We're counting down the days until our 2023 CultureMap Tastemaker Awards, honoring the people who make our local restaurant scene soar.
Part of that countdown is our special
editorial series in which we've elected
nominees, whom we'll celebrate at a party on May 4 at Fashion Industry Gallery (F.I.G.) with tastings and awards to the winners. Tickets are still on sale.
In that series, we've profiled nominees for
Rising Star Chef, Neighborhood Restaurant, Bar, Brewery, Bartender, Best Wine Program, Best Burgers, and Best New Restaurant (you can still vote!). We'll also be covering Chef of the Year.
This entry pays tribute to the big kahuna: Restaurant of The Year.
Unlike our New Restaurant category, these 10 restaurants are the established players, the places that for one reason or another ruled the Dallas scene in 2023.
Here are our nominees for 2023 Restaurant of The Year:
An institution in Dallas dining for more than 40 years, this Highland Park Village classic embodies sophistication while remaining decidedly unpretentious. Other restaurants have come and gone in this luxe shopping center, but Cafe Pacific prevails, with attracting new generations, earning spots on Best Seafood lists, and
remaining the destination for Dallas philanthropists, decisionmakers, and influencers to dine and drink, year after year.
No other establishment in Dallas earned more international acclaim in 2023 than Carte Blanche, the fine-dining restaurant and bakery on Greenville Avenue from husband-and-wife Casey and Amy La Rue. They're the first stand-alone restaurant to
achieve Forbes Five-Star in Texas — meaning, without the deep pockets of a hotel to back them up — and are also the only Dallas restaurant to earn the prestigious 5-diamond award from AAA. Awards like this sound nice but if you've partaken of one of their exquisite multi-course tastings, you know that the awards are well deserved.
"Unpretentious Service, Pretentious Cuisine" is the wry slogan at Cry Wolf, which should come as no surprise if you know chef-owner Ross Demers, a sharp-witted rogue with scads of talent who's bounced from fine-dining in Addison to cafes in Deep Ellum — all propitiously leading to this acclaimed, chef-driven restaurant housed in a small, unexpected (that's part of its charm) storefront in east Dallas, where it's offering a menu of tapas-style and full-plate inspirations, with every night a new adventure.
The karma at this address is good. It was previously Bolsa, which brought casual foodie excellence to Oak Cliff, then was taken over by
award-winning chef Matt Balke and seasoned restaurant veteran Corey McCombs, who've continued the tradition of an uncomplicated yet adventurous menu with a focus on seasonality and fresh ingredients. More recently, they've emerged as a major destination for brunch, carving out a niche in a meal category that's rife with competition, with migas, biscuits & gravy, and their blue corn pancakes with butterscotch, salted butter, cajeta, and bacon, which people are willing to drive sheer across town to get.
Steakhouse located in the buzzy Epic complex on the edge of Deep Ellum features a globally-inspired menu, incorporating elements form Asia Europe, and the Americas to give the steakhouse format a fresh twist. The restaurant is part of the Milkshake Concepts group, who are very active in the Dallas restaurant scene right now (Stirr, Vidorra, The Finch), and the menu is overseen by chef Rodman Shields, whose approach is to get 'er done in a low-key but authoritative fashion. There's also creative cocktails and a sommelier-curated wine program with some major labels, as it is still a steakhouse, after all.
Asian-BBQ restauranat-bar from Austin chefs Tyson Cole (Uchi) and Aaron Franklin (Franklin Barbecue) merges Asian cuisine and Texas BBQ with smoked meats and boozy slushees in a casual, funky East Dallas setting that feels very Austin - a great environment to snack on not-expensive chef-caliber bites such as corn fritters, ribs, and hush puppies, along with a boozy slushee flight, 3 flavors for $12. It was a very good year: They just opened a second location in Addison in the former Flying Saucer at Montfort and Belt Line.
When husband-and-wife Andrew and Amy Savoie opened this upscale taqueria in 2015, it was a godsend for Lake Highlands, which at the time was a restaurant desert. They were also ahead of the curve in their championing of the taco, applying Andrew's extensive culinary experience, from New York to Napa to New Orleans, to create tacos with fresh, made-to-order tortillas, slow-braised meats, seasonal and local produce, and a margarita that elevates the concept of Happy Hour. They center their restaurant on the community, investing in Lake Highlands, embodied by the name itself, making them perhaps the best neighborhood restaurant that ever was.
Comfortable, elegant restaurant from chef Abraham Salum features seasonal New American food and doting service, and has prevailed for nearly 20 years - no small feat in Dallas' fickle restaurant world. Salum is a graduate of New England Culinary Institute who worked in kitchens in France, Belgium, Mexico, whose vision has always been to set standards rather than follow them. Advantageously located between Oak Lawn and the Park Cities, and treasured by its faithful and sophisticated clientele, Salum is the kind of place every neighborhood would like to have, the kind of place you'd expect to find in big cities around the world.
Intimate sushi restaurant on Greenville Avenue has only 13 seats, making it one of the hottest reservations in Dallas. It's omakase style, meaning that customers entrust the chef — in this case, the acclaimed team of founder Jimmy Park and chef Shin Kondo — to determine the menu, with some courses consisting of sushi and others consisting of various cooking techniques and ingredients. In a regular sushi restaurant, it's a coup if you can sit at the sushi counter and interact with the chef, watching as they prepare the food, then having them hand it to you directly. At Shoyo, everyone sits at the sushi counter.
It had to be something special to take over the space on Greenville Avenue that was previously home to the Grape, the beloved wine-centric restaurant that had been in Dallas for more than 40 years, and Sister more than fits the bill. Owners Duro Hospitality (The Charles, Cafe Duro, El Carlos Elegante) could have just cloned their Design District restaurant The Charles, but instead, they ambitiously went for something different: a restaurant charming enough to win over the neighbors and sophisticated enough to draw the foodies, with a wine list heavy on bottles from Italy and a creative menu of Mediterranean and Italian food including seasonal dishes like beets & avocado that are as beautiful as they are tasty.