A food bucket list? Now that’s something I can get behind. Given the size of our state (and our love of food) you could spend your entire life eating out for every meal in search of the best restaurants and STILL not try everything. Luckily, we’ve got you covered so you don’t have to. These restaurants define Texas in every possible way. They’re the places you’d take a relative or friend from out of state to show them what we’re really about in terms of food. And they have some darn good eats to boot. Here are 11 Texas restaurants you HAVE to check out before you die.
11. Gaido's (Galveston)
Although a little on the fancier side which we tend to not be too big on here, you can't deny that Gaido's has some of the best seafood your taste buds will ever encounter. Caught daily from the adjacent Gulf of Mexico, there's nothing fresher or more carefully prepared. Their dishes range from pecan-crusted catfish (pictured above) to melt-in-your-mouth oysters to my personal favorite, the Jazz Martini (no, I don't go to a seafood restaurant to just order alcohol: it's crab meat and avocado in a martini glass with cocktail shrimp adorning the rim. Yummm).
10. Chef Point Cafe (Watauga)
Also on the fancier side...but you'd never know it because it's in a gas station! Here in Texas, we could care less what the outside of a restaurant looks like as long as it serves up some good eats. And believe me, Chef Point knows their food. They've been featured on The Food Network and their menu is extremely extensive: shrimp and grits, blackened stuffed pork chops, fried chicken and biscuits...Mmmm.
9. Pappa's Bros. Steakhouse (Houston)
What's a list of Texas restaurants without a steakhouse? Despite being in the heart of a metropolis, Pappa's knows how to serve up delicious cuts of meat. Succulent, tender, cuts-like-butter steak seasoned to perfection with plenty of scrumptious appetizers and sides to compliment your meal.
8. Cattlemen's Steakhouse (Fort Worth)
Slightly higher up on the list is a much less high-falutin' steakhouse, but that's the atmosphere that defines our state - simplicity. You won't find white tablecloths and fancy waiter's here, but you will find some absolutely mouthwatering steak. Every cut of meat imaginable is on the menu, cooked exactly how you like it. They have other fare like seafood and ribs if you don't feel like a steak, and delicious sides like ranch pinto beans. Plus, they're located in the historic Stockyard District!
7. Louie Mueller Barbecue (Taylor)
Maybe even more defining of Texas than steak is the all important barbecue. Louie Mueller may not have a huge menu, but that just means more time spent and love given to the few selections they offer. Their brisket is definitely the most popular item - it's slow cooked in a 50 year old pit and seasoned to perfection. They also have beef sausage, beef and pork ribs, pork tenderloin, and turkey.
6. Luling City Market (Luling)
Every Texan needs to experience Luling City Market at least once. The atmosphere alone is enough to merit a visit even if the food wasn't absolutely to die for. The line goes through the smoker room, so you get to see your food cooking away right before your eyes. Choose from brisket, ribs, sausage, pork loin, chicken or turkey breast (or a little bit of everything - we don't judge!)
5. Blue Bonnet Cafe (Marble Falls)
This little mom-and-pop cafe is known all over the state. They dish up all your southern favorites from roast beef to tender chicken fried steak to a classic southern breakfast of eggs, hashbrowns, biscuits and gravy. Oh, and if you let yourself walk out without trying a piece of homemade pie, there's something wrong with you.
4. Mary's Cafe (Strawn)
This is for all you chicken fried steak lovers out there. I can't think of a dish more iconic to Texas - and Mary's has the best in the state, no doubt.
3. The J and P Bar & Grill (Comstock)
An overwhelming amount of readers suggested The J and P - and for good reason, too. They grill up some mouthwatering meats and serve them in various ways, from patty melts to delicious specials like the sandwich pictured above.
2. The Gristmill (Gruene)
The Gristmill may not be your typical mom-and-pop, down home southern kind of atmosphere - but they still have all your Texas favorites! Ribs, chicken fried steak, burgers...as well as options like fish and salad (it is the hill country, after all). Plus, you get a breathtaking view of the surrounding river while you eat. What could be better than that?
1. The Salt Lick (Driftwood)
You knew it was coming. What place other than this literal shrine of meat deserves the top spot? I don't even have to describe The Salt Lick - this picture says it all.
What places would you add to a food bucket list for Texas? Let us know in the comments!