Hottest headlines of 2021

Dallas devoured these 10 most-read restaurant and bar stories of 2021

Dallas devoured these 10 most-read restaurant and bar stories of 2021

Strictly Dumpling Mike Chen
YouTube reviewer Mike Chen is kind of a big deal and now he lives in the Dallas area. YouTube
Harper Caron
Harper Caron, RIP.  Facebook
Hotel Vin igloo bubble
Life inside the bubble.  Photo courtesy of Hotel Vin
Cosmic Cafe
Cosmic Cafe was quirky in a city of shiny.  Cosmic Cafe
Slices pizza
It's hip to be square. Slices
Shake Shack burger and fries
Guess who the new guys were at NorthPark. Go on, guess. Photo by Evan Sung
H-E-B grocery store
Big, very big, supermarket news last spring.  Photo courtesy of H-E-B
Popocatepetl Y Iztaccihuatl mexican romeo juliet
One of the Casa Rosa murals depicts Popocatepetl and Iztaccíhuatl, the Aztec Romeo and Juliet. Photo courtesy of Saatchi
BrainDead Brewing in Deep Ellum
Braindead had a splendid patio and also supported local artists. BrainDead Brewing/Facebook
Taco Diner
No more Taco Diner tacos in Las Colinas. Courtesy photo
Strictly Dumpling Mike Chen
Harper Caron
Hotel Vin igloo bubble
Cosmic Cafe
Slices pizza
Shake Shack burger and fries
H-E-B grocery store
Popocatepetl Y Iztaccihuatl mexican romeo juliet
BrainDead Brewing in Deep Ellum
Taco Diner

Editor's note: As the year comes to a close, we look back at the 10 most-read restaurant and bar stories of 2021. In a year when the hospitality industry was still reeling from the effects of the pandemic, the list includes several sad closures. But there was also long-awaited supermarket news; a fun new rooftop bar sensation; and the arrival of a famous food blogger, who shook things up as soon as he got to town. These are the dining stories that Dallasites read most, all from CultureMap dining editor Teresa Gubbins. 

1. Famous food blogger moves to Dallas, calls out brisket at revered BBQ spotMike Chen is the host of Strictly Dumpling, a YouTube channel that has amassed 3.7 million subscribers since it launched in 2013. This famous online food reviewer has moved to Dallas to cover its booming restaurant scene. Since his relocation to North Texas in early March, he'd already posted raves about our ramen, Vietnamese food, and sushi. But uh-oh: He was unimpressed with the city's No. 1 most recommended BBQ spot.

2. President of Uncle Julio's found dead at downtown Dallas hotelHarper Caron, who was president of the Dallas-based Uncle Julio's Tex-Mex chain, died in a downtown Dallas hotel; he was 45. Police officers were called to the Statler Dallas on Saturday, August 7 where they found Caron at about 5 am. A New Orleans native, Caron worked for Uncle Julio's for 25 years, moving up the ranks to become president in September 2019.

3. Hotels with weatherproof rooftop 'igloos' are a thing in Dallas-Fort WorthIn January, a new hotel in Grapevine introduced fun little igloos on their rooftop which let you hang outside in a weatherproof environment. Hotel Vin added what they call rooftop "bubbles" on their Rioja Rooftop Terrace. They were the second local hotel to open igloos to patrons, after the Statler Dallas introduced them in December 2019. Dallas' coolest holiday bar phenomenon then came back to several hotels for the 2021 Christmas season.

4. One of Dallas' oldest vegetarian restaurants is closing this weekendA longtime vegetarian restaurant in Dallas sadly closed for good: Cosmic Café, which had been serving unpretentious vegetarian food at 2912 Oak Lawn Ave. for more than 25 years, was closing to make way for a yoga space. They closed on October 17.

5. Pizza joint with square slices from ex-Mafia mob boss opens in DallasA new pizzeria with serious New York City cred opened in Dallas in May, just outside Uptown. Called Slices, it's a Sicilian-style pizzeria that serves pizza by the slice, with ingredients imported from Italy and a slice configuration that's square. The concept was founded by the colorful Michael Franzese, a former capo of the Colombo mafia family.

6. Dallas' NorthPark Center trades out one burger & fries joint for another. Famous burgers were headed for NorthPark Center in June: Dallas' most upscale shopping center would welcome a location of Shake Shack, the New York-based burger chain, where it would open at 8687 N. Central Expwy. #2400. It's in the food court on the second floor, in the space previously occupied by Sonic Drive-in.

7. H-E-B finally expands to Dallas-Fort Worth with 2 new supermarkets. At long last, H-E-B is coming to Dallas-Fort Worth. Fulfilling a longheld oft-repeated yearning for H-E-B stores by Dallas-area shoppers, the Texas supermarket giant announced in March that it will open two stores, both north of Dallas, in Frisco and Plano. Both stores will open in fall 2022.

8. Classic Dallas Tex-Mex comes back to life in storied El Fenix locationClassic Dallas Tex-Mex that's been dormant for more than a decade was ready to rise again. Casa Rosa, which once ruled the Park Cities from its Inwood Village location, is being revived by owner Gilbert Cuellar Jr., who will open at an address with its own storied past: the former El Fenix at 5622 Lemmon Ave., in the Lemmonwood Shopping Center, built in 1961.

9. Dallas craft beer pioneer Braindead Brewing to shut down in Deep EllumA pioneering Dallas craft beer bar shuttered just after Thanksgiving. Braindead Brewing, which had been open in Deep Ellum for nearly seven years, issued last call on Sunday, November 28. Word from staffers began to leak during Thanksgiving week, and the bar finally posted the news on its Facebook page, stating that "this will be our last weekend of business."

10. Upscale Dallas taqueria chain shutters 2 locations including Irving. An upscale taqueria in Las Colinas closed: Taco Diner, which had been open at 5904 MacArthur Blvd. at John Carpenter Freeway for more than two decades, closed the location on January 1, with a post on its website and Facebook page, announcing the sad closure. The chain simultaneously closed its location in Fort Worth's Sundance Square. That left just two locations: West Village (which later closed September 1) and, still standing, Lake Highlands.