Misti Norris and her scrappy independent restaurant Petra and the Beast are fast becoming the face of progressive dining in Texas.
The fiercely original chef today was named one of Food and Wine magazine's best new chefs of 2019. She is the only Texas chef among a group of 10 that includes Junghyun Park of Atomix in New York City, Bryan Furman of B's Cracklin in Atlanta and Brandon Go of Hayato in Los Angeles.
Norris and her wildly creative restaurant, located in a former 1930s filling station, was also among Esquire magazine's Best New Restaurants in America for 2018, a James Beard Foundation Award semifinalist for best new restaurant in the U.S. and the subject of a long feature in Food and Wine earlier this year. Before that, she made every best new restaurant list in town last year, including here at the Dallas Morning News, and was the among the honorees on Texas Monthly's best restaurants for 2019. It is an impressive run, particularly considering the Dallas dining scene's history of being overlooked nationally.
Food and Wine's annual awards recognize "innovative and up-and-coming talent," and are the result of a national search by the magazine's restaurant editor at large, Jordana Rothman. Petra was singled out as a "world-class restaurant in elaborate disguise," noting lowkey signatures such as writing the menu on a chalkboard, serving delicate dishes in paper containers and decorating a spare dining room with dried flowers and other bits of the natural world.
Like seemingly everyone who eats at Petra, Rothman was taken with Norris' creativity using local grown and foraged ingredients, whole-animal cooking and plenty of fermentation and curing. Specifically, the fried chicken feet with charred and raw beets and wild dill, a pork tongue ragu and Norris' inventive charcuterie. "At Petra something extremely rare is unfolding," Rothman concluded, "the chance to see a chef who is utterly free and also entirely in bloom." The full list of winners is here.
It's amazing to think that it's been just eight months since Petra went from a popup to a permanent restaurant, taking the same path that some of the country's most influential restaurants have followed, including Saison in San Francisco and Ludo Lefebvre's Trois Mec in Los Angeles.
And it's inspiring to see Norris, and Dallas, becoming a part of that list.