The 2021 Tastemakers
A toast to the top Texas restaurants and bars crowned at Tastemakers 2021
Each year, CultureMap celebrates Texas' culinary stars with our Tastemaker Awards program. This year felt especially celebratory, as we honored the resilience and ingenuity of restaurants, bars, chefs, and bartenders from across the state with the return of our in-person events held throughout the summer.
Our 2021 Tastemakers tour kicked off in Houston on July 22 with a full house of guests and nominees gathering for food, drink, and a lively awards ceremony emceed by Houston legend Bun B. We then traveled to Austin on August 5, where we honored our Austin and San Antonio nominees and unveiled the winners in an awards program featuring Alamo Drafthouse founder Tim League. On August 19, we wrapped things up with a delicious night in Dallas, celebrating Dallas-Fort Worth's top culinary talent and welcoming comedian CJ Starr as emcee of the evening.
Guests dined on specialty bites prepared by participating nominees and enjoyed a variety of cocktails and other sips perfectly suited for a summer celebration. But the stars of the show — and the heart of the program — were our nominees and winners.
Our 2021 nominees were selected by local panels of industry experts, including past Tastemaker winners. The panels then determined winners in each category, except for Best New Restaurant, which was determined by readers in our popular online tournament, and the Hero Award in Dallas and Fort Worth, which was determined by our editors.
Join us in raising a final toast to the 2021 Tastemaker Awards winners, listed below. And watch the video above for highlights from all of our 2021 events.
- Restaurant of the Year: José
- Chef of the Year: Matt Balke, Encina
- Rising Star Chef of the Year: Carol Nguyen, Ngon Vietnamese
- Best New Restaurant: Monarch
- Best Ghost Kitchen: TLC Vegan Kitchen
- Neighborhood Restaurant of the Year: Edoko Omakase
- Pastry Chef of the Year: Corey Thomson, Fearing's
- Bar of the Year: Cosmo's
- Bartender of the Year: Liz Mitchell, Thunderbird Station
- Wine Program of the Year: Veritas Wine Room
- Hero Award: Meaders Ozarow
- Restaurant of the Year: Hatsuyuki Handroll Bar
- Chef of the Year: Felipe Armenta, Tavern, Towne Grill, Maria's
- Best New Restaurant: La Onda
- Bar of the Year: Tulips
- Hero Award: Jon Bonnell
- Restaurant of the Year: Nobie’s
- Chef of the Year: Kaitlin Steets, Littlefoot/Theodore Rex
- Rising Star Chef of the Year: AJ Ede, Brasil
- Best New Restaurant: Xin Chào
- Best Pop-up/Startup: Josh Deleon, Underground Creamery
- Neighborhood Restaurant of the Year: Candente
- Pastry Chef of the Year: Drew Gimma, Bread Man Baking Co.
- Bar of the Year: Heights Bier Garten
- Bartender of the Year: Alphonso Quiñones, Tiny Champions
- Wine Program of the Year: Squable
- Restaurant of the Year: Nixta
- Chef of the Year: Fiore Tedesco, L’Oca d’Oro
- Rising Star Chef of the Year: Damien Brockway, Distant Relatives
- Best New Restaurant: Plank Seafood Provisions
- Best Ghost Kitchen: Mother Klucker
- Neighborhood Restaurant of the Year: Bouldin Creek Cafe
- Pastry Chef of the Year: Ariana Quant, Uchiko, Uchi
- Bar of the Year: Garage
- Bartender of the Year: Travis Tober, Old Pal, Nickel City
- Wine Program of the Year: LoLo
- Brewery of the Year: Blue Owl Brewing
- Restaurant of the Year: Clementine
- Chef of the Year: Nicola Blaque, The Jerk Shack
- Best New Restaurant: Southerleigh Haute South
- Best Ghost Kitchen: Curry Boys
- Bar of the Year: The Esquire Tavern
The CultureMap Dallas-Fort Worth Tastemaker Awards was brought to you by Deep Ellum Brewing Company, Maestro Dobel Tequila, Stranahan's Whiskey, and Topo Chico. A portion of proceeds benefit our local nonprofit partner, Harvest Project Food Rescue.