Hope you're getting ready for the 2017 CultureMap Tastemaker Awards, our annual event honoring the best in local food and drink. We have an entire list of nominees in all categories of food and beverage, from best bartenders to the best restaurant in Dallas-Fort Worth.
We'll applaud them all at a big party on April 20 from 7-10 pm at Sixty Five Hundred, with tastings and awards, emceed by Texas celebrity chef Tim Love. Tickets are on sale now, for $45, through March 31.
Here are the nominees:
No question, this sultry Deep Ellum establishment is definitely one-of-a-kind: What other bar serves Hungarian food like chicken paprikash with brown butter spaetzle? It also has a big selection of whiskeys, rare liqueurs, and a serious list of distinctive cocktails. Consider the Jackie O, made with rye, sarsparilla, maple syrup, angostura, and black walnut bitters, or the accurately named Purple Drink, with whiskey, Amaro Montenegro, cassis, grenadine, lemon, blackberry, mint, and soda.
Black Swan Saloon
The Black Swan is one of Dallas' most highly regarded bars, thanks to a variety of factors that include the doting hospitality of bartender-owner Gabe Sanchez. The bar was one of the first in town to take cocktails to the next level when it opened in 2010, so it was a trailblazer. It also serves magical drinks. But perhaps its most winning quality is its modest demeanor. It's a small space, not too glitzy, that surpasses first impressions and sneakily wins you over.
Harwood International is intent on creating its own little world, and this little piece of that world is a pastoral complex with the largest patio in Dallas. Isn't it really just an outdoor bar? Whatever you call it, it boasts gravel walkways, endless swaths of grass, and views for miles (you can see the Perot Museum, American Airlines Center, and more). There's beer, wine, and cocktails, and a menu of au courant dishes such as beet salad, sliders, and a hot fried chicken sandwich.
Industry Alley Bar
The name is on the money, as this South Side bar has a fan club within the service industry, thanks to the dean-like status of owner-bartender Charlie Papaceno, formerly of the Windmill Lounge. Drinks are good in an unfussy way. Pool tables, pinball machines, arcade games, and neon beer signs add a comforting retro dive note to the corrugated-steel interior. There's also a lounge area with couches and an outdoor patio with a colorful mural.
Companion lounge to the Houndstooth Coffee bar at Sylvan Thirty carves out a wonderfully unique worldview, specializing in drinks made with coffee, mezcal, or sherry, including a sherry flight. Everything about the place feels well-conceived, from the comfortable stools to the quiet, tasteful design to artful cocktails such as One Of Those Nights, with cognac, amaro, curacao, and cold-brew coffee.
Garland Road in East Dallas finally gets some hip with this ultra-cool lounge with rock star credentials. The '60s airport decor, with vinyl stools and curves all over, is divine. So are the drinks, featuring alluring flavor combinations such strawberry-infused vodka with prosecco and lemon. There's a worthy list of bourbons and Scotch, beers, and wine, and snacks such as shrimp and grits and mac and cheese with a potato-chip crust.
The Cedars Social
Let's hear it for this South Side bar that has survived ups and downs, owner hand-offs, and the vicissitudes of an evolving bar scene. What hasn't changed is its location in an ever-upwardly-trending neighborhood, chic interior, and panoramic view of the downtown Dallas skyline. The bar was a pioneer in the mixology world and still boasts a fine assortment of cocktails such as the Aviation with gin, creme de violette, maraschino, and lemon.
Fun hangout co-owned by musician Pat Green was well ahead of the curve with its backyard-style outdoor space, a bandwagon many have jumped on since. Plenty of good beer on tap, a good-time atmosphere, and the incorporation of live music bring a little Austin into an Uptown neighborhood that sorely needs it. The "down home" menu of food such as beer-can chicken may be funky, but it includes a conscious effort to use good local purveyors such as Empire Baking Co.
NorthPark spot is more restaurant than bar but the place is big enough to accommodate a large bar. A cocktail program overseen by Kyle Hilla, who won the 2016 Tastemaker award for best bartender, promises that the drinks are wisely devised. Shoppers can take a well-deserved break with a Roosevelt 75, made with gin, lemon, and champagne foam, named for the U.S. president who serves as a thematic inspiration for the place.
The Tipsy Alchemist
Whimsical bar in Uptown comes from the SBBC Group, whose portfolio includes Truth & Alibi and Punk Society, with an atmosphere that summons the look — and functionality — of an old science lab. Think beakers, flasks, blow torches, and liquid nitrogen, with smoke part of the show. If you were wondering where you can find a drink served in a light bulb, then Tipsy is the place.