Our annual Tastemaker Awards pay tribute to the people and places doing exceptional work in the Dallas restaurant and bar community. For the last several weeks, we have introduced you to the nominees in nine categories, from Rising Star Chef of the Year to Best Burger.
A panel of expert judges helped us compile the contenders, and they selected all of the winners except for Best New Restaurant. That was determined by you, our readers, and it was a close race.
But enough about how we did it. Meet the 2015 Tastemaker Award winners, whom we toasted at our grand tasting event at the Empire Room:
Restaurant of the Year: Gemma
Chef of the Year nominee Stephen Rogers and his wife, Allison Yoder, do American food with a fresh California sensibility and seasonal focus at this Henderson Avenue award-winner. Rogers is a native of Dallas; both worked at Napa Valley restaurant Press. The wine program gets as much care and attention as the food.
Chef of the Year (tie): Tim Byres, Smoke, and Graham Dodds, Hibiscus
Fun to see these two share the title. Graham Dodds has breathed new life into Hibiscus, giving it the seasonal focus for which he is known. Tim Byres, Dallas' smoked-meat guru, has made Plano seem cool with the second outpost of his famous Smoke.
Rising Star Chef of the Year: Sarah Snow, The Grape
Sarah Snow has spent time in some great Dallas kitchens — Common Table, Pyramid Restaurant, Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek, Bijoux — but now she's manning the stove at The Grape, where she churns out, among other things, the special hand-made pastas for which she's known.
Neighborhood Restaurant of the Year: Cane Rosso
At this authentic Neapolitan pizzeria chain, the use of top ingredients, some local, transforms pizza from its former stature as throwaway grub into a true gourmet experience. Despite a mini-expansion, each branch fits its neighborhood, from Deep Ellum to White Rock Lake to Fairview.
Best New Restaurant: Clark Food & Wine Co. and C'Viche
These sibling restaurants on hot hot hot Greenville Avenue come from former Rosewood Manion on Turtle Creek chef Randall Warder, who dove back into the fray after a stint as a corporate chef. Clark Food & Wine is an American restaurant with a modern European sensibility; C'Viche is a casual drop-in with several varieties of ceviche and a fabulous bar with sangria, tequila, mojitos, caipirinhas and margaritas.
Bar of the Year: Parliament
At this State-Thomas watering hole owned by Bartender of the Year Eddie "Lucky" Campbell, the atmosphere is transformative, the service attentive, the level of seriousness intense and the cocktails simply transcendent. Parliament also is our readers' pick for best new bar of 2014.
Bartender of the Year: Eddie "Lucky" Campbell, Parliament
Eddie Campbell is the a master of his craft and yet always learning new things. He's an enthusiast in his field, generous of spirit, a friend to everyone. Wherever he goes, the best drinks happen.
Brewery of the Year: Revolver
This Granbury brewery has carved out a reputation for doing things right since it opened in fall 2012. Its beers are approachable yet well-made, and the Blood & Honey, a wheat beer flavored with blood orange, orange zest and local honey, is a big local favorite.
Best Burger: Off-site Kitchen
OSK is a chef's fantasy of what a burger joint is, located on the more industrial side of the Design District. The Locals Only — a medium-rare patty, with thick bacon and a harmonious balance of ingredients that includes mustard, American cheese and jalapeño — is just $4.75, so it's cheap and good.