Dallas Tastemaker Awards 2019
Tastemaker Awards

10 best restaurants in Dallas rule our realm with top food and drink

10 best restaurants in Dallas rule our realm with top food and drink

Sassetta pizza wine
This headline was brought to you by Game of Thrones. The pizza's from Sassetta. Photo courtesy of Sassetta

The annual 2019 CultureMap Tastemaker Awards celebrates the best in Dallas-Fort Worth food and drink, spotlighting bars, chefs, and restaurants — including the big kahuna, Restaurant of the Year, where all components must come together including food, drink, atmosphere, and service.

From these 10 nominees, our panel of judges, consisting of former CultureMap Tastemaker Award winners and local F&B experts, narrowed it down to one that will win the top award.

You can find out who when the winners are announced at the CultureMap Tastemaker Awards party on April 25 at Fashion Industry Gallery. Tickets are on sale now.

Here are our 10 nominees for the 2019 Tastemaker Awards Restaurant of the Year:

Al Biernat's
Clubby steakhouse has two locations, in Highland Park and North Dallas, and remains the beefeater's pick among Dallas high society and celebs passing through town. Prime rib stands tall and red, and steaks are impeccably cooked, with prices to match. There is caviar and non-beef options, such as horseradish-crusted halibut, and even a vegan menu. The wine list is stupendous, but the real star is owner Al Biernat, who manages to be as classy as the clientele while catering to their needs.

Pioneering, influential Bolsa not only paved the way for the farm-to-table and mixology movements in Dallas, but also was an early settler in North Oak Cliff/Bishop Arts and helped transform the neighborhood into a restaurant juggernaut. The menu changes according to season and supply, but there is always a bruschetta sampler with toppings such as fig, prosciutto, and butternut squash. In a city where restaurants come and go, this one has managed to persevere.

Michelin-starred chef Bruno Davaillon (Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek) returns with an opus that serves a range of classic and contemporary French dishes. Open for lunch and dinner, it's a beautifully designed space in downtown Dallas, where dining is an elegant experience, with pristine presentations of seafood and vegetables on the finest of fine china. The restaurant's bar has a bit of a buzz, with lots of great cocktails and a menu of bites.

Cane Rosso
Trailblazing pizza chain deserves our eternal gratitude for upping our pizza game in a meaningful way. Dallas grew up on chains and crappy cracker crusts, and getting people to try new things is never an easy thing. But founder Jay Jerrier, with his social media savvy and commitment to authentic Neapolitan-style pizza, carried it off. Some people will still always complain about "sagging" crusts — they need to take a bite and see how much better it tastes.

Jalisco Norte
Mexican Authentic Mexican restaurant at Turtle Creek Village is from restaurateur Tim McEneny and his NL Group (Dakota's, Front Room Tavern), and chef Jose Meza Arroyave, whose resume includes the famed NOMA in Copenhagen, Denmark. Dishes like salmon with roasted tomato marmalade and corn sauce sound deceptively simple, but the flavors and sauces are complex. They constantly refresh their menu, adding seasonal items, cool new dishes, and fabulous cocktails. The value is excellent: You can eat very well here at a reasonable price.

Restaurant from Brady Wood (Green Room) was a Park Cities favorite from the day it opened, with its contemporary Mexican-inspired cuisine, mixology-caliber cocktails, and beachy-cool patio. But the restaurant got a big boost in foodie circles after hiring chef Anastacia Quinones, whose expertise has earned her respect and acclaim, including a CultureMap Tastemaker award in 2018 for Rising Star Chef. She's injected new excitement into the menu with features such as a daily taco special.

Mot Hai Ba
People really love this neighborhood spot in the former York Street location, serving Vietnamese cuisine, including street foods and dishes prepared in chef-driven restaurants in and around Hanoi; in fact, it was also nominated for Best Neighborhood Restaurant. Highlights of the menu by chef-owner Peja Krstic include imperial rolls filled with pork and shrimp; chargrilled pork belly and pork meatballs with vermicelli; pho; and shaking beef.

The presence of Nobu in Dallas puts us on a super-glitzy list of Nobu cities that includes Las Vegas, London, Monte Carlo, and Dubai. The atmosphere feels very James Bond, and international jet-setters know that nothing says good sushi like Nobu's roll filled with lobster for a cool $29. The surprises on the menu are the dozen desserts, with selections such as milk-chocolate miso brûlée with vanilla ice cream, candied pecans, and cappuccino foam.

French for "a small bag of herbs and spices," this Oak Lawn restaurant is from chef Stephen Rogers and his wife Allison Yoder, owners of the acclaimed Gemma, and it has almost managed to overtake its big sister. Its sophisticated, savvy menu has dozens of mezze offerings, many veggie-centric, that draw from a broad array of countries such as Spain, France, Italy, Greece, Lebanon, Israel, Turkey, Tunisia, and Morocco, and it has an innovative wine program to match.

Casual but chic Italian restaurant from the always-excellent Headington companies (Joule Dallas, CBD Provisions, Commissary) does northern-style Italian in an ultra-chic complex in the Design District, where it shares a patio with Wheelhouse, its gastropub sibling. The pizza is excellent, the pastas sublime. Wine program is strong, and so is the pretty people watching.