Opening a restaurant in our hot culinary city is no small feat. The full package has to be there — exceptional ambiance, impeccable food, and top-notch service. If you don’t have these three key components, you’re not going to make it in Dallas.
To honor new restaurants that have hit all the marks and continue to impress local diners, 16 of the best new restaurants in Dallas will go head to head in our annual Tastemaker tournament. The results are in your hands as you decide who will be crowned Best New Restaurant of 2016.
As part of the 2016 CultureMap Tastemaker Awards, vote for your favorites in the bracket-style elimination challenge now through May 19. Voting for the first bracket ends on May 9. But before you vote, meet all of the nominees:
18th & Vine
This is no ordinary barbecue spot. For starters, it has Uptown decor, with nice booths and table service. Second, its stated focus is Kansas City-style barbecue, which mostly means serving burnt ends. Third, its menu also includes creations from former Bijoux chef Scott Gottlich. Aside from the perennial appeal of barbecue, there's an excellent rendition of fried okra with whole battered pods.
The “casual” restaurant at The Joule hotel specializes in Italian-American classics, as interpreted by chef Matt Ford. That includes house-made pastas, such as tortellini stuffed with ricotta and butternut squash, and hand-cut pappardelle with Bolognese. There are Neapolitan-style pizzas, small plates, larger composed plates, as well as house cured meats and cheeses. Artisanal breads, pastries, and desserts, including gelato, are prepared in-house by pastry chef Ruben Torano.
Chef Matt McCallister's second restaurant is designed for the "everyday crowd," i.e., more casual than FT33. The machinist shop theme with exposed brick walls and wooden ceiling beams makes handy use of a vintage Deep Ellum building. Menu items include onion dip with warm potato chips, trout fritters, and pork chop with braised collards. There's also a "secret" burger available at the bar that's not really that secret. Sshhh!
Former Top Chef contestant Tre Wilcox sets the culinary direction of this Southern restaurant in Plano. The restaurant name is a tribute to and inspired by the lives of two family matriarchs, Julia and Pearl. Those names also help define the menu into categories. The "Julia" side represents traditional Southern food — biscuits and gravy, seafood gumbo, shrimp and grits — while the "Pearl" side of the menu is more modern.
Madrina, a sibling of Proof + Pantry in One Arts Plaza, took over the old Nosh Euro Bistro space in the Shops at Highland Park Village, where it marries French techniques with Mexican cuisine. Julio Peraza is executive chef, doing dishes such as oxtail empanadas and lobster en croute. It has an extensive list of tequilas and mezcals, plus a full bar program that includes several wines and beers on tap.
Seafood restaurant from chef Nick Badovinus (a nominee for Chef of the Year) picks up the former Spoon spot in Preston Center with oysters, mussels, chowder, Dungeness crab, and a burger. You can't not have a burger. Atmosphere is casual-chic, with an emphasis on chic; the steak frites are $39. The seafood theme pervades the decor as well, with pole-mounted seats at the bar reminiscent of a bass boat and Seattle-themed graphics on the wall.
Restaurant at the Dallas Farmers Market comes from Shannon Wynne (Meddlesome Moth, Lark on the Park), who always stays au courant. Mudhen covers all the special-interest dining groups: vegan, Paleo, non-GMO, gluten-free, with an attentiveness to ingredients and sourcing that’s emerged as a big trend in dining. You can make your own bowl with starch, vegetable, and protein, or just order some sides from a mega menu of vegetables listed on chalkboards on the wall.
Named for the last names of Dallas' most famous criminals, Bonnie and Clyde, Parker Barrows does cocktails, craft beer, and "New York-deli style" sandwiches for Bishop Arts. The decor feels vintage; bartenders wear bow ties. Its menu includes salads and sandwiches stacked with meats such as pastrami, salami, and bacon.
Oak Cliff restaurant featuring "naughty" chef Blythe Beck offers the nostalgic charm of Southern home cooking in an elegant yet casual setting. Deviled eggs get a different treatment every day. Signature items include chicken-fried rib-eye and shrimp and grits, but there is also roast chicken and bacon-cheddar meatloaf. Sides such as onion rings and creamed corn are served family style.
Pints & Quarts
Barcadia owner Brooke Humphries does burgers and beer in a prime location on Greenville Avenue at the corner of Ross Avenue. The menu is simple, with burgers, hot dogs, fried chicken and chili; they also serve alcohol. The menu and the space exploit a theme inspired by the previous tenant, a former automotive garage.
Rapscallion comes from brothers Bradley and Brooks Anderson and Chef of the Year nominee Nathan Tate, and it's a neighborhood bistro similar to their other place, Boulevardier. But instead of French, Rapscallion's menu is influenced by Tate's Southern roots, with some products from his family farm. The Andersons also own Veritas, so the wines are exactingly conceived; cocktails by Eddie Eakin focus on spirits distilled from grain, cane, and agave. In addition, Rapscallion offers martini service with house-pickled garnishes to pair with the oyster selection.
Neighborhood taqueria for Lake Highlands comes from Andrew and Amy Savoie, who are LH residents. Andrew, a culinary instructor at the Art Institute of Dallas for the past nine years, has previously worked at restaurants such as Jean Georges in New York; Hugo's in Maine; and Bouchon in Yountville, California. He takes a chef's perspective toward tacos while drawing inspiration from Mexican cuisine. Resident's menu includes tacos with chicken, short ribs, pork belly, tempura striped bass, and chorizo with onion and potato. There are two signatures: chicken with pickled nopales, hominy, and ancho aioli and pork shoulder with pineapple, cabbage, and guajillo.
This Italian restaurant comes from Trinity Groves founder Phil Romano and Jay Valley, corporate chef of Eatzi's. The menu includes pasta, charcuterie, and seafood, with unique twists on favorites including Sicilian lasagna, a deconstructed version of the classic served tossed in bowl with mini meatballs, Bolognese, and fresh ricotta and pecorino pastina with shrimp and asparagus. Italian for "tiny dough," pastina with butter, milk, and cheese was the go-to comfort food of Valley's mother.
Ramen shop at Sylvan Thirty feels like the real deal, with its casual stand-up counter and steaming pots of broth. This is as authentic as it gets — which is no surprise, becomes it comes from acclaimed chef Teiichi Sakurai, owner of Tei-An and native of Japan. The menu is short and sweet, with five to six ramen options and a rice dish or two. It’s all about you and your bowl of noodles.
Named for American president Theodore Roosevelt, this restaurant from the owners of Bolsa and Smoke is an ambitious effort with an adjacent bakery that sells breads, croissants, cookies, and other treats. The menu has an old-school classicism with dishes such as beef Wellington, steak frites, and crab Louie. But it also boasts trendy dishes such as toasts. Much attention has been lavished on the atmosphere, whose ironic touches invoke a Wes Anderson film.
Brandon Hays and Phil Schanbaum (So & So’s, High Fives, Standard Pour, Whippersnapper) partnered with chef Graham Dodds on this Greenville Avenue eatery. The menu includes Windy Meadows chicken and dumplings with parsnips and carrots, skate wing with fingerling potato salad, beef Bolognese lasagna, smoked lamb brisket, mushroom tamales, and parsley root gnocchi with mushrooms and artichokes.