Best new restaurants of 2014

December 30, 2014 9:14 PM

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This is the bakery Houston needed, wanted and deserved: an inspired mix of meticulous technique, fine ingredients and classicism tempered with an invigorating sense of place. The magnificent bread loaves and drop-dead croissants alone would be reason to brave the sleek but perpetually crowded quarters. Add a changing, seasonal slate of fine-tuned soups, exuberant sandwiches and painstaking breakfast items to the equation, and you've got a reason to stake a claim on a seat and hang around. Common Bond's electric gazpacho, cold fennel-buttermilk soup and chile relleno torta on a house-made telera roll made some of my favorite taste memories from 2014, as was a brunch special of Texas-twisty cassoulet with a melt-away scoop of foie gras mousse. And I was never quite so happy as when I was brushing brittle, wafer-thin shards of Common Bond's anything-but-plain croissant from my lap.

Politically fraught name aside, Pax Americana was the year's dark-horse surprise, charging out of nowhere to establish itself as one of the most exciting restaurants in the city. Chef Adam Dorris imbues his shareable dishes with Gulf Coast soul, Old World preservation techniques and a certain Asian ...

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