Two weeks ago, I sputtered when Bill Addison spurned Dallas, failing to find a place on his annual list of 38 “essential” restaurants for any of our establishments. Particularly galling to me was the fact that Petra and the Beast, “our food laboratory from Misti Norris,” I wrote, wasn’t on the list.“Which restaurants, ultimately, become vital to how we understand ourselves, and others, at the table?”he had asked. I didn’t feel like he’d given quite the right answer.
Meanwhile, Esquire just released Jeff Gordinier’s annual list of Best New Restaurants and assorted categories: Pop-up of the Year, given to Korean-Southern fusion king Edward Lee; and Restaurant Resurrection, a timely and interesting designation, which praises chefs reclaiming spaces. Missy Robbins in chef of the year, with her perfect bowls of buttered noodles; the year’s Best Pastry Chef might have a love affair with black licorice; and the Rising Star chef got her start in a truck that peddled arepas. Look around at our changing food scene: none of this is surprising.
And in the list of 20 new restaurants on the nationwide list, Petra and the Beast is there, number 13. Gordinier tells us and the rest of new-frontier-dining America that Misti Norris is “conjuring funk” and asks us to “consider her fried chicken hearts wrapped in a pale-green garlic crepe, or her pigtails with sour purple cabbage.” Yes, precisely, thank you for noticing; that’s more like it.
If you haven’t wandered down to East Dallas for Norris’ charcuterie board and pastas, her “meatums,” “noods,” and “snacks” served in disposable barquettes, or for her extraordinary, creatively barrier-crossing Saturday tasting dinners, you must. (Read my review here.)
In-state, we’ve also got (number 3) Nancy’s Hustle in Houston, whose fluffy corn flapjacks paired with trout roe and wild honey get the limelight. And (number 10) Carnitas Lonja in San Antonio with “the pork all crackly and creamy from its own slow-melted fat.”
So now, you are planning a date night with foraged food and a road trip.