Houston Chronicle's Alison Cook revealed this year's Top 100 Restaurants 2013 today. This year's No. 1 best restaurant according to the highly anticipated list is Oxheart. That was also last year's top pick for Cook, whose top 10 includes many familiar, prominent places around town, with MF Sushi being the exception. That might have something to do with what Cook told Eater earlier today at the reception for her big reveal, when she explained her selection process and evolving criteria: "It's not an exact science, it's very personal, and it's a mix of places that I think are classic and culturally important with newcomers who bring something really exciting to the mix," she says. "And also, there's a way that without even knowing, I weigh the intangibles. I think I've realized for the first time this year, things like setting and sense of place are really important to me.
"I always put the food first, but there are things like that, just the room or the physical setting or the way it relates to the Houston palate, that are sort of the je ne sais quoi that can give one place an edge over another. And that was interesting for me to finally realize."
The rest of the top 100 includes familiar and beloved mom-and-pop spots like Himalaya and Mala Sichuan that are well-known among food lovers around town but haven't reached the popularity or prestige of others on the list, like Reef, Kata Robata or Da Marco (with their more casual eatery Dolce Vita Pizzeria Enoteca just a few spots below on the list). There are surprises (Killen's on the top 10) and other mainstays like Tony's.
On a side note, it was great chatting with the Banana Leaf owners (on the list, of course) who told Eater that they have just signed with Justin Vann's PSA Wines, which they're bringing on to craft the beer and wine list at their Malaysian restaurant.
· The scoop on the list of Top 100 Restaurants for 2013 [Houston Chronicle]
· Oxheart [Official Site]