Dallas' food and beverage scene has never been hotter, with restaurants and bars opening all across the city. This bodes well for the 2018 CultureMap Tastemaker Awards presented by Woodford Reserve, our annual event honoring the best in local food and drink. There's plenty to celebrate.
Over the next few weeks, look forward to stories spotlighting nominees in every category: from best chefs to the best restaurants in Dallas-Fort Worth.
We'll host a party on April 19 from 7-10 pm at Sixty Five Hundred, where we'll toast the nominees and announce the winners, with tastings of food and drink, amusements, and more. Tickets are on sale now for $55, with a portion of the proceeds benefitting Bonton Farms.
For our first category, we consider Best Bar of the Year, a combination of new bars mixed in with a few classics. Here are the nominees:
Crafty Irishman Pub
Downtown Dallas is rich with bars these days, and the city also has its share of Irish-themed pubs. But the Crafty Irishman, located the ground floor of the historic Mercantile Building, still stands out, thanks to good food, savvy bartenders, and a selection of beers and spirits that goes beyond the stereotypes. Scotch eggs and the shepherd's pie are standouts, and they serve their beer and cider at the correct temperature. Charming owner Alan Kearney, a native of Ireland, is easy to find; listen for his musical brogue.
Dot's Hop House
Dot's represents a highly creative repurposing of a vintage Deep Ellum building, with the former Dallas Comedy House transformed into a beer garden with picnic benches, live music, and good food. Thoughtful decorative touches includes the stained-glass panels starring Dallas sports figures such as Jimmy Johnson, and a massive outdoor chandelier. The owners also own Oak Street Draft House in Denton and, like Oak Street, Dot's possesses serious commitment to craft beer.
One in the collection of venues in the Harwood International complex, this bar is a mega-complex with two decks, three bars, gravel-lined outdoor space, and a massive patio. Views of downtown Dallas high-rise buildings reinforce that this verdant setting is an oasis in the middle of an urban zone. Drinks include frozé, the irresistible cold-and-slushy version of rose, plus beer, wine, cocktails, and bites such as sandwiches, flatbreads, tempura cauliflower, and cheddar fries.
Handsome bar in Deep Ellum has serious drinks and a menu to match. They put a lot of thought into what they do, whether it's the considerate way they group cocktails by intensity level, or the flurry of fresh Parmesan they shave over the Caesar salad. The space is that perfect size between feeling cozy and intimate and yet lively enough to feel like something's happening.
Joint bar represents the Henderson Avenue toehold from This & That, the bar group that also owns Parlay in Uptown Dallas and Ferris Wheelers near Dallas' Design District. High Fives is the sprawling, patio-centric, good times party bar; Whippersnapper is its snotty little buddy. The clientele is young, and the atmosphere is festive. The bar snacks are more than decent, and the prices are good.
As a Houston's sibling and part of the Hillstone chain, Honor Bar already has an edge in terms of family connections and good breeding. This company knows how to deliver. Located in Highland Park Village, it's the perfect bar for the Park Cities, with low-slung booths and a cozy, wood-accented interior reminiscent of its other sibling R&D Kitchen. Menu is small but well-regarded, and there's an extensive list of wines by the glass.
Las Almas Rotas
Small, artsy cantina is like a hidden find in the hidden-find neighborhood of Expo Park. It's a hipster bar and a highly personal spot focused on the up-and-coming spirit of the moment: mezcal, with a broad variety which you can sample in flights. There are also creative tequila drinks such as the one combining tequila, lime, and Topo Chico.
Superb speakeasy from legendary mixologist Eddie "Lucky" Campbell is oft-cited as best bar in Dallas, for good reason. With a staff that's perennially welcoming and friendly and drinks that are perfectly mixed, Parliament is hard to beat. As if that's not enough, it offers an amazing happy hour with great prices that extend until 8 pm every night.
Ross & Hall
Bar concept comes from the owners of State & Allen, Nodding Donkey, and other neighborhood bars, and R&H joins the stable. This is an area still transitioning from commercial to residential, but R&H adds a bit of casual comfort to the vintage building that previously housed Houston import Little Woodrow's. Happy hours, TVs, and good pizza are their trademarks.
Shoals Sound + Service
The latest hang for celebrity mixologists Michael Martensen and Omar Yeefoon is this cozy storefront in Deep Ellum, where they're doing classic cocktails — old-fashioneds, margaritas, mint juleps — in a retro-modern environment with a blues soundtrack to boot. A food menu runs from empanadas to a bologna sandwich.