The annual CultureMap Tastemaker Awards returns for 2023, honoring the people who make our local restaurant scene special, with their innovation, energy, and creativity.
Restaurants and food industry pros are nominated in categories such as Best Restaurant, then voted on by a panel of former winners and industry experts. (Except for Best New Restaurant, which is determined by a bracket-style online tournament to be unveiled in April.)
nominees are featured in a special editorial series followed by a tasting event and awards ceremoney on May 4 at Fashion Industry Gallery (F.I.G.). Tickets are on sale now, including a limited number of Early Bird tickets at discounted rates of $60 for general admission and $99 for VIP (includes early access to the event, valet, and a dedicated bar), available until April 2.
In 2023, the categories include Rising Star Chef, Restaurant of the Year, Chef of the Year, Bar of the Year, Pastry Chef, Brewery, Neighborhood Restaurant, Bartender, Wine Program, Best New Restaurant, and our annual wild card, this year Best Burger..
The event is sponsored by Goodstock by Nolan Ryan, Deep Ellum Brewing Company, Ellum Ranch Patio Water, Topo Chico Sparkling Mineral Water. A portion of proceeds benefits the nonprofit
Harvest Project Food Rescue.
The category of Neighborhood Restaurant of the Year is as it sounds: The place that's nearby, your reliable go-to. Here are our nominees:
Douglas Bar and Grill
Park Cities is represented by this fancy barbecue restaurant in Snider Plaza from chef Doug Pickering, a Park Cities native and SMU grad knows the turf first-hand. Pickering, previously at Work Bar in Deep Ellum and Ferris Wheeler's in the Design District knows his brisket and BBQ staples, but this place is also half steakhouse, with oysters on the half shell, steak tartare, truffle fries, and Prime steaks from Allen Brothers Ranch, plus cocktails and a wine list.
Upscale authentic Mexican restaurant is a bright light for Apheleia Restaurant Group, which has suffered some ups and downs. But they were among the first to settle in Dallas' Design District and El Bolero has remained a reliable performer. It's just the place if you're doing gallery runs or if you're one of the growing population of residents nearby seeking something interesting yet affordable, whether a weeknight special like their $8 Taco Tuesday nights, a quick breakfast taco to go in the morning, or their secretly-popular weekend brunch.
El Rincon del Maiz
Family-run Mexican restaurant in a former Sonic has two menus, one featuring classics such as cochinita pibil tacos. But it's their other menu of vegan dishes that has earned them an unprecedented amount of attention, including being named one of Bon Appétit’s Best New Restaurants in America. They're not the only Dallas Mexican restaurant to do tacos with cauliflower or jackfruit, but their homey recipes, drawn from south Mexico, have a complexity that make them a draw not only in their Garland neighborhood but for vegans and foodies across DFW.
Greenville Ave Pizza
"GAP" started out in 2007 as a standard neighborhood pizzeria on Lower Greenville with thin-crust pizzas, wings, salads, and subs, but has blossomed into much more. There's a real sense of personality, from calling their staff "pizza slayers" to amusing limited-edition pies like the five-layer "pizza cake" they once made for the Super Bowl. They've since opened two equally neighborly more locations: East Dallas where owners Sammy and Molly Mandell grew up, and Richardson, which features a full-service bar.
When this Travis Walk restaurant opened in 2013, it became an instant favorite ladies-who-lunch spot — long before the Knox Street district underwent its draconian overhaul, with quaint shops replaced by steely high-rises. But the ladies still love it, and Le Bilboquet prevails with its French-American fusion menu — crab & avocado salad, endive with Roquefort cheese, apple tarte tatin — not to mention its darling casual-yet-elegant atmosphere and proximity to Park Cities.
Ambitious mini-chain features authentic dishes from Central and Southern Mexico such as mole and posole, but also Tex-Mex touches, a well-appointed atmosphere, and $12 cocktails with muddled fruit. The first location opened in 2012 an iconic spot near downtown Dallas, where it received recognition from Preservation Dallas, but it fits in wherever it
resides, from Preston Forest to Lakewood to West Plano to Fort Worth.
Restaurant inspired by the French Riviera is from founder David Lamberti, an Irving local with a real feel for what the neighborhood needs. That means an appetizing and approachable menu, ranging from appealing Bibb lettuce salad to pizzas to risotto to steak frites; an atmosphere that's elegant but not stuffy; and a front seat to the canals for which Las Colinas is known, making Monaco feel like both a destination and a hidden gem.
Casual Mexican spot opened in 2020 in a former tire shop at Ross and Greenville Avenue - a location that could be challenging but for the prowess of chef Fino Rodriguez, who was nominated in 2022's Tastemaker Awards for Best Rising Star Chef. The restaurant draws neighbors and foodies alike with its authentic flavors and upscale ingredients, in ambitious dishes such as tacos with rib eye steak, ceviche, Mexican grits with Cotija cheese, and irresistible frozen mezcalitas.
Casual Italian eatery on Greenville Avenue has been the ultimate neighborhood restaurant before anyone started making lists of such things. It first opened in 1985, was destroyed by a fire in 2010, rebuilt and reopened in 2011, and still endures as a favorite hangout, thanks to its reasonably priced menu of pastas, fun martinis, rooftop patio, and free live jazz. And don't forget the Italchos, their signature dish that's a cross between nachos and pizza. Never forget the Italchos.
Tribal All Day Cafe
Charming community-oriented cafe in Exxir Capital's Bishop Arts development is hugely practical, especially if you're a North Oak Cliffer who loves juices, smoothies, coffee, tea, kombucha on tap, trendy flavored lattes such as beet, breakfast all day, toasts, sandwiches, vegan and vegetarian food, wraps, bowls, beer & great wine, and cocktails made with cold-press juice. Locals know that it can get crowded at breakfast and lunch, and also that they can hang out in the quiet hours between.