor of love from husband-and-wife team Tom and Ying Aikens—wine director and executive chef, respectively—the restaurant offers eclectic French-influenced cuisine with dishes like roasted Cornish hen, Mongolian crispy duck and English Channel Dover sole. Tom’s 730-selection wine list showcases well-known names, with verticals of California’s Lokoya and Saxum, as well as mature bottlings from Château de Beaucastel and Gaja, to name a few. Guests can also look local with 16 Texas whiskies to choose from. Whichever drink you pick, make sure to save room for dessert: It isn’t every day that Parker County peach cobbler, a classic Texan delicacy, appears on a menu alongside a spectacular horizontal of Royal Tokaji.


Pazzeria By Pietro's

101 W. Austin St., Marshall, Texas
Telephone (903) 472-4555
Website www.pietros.net
Best of Award of Excellence

 A set table at Pazzeria By Pietro’s and a wall of Italian wines upright on shelves
Pair an Italian menu with a similarly focused wine list at Pazzeria By Pietro’s. (Courtesy Pazzeria By Pietro's)

Italy comes to Marshall—the cultural capital of East Texas—at Pazzeria By Pietro’s, in both the food and wine. After all, it’s a full-service Italian eatery and pizzeria with a wide selection of antipasti, pizzas, pastas and calzones to choose from. As for wine, the restaurant has steadily grown its list to more than 400 selections in recent years, earning it a Best of Award of Excellence in 2022. Owner and wine director Giuseppe Filippazzo looks to create an environment for both locals and tourists to enjoy wine at a wide range of prices and styles from wineries across Italy, particularly Tuscany, along with California. Additional picks come from France’s Champagne region, Oregon’s Willamette Valley and beyond. Cabernet Sauvignon lovers have a lot to enjoy, like bottles from Ridge and Penfolds, and Italy is well-represented by leading estates like Tenuta San Guido and Produttori del Barbaresco. Guests can also buy bottles at Pazzeria’s on-site shop, adding to the vinous experience.


Ronin

800 N. Main Street Suite B, Bryan, Texas
Telephone (979) 704-3294
Website www.ronintx.com
Best of Award of Excellence

 Set tables and a bar setup, made of wood, at Ronin, with white brick walls and wine bottles on shelves and racks along the wall; spherical light fixtures hang overhead, with people shown in another room in the background
With seasonal cuisine and a range of Texas wines, Ronin is a restaurant not to miss. (Courtesy of Ronin)

Perched between Austin and Houston, not far from Texas A&M University’s campus, Ronin is a homey wine bar and restaurant from Brian and Amanda Light. The duo was inspired to open their own restaurant after catering their midwife’s wedding in 2011; since then, they have grown Ronin into a destination farm-to-table experience with fresh produce grown on their family farm, also known as Ronin. To dine, Ronin offers an array of playful and seasonal plates, from farmhouse bread with gingerbread spiced butter to Wagyu chicken-fried steak to a fall salad with winter squash and candied pecans, each dish listed with a suggested beverage pairing. Led by Amanda and co–wine director Danielle Soucy, the wine list features 700 labels from smaller wineries that align with the Lights’ sustainability-focused ethos. There are “cool-kid classic” wines from producers like Field Recordings, alongside bottles from producers closer to home, like Texas’ Alta Marfa, William Chris and Hye Meadow. In addition to enjoying lunch and dinner, you can reserve the guesthouse on Ronin’s farm for a “restorative stay,” or join the Lights for one of their monthly dinners under the full moon.


Signature

La Cantera Resort & Spa, 16401 La Cantera Parkway, San Antonio, Texas
Telephone (210) 247-0176
Website www.signaturerestaurant.com
Best of Award of Excellence

 Plates of tart and foie gras beside a glass of wine and a light-brown cocktail
Signature offers its guests stylish takes on classic American- and French-cuisine dishes. (Courtesy of Signature)

Located in the La Cantera Resort and Spa, Signature is a beacon for French dining in San Antonio, Texas. Wine director Adam Spencer curates the wine list, which has held a Best of Award of Excellence since 2018. The program is particularly strong in wines from France (of course), especially Champagne, and California. Among the 350 selections available are blockbusters like Louis Roederer Brut Champagne Cristal and Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Grands Echézeaux. But there’s more here than wine; executive chef John Carpenter creates fresh interpretations of French-cuisine classics, adding a Texas spin. The results are dishes like fried oysters with caviar and tomato jam, smoked and braised short rib with saffron potato puree and venison with cherry jus.


The Lonesome Dove Western Bistro–Austin

123 W. 6th St., Austin, Texas
Telephone (512) 368-2821
Best of Award of Excellence

 A private dining room at The Lonesome Dove Western Bistro in Austin, with wooden racks of wine bottles, a tree-trunk table, studded leather chairs and a rectangular light fixture hanging above, adorned with deer antlers
Fans of steak-house dining and southwestern American food have no shortage of bold wine pairings at the Lonesome Dove in Austin. (Courtesy of The Lonesome Dove Western Bistro)

In 2015, fifteen years after chef-restaurateur Tim Love made waves in the Fort Worth dining scene with his flagship restaurant, he opened a second Lonesome Dove Western Bistro, in Austin. (A third opened in Knoxville, Tenn., the following year.) A stone’s throw from the University of Texas at Austin and the Texas Capitol, the Best of Award of Excellence winner highlights Love’s penchant for exotic meats. Start with one of the spit-roasted cuts of wild game—rabbit-rattlesnake sausage, black buck or Texas boar—and don’t miss the elk–foie gras sliders or Wagyu tomahawk ribeye. These join wine director Chris James’ 390-selection program, which spotlights California with standout bottles from Inglenook, Chateau Montalena, Pahlmeyer and more. After the mains are finished, there are wide selections of spirits and sweet wines to choose from, including a “Texas Port” from the Lone Star State’s own Messina Hof.

Edited by Emma Grant, Julia Larson and Kenny Martin


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