What a year it's been for Houston restaurants. The wave of post-Harvey closings has been sad, but, by any measure, it's been an incredible time to be an eater in Houston.
Just consider the sheer amount of culinary talent that launched new concepts this year. The roster includes four James Beard Best Chef Southwest award winners - Hugo Ortega (Xochi), Paul Qui (Aqui), Chris Shepherd (One Fifth), and Justin Yu (Better Luck Tomorrow and Theodore Rex) - along with a Food & Wine Best New Chef winner in Bryan Caswell (Oxbow 7) and an Eater Young Gun in Ryan Lachaine (Riel).
I recognize that the assault charges pending against Qui make choosing to include Aqui controversial, especially in light of the current climate of sexual harassment allegations against many public figures. The allegations are disturbing, and, if convicted, the chef deserves to suffer what consequences the law dictates.
However, I consider it my job to inform CultureMap readers about new restaurants and offer an opinion about them as places to dine. I have friends who will never set foot in Aqui, and I respect their decision.
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The 14 best new restaurants of 2017 are the Riel deal