16 of Houston’s best new restaurants are vying for the coveted title of Tastemakers

The winners of nine of the 10 categories of the 2022 CultureMap Tastemaker Awards are selected by our jury of restaurant industry experts. However, Best New Restaurant is different.

This category gives CultureMap readers the chance to weigh in on their favorites via a head-to-head tournament that pits 16 restaurants against each other until only one remains. The first round of voting runs from May 4-8, followed by second and third rounds from May 9-13 and May 14-18, respectively. Two restaurants will compete for the title from May 19-23.

People can vote once per game per day. The results are closely watched for cheating and other shenanigans, so don’t even try to game the results. Voting is now open.

Whereas our get-togethers offer a wide range of culinary experiences – from fine dining with a Michelin-starred brother to a po’ boy shop like you are – not to mention some of the most talented chefs in town and veteran operators, expect every competition to be tight.

Who will win? Find out on May 25 during the Tastemaker Awards evening. We’ll eat bites from this year’s nominated restaurants before the emcee Bun B reveal the winners. Buy tickets now before they sell out.

ChòpnBlọk vs. Golfstrømmen
Let’s start this year’s contest with the two tastiest concepts at the Post Market food hall. After starting as a pop-up, ChòpnBlọk has taken Houston by storm with West African dishes like jollof rice and spicy suya steak skewers. The restaurant has garnered enough attention for founder Ope Amosu to appear on celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson’s PBS series No passport required and served as a guest judge on Excellent chef. Golfstrømmen brings together renowned Norwegian chef Christopher Haatuft and Texas chef Paul Qui in a concept focused on serving sustainable seafood: everything from raw oysters to fried whole fish. Even though it’s only been around for a few months, Golfstrømmen stands out among the best seafood establishments in Houston. Both restaurants are worth braving the Post Houston crowds, but only one will make it to the second round.

Chivos vs. Trattoria Sofia
This match pits two of The Heights’ most exciting new options against each other. At Chivos, chef Thomas Bille brings a Mexican American perspective to a diverse set of dishes from pozole dumplings to bone marrow tacos. Veteran restaurateur Ben Berg has brought his elegant flair to Trattoria Sofia’s menu of Italian-inspired tastes that includes freshly made pastas and wood-fired pizzas. Both restaurants offer spacious patios and top-notch cocktails, but only tortillas or focaccia can make it to the second round.

Cantine Da Gama versus Common Bond Brasserie
The latest projects from two successful restaurant groups face off in this game. At Da Gama, chefs Shiva and Rick Di Virgilio apply their winning formula from Oporto Fooding House and Queen Vic Pub to an eclectic menu of Portuguese and Indian-inspired dishes. Common Bond steps up its cuisine at its downtown brasserie with a menu of French-inspired dishes like rack of lamb, bouillabaisse and citrus-poached lobster. Both restaurants offer a clever list of wines by the glass to complement a meal, but only one does the trick.

Le Jardinier vs the neighborhood bistro Gratify
The two most luxurious restaurants in the tournament compete in this match. Le Jardinier brings pedigree from its Michelin-starred location in New York, a spectacular dining room at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston’s Kinder building, and chef Alain Verzeroli’s seasonally-inspired vegetable-based menu. Gratify steps up with owner Grant Cooper’s flair for spectacular dining rooms, crowd-pleasing dishes like raw seafood and steak frites, and an eclectic wine list. Whichever restaurant advances to the second round, both will remain incredibly popular with bold names in Houston.

GJ Tavern vs. Wild Oats
Sorry, Chris Shepherd, but only one of your new restaurants will advance to the second round. After a slow start, the downtown GJ Tavern has taken off under the direction of Chef Tim Reading, who has created a menu built around classic dishes like roast chicken, raw oysters and an utterly mouth-watering burger. Wild Oats is chef Nick Fine’s self-proclaimed “love letter to Texas” who puts his carefully crafted spin on familiar favorites like chili, campechana and chicken fried steak. No matter how low the vote, we’re confident Underbelly Hospitality employees will remain friends.

J-Bar-M Barbecue against Urbe
Could there be a more classic Texan match than barbecue versus tacos? At J-Bar-M, owner John Toomey has assembled a talented team to produce slow-smoked meats and eclectic sides in a setting so unmistakably Texas that Excellent chef filmed his barbecue challenge there. At Urbe, chef Hugo Ortega brings the techniques that won him a James Beard award to an accessible menu of tacos and other familiar dishes. Both restaurants have expansive patios, but only one will fight in round two.

d’Alba Craft Kitchen & Cocktails vs. Daily Gather
Two of Houston’s modern neighborhood restaurants face off in this game. Chez d’Alba, hospitality veteran Daut Elshani and former Benjy’s chef Geoff Hundt have brought vegetable-based Italian-inspired dishes to Garden Oaks. Dish Society founder Aaron Lyons and chef Brandi Key have teamed up to create Daily Gather, a family-run restaurant with an eclectic, globally-inspired menu and stylish interior. Both restaurants have varied menus and plenty of drink options that make them equally appealing for a weekday treat or date night, but only one will participate in the second round.

Winnie against 5Kinokawa
Granted, a lively bar that serves po’boys and an intimate restaurant with a Japanese-inspired tasting menu don’t seem to have much in common, but anyone who’s dined at the two establishments will recognize that they’re united by their creative approach to their respective restaurants. kitchens. Sure, Winnie’s serves up well-executed gumbo and expertly fried shrimp po’ boy, the real fun is found with options like the KFC-inspired Fried Chicken Crunch Wrap Supreme and Taco Bell. Dining at 5Kinokawa feels more like a concert than a dinner party thanks to chef Billy Kin’s engaging personality and freestyle that easily alternates between raw and cooked dishes. A meal to remember or a hangover to forget – only one will make it to the second round.

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