Here are some more great eating spots around the Lone Star State.
Irma’s Original, 22 North Chenevert, Houston
Irma Galvan initially founded her Mexican restaurant as a sandwich shop so she could raise four children by herself after her husband was murdered. Houston has embraced this interesting downtown eatery ever since. Irma’s has no menu — the server will tell you what’s available that day — and that’s part of what makes it so much fun. It was named an America’s Classic by the James Beard Foundation in 2008.
Gilhooley’s, 222 9th Street, Dickinson
This isn’t a place to bring the kids, the family dog or your credit cards — they’re not allowed; the biker bar vibe isn’t quite appropriate and it’s cash only — but it is most definitely the place for grownups to enjoy the finest barbecued oysters in Texas with a cold longneck alongside. The Oysters Gilhooley — locally harvested, of course — are topped with butter and Parmesan cheese and wood-grilled until the cheese bubbles. Other worthy noshes include raw and fried oysters, Shrimp Gilhooley (grilled oysters with shrimp on top) and the boudain balls (that’s a Texas spelling, mind you).
Keller’s Drive-In, 6537 Northwest Highway, Dallas
The big neon sign in front of Keller’s Drive-In proclaims “Burgers” and “Beer,” and that’s what's been on it for more than 50 years. (The original location closed in 2000, but there are three others.) One of the few independent restaurants left in the United States that still have carhops, this place could have been pulled straight from the movie American Graffiti. It’s also one the few places left where diners can drink a humble Budweiser or Corona in their vehicles. One of the popular choices is the number 5, a double-patty cheeseburger with “secret sauce” on a poppy seed bun.
The Mansion Restaurant, 2821 Turtle Creek, Dallas
The restaurant at the Rosewood Mansion On Turtle Creek hotel has been hailed repeatedly as one of the best places for romantic dining in the United States, including twice landing a prestigious AAA Five Diamond rating. Prix fixe tasting menus, an outstanding wine list, top-notch entrées ranging from scallops to Berkshire pork and sophisticated vegetarian dishes are among the big draws.
Biga on the Banks, 203 South Saint Mary's, San Antonio
Thanks to the proliferation of chain restaurants, the River Walk has lost a lot of its former glory. That said, there are some independent places holding the line, and Biga On The Banks is regarded not only as the best restaurant on the River Walk but as one of the finest in the country. Chef Bruce Auden’s under-$40 four-course prix fixe menu is a steal, but the $120 eight-course is a more full-fledged experience. Examples of the ambitious dishes include Eleven-Spiced Hill Country venison and grilled quail as well as chicken-fried oysters with squid ink linguine, Swiss chard, pancetta and mustard hollandaise.
The Blue Bonnet Cafe, 211 US 281, Marble Falls
This quintessential cafe opened its doors 87 years ago and is as much a community hub as it is a destination. It’s easy enough to love a place with “Pie Happy Hour” between 3 and 5 p.m., but additionally, both Travel & Leisure and Texas Highways magazines have cited Blue Bonnet for having one of the best breakfasts in America. Breakfast is served all day, daily specials include homey delights like meat loaf and chicken enchiladas, and the ever-changing soup of the day is made from scratch.
Louie Mueller Barbecue, 206 West 2nd, Taylor
Any conversation between Texas barbecue fanatics on which place is the gold standard is likely to end in fisticuffs, but Louie Mueller Barbecue is a contender. The brisket rub is simple — just salt and a whole lot of black pepper. There are three different kinds of ribs — baby back, spare and giant beef ribs — and three types of sausage in original, jalapeño and chipotle varieties. Out-of-town guests can call ahead and secure their order with a credit card for easy pickup at the counter.