Pour yourself a shot for this new entry in the 2022 edition of the annual Tastemaker Awards, CultureMap Dallas' culinary celebration shining a light on the top talent in Dallas-Fort Worth's restaurant and bar communities.
Part of that celebration includes 10-part editorial series with profiles of nominees for Neighborhood Restaurant of the Year, Chef of the Year, Bartender of the Year, and more. Check out our page with all the nominees, all of which have been voted on by a panel of judges consisting of former CultureMap Tastemaker Award winners and local F&B experts.
It'll culminate in a party on May 12 at Fashion Industry Gallery, emceed by comedian CJ Starr, where attendees get to dine on bites from nominated restaurants and find out who the winners are in all the categories. (Tickets are on sale here.)
The category we're here to toast is Bar of the Year, and this year's crop is unusually varied, with everything from neighborhood joints to hotel bars to over-the-top Instagram-centric spots with drinks that emit smoke.
Here are the 10 nominees for 2022 best Bar of the Year:
Will Call Bar
A friendly neighborhood bar with low-key vibes and a killer lineup of food, Will Call Bar has been a Deep Ellum staple since first pouring drinks at the old Curtain Club space. They've been a no-nonsense watering hole with cold drinks, top-notch bar food, and friendly staff. They also host open-mic comedy and live music, plus TVs featuring sporting events broadcast live. With a chef in the house who is also a Tastemaker Awards nominee, they've got all the bases covered.
Bar at the Adolphus hotel in downtown Dallas was revived post-pandemic, but with a nostalgic twist. Originally opened in 1981, the bar was named after Walt Garrison, who played with the Dallas Cowboys and was also a professional rodeo rider. Now it's a winking take on an old-school Texas Tavern, a no-nonsense bar with a menu of bar food influenced by Tex-Mex and traditional Texas cuisine.
Casablanca Bar & Lounge
Bishop Arts concept from Exxir Hospitality (Paradiso, Botanist, Tejas) serves craft cocktails and shared plates, with decor that draws inspiration from Moorish design, Moroccan pattern, Balinese island influences, artisan crafts, and greenery, throughout both indoor and outdoor spaces, including a courtyard with a tiled reflecting pool. It also comes with an increasingly comment element these days: a speakeasy named Casanova that's a '70s-inspired karaoke lounge.
Candy store-restaurant combo is a chain whose Dallas location opened in November 2021. It's a kitschy antidote to the dive bar, with over-the-top food and drink including dry-ice-smoking cocktails served in crazy-big goblets, garnished with lollipops and candy necklaces. It's schlocky but fun if you just hit drinking age and are on your first date, or else if you're hauling around kids or family and could really use a stiff one.
Unpretentious bar from Joe Morales, co-owner of Adair's, is a return nominee, having been nominated in this same category in the 2021 Tastemaker Awards. Morales envisioned an "old East Dallas joint" when he opened Peak Inn in 2019, and it has all the things you need: good food including a crowd-pleasing burger, jukebox, pool table, fireplace, TVs and cheap drinks, including a generous weekday happy hour that lasts until 10 pm. The kitchen stays open until 1:30 am, a draw for service industry workers.
Funky dive bar between Deep Ellum and Expo Park is from bar impresario Kim Finch who went on to open its Greenville Avenue cousin Single Wide, and then its cool neighbor Thunderbird Station. But the Double Wide is the original with a crowd that remains hipster and laid back, cheap Lone Star, an excellent jukebox, eclectic clientele, and great bartenders.
Deep Ellum now has a place in Dallas proper for late-night dim sum, cocktails on tap, and craft cocktails made with Japanese spirits. Open in the former Beauty Bar space, Neon Kitten is a cocktail lounge first, with cocktails served in quirky vessels such as the one with gin, sage, and salted pomelo that's served in a cup shaped like a white bear. They also have a canning system so you can get cocktails to-go, as well as cocktails on tap. There are also small bites: puffs, spring rolls, and all kinds of dumplings.
Intimate Greenville Avenue lounge - it only seats 40 inside - is a dark, moody cocktail bar with peacock wallpaper, velvet seating, and decorative items culled from estate sales whose menu pushes the envelope on daring cocktail creations, new techniques, and creative presentation. The menu has three levels of cocktails, ranging from entry-level to extra- adventurous selections such as the Orange Julius Caesar made with shochu, clarified orange, clarified tomato stock, clam essence, Greek yogurt, and orange pickled onions.
Bar at the ritzy Ritz-Carlton, Dallas has always been hailed as one of the best places for people-watching: Between local high-rollers and hotel guests, it's an entertaining mix, and the bar opens onto the hotel's lobby, which not only increases the see-and-be-seen element but also provides a stunning backdrop. Best of all, you also get chef Dean Fearing's signature margarita, premium spirits, wines, and expertly mixed cocktails, plus superb bar bites.
Suburban Yacht Club
Plano restaurant with tacos and tiki drinks at The Boardwalk at Granite Park is part of the 33 Restaurant Group (Union Bear Brewing Co., Cadillac Pizza Pub, Taverna Rossa, The Yard in McKinney), with a menu inspired by Southern California's food-truck scene, bean & cheese tacos with avocado in a griddled flour tortilla. Drinks such as the the Tiki Tai with rum, Orange Curacao Orgeat, passion fruit, lime and tiki bitters are tasty and fun.