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Eater Awards 2019: Check Out Houston’s Finalists

Whittling down the playing field for this year’s best new restaurant, bar, and design

Amy McCarthy is a reporter at, focusing on pop culture, policy and labor, and only the weirdest online trends.

Somehow, the end of 2019 has arrived which means that it’s time to take a look back at the year’s best dining and drinking destinations in Houston. Back in October, we asked our seriously knowledgeable readers to cast their votes for this year’s best newcomers, and now it’s time to reveal the finalists for the 2019 Eater Awards.

This year, there are three finalists in each of three categories — Restaurant of the Year, Bar of the Year, and Design of the Year, all of which made meaningful contributions to Houston’s thriving culinary scene over the past year. Without further ado, scope out the full list of this year’s finalists:

Restaurant of the Year

  • Blood Bros. BBQ — With a thoroughly Houstonian culinary ethos, Blood Bros. Barbecue brings together smoked meats and Asian flavors in a way that’s innovative, exciting, and uniquely delicious.
  • 1751 Sea and Bar — Formerly known as Star Fish, 1751 Sea and Bar has undergone a dramatic change under new ownership, one that makes it one of the city’s best destinations for splurging on top-notch seafood and expertly mixed gin cocktails.
  • MAD — The sibling eatery to Houston Spanish stalwart BCN, MAD is arguably the city’s most experimental new restaurant, with its quirky takes on tapas and futuristic aesthetic. Not all of the experiments here are wildly successful, but the innovation at this River Oaks newcomer is always exciting to watch.

Design of the Year

  • Rosalie — Tucked inside the newly revamped C. Baldwin Hotel, chef Chris Cosentino splashed onto the Houston dining scene with his new Italian eatery Rosalie, which occupies a beautifully appointed midcentury modern space with tons of lush greenery.
  • Rosie Cannonball — This 2,500 square foot stunner in Montrose exudes West Texas cool thanks to natural fixtures, warm hues, and perfectly placed pops of color.
  • MAD — With its neon art, vivid colors, and wild Chihuly light fixtures, the design at this gorgeous River Oaks space takes tons of inspiration from Spain just like the menu, and there’s plenty of quirky modern details in this space to make it stand out from pretty much every other restaurant in the city.

Bar of the Year

  • Monkey’s Tail — Open in Lindale Park since June, Monkey’s Tail boasts a cocktail menu that will transport drinkers directly to Mexico, with plenty of inventive surprises along the trip.
  • The Toasted Coconut — Houston loves a tiki bar, especially one as creative and detail-oriented as the Toasted Coconut.
  • Penny Quarter — A chic space to drink either coffee or a sommelier-picked glass of wine, Penny Quarter’s takeover of the nightclub space formerly known as Etro brings yet another top-notch drinking destination to Montrose.

Each of these nine finalists either opened or came into its own since last year, when the winners of the 2018 Eater Awards were announced. Come back on December 10, 2019, when this year’s winners will be crowned.