Dallas' 16 best new restaurants face off in heated Tastemakers battle
Get your button-pushing finger ready, it's time for our annual CultureMap Tastemaker Awards Best New Restaurant tournament, when 16 new eateries go head to head in a bracket-style vote-off that you decide.
It's one of the most popular categories in our annual celebration of the best in Dallas food and drink.
It differs from the rest of our editorial series, where we spotlight nominees in categories such as best pastry chefs, best bars, best neighborhood restaurants, best rising star chefs, and best new pizza. Those are determined by a panel of judges consisting of former CultureMap Tastemaker Award winners and local F&B experts.
But the Best New Restaurant is the only category in which you can vote once a day for your favorite. The voting goes four rounds, culling down to two finalists.
Who will win? Find out at the Tastemaker Awards party on May 12 at Fashion Industry Gallery, where we’ll dine on bites from nominated restaurants while emcee CJ Starr reveals the winners. Buy tickets here.
To vote, click here. Don't delay: The first bracket ends on Monday, April 25.
Here are the 16 nominees:
Oak Cliff wine bar in the former Victor Hugo's space (named for its address at 1115 N. Beckley Ave.) is from Sharon Van Meter, most previously at the 3015 at Trinity Groves event space. You can get wine by the glass, bottle, or case, plus shared small plates such as Spanish meatballs with creamy polenta and crunchy bread; tomato bisque with mini grilled cheese; caramelized squash toast with whipped ricotta; and smashed fried potatoes with saffron goat cheese.
Greenville Avenue restaurant-bakery from Casey and Amy La Rue is a two-pronged concept: Mornings, it's a bakery featuring the sweet creations of chef Amy; evenings is a tasting menu restaurant with a hyper focus on wine, featuring the savory creations of chef Casey. The couple worked in serious restaurants across the U.S. before moving to Dallas to open this gem, with dishes such as fried green tomato with Dungeness crab, and smoked hamachi with ratatouille.
Good steaks done cheap is the goal at this Deep Ellum restaurant from a credentialed team that includes Jeff Biehler, formerly of The Foundry. Their inspiration is Char Bar, the now closed restaurant on Greenville Avenue, where broke musicians could get a cheap steak. The idea is steakhouse-style food — including steakhouse sides and salads like a Caesar, potato gratin, and charred broccolini — but affordable, with live music (they have two stages) and a Deep Ellum vibe.
Small restaurant in a former Subway is from Dallas chef and foodie god Ross Demers, and is very Ross-style: It seats about 28, with an open bar and an open kitchen where you can watch the chefs do a limited menu of ooh-and-aah dishes that changes frequently. Think gnocchi with beef cheeks. The wine selection is boutiquey with breathtaking by-the-glass selections such as Evolution pinot noir from Oregon or La Nerthe grenache from Cotes-du-Rhone.
Globally inspired restaurant and elevated dining destination at The Epic development in Deep Ellum represents a next step for Milkshake Concepts (Stirr, Vidorra, Citizen). It's serving creative gourmet fare such as Peruvian anticucho beef sticks, Burmese tea leaf salad, and Texas Wagyu tomahawk with miso compound butter. A buzzy brunch features Japanese pancakes, lobster benedict, and steak & eggs, and crafty cocktails including some with sake and lychee liqueur.
Hawkers Asian Street Food
Cool concept from Florida is all about Asian street foods: Korean twice-fried wings, Seoul hot chicken bao, and roti canai, a thin flaky pancake served with curry sauce. Cocktails such as the "magari-thai" with tequila, Patron Citronage, mango nectar, and bird’s eye chili have an Asian spin, as well. They made their Texas debut in Dallas' Deep Ellum, with the bar at the front of the restaurant to make it feel energetic as soon as you enter.
Hei Hei American Chinese
Appealing new restaurant in Lake Highlands is from the team behind Cedar & Vine, in the former Atomic Pie pizza space. They do familiar American-Chinese dishes, with a twist. There’s stir-fry dishes to which you can add beef, chicken, or shrimp, such as spicy Hunan (with smoky spicy garlic sauce, mushrooms, bell peppers, onions, & carrots); and Kung Pao, with chilies, peanuts, bell pepper, onion, and celery. Everything on the menu is shareable, and they're also good to go.
Asian smokehouse and bar from two of Austin's biggest restaurant names, Aaron Franklin (Franklin Barbecue) and Tyson Cole (Uchi), is a casual, outdoor-centric hangout in old East Dallas, where it's combining Southeast Asian flavors with traditional Texas BBQ. Think rice bowls, French onion brisket melt, and Malaysian-inspired dishes including curry chicken and brisket coconut rice. Dallas is the second Loro; the original opened in Austin in 2018.
Charming bistro and foodie favorite in a cute house off Oak Lawn is from husband-and-wife Modesto and Kathryn Rodriguez. The menu incorporates influences from Modesto's Venezuelan heritage, along with Spanish and Mexican flavors. Dishes include fried cauliflower and onions battered in a chili spice batter, served with caper aioli; sliced Wagyu with chimichurri sauce and arugula salad; and seafood with elote corn "ribs" — long strips of corn kernels cut straight from the cob.
Nick Badovinus is Dallas' quintessential chef so it's fitting he scored the historic Magnolia Petroleum Building, the eye-catching triangular building in the newly dubbed "East Quarter," a former wasteland on the eastern edge of downtown, for this new American restaurant. The menu features elements from both coasts with a straightforward Texas sensitivity: meatballs, steak nachos, deviled eggs, steak frites, Reuben sandwich, mac & cheese, and warm cookies for dessert.
Korean steakhouse, located in Dallas' Koreatown, has a grill-your-own meat theme in an upscale setting. Conceived by Wan Kim, originally from Korea and current CEO of Smoothie King, it features interactive grills at each table, to be used by servers trained to cook the premium cut meats while diners watch, or if they're inclined, cook their own food at their table. Standouts include kimchi fried rice, marinated short rib, Korean-style short rib, and Prime NY strip.
Charming sophisticated neighborhood restaurant is sister to The Charles, the buzzy eatery in Dallas' Design District from Duro Hospitality, located in the storied location that was once The Grape, with a wine list heavy on bottles from Italy and a creative food menu of Mediterranean and Italian dishes, with pastas such as pesto farfalle with fennel sausage, and Calabrian chile ravioli with broccoli and ricotta. Seasonal dishes like beets & avocado are as beautiful as they are tasty.
Sueño Modern Mex-Tex
Concept from the well-liked Pineda family who previously co-owned Pineda's Mexican Cuisine in Richardson, and who boast decades of experience in the industry. They're building a loyal following for their twists on Mexican classics, craft cocktails, and warm welcoming atmosphere, with expert renditions of mole and fajitas, with unusual ingredients like lobster, and a raw bar with ceviches and aguachiles.
Chinese restaurant in North Dallas is more authentic than most, with favorite dishes being the XLB, pan-fried buns, black pepper pork, greens beans, five-spice beef, jalapeno chicken, and peppered ribs. But the must-get is Peking duck, which they prepare on a showpiece rotisserie-style device, delivering the ideal pairing of crisp skin, and tender and juicy meat. They also have a cute dessert featuring sweet rolls that you dip in condensed milk.
French-inspired restaurant and bar at the Renaissance Hotel Saint Elm Dallas Downtown is named for New Orleans writer, producer, and performer Allen Toussaint. It observes generous hotel hours — breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily — with food that incorporates French and Asian flavors, plus NOLA-inspired cocktails. The menu features French staples such as steak tartare, steak frites with NY strip, roasted chicken, and an Asian-inspired lobster Thermidor.
Written By The Seasons
Cozy and elegant Bishop Arts restaurant is from the folks who own nearby Tribal All Day Cafe, and they're continuing their healthy streak with a restaurant focused on changing with the seasons. The menu rotates with entrees such as kimchi fried cauliflower, mahi-mahi steamed inside a banana leaf, and seafood stew. Where else in town are you going to find an amazing squash sandwich on wheat bread? A full bar features cocktails and a superb wine list.