Finally, the Top 16 contestants of "Top Chef" have been chosen. Did the anxiety rise high for anyone else watching these first two episodes? Sheesh, that was crazy. But now, the hit Bravo show can continue as we know it, or at least we can hope so! We're thrilled that our Drunken Udder buddy, Dakota Weiss, made it through the preliminary cook-off round and can't wait to see what she has up her sleeve this season (hint, hint, fellow Season 9 contestants--Dakota's your gal when it comes to those dreaded dessert course challenges)!
This season, they will battle it out across the great state of Texas, and as far as food goes, Texas is a great place to be. We've scouted the foodie scene there for years (with some of our favorites at Lucia, Tillman's Roadhouse and Abacus) and would agree that everything's bigger, and possibly even better, in Texas.
So, what's it like to be a Top Chef in the Lonestar State? Well, funny you ask, because we're not the only ones touting the foodie scene in Texas. Three former cheftestants have brought their "all-star" cooking sense to the state over the past few years, with a very recent opening from a "fan favorite" just last month! Check out these restaurants because there's no doubt that the menus are top notch.
Marquee Grill & Bar (Season 3 / All-Stars / Tre Wilcox, Executive Chef)
Located in the historic Highland Park, Chef Tre brings his inventive chef skills to this progressive New American menu. The cocktail program is also said to be good enough to keep you there from lunch through dinner. D Magazine raves about Tre's legendary Duck Three Ways (a special that rotates on and off the menu) and the quail appetizer stuffed with wild boar sausage.
Brownstone (Season 4 / All-Stars/ Casey Thompson, Chef Consultant)
Featured on "Travel & Leisure's 2010 Best Top Chef Restaurants" list, this spot's premiere farm fresh menu was heavily influenced by Chef Casey's Southern roots with a feel of the West Coast. And if the food doesn't bring it home for you, the decor definitely will. The space is modeled to look as though you're in a friend's home with its lounge setting and modern decor. Recently, Casey has stepped down from her duties at this Fort Worth favorite to pursue the opening of her new restaurant, La Condessa, in the Napa Valley region. We're eagerly waiting for what Brownstone has in store for us next!
Private Social (Season 7 / All-Stars / Tiffany Derry, Executive Chef)
This new restaurant is located in uptown Dallas where casual meets upscale. With two menus, one named "Private", which features full dinner service items and the second named "Social," which includes small shared plates--no matter what you choose, you'll experience the soulfully and internationally influenced menu from Chef Tiffany. And, we hear the White Surgeon Chowder and Top Chef Pork Buns are unbelievable.