GQ Magazine Says Houston’s Food And Diversity Make It The ‘New Capital Of Southern Cool’

Houston’s clash of cultures gives the city an energy and food culture that’s finally being noticed by outsiders.

By Rhonda FanningAugust 29, 2018 4:08 pm

The City of Houston boasts more than 10,000 restaurants, which is appropriate since Houstonians tend to dine out more than residents of other cities — 5.7 times per week, according to the website That’s compared to the national average of 4.9. Houston has come to be regarded as a destination for foodies, but GQ food critic Brett Martin has given the city a new honor. He recently visited the Bayou City and proclaimed it the “New Capital of Southern Cool.”

“I had been hearing about the food scene in Houston for a long time, you know, it’s not anything I discovered,” Martin says. “The more I heard and saw about Houston just started to suggest that there was something larger going on there that went beyond just food.”

Martin isn’t the only one singing Houston’s praises. Back in 2016, fellow GQ columnist and world-renowned chef/restaurateur, David Chang, deemed Houston the next food capital of America.

Martin credits the city’s diverse population for its stellar food. “All these different communities – because of the size of the city – kind of interact and collaborate and clash, and that just kind of creates a creative energy on both the high end … and then all this stuff going on below the surface, in areas that you wouldn’t necessarily say were cool just by looking at them,” Martin says.

Martin says that food scenes have become a defining factor for cities. “You can expand the profile of a city through food in a way that the arts maybe used to do 20 years ago.”  

Martin also says Americans developed a new appreciation for Houston after Hurricane Harvey. 

“There’s certain things that we expect from ‘cool’ cities,” he says. “You get a certain image in your head of coffee shops and bike lanes, and Houston has all that stuff. But there’s another quality that I think is more interesting … which is this kind of strangeness.”

Written by Morgan Kuehler.