The 2019 CultureMap Tastemaker Awards, our annual event honoring the best in local food and drink, puts the spotlight on the best bars, best neighborhood restaurants, and rising star chefs.
Those categories are decided by our panel of judges consisting of previous winners and restaurant industry insiders.
But for Best New Restaurant, you get to decide via our Tastemaker tournament, a bracket-style competition where 16 new restaurants go head to head.
You can vote once a day for your favorite. It will go four rounds, at which time two finalists emerge.
We'll announce the winner at our party on April 25 at Fashion Industry Gallery, with an awards ceremony plus tastings of food and drink. Tickets start at $60, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting North Texas Food Bank.
To vote, click here. Don't delay: The first bracket ends on April 7.
Here are the nominees:
Billy Can Can
Stylish restaurant in Victory Park from Tristan Simon is fashioned after a 19th-century dining saloon. Chef is Matt Ford (Americano, CBD Provisions, Craft Dallas), whose menu is modern Texas with a French influence and some Mexican dishes. Menu items include oyster sliders on sweet-potato rolls; a seafood tower; venison tartare; Gulf snapper with succotash; and Wagyu tomahawk for two with roasted bone marrow and wild-arugula and green-tomato salad.
Doc B's Fresh Kitchen
The Uptown Dallas location of this Chicago-based chain opened in June with burgers, bowls, and more. It has a kind of Houston's polish and a menu with something for everyone: sandwiches, salads, pizza, and entrées such as filet mignon, hot chicken, and brick chicken — but also eight entree salads and a quinoa plate with a grilled artichoke.
Fish N Fizz
Fish and chips restaurant in Richardson from husband-and-wife Nick and Kelli Barclay has authenticity in its genes since Nick is English and has the know-how to do it right. In addition to fish and chips, there are British specialties such bubble & squeak and Cornish pasty in two versions: traditional filled with meat and vegetables, and a veggie pasty with cheese, onion, and potato. Sides are also quite British including mushy peas, smashed minted peas, and baked beans.
Hibiki comes from a pair of chefs — Franky Shin and JB Kim — who worked together at a sushi restaurant in Las Vegas. It's a little like an izakaya, Japanese pub concept, with small plates, drinks, and snacks. They're also filling another big niche — the affordable lunch — with bento boxes. They have a massive selection of specialty rolls, Japanese whiskeys, sake, sake bombs, and other cocktails.
Victory Park has sushi again, with this upscale Asian restaurant and traditional sushi bar from Kent and Tracy Rathbun. The sushi bar is overseen by Jimmu Duke, formerly of Nobu, who's rolling out not just classic sushi but items such as sushi topped with Wagyu beef. Jennifer Newbold is the head chef covering the non-sushi options such as Korean fried chicken, tempura lobster shooters, and Vietnamese duck spring rolls.
Izkina (meaning "corner" in Basque) is the onsite restaurant-bar attached to the Deep Ellum Hostel, serving Spanish-influenced cocktails, classics, and tapas in a relaxed atmosphere. Chef is Joel Orsini who takes an inventive approach to traditional Spanish favorites. They don't take reservations, and there are no hosts or servers; you order your food at the bar.
Restaurant in a new building on McKinney Avenue just north of Knox Street does a modern spin on Thai food. There are curries, stir-fry dishes, fried rice, and noodles. In addition to staples like chicken satay, tom kha soup, and pad Thai, they do signatures such as Kra Tong Tong, a combination of corn, carrot, pea, chicken, and shrimp served in a crispy golden cup; and delectable Thai chicken wings, served with a traditional Thai sauce or their special Thai take on buffalo sauce.
Upscale-casual restaurant serving dinner seven nights a week is both bicycle- and food-friendly, in an environment that's upbeat and fun. The restaurant's logo includes a bicycle front and center, and they back right up to the Santa Fe Trail with a huge patio in back. Menu includes flatbreads, salmon, roasted half chicken, pastas, salads, and shareables such as hummus and a charcuterie plate.
Restaurant-wine bar from husband and wife David and Jennifer Uygur is just down the street from its big sister, the acclaimed Italian restaurant Lucia. It takes the house-made salumi and bread that Lucia did and blows it up, adding seasonal dishes from Italy and Spain. To make the most of the experience you really gotta like animal to eat here, as they specialize in salumi and unusual items such as duck tongues in confit.
Latest concept from Apheleia Restaurant Group (Oak Dallas, Pakpao Thai, El Bolero, Royale Burgers) is two places in one, with a restaurant on the bottom floor and a separate upstairs. The signature dish is duck wings with a Chinese spicy sauce. They're also doing avocado toasts, a fritter with crab and jack cheese, a hot dog in a bao bun, soft pretzels with a sirloin carpaccio, a French onion soup "dumpling," and a fried clam-and-kale po'boy.
Petra & the Beast
Highly acclaimed restaurant in a former 1930s gas station is award-winning chef Misti Norris' ode to foraging, fermenting, and whole-animal cookery, as Texas Monthly put it. Norris is doing smart, creative dishes with loads of heart and soul, such as fried chicken hearts wrapped in a pale-green garlic crepe. The restaurant is small and highly personal, with new creations being rolled out all the time.
San Martin Bakery
Bakery and restaurant chain from Guatemala makes its entry into the United States market with a first location in Uptown Dallas, in the former McKinney Avenue Contemporary space. It offers fantastic European-styled baked goods including sourdough breads, croissants, and other puff pastries, at crazy bargain prices, along with a cozy cafe open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Taco & Vino
T&V comes from longtime wine professional Jimmy Contreras whose goal is to make wine more mainstream and to make tacos with bold flavors. There are tacos, a few appetizers, quesadillas, and desserts. The wine-by-the-glass program includes Contreras' take on a mimosa called a "frescamosa," combining bubbly with aqua frescas like watermelon. They do a funky drink called a "Kalimotxo," consisting of half Mexican Coke and half wine, usually without ice. They also offer retail sales of wine for those who want to take a bottle home.
Dallas Design District stunner is an Italian-inspired eatery with a wood-fired grill, fresh crudo, and house-made pasta. A signature dish is the cappelloni with white ragu – ground veal and pork stuffed into hat-shaped pasta. Their risotto uses ancient grains such as farro, quinoa, and kamut, and they have a large assortment of vegetable dishes including grilled kale, grilled broccoli, and grilled beets.
Upscale Mexican restaurant is from Mike Karns, chief at Firebird Restaurant Group (El Fenix, Meso Maya, La Ventana, Tortaco), but is a separate pet project between Karns and his wife, Valerie. Devised by Firebird executive chef Nico Sanchez, the menu is not specifically Mexican, although there are Mexican ingredients and inspired plates, with seafood and dishes cooked in a wood-burning oven.
Meaning "the good life," Vidorra is a Mexican restaurant in a cool Deep Ellum building with a rooftop patio offering views of the downtown skyline. The menu boasts bold Mexican flavors, along with a large tequila selection, unique cocktail program, and lively social experience.