Dining may look different these days, but there's always a time and place for a glass of wine. As part of our annual Tastemaker Awards, we include a category called Wine Program of the Year to spotlight restaurants with wine lists or features worth noting.
This year's nominees run the gamut: from neighborhood spots to fine-dining destinations, and their lists depict a similar range, from small and approachable to big and bold.
From these 10 finalists, one will be singled out as best wine program of the year. Tune in on July 30 at 7 pm as we reveal the winner during our first-ever Tastemaker Awards — Virtual Edition.
Casual restaurant and market has two locations, the Sylvan Thirty original and a second location downtown, and wine is an important component at both. You can sit down and have a glass or take a bottle to go, which is a great amenity for the downtown population of workers and residents. They do rotating features on specific wineries, offer pairing classes, and owners Daniele and Christina Puleo are so into wine, they launched their own in-house label.
Eden Hill/Dallas Farmers Market
Boutique winery in Celina makes all of its wine from Texas grapes including Tempranillo grown in the vineyards at its Celina property. In 2019, they opened a tasting room at the Dallas Farmers Market, where they share a space with a floral and gift shop in the Lofts building, usually open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday afternoons and evenings. Visitors are able to purchase tasting flights, wines by the glass, and wines by the bottle, and they regularly offer classes. Currently, the tasting room is closed but you can still buy wine to go.
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. Currently, the restaurant is open Tuesday-Saturday from 4-9 pm for walk-ins only.
The French Room, which has endured the test of time for more than a century at The Adolphus Hotel in downtown Dallas, was acquired by Ohio-based Rockbridge Capital in 2012, who executed a five-year makeover. Among the updates was a refresh of the wine program to make it more vital and approachable, with a large by-the-glass selection that ranges from California to France, with an unsurprisingly robust selection of champagnes tht includes Taittinger by the glass. Currently, the French Room is closed and will reopen on October 4.
Texas-centric restaurant from Frontburner group is probably better known for its whiskeys, but as a sibling to the very wine-friendly Sixty Vines, Haywire has a worthy wine list with labels that are familiar but not run-of-the-mill. Meiomi wines, for example, may be not be rare these days, but they sure are tasty and not outrageously priced. And like Sixty Vines, Haywire also offers a couple of selections on tap. Currently, dining room is open limited hours, plus delivery and curbside pickup.
Casual-chic restaurant from chef Matt McCallister specializes upscale comfort food with an adjoining raw bar featuring oysters, bluefin tuna, and dry-aged beef tartare. His wine list is a good match, with creative selections from around the world you don't see everywhere else that are perfect for pairing with food but also exciting on their own. One especially valuable aspect is the way they're broken into helpful categories such as "bold reds" and "aromatic & crisp whites." Currently, open for dinner 5-9 pm with inside and patio seating, reservations required.
Lovers Seafood & Market
Stylish restaurant for seafood with a fish market for home cooks. Its wine list is suited for seafood, and small, but with some neato bottles including the distinctive, crisp sancerre from France and some distinctive roses. Currently, open for dine-in and takeout, Monday-Saturday, 11 am-9 pm, and 10 pm on weekends.
Oak Cliff restaurant specializing in cured meats and small plates is a spinoff of Lucia Dallas, the Italian restaurant from husband and wife David & Jennifer Uygur, acclaimed both for its food and wine list. They tend to choose unusual wines you can't find elsewhere, many though not all Italian; they're currently offering an appealing-sounding 2019 Black Cottage sauvignon blanc from New Zealand, $30 for a bottle. Currently, curbside pickup only, Thursday-Sunday 4-7 pm, with a new menu posted every Tuesday.
The longest-running AAA / Four Diamond establishment in the city, The Pyramid at the Fairmount Hotel has been a pioneer in many respects such as its location in the Arts District before there was an Arts District, and its on-site garden. The wine selection includes more than 200 wines from around the world, and more than 60 grape varietals. They also stock a notably large selection of half bottles as well as organic, sustainable, and biodynamic wines. Currently, the hotel and restaurants are closed until July 31.
The ever-rotating food menu at this fresh-forward chain is matched only by its wine list, which is constantly changing. They offer an unprecedented 52 of the wines featured at their wine bar by the glass. Twice a year, they uncork a new selection of next-generation wines from the world's premier winemaking families. They're also quick with free advice and education via a tips section on their website. Currently, open for dine-in and takeout.