There are certain things that are happening right now where everything feels almost normal, at least for a moment – a casual conversation with a neighbor, driving with the windows down and the radio up, posting a multi-year best-of list. The latest list compiled by Food & Wine names an Austin Taqueria as one of the top 10 best new restaurants in the US
Food & Wine acknowledges the timing of its Best New Restaurants roundup released on June 16 during these strange, extraordinary times.
“Do we really need a list of the best new restaurants or chefs in the country, right now in our country’s history?” asks F&W restaurant editor Khushbu Shah in the introduction. “I say yes. A pandemic doesn’t stop the work these remarkable chefs and restaurant owners have done over the past year. Perhaps those kinds of explanations are clichés at this point, but it really has been an incredible year for dining in America.” “
In Austin, Food & Wine named Nixta Taqueria among these notable restaurants. The nondescript East Austin restaurant, tucked away on East 12th Street in Rosewood, opened in October 2019 and has been one of the city’s liveliest hotspots ever since.
The magazine calls co-owners Edgar Rico and Sara Mardanbigi’s decision to open a taco spot in Austin “brave” and praises Chef Rico’s homemade tortillas, made by grinding heirloom corn in-house. “I would pay a very large sum of money to spend another afternoon breaking through a plate of duck confit tacos at Nixta Taqueria in Austin,” writes Shah.
Nixta also had some pandemic-related issues. Just months after its successful launch, COVID-19 hit the city, causing the couple to focus on a take-away model.
“Although they survive for the time being,” writes Shah, “Mardanbigi says that she feels like working with borrowed time: ‘It makes planning for the future really difficult.'”
Nixta joins nine other US restaurants, including Los Angeles, Birmingham and New Orleans. It was the only Texan restaurant that made the list.