The coronavirus has put much on hold, but it hasn't defeated the 2020 CultureMap Tastemaker Awards, our annual celebration of the best in Dallas-Fort Worth food and drink where we spotlight bars, chefs, and restaurants. It's our way of honoring the extraordinary spirit of the Dallas-Fort Worth culinary scene.
It seems so long ago in December 2019 when we began making lists of the best of DFW. After weeks of paying tribute to categories such as best bar, best rising star chef, and best neighborhood restaurant, we end on the grandest of all: Restaurant of the Year.
From these 9 restaurants, one will win the top award, to be announced at our Virtual edition of the CultureMap Tastemaker Awards, taking place on July 30.
Here are our nominees for the 2020 Tastemaker Awards Restaurant of the Year:
Asian restaurant in North Dallas is known for its fresh food, modern atmosphere with cool pastel colors, and dessert bar with signature green tea layer cake. The menu does New Bangkok-style food with noodles, fried rice, curry, soups, and steamed seafood. With few restaurants of its caliber in the area, it's a destination not only for residents in this North Dallas neighborhood, but also staffers and visitors from Medical City nearby. Founder Nikky Phinyawatana also has a second branch, The Mint, in the Shops at Highland Park.
Blue Sushi Sake Grill
Sushi chain with three locations in Dallas-Fort Worth has added a new lineup of vegan sushi, featuring products from Ocean Hugger Foods, which uses vegetables in magical ways. Ahimi raw "tuna" is made from Roma tomatoes. Unami "eel" is made from eggplant. What is especially persuasive about these items is their texture: firm-yet-fleshy. Blue Sushi is a forerunner in this category, already well known for its selection of vegan sushi, and is a favorite with the Dallas-Fort Worth vegan crowd and for those who don't do raw fish.
Bonton Market Cafe
Market and restaurant are an offshoot of Bonton Farms, The menu will be driven by what's in season. Dishes include green tomato sandwich with house-made pimento and upland cress, served on sourdough bread from The Commissary; red beans and rice with fried chicharrones; a butter lettuce salad with goat cheese, pepitas, and dried cherries; and "fish and greens," with cornmeal breaded catfish, braised collards, smoked ham hock, burnt lemon, and sweet-and-sour pickled seasonal vegetables.
Wine-drinking lawyer brothers Brooks and Bradley Anderson (Veritas Wine Room) and chef Nathan Tate opened this French restaurant in a charming brick storefront in Oak Cliff in 2012. In addition to the lengthy wine list you might expect, there is charcuterie galore, onion soup, escargot, and grilled asparagus with guanciale and a crispy poached egg. Some just drop in for a glass of bubbly and oysters on the half shell, from an iced seafood case at the bar.
Charitable restaurant concept serves as a culinary training facility for disadvantaged youth. But happily, it's also a place to get a very good meal, with a staff of experienced chefs led by founder Chad Houser. Menu follows the seasons, with dishes such as root vegetable salad with watercress, and short rib with polenta and fried onions. Tucked into an unusual niche facing the DART Rail line, the restaurant boasts decorative plates with themes donated by staff members and local celebrities.
Khao Noodle Shop
xRestaurant specializing in Laotian food is at a foodie intersection in East Dallas, serving boat noodles and Laotian bites. Khao is from chef Donny Sirisavath, who previously hosted pop-ups before finding a home for this rice noodle shop.
Fast casual poke shop from Dallas seafood king Jon Alexis is inspired by Southern California, as the name shows. The restaurant features two hot trends: poke and bowls. The menu specializes in seafood bowls, but like most bowl places, you can also assemble your own.
San Martin Bakery & Restaurant
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 bargan prices, along with a coffee bar and a cozy cafe open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
The Charles Dallas
Dallas Design District stunner is an Italian-inspired eatery starring chef J Chastain (Stephan Pyles, Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek) and Chas Martin (Nick & Sam's, Hotel Zaza). It has 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" farro, quinoa, and kamut, and they have a large assortment of vegetable dishes including grilled kale, grilled broccoli, and grilled beets.