Dallas Tastemaker Awards 2020
Tastemaker Awards

16 best new restaurants in Dallas compete for Tastemaker title — vote now

16 best new restaurants in Dallas compete for Tastemaker title — vote

Commons Club
The time has come to cast your vote. Will it be for Commons Club (above)? Photo courtesy of Commons Club

The 2020 CultureMap Tastemaker Awards, our annual event honoring the best in local food and drink, comes at a challenging time. With the coronavirus, we may not be dining out much these days. But we can still celebrate the best chefs, bartenders, and breweries. All of our nominees are listed here.

Part of the Tastemaker tradition is Best New Restaurant, where you get to choose who wins, in a bracket-style competition where 16 new restaurants go head to head.

You can vote once a day for your favorite. The voting goes four rounds, culling down from 16 candidates to two finalists.

We'll announce the winner at our Virtual Awards on July 30, with an online awards ceremony plus a Tasting Tote featuring bites, sips, and more to enjoy at home.

To vote, click here. Don't delay: The first bracket ends on July 13. Start clicking!

Upscale bistro on transitioning Fitzhugh Avenue comes from Greg Katz, the charming F&B veteran of Fireside Pies, Victor Tangos, and the Headington group. Named after his mother, Beverley's menu is Jewish crossed with Texas, Mexico, and beyond, with ceviche tacos side by side with caviar on potato latkes, chicken schnitzel, and matzo ball soup. Service is smooth, and the atmosphere is glitzy, with black woods, brass accents, a marble bar, and a banquette that wraps around the dining room. Currently open for dinner Tuesday-Sunday, plus Saturday & Sunday brunch.

Drake's comes from Hunter Pond, founder and CEO of Vandelay Hospitality Group, including such concepts as the East Hampton Sandwich Co. chain and Hudson House, the East Coast-style restaurant also on Lovers Lane. Drake's is inspired by old-school, classic hangouts of Los Angeles like Delilah's, Craig's, and Mr. Nice Guy, with an old Hollywood feel: dim mood lighting, red interiors, and a circular bar at the center. The restaurant is currently open for limited dining at dinner only, reservations required. Phones are open from 3-10 pm.

Commons Club
Flagship restaurant at Virgin Hotels Dallas is open all day, with a bar, lounge, and adjacent coffee bar. Designed to feel like a members-only establishment, Commons Club has a fun ambience with a quirky-cool decor. The menu is trendy but approachable, ranging from a $15 burger to $44 steak frites to a seductive dish of house-made noodles in truffle butter. There's also a decadent brunch and a concept/menu called The Kitchen by Matt McCallister, which serves a seasonally driven menu with a "French meets Texan" theme. Currently open at 50 percent capacity for all three meals, reservations encouraged but not required.

Located at the Hall Arts Hotel in Dallas' Arts District, Ellie's features a Napa-inspired menu with pasta, salads, sandwiches, and a sterling wine list - no surprise since owners Craig and Kathryn Hall are well known wine buffs who own Hall Wines in Napa Valley. Chef Eric Dreyer, who was private chef to Oprah Winfrey and a former chef at Fearing's, is rolling out gems such as watermelon and feta salad with arugula and basil dressing and peach-glazed salmon with corn and Heirloom tomatoes. The restaurant is currently open Tuesday-Saturday from 4-9 pm for walk-ins only.

Georgie By Curtis Stone
Restaurant in the Knox District, in the former Villa-O space, comes with the participation of celebrity chef Curtis Stone, a spinoff of Gwen, a Hollywood restaurant and butcher shop he owns with his brother Luke. Georgie is a collaboration between the two brothers and Stephan Courseau, owner of nearby restaurants Le Bilboquet and Up on Knox. The menu features Australian Blackmore wagyu, caviar with red wheat blini and crème fraiche, hot smoked salmon, and black cod. Currently not open but menu items can be ordered at the adjoining butcher shop Thursdays-Saturdays from 6-9 pm.

Casual-chic restaurant from chef Matt McCallister specializes upscale comfort food. The signature is the Parker House rolls, served with a dipping sauce made of parmesan mornay and chicken drippings. Entrees include half chicken, grass-fed sirloin, and Wagyu rib eye, and desserts are by Maggie Huff, who was pastry chef at McCallister's former restaurant FT33. A big feature is the raw bar with oysters, bluefin tuna, and dry-aged beef tartare. McCallister's commitment to farm-to-table includes a small garden on-site. Currently open for dinner 5-9 pm with inside and patio seating, reservations required.

Sketches of Spain
Named for the Miles Davis album, this restaurant in North Oak Cliff specializes in "Pinchos," a more sophisticated version of Spanish tapas, typically found in the north of Spain. Pinchos often use toothpicks; "pinchar" means "to pierce." Consider zucchini "cups" — hollowed out and filled with sautéed seafood, vegetables, goat cheese, and aioli. Their inspiration is the traditional Spanish taberna, an unpretentious place where you can hang out and spend quality time with friends. Currently open at limited capacity with dining room and patio seating; reservations recommended. Takeout can be ordered on the website.

Red Stix Street Food
Red Stix is a culmination of Chef Uno's childhood memories and travels. Each hand-crafted bowl or sandwich is finished with a yakitori stick. The sticks are threaded with morsels of chicken, pork, or steak and grilled over binchotan charcoal, then nestled on top of rice/noodle/salad bowl or sandwich, with vegetables, pickled daikons, and herbs. Currently the dining room is open Monday-Saturday, with a walk-up window for to-go orders.

Pappas Delta Blues Smokehouse
Upscale barbecue restaurant is from the acclaimed Houston-based Pappas Restaurants (Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen, Pappas Bros. Steakhouse, Pappasito’s Cantina). They do your prototypical barbecue meat plates, and their signature is their Prime beef brisket. They also do buttermilk fried chicken and a fancy chicken-fried steak. Their other theme is bourbon, which you can order in a flight. This location in Plano, in a former Bone Daddy's, is the second, following the original in Brewster, Texas. Currently this restaurant is temporarily closed.

Toluca Organic
Fresh, healthy Mexican restaurant on the ground level of the Gables Villa Rosa building in Uptown is a new concept from TJ Frank, co-founder of Southpaws Grill. it features local, organic, vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free offerings, with a goal of being both vegan-friendly and non-vegan-friendly, as well — a place where vegans and non-vegans can eat at the same place, and enjoy great food. Their menu features salads, tacos, bowls, and burritos, with a versatile approach that includes plenty of room to customize to your liking. Currently open daily at 50 percent occupancy. No reservations required. Takeout orders can be made on the website, and delivery is available via all third-party companies.

Sloane's Corner
American bistro is the latest concept from veteran restaurateur Tim McEneny (Front Room, Jalisco Norte), and comes with a highly personal touch: It's named for his daughter. It's a cosmopolitan spot located on a key downtown corner, inside the newly redeveloped Trammell Crow Center near Nasher Sculpture Center, where it very accommodatingly serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, plus a daily Happy Hour from 2-6 pm, as well as a coffee bar and takeout corner with food and beverage to go. Currently the restaurant is temporarily closed.

Coastal, southern European-inspired restaurant  in Bishop Arts is from Exxir Hospitality, a collaboration between the Nazerian family and COO Jeremy Hargrove. The menu features light apps pushed around on bar carts, sort of dim sum-style. The menu has an Italian influence with dishes such as porchetta with salsa verde, toasted fregola with Italian sausage and manila clams, fried baby artichoke hearts, house-made pastas, and wood-fired pizzas. Currently open at limited capacity with dining room and patio seating; reservations recommended.

Izakaya-style restaurant in Bishop Arts from chef Justin Holt serves yakitori, ramen, and cocktails featuring shochu and Japanese whisky. Noodles are made from flour ground in-house from Texas wheat, and the miso and pickles are fermented on site. The restaurant is small in size and vibe, with 27 seats at the bar, communal table, and three dining tables. If the restaurant's full, you pencil in your name to a clipboard with a waitlist.

400 Gradi
Italian restaurant at the 2000 Ross Ave. building is from Australian celebrity chef Johnny Di Francesco, and specializes in Neapolitan-style pizza made, using authentic ingredients such as San Marzano tomatoes, mozzarella, olive oil, and gelato imported from Italy. The menu also includes rustic Italian dishes such as veal chop with polenta, pappardelle with mushrooms, or salmon con caponata - IE, eggplant, olives, and onions. Desserts are luscious including dense chocolate cake and a beautiful tiramisu. Currently the restaurant is temporarily closed.

Hinodeya Ramen Bar
Masao "Mark" Kuribara, a fourth-generation chef and restaurateur from Japan, has opened this ramen house and bar on Greenville Avenue in the former BB Bop space. It's Kuribara's fourth in the U.S. and the first outside California to specialize in dashi ramen –– a noodle bowl whose light, pure-flavored, umami-filled broth is based on dashi, the seafood-based foundation of much of Japanese cuisine. Their noodles are thicker than those used for tonkotsu ramen, and a bit squiggly, made to Hinodeya's specifications by Yamachan Ramen in San Jose. Currently open with dining room and patio seating, plus takeout and curbside delivery.

Uncle Zhou
Acclaimed Chinese restaurant from Queens, New York specializing in hand-pulled noodles relocated to Plano, seeking a better audience for its traditional Chinese Henan food. Henan is a province in Central China whose cuisine is centered on rice, rice noodles, pork, onions, and smoked meat. The goal is to balance flavors: not too spicy, not too salty, not too sweet. Those hand-pulled noodles are long - so much so that they'll provide tiny scissors to cut them. Currently open with limited dining room seating plus takeout, no reservation required.