A longtime Mexican restaurant in Deep Ellum is closing: Maracas Cocina Mexicana, which has been in business at 2914 Main St. in one form or another since 1992, will close this weekend, to be replaced with another concept whose identity is still to be (officially) announced.

The restaurant is going out with a goodbye party on November 25, at 5 pm, with a DJ and its signature cheap drinks.

They've already started clearing out equipment and this will be their final weekend. A staffer speaking for the restaurant said that current owner, who asked not to be named but also owns a number of Mexican sandwich shops around DFW, is doing a rebranding.

"It's re-opening as a breastaurant, and the menu will be more focused on Mexican seafood," the staffer said.

The working title for the new concept is La Toxica Mariscos Y Micheladas.

Maracas' long history began in 1992 when it was was founded as Monica's Aca Y Alla, named for founder and veteran restaurateur Monica Greene, who opened it on what was then the eastern, rather sleepy edge of Deep Ellum. (Actually, it was originally Eduardo's Aca Y Alla, founded prior to Monica's transgender transformation in 1993.)

By 2012, Greene became restless after 20 years with what she perceived as sluggish development in Deep Ellum — a sad irony since the neighborhood started to blow up just a couple of years later.

She handed over the reins to managers Jose Sanchez and Angel Borjas, who kept much of what it had been — cheap and affordable Tex-Mex, a laid-back party atmosphere — and rebranded it as Maracas. The current owner came on board in 2014.

At 30 years, the restaurant is easily one of the longest running in Deep Ellum. When it opened, restaurants were somewhat of a minority in a neighborhood dominated by live music clubs. Now restaurants are the majority, and clubs have become the minority instead.

Some of Maracas' employees have worked there for decades, and are reportedly being given the option to work at the owner's other establishments.

The Friday night party will be $15 at the door, which gets you appetizers. Otherwise, patrons can order off the menu. House margaritas will be $4.50 and beers will be $5.

The restaurant will be be open as Maracas for the remainder of the weekend, including brunch: from 11 am-11 pm Saturday and 11 am-9 pm on Sunday.

"It's been a watering hole for many of us for so many years!" says Kendell Liptrap, a regular.

Photo by Steven Visneau

Texas Ballet Theater closes the curtain on its zany 'Nutty Nutcracker' after 12 seasons

Nutty No More

Texas Ballet Theater has broken the news that this year's performance of The Nutty Nutcracker, on December 16 at Bass Hall, will be its last after 12 seasons.

The Nutty Nutcracker is a one-night-only break in the middle of the run of the traditional Nutcracker production, offering an offbeat take on the holiday classic. Featuring hilarious characters and commenting on current events and pop culture, the production isn't afraid to make fun of the established original version.

While no official reason was given in a November 15 press release, the change comes as former artistic director Ben Stevenson, O.B.E., transitions into his new role as artistic director laureate. Acting artistic director Tim O’Keefe will take over the programming for the next season, marking a shift in the ballet company’s artistic vision.

However, the release does give the qualifier of "for the coming years" when noting the production's end, indicating that the company may be open to bringing it back sometime in future.

“We are sad to see this long-standing tradition come to an end at TBT, but we are excited for the future and look forward to starting new traditions that will be as fun for the audiences, and dancers, as Nutty,” O’Keefe says in the release.

No other changes are planned for Texas Ballet Theater's annual holiday events and productions. The Tutu Chic Fashion Show and Luncheon in Dallas, the Caren Koslow Fashion Show and Luncheon in Fort Worth, the Sugar Plum Fairy Tea, and the full five-week production of The Nutcracker will go on as planned.

Tickets for The Nutty Nutcracker, which range from $60-$130, are now on sale at texasballetheater.org or by calling the Box Office at 877-828-9200, option 1.

Facebook/Megan Kay Photography

Bachelor-billionaire wedding tops this week's 5 most popular Dallas stories

This week's hot headlines

Editor's note: A lot happened this week, so here's your chance to get caught up. Read on for the week's most popular headlines. Looking for the best things to do this weekend? Find that list here.

1. Bachelor favorite marries billionaire's son in lavish Dallas wedding. A Bachelor runner-up in 2020 won her happily ever after two years later in Dallas: Madison Prewett married Dallas native Grant Troutt in a glamorous, reality TV star-studded celebration at his folks' house on Saturday, October 29.

2. Dallas-based art store chain is calling it quits after 71 years. After 71 years, a revered Dallas-based art store chain is calling it quits. Asel Art Supply, first founded in downtown Dallas in 1951, is closing all its stores as of December 31. That includes locations in Richardson, Arlington, Fort Worth, two in San Antonio, and one in Lubbock.

3. Chef driven restaurant off Oak Lawn Dallas closes despite a year of acclaim. After just a year, an acclaimed restaurant in Dallas' Oak Lawn neighborhood is closing: Modest Rogers, the ambitious mom-and-pop from chef Modesto Rodriguez has decided to close.

4. World's top women tennis players start final showdown of 2022 in North Texas. It's not as famous as Wimbledon or the US Open, but the WTA Finals will crown a new queen of the women's pro tennis tour in North Texas - and all are invited to court. For the first time, Fort Worth hosts the prestigious year-end finale for the WTA, featuring the top eight singles players and doubles teams in the world, through Monday, November 7.

5. Apartment rents finally start to decline in Dallas and across the U.S. In good news for renters, rates finally appear to be dropping in Dallas and across the U.S. — and it's a trend predicted to prevail through the end of 2022. After more than a year of record-setting rent hikes, rent prices decreased in October for the second month in a row, according to a report by Apartment List.

Modest Rogers

Chef driven restaurant off Oak Lawn Dallas closes despite a year of acclaim

Closure news

After just a year, an acclaimed restaurant in Dallas' Oak Lawn neighborhood is closing: Modest Rogers, the ambitious mom-and-pop from chef Modesto Rodriguez has decided to close.

Rodriguez announced the news on social media, thanking friends, family, and customers, and alluding to the personal toll it had taken.

"With a heavy heart we have decided to close Modest Rogers. I won’t get into any specifics of why but it was definitely a hard time to start a business and it was a reflection of this decision," he said.

"The past year of my life has been an adventure that I have been working really hard to achieve. A dream that seemed unreachable when it surfaced has become a reality," his post said.

Modesto and and his wife Kathryn Rodriguez opened their charming restaurant in a cute house at 3811 Fairmount St., near Oak Lawn Avenue in October 2021.

An El Centro alum, Modesto had an unusual background, starting as a graphic designer who loved to cook for friends and family at home, before switching careers to worked at acclaimed restaurants such as Nonna and Carbone's.

At Modest Rogers, he created a menu that incorporated influences from his Venezuelan heritage, along with Spanish and Mexican flavors, such as Wagyu with chimichurri sauce and arugula salad, and seafood with elote corn "ribs" — long strips of corn kernels cut straight from the cob.

He earned critical praise for his efforts including a nomination for Best New Restaurant of 2022 in CultureMap's annual Tastemaker Awards.

A note on their Facebook page said they "had to close" — but it wasn't a landlord issue, Rodriguez said.

"We just ran out of money," he said. "The landlord was very supportive, but we never got out of debt — we were always underwater."

He said he gave it his all to make his dream possible.

"Sleep, who needs that," he said. "Pain, it’s only mental. Family and friends, they understand my absence because my dream was the only thing that mattered. That was the foundation of this path I chose for myself. A path that has finally come to an end."

He thanked his family, friends, staff, and wife, stating that "the future is unclear as I write this but I’m ready to take on this new challenge and chapter in my life."


Dallas-based art store chain is calling it quits after 71 years

Closure News

After 71 years, a revered Dallas-based art store chain is calling it quits. Asel Art Supply, first founded in downtown Dallas in 1951, is closing all its stores as of December 31.

That includes locations in Richardson, Arlington, Fort Worth, two in San Antonio, and one in Lubbock.

The chain previously closed its Plano store as well as its erstwhile flagship location on Cedar Springs Road in Dallas in September.

A spokesperson said the closures were due to a variety of reasons.

"There were a lot of factors, it was not just one thing," the spokesperson said. "COVID for sure. It started with COVID, and the impact that had on supply chain issues and manufacturing problems. But also the consolidation of the industry overall."

Asel was founded by Kenny Asel and his brother Herb, who then sold the business in 1973. In 1987, a trust was created to transfer the company to employee ownership. There are 60 employees.

"It was a decision made by our management team, with advice from our accountant," the spokesperson said.

The closure feels reminiscent of the demise of record stores, another industry whose physical environment had the potential to stimulate inspiration.

Asel was heaven for stationery addicts — a treasure trove of colored pens, Parisian sketching crayons, woodless graphite pencils, modeling clay, tracing paper, soft pastels in a rainbow of colors, rulers with cork backing, sketch pads with a fine-tooth surface, chalk, nice wooden easels, so much to like.

The chain is offering 40 percent off all merchandise.

In its heyday, Asel was a source not only for artists and schools, but also commercial customers such as ad agencies and printing companies. At one point, it had 10 locations.

Art Simmons worked as an art director at Bozell Advertising back in the 70s, when graphics production was done by hand and required an artillery of paste-up materials like rubber cement, Bestine thinner, Spray-Mount, waxers, gum erasers, and blue pencils.

"We used to have two good art stores back in the '70s: Asel and the Rush Company, where you could buy art supplies," he says. "Rush was more on the commercial side, for art studios, with mounting boards, Exact-O blades, that kind of stuff. This was in the day when you did everything by hand. With computers, most of that work went online."

"Asel was more for traditional painting and drawing," he says. "They had a good painting section with oils, acrylics, drawing paper, tablets, and a good selection of art books. I think that helped them hang on as long as they did."

Simmons says that Kenny Asel would go the extra mile to encourage purchases. "Kenny would call on the agencies, he was a good salesman and a nice guy," he says.

Asel's departure seems likely to benefit Jerry's Artarama Art Supplies & Framing, a North Carolina chain that opened a store at Preston Valley Shopping Center, in 2021, selling art supplies and materials, custom framing, canvas-stretching, demonstrations, and special events.

Briggs Freeman Sotheby's Int'l

Turtle Creek mansion for sale tops this week's 5 most-read Dallas stories

This week's hot headlines

Editor's note: A lot happened this week, so here's your chance to get caught up. Read on for the week's most popular headlines. Looking for the best things to do this weekend? Find that list here. Want discounts for the last weekend of the State Fair? Find those here.

1. Dallas estate on Turtle Creek Blvd for sale for first time in 50 years. A massive Dallas estate on Turtle Creek Boulevard is on the market for the first time in more than 50 years. Located at 7037 Turtle Creek Blvd., it's being represented by Briggs Freeman Sotheby's International Realty agents Jeanne Shelton and Doug Shelton and the price is $14,600,000.

2. Southlake Town Square welcomes a bounty of new shops and restaurants. Southlake's best-known shopping center, Southlake Town Square, is poised for an infusion of new shops and restaurants. The 130-acre mixed-use development with 120-plus retail shops and restaurants will be home to a host of new brands over the next few months.

3. Dallas cocktail bar and brunch favorite Henry's Majestic to close. A Dallas bar both popular and acclaimed is closing: Henry's Majestic and its speakeasy Atwater Alley are closing on October 30. According to a release, the landlord sold the building forcing the bars to move along. However, Henry's owners say they plan to reopen in another space.

4. Dallas preservationists race to save remains of Turtle Creek mid-century complex. An enterprising team is racing against time to salvage worthwhile pieces of a Dallas residential complex about to be razed. Located at 2525 Turtle Creek Blvd., Turtle Creek Gardens was a 108-unit condominium complex built in 1961, sitting on 4.5 acres near Fairmount Street. As a listing by Cushman & Wakefield notes, it’s one of the only remaining parcels of its size.

5. Partenope in downtown Dallas spins off acclaimed pizza & pasta to Richardson. An acclaimed Italian restaurant in downtown Dallas is spinning off a sibling: Partenope Ristorante, the sophisticated mom-and-pop from husband-and-wife Dino and Megan Santonicola, is opening a second location in Richardson, at 110 S. Greenville Ave., joining the revitalized area known as The Core.

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

Gala led by Dallas' most VIP couple scores top spot in this week's 5 hottest headlines

This week's hot headlines

Editor's note: A lot happened this week, so here's your chance to get caught up. Read on for the week's most popular headlines. Looking for the best things to do this weekend? Find that list here.

1. Dallas' most VIP couple leads all-star gala for Perot Museum 10th anniversary. The 10th anniversary of a Dallas landmark deserves a star-studded party and a few fireworks, too — and that's exactly what the Perot Museum of Nature and Science did to celebrate its milestone birthday. Dallas' most VIP couple led the festivities. Dirk and Jessica Nowitzki co-chaired the 10th anniversary Night at the Museum Gala on Saturday, November 12.

2. Dallas hires Martine Elyse Philippe as new director of arts and culture. The city of Dallas has a new Arts boss: Martine Elyse Philippe, who has worked in arts administration and the nonprofit world, has been appointed Director of the Office of Arts & Culture, a division of the City Manager's Office that fosters partnerships and support with arts and cultural organizations.

3. Record store in Dallas' Oak Cliff to spin off hip new restaurant-lounge. There's a hip new lounge bar restaurant opening in Dallas' Bishop Arts: Called Ladylove, it's going into the favorably located space previously occupied by Dallas Grilled Cheese Co., and is forecast to open in early 2023. Ladylove, whose subhead is "Lounge & Sound," is from David Grover and Kate Siamro, the same amazing team who own Spinster Records, the vinyl record store in Bishop Arts.

4. New Uptown Dallas movie theater sets opening date in time for the holidays. A little over a year after it was first announced, Violet Crown Cinema will open its first Dallas theater in West Village in early December. The theater is located in the former Magnolia Theater, which closed when the pandemic hit in March 2020 and never reopened.

5. Dallas university among best in U.S. for entrepreneurship programs, says Princeton Review. Dallas entrepreneurs, take note. The University of Texas at Dallas is near the top of its class among the country's best entrepreneurship programs. UTD's Naveen Jindal School of Management appears at No. 12 for best graduate entrepreneurship program and No. 25 for best undergraduate entrepreneurship program on new lists from The Princeton Review.

Where to eat on Christmas 2022 at Dallas restaurants

Holiday News

It seems impossible to fathom but we've reached that point where we are starting to think about Christmas, and restaurants are already cooking up options, whether you're looking to dine out or grab something to take home.

This list has a little bit of everything: places that are open on Christmas Day, Christmas Eve, or places doing take-out only. As the holiday draws nearer, the list will surely grow, so check back for updates, which we'll make as they come in.

Here's our list of Christmas dining options:

Dive Coastal Cuisine. To-go items include mini potato latkes, bruschetta ciabatta crostinis, charcuterie, chicken, beef tenderloin, whipped or whole sweet potatoes, holiday everything salad, and whole key lime pie. Order by December 21. 214-891-1700. Closed Christmas Day.

Dolce Riviera. Special edition Feast of the Seven Fishes menu. $85. December 19–December 24. 469-458-6623. Closed Christmas Day.

Mercat Bistro. Christmas Day brunch with festive 3-course menu. $68. Make reservations to sit in the restaurant’s famous Polar Bear section. 10 am–3 pm. 214-953-0917.

Magnolias Sous Le Pont. Open Christmas Day morning with winter themed beverages including Toffee Crunch Affogato, Mexican Hot Chocolate, and frozen peppermint mocha. 469-249-9222.

Postino WineCafe. Family-size to-go menu feeds up to 15, including two starters, bruschetta platter, and salad. Add-ons are available for an additional cost. $285, Order by December 23. 972-210-2102. Closed Christmas Day.

Tacodeli. Chile En Nogada and Spiked Horchata, available for dine-in or to-go.Available through December 23. Closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. West Dallas – 214-760-1930; The Hill – 214-206-8980; Park & Preston (Plano) – 972-200-5101; Parkwood (Plano) – 214-997-6047.

TJ’s Seafood Market. Holiday to-go menu includes holiday platters, shrimp, smoked salmon, oysters, and gumbo. Order by December 23 for pickup December 24. Preston Royal – 214-691-2369; Oak Lawn – 214-219-3474.

SusieCakes. Christmas desserts include chocolate candy cane cake, holiday cupcakes, cupcakes, frosted sugar cookies, gingerbread cookies, and decorating kits. Order by December 24. Preston Center – 214-983-2253; Hillside – 945-245-2253. Closed Christmas Day.

Ten50 BBQ. To-go smoked meats, sides, and desserts. Order by December 21. 1-855-QUE-1050 or email catering@ten50bbq.com. Closed Christmas Day.

City Hall Bistro. Restaurant at the Adolphus has a three-course menu featuring squash & kale salad, honey baked ham, cornbread dressing, candied yams, pumpkin pie, and Texas praline crunch brownie. Additional items are available for an extra cost including prime rib and salmon. 12–8 pm. $70. 214-651-3686.

Texas chef invites foodies to explore Europe on guided culinary adventures in 2023

Bon Voyage

Good news for Texans who have been enviously binge-watching From Scratch and other food shows lately: One of San Antonio's best chefs is inviting locals along on a delicious, food-filled adventure through Europe next year. Founder of The Good Kind Hospitality Group (which includes Tim the Girl Catering, The Good Kind restaurant, and the Ivy Hall Events venue), chef Tim McDiarmid is hosting two curated trips in summer 2023.

Born in British Columbia, the award-winning chef is a James Beard Fellow (2019) and former Chopped competitor got her start in New York City, where she worked in restaurants for over 20 years before moving with her son to San Antonio in 2011. As a single mother in need of a flexible schedule, she founded Tim the Girl Catering that same year.

In 2017, McDiarmid opened her first retail outpost, The Good Kind, in the Historic Pearl’s Bottling Department food hall. She went on to open a second Good Kind location in 2018 and took over the management of Ivy Hall Events venue space in the King William district before closing the Pearl location of the Good Kind in 2020. In 2019, she was selected as a James Beard Fellow for the James Beard Foundation's Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership program.

Along the way, McDiarmid has guided numerous groups through Italy in collaboration with a travel company, ItalianFix, which organizes tours for those seeking to experience a place, rather than just pass through. McDiarmid is the perfect guide for these adventures, weaving her culinary and hospitality experience into a highly curated itinerary. In turn, she pulls from her travels as inspiration for her catering company and restaurants back home in San Antonio.

In 2023, McDiarmid will host two trips. The first will be a woman-only getaway to the The Cinque Terre, exploring picturesque seaside villages along the Italian Riviera for eight days and seven nights between June 24 and July 1, 2023. The second is open to all adults and spans three countries, traveling through the the Italian & French Rivieras for nine day and eight nights from July 3 to July 11, 2023.

Reservations for these one-of-a-kind trips are open, and payment plans are available after a small initial deposit. Space is limited, so interested travelers should scurry over to italianfix.com to sign up and start planning for the adventure of a lifetime.