With the new year ahead, so many culinary opportunities beckon us all. Leave it to our editors Lance Avery Morgan (Austin), Cynthia Smoot (Dallas), Jake Gaines (Houston), and Alexandra del Lago (San Antonio) to recommend the best of the newest.


So Well Done Austin Salad


What’s not to love about Verbena’s 36-seat bar and lounge, 60-seat dining room, and open kitchen with a wood-burning hearth, both of which open to a lush open-air courtyard? The old-world farm-to-table fare is artfully composed in a modern presentation to delight every guest.


The Lolo Austin Texas wine bar


At Canje, traditional meets innovative in this New Age Caribbean cuisine restaurant on the east side. The name refers to the Canje Pheasant, the national bird of Guyana. From Jamaica to Puerto Rico, Canje explores techniques, ingredients, and the many expressions of vibrant food across the region.


Rebel Cheese Austin Texas


The Westlake Wine Bar in Davenport Village is the new destination. Not only does it offer over 150 wines, but also a menu of beef bourguignon, tartare, steaks, and fish, alongside bar snacks with either indoor or patio dining available.



pastry from La Tarte Tropézienne  dallas texas


Elephant East in The Harwood District offers guests a menu that focuses on technique, flavors, and signature dishes from Southeastern Asia, as well as stylish cocktails, sake, and soju. The design features hand-carved wood, tropical and bamboo greenery and a symphony of rich jewel tones.


Georgie Dallas Restaurant


National Anthem is the much-anticipated concept from Chef Nick Badovinus in downtown Dallas’ newly revitalized East Quarter. The interior is divided into the main dining room and the bar area with several high-top tables. Look for a classic American menu of salads, burgers, seafood, pasta, and more that are sure to please.


Food from Rise & Thyme Dallas tTexas


La Mina is the latest concept to open at The Village residential development. Look for regional Mexican food and agave cocktails in a subterranean spot beneath the Drey Hotel. We especially love the weekend brunch.



Bottled Blonde Pizzeria + Bier Garden


Celebrating 75 years, the place to be by the Texas Medical Center is the Intercontinental Hotel’s new restaurant offerings, including Safina, the all-day, modern Mediterranean eatery and cosmopolitan craft cocktail destination, The Naturalist Café and the Lounge Bar. Revel in their modern design paired with unrivaled hospitality.


Chocolate Crepe Sweet Paris Crêperie & Café


Toro Toro is the chic new pan Latin restaurant at the Four Seasons downtown. It celebrates the vibrant, robust flavors and convivial dining culture of Central and South America, to offer guests a unique spin on the contemporary steakhouse experience.


Adair Restaurant Houston


The Woodlands Resort is often ranked one of the best resorts in the country. Always a favorite, it has been reinvigorated with significant enhancements from The Weston and Hilton’s Curio Collection of hotels and restaurants. Try the new Back Table Kitchen and Bar for a memorable experience.



Salad from Jardin San Antonio


Battalion, a favorite destination in San Antonio, was once the home of the city’s Firehouse #7. Now, it has been transformed into an Italian restaurant where fresh homemade pasta is made daily. Both the dinner and cocktails served in the vintage firehouse décor are delectable.


Los Azulejos San Antonio


Here’s a modern tribute to South Texas cuisine on the historic San Antonio River Walk. With its delectable Mexican flavors, you can’t go wrong inside or on the luxe veranda with the gorgeous view.


Sandwich Best Quality Daughter San Antonio


Botika, in The Pearl, continues to be as popular as ever. While enjoying the dining interior, or al fresco, both are ideal for the sushi Asian fusion fare. Plus, it’s popular for both day and night outings for business…or pleasure.




The new Lexus NX redefines luxury, according to our expert driving enthusiast, Michael Satterfield of The Gentleman As the new year begins, why not take your driving to thrilling new heights?  

Photography courtesy of The Gentleman Racer

Lexus has unveiled an all-new NX for 2022. While it is the brand’s luxury-subcompact SUV, it is also, in many ways, a flagship model for Lexus. It is the first to feature the new Lexus lettering across the rear hatch, never before offered technology, and is the first plug-in hybrid to wear the Lexus badge. Aimed squarely at the BMW X1, Mercedes-Benz GLA, and Audi Q3 models, the new NX needed to bring a lot to the table, and the small Lexus doesn’t disappoint. 


The NX offers two gasoline power plants and two hybrid options. While the base NX250 features a 203-hp 2.5-liter four-cylinder with an 8-speed automatic and is surprisingly responsive and fun to drive, especially with the optional all-wheel-drive. For those wanting more power, the NX350 delivers 375-hp from a turbocharged 2.4-liter four-cylinder with standard all-wheel drive. But while these conventional powerplants are very good, I predict that most luxury buyers will be more interested in the hybrids, which offer more horsepower and better fuel economy than their all-gas counterparts. 


The hybrid drivetrains include the NX350h, which packs a 2.5-liter four-cylinder, two electric motors that make 239 horsepower, and the top-spec plug-in NX450h+ producing 302-hp powertrain, to offer up-to 36 miles of electric driving per charge for the performance-minded driver. The F Sport package offers appearance upgrades and adaptive suspension. While the standard suspension does an excellent job at providing decent handling while still offering a luxurious ride, the F Sport does raise the fun factor when you are on a twisty road. Yet, I suspect most NX buyers will find the appearance part of the package more appealing than the handling. 

Where the NX really shines is in the redesigned interior, which feels far more luxurious than you might expect in a sub-compact SUV. Ambient lighting, quilted leather-heated and ventilated seats, and the optional wood inserts all feel like they belong in a much more expensive vehicle. The much-maligned “trackpad” infotainment interface has been replaced with natural-language voice recognition that wakes up with the command “Hey Lexus,” allowing the driver or passenger to do anything from get directions or search for a restaurant to turning on the windshield wipers or adjusting the temperature. The dual-zone voice recognition can differentiate between driver and passenger, allowing passengers to adjust their climate zone separately from the driver’s simply by speaking the command. The user profiles are stored in the cloud so the unique settings can travel with you between vehicles. 


The technology doesn’t stop with new voice commands. A standard 9.8-inch or optional 14-inch touch screen offers excellent visibility. The built-in 4G LTE allows streaming of Apple Music and Amazon Music, while the wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are also standard. The Lexus app also enables users to use a phone as a key or share a temporary key via the app to any user they authorize…meaning you’re never really locked out of your car. 

Lexus has also equipped the NX with their latest Safety System Plus 3.0, which includes the usual lane-keeping feature, automatic emergency braking, and adaptive cruise control. It also adds new features to help detect oncoming traffic and pedestrians to prevent collisions while making turns at intersections. The latest safety features even help prevent accidents while parked, with electronic door latches that work with the pedestrian safety system that prevents the door from opening if there is an oncoming cyclist or runner.

Lexus has said they hope the NX will reach a younger buyer demographic with a starting price of under $40,000 for the NX250. It certainly will, and it will have a broad appeal to older shoppers as well who don’t need a mid or full-size SUV. The top-tier NX450h+F Sport starts at $57,975, but if the plug-in hybrid doesn’t fit your lifestyle, the NX350h, with the optional luxury package, will give you the best of everything. 



Austin’s SAFE Alliance Hosts Hundreds At Annual Storybook Gala

By Rob Giardinelli     Photography by Mari Nelson and Ben Porter

THE SETTING: A picture-perfect Saturday evening in Austin was the recent setting of one of the Capital City’s most anticipated fall events. Over 500 sociables, philanthropists, and other VIPs descended upon the JW Marriott hotel for the SAFE Storybook Gala. The event, A Coat of Many Colors, unfolded like a classic fairy tale. The evening featured great friends, touching tributes, and most importantly of all–fundraising.


THE STYLE: The first chapter of this magical evening began in the foyer of the JW Marriott Austin for a lively cocktail hour. Here, the guests, many of whom donned colorful ensembles, sipped delicious drinks while getting reacquainted with old friends and making new ones. Additionally, guests could peruse silent auction items, preview live auction items, and purchase raffle tickets to win luxury items that were being awarded to supporters.  


Turning the page, partygoers entered the JW Marriott ballroom for the main program. As guests dined on their delectable multi-course meals, they were treated to words from the SAFE leadership, as well as several emotional testimonials showcasing the positive impact the organization has on the community. Other highlights of the main program included a spirited live auction and honoring philanthropist Gary Walker with the Guardian Award for his tireless support of the organization. The evening concluded with an after party where guests danced the night away.


THE PURPOSE: The event raised nearly $800,000 for the SAFE Alliance. SAFE provides a stable and healing space to those who have lived through violence and abuse. Funds raised from this event will help provide assistance for essential services, including housing, prevention programs, and support services.



The Contemporary Museum Art Dinner Raises Over $1.7 Million

By Rob Giardinelli         Photography by Brian Fitzsimmons

THE SETTING: A picture-perfect autumn evening at Austin’s Laguna Gloria was the scene featuring a night of fun and philanthropy. The 360 patrons, sociables, and VIPs on hand for the 8th Annual Contemporary Art Dinner were treated to a dazzling evening that those fortunate enough to attend will not soon forget.


THE STYLE: From the moment the patrons walked up to the gates of Laguna Gloria in their finest cocktail attire, guests knew they were in for a magical evening. The festivities began with a cocktail hour where partygoers gathered with friends on the beautiful Laguna Gloria grounds. Meanwhile, art collectors could be seen heading to the villa to preview works of art from internationally known artists in advance of the live auction.


Revelers then proceeded onto the central lawn for dinner al fresco and the main program. While attendees dined on a delectable, multi-course meal, they were treated to words from the event and organization’s leaders celebrating what was for many their first gala in Austin since the pandemic began. The action then turned to the main event…the live auction. Christy Williams Coombs, of Sotheby’s, headlined the auction for a seventh consecutive year. Included were works by Loie Hollowell and Adam Pendleton that each fetched over six figures. In addition, the paddles-up giving opportunity raised over $250,000 to bring a temporary and permanent outdoor installation for the Betty and Edward Marcus Sculpture Park at Laguna Gloria. The festivities were capped off with an after-party where the crowd danced the night away to songs performed by Riders Against the Storm.


THE PURPOSE: The event, co-chaired by Kristin Gish and Kathleen Loughlin, raised over $1.7 million for The Contemporary Austin, with the museum giving back $345,000 to artists from the live and silent auction proceeds. In addition, funds raised from the evening’s event will go towards The Contemporary Austin’s exhibition programs.