Photo by Daylon Walton

The Dallas-Fort Worth theater community lost one of its most recognizable contributors on May 21, when The Column founder John Garcia passed away from leukemia.

"John is at peace now. He got into places right at 2 pm for the matinee in heaven," posted The Column account on Facebook.

Born in Kerrville, Garcia made an indelible mark on the local theater community when he founded The Column 17 years ago. It began as a group email among 20 friends, and today has more than 20,000 subscribers worldwide. Many actors in DFW rely on it for audition notices, and there are currently 17 associate theater critics who write for the site.

Having so many contributors means that The Column was able to cover nearly all of the theater here, from extremely local community productions to national Broadway tours.

According to The Column's website, Garcia appeared in more than 400 productions as an actor, including two years touring with Walt Disney World Entertainment and working with such stars as Tommy Tune, Ann Miller, and New Kids on the Block. He was currently an Actor's Equity candidate, working toward full equity status.

In 2005, Garcia was awarded the Distinguished Alumni Award for Excellence in Theater from the University of North Texas.

Garcia also founded The Column Awards, a major fundraiser for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and the only theater awards show in DFW. It was not unusual for Garcia to entice huge stars to Dallas for the awards, including Donna McKechnie, Anthony Rapp, Max Von Essen, and Plano's own Michael Urie.

Garcia had been diagnosed with cancer in March, and on a ventilator since April. On May 20, Column Awards board member and Garcia's close friend Jason Bias posted:

"Today, we met with the palliative care doctor and made the difficult decision to take John off the ventilator tomorrow afternoon. The doctor laid everything out for us and John’s cancer would return in the future and they would not be able to provide him chemo based on his reaction, and he is not strong off enough to live off the vent. Our hearts are heavy with this decision, but we know that our sweet John would want this. He will be surrounded by close friends and loved ones."

Remembrances and condolences poured out from the theater community. Greater Lewisville Community Theatre posted on Facebook:

"Through the annual presentation of The Column Awards, John raised and forwarded all proceeds to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, making his organization one of the most effective fund raisers for BCEFA outside of the Broadway community. John Garcia's, The Column Online was one of the first effective clearing houses for theatre information, audition notices, and production notices in DFW and beyond. On behalf of the entire GLCT organization, we extend our support and condolences to John's family and friends in honoring his memory."

"It goes without saying but John was obsessed with theater. He lived and breathed it," writes Bias in a message to CultureMap. "He was also super passionate about students learning the art and growing in their craft. He judged many UIL speech competitions, was one of the original judges for then-called Dallas Summer Musicals High School Musical Theatre Awards, and of course all things The Column/The Column Awards. You would always see him with a Diet Coke and some type of theatre show merchandise!"

Funeral arrangements have not been publicly announced.

Kathy Rogers

Kathy Rogers, revered founder of Dallas' Rogers Wildlife Rehab Center, dies

RIP Kathy

A major figure in Dallas' animal rescue world has died: Kathy Rogers, who rescued and rehabitated thousands of birds in the Dallas area, passed away on April 9. She was 73.

Rogers was founder of The Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, an animal facility at Samuel Farm in Mesquite, which she built into the largest not-for-profit avian rehabilitation center in North Texas. The center provided top notch care for more than 5000 wounded and abandoned birds brought there every year.

Rogers and her wildlife center had followers from around the world who cherished her dedicated service to birds, including some that became famous, such as the sick orphaned barn owl named Pearl that Rogers lovingly brought back to life and re-released into the wild.

Rogers Wildlife Center also figured prominently in a 2022 documentary called Honk - A True Story, about a goose that was abandoned at Turtle Creek.

Rogers was known by her outward beauty, infectious laugh, dry sense of humor, and her generous heart and compassion for all creatures great and small. A lifelong lover of animals, she worked for the Dallas Zoo and consulted at the Dallas Aquarium and Busch Gardens, among many others, before going on to found RWRC in 1989.

RWRC's focus is on birds but Kathy helped other abandoned species that were brought to the center. For animals that could not be released, it was not uncommon for them to end up at Kathy's home as part-time or sometimes permanent companions.

Animals were given charming nicknames such as "Tom and Eddy" the Turkeys, stories that she shared on social media in a touching yet whimsical tone.

For example, about the two unlikely birds that became friends during the pandemic, she wrote:

"Clearly, there is no social distancing with these two best friends. Last September we got a baby Peacock. That is really late for Peacocks. They usually hatch in May. So now we had a lonely baby with no comfort companion. The very next day, Animal Control came in with a baby Turkey. How random was that? We just don't get many baby Turkeys, ever. Of course we put them together. Ever since that day, these two have been inseparable. If one wanders out of the other ones sight, there is mass panic and calling. I just love that once again, two wayward souls in need of love and comfort made their way to our place."Kathy RogersKathy Rogers releases Pearl the barn owl.Kathy Rogers

Volunteers past and present, who'd been inspired by her welcoming nature and commitment, expressed their condolences on Facebook, and the post about her passing drew comments from other rehabbers and bird fans across the U.S.

"Such sad news. I’ve taken birds to you and have followed her on Facebook for years. Her compassion, knowledge, and dedication to saving wild birds and housing those that couldn’t be returned to the wild was unrivaled. She will be missed but her mission will live on. Thank you, Kathy, for all that you did."

"The loss of Kathy is a tremendous loss to the bird world. Her expert care saved many birds that would otherwise have perished."

"The DFW area lost a great resource warrior and I pray her work continues as we need it and especially all the birds that are part of our lives."

"As a fellow licensed wildlife rehabber, I can't begin to express the sadness and huge hole that now fills our community. Kathy was a true pioneer and advocate for all wildlife. What a beautiful legacy she's leaving. Thank you Kathy for helping the thousands of lives critical to our ecosystems a leaving this earth a better place. You will be missed.I came across Kathy and her sanctuary through following Honk the Goose and was so happy that Honk had an amazing home in his latter days."

The team at the wildlife center say they'll continue to operate the facility and provide a resource for animal lovers who find a sick bird, squirrel, turtle, or other fauna in their yard or on city streets.

She was preceded in death by her parents, Benjamin and Harriet Fillmore, and brother Benjamin Fillmore. She is survived by sisters Jeanne Larson and Bitsy Lee, son Patrick Rogers, grandson Ethan Rogers, two nieces, and a nephew. Information about and donations to the Center can be made at: https://rogerswildlife.org.


Dallas Zoo president-CEO Gregg Hudson dies following battle with cancer

RIP Gregg

Gregg Hudson, the president and CEO of the Dallas Zoo has died. According to a post on the zoo's Facebook page, he passed away after a "brief but valiant battle" with cancer. He was 64.

The post further says that he passed away late last week.

"He was a friend and a mentor to so many, not only here in Dallas, but across the country and around the world," the post said.

Hudson was the Dallas Zoo’s president and CEO since 2006, and led the zoo through the creation of a public/private partnership with the city of Dallas in 2009.

He also served on the national board of directors for the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), as well as on the boards of Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund (Rwanda) and the Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Education Center (Democratic Republic of the Congo).

Prior to the Dallas Zoo, Gregg spent 10 years as Executive Director and CEO of the Fort Worth Zoo; then more than five years as the President and CEO of the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden; before returning to the DFW area to lead the Dallas Zoo.

During his tenure, the zoo opened the 11-acre "Giants of the Savanna" habitat in May 2010.

He was also an instrumental figure in the Dallas Zoo's 2016 removal of 18 elephants from Swaziland, in partnership with the Sedgwick County Zoo in Kansas, and Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo in Nebraska — a move that drew condemnation from conservationists around the world. One elephant died in the process.

The attention inspired an international organization to enact a resolution banning African elephants caught in the wild from being sold and shipped to countries outside of Africa.

Only recently, Hudson was in the public eye when he appeared at a press conference on January 23, following a series of incidents at the zoo, including a clouded leopard getting out of its cage, the death of a vulture, and two tamarin monkeys that were taken from the zoo, then recovered; a man has since been arrested.

The family requests that donations be made to the Dallas Zoo or to the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund.

Courtesy photo

Dallas Zoo has another suspicious animal death, this time a vulture

Animal News

Another animal has died at the Dallas Zoo, this time a vulture, found dead under what the zoo called "unusual" circumstances in the Wilds of Africa habitat.

UPDATE 1-23-2023: The Zoo held a press conference on Monday afternoon in which they identified the bird as Pin, a lappet-faced vulture who they say had a wound, which they did not elaborate on. They're offering a $10,000 reward for any information. The bird, which was at least 35 years old, had been at the Dallas Zoo for 33 years.

It's the latest in a long-running series of animal deaths at the zoo, more than a dozen in the past 10 years.

The Zoo said the death does not appear to be from natural causes, and they would surely be correct. Animals do not survive or thrive in captivity.

“Given the recent incidents at the Zoo, we alerted the Dallas Police Department,” their statement said. “We cannot share many details until Dallas PD has had more time to look into this matter.”

The "recent incidents" the zoo is referring to is the January 13th escape of a clouded leopard, which the zoo blamed on a mysterious tear in the leopard's enclosure, with a suggestion that another cage had a tear, as well.

Their unspoken implication seems to be that the vulture death is somehow related.

A statement from the DPD says that "on January 21, Dallas Police responded to the Dallas Zoo following a report of a dead vulture. The preliminary investigation determined the bird was found dead in its enclosure. The cause of death has not been determined at this time, but the death is being investigated as suspicious. A necropsy will be conducted on the bird."

When asked what made the death suspicious, a DPD spokesperson referred questions to Allyn Media, the high-profile Dallas agency known for managing crises and wealthy people things.

The leopard's escape made national news, morphing from the initial report that the leopard was missing to far-fetched leaps such as this FOX video claiming "Person purposefully let leopard loose at Dallas zoo: Officials said." (That is not what officials said. The actual quote was: "This wasn't something the cat did, it wasn't something a keeper did in error, and it wasn't a failure of the mesh.”)

This video is titled "Dallas Zoo Vigilante?" and Townhall ran a factually-incorrect story saying that "Multiple Breaches at the Dallas Zoo Allowed Some Animals to Make a Break For It."

"Is someone letting animals out at the Dallas Zoo?" asks this sensational piece, which begins, "It sounds crazy, but some think there may be a saboteur at the Dallas Zoo," quoting ex-Ohio-cop and media hound Tim Harrison. They're right, it does sound crazy.

“ALF, the Animal Liberation Front, will sometimes come in and do these things as you know, terrorists; we call them basically eco-terrorists,” Harrison says, before name-dropping PETA.

ALF has no affiliation with PETA, is not an organization per se, and has never had a presence in Dallas. Regarding animal activists in Dallas, there is a Facebook page in Dallas left over from the old days of protests against Ringling Circus. There's also a tiny group of about three people who've regularly protested sales of puppies at the Petland in Plano, and the occasional sign-holding protest over fur or foie gras.

According to a 2019 post on their website, the Dallas Zoo cares for eight vulture species, several of which are breeding pairs.

That an outside party could be involved in this vulture's death seems surprising considering the fact that the zoo itself just installed additional surveillance cameras and increased their overnight security patrols.

Death count
The most recent deaths at the zoo were a trio of giraffes who all died in October 2021.

The vulture joins this list of animals who've died at the Dallas Zoo:

  • Jesse, a 14-year-old giraffe, died on October 29, 2021, cause unknown.
  • Auggie, a 19-year-old giraffe, died in late October 2021 of liver failure.
  • Marekani, a 3-month-old baby giraffe, sustained a mysterious injury and was euthanized on October 3, 2021.
  • Kirk, a 31-year-old chimpanzee, died in August 2021 due to "surprise" heart disease.
  • Keeya, a 6-year-old Hartmann's mountain zebra, died in March 2021 due to a mysterious unexplained head injury.
  • Subira, a 24-year-old silverback gorilla, died suddenly in March 2020, due to a cough, or maybe cardiovascular disease.
  • Hope, a 23-year-old Western lowland gorilla, died suddenly in November 2019 after being at the zoo for only two years.
  • Ola, an 8-year-old female African painted dog, was killed in July 2019 by two other painted dogs, less than a month after she was transferred to the zoo.
  • Witten, a 1-year-old giraffe, died in June 2019 during a physical exam under anesthesia when he suddenly stopped breathing.
  • Adhama, a baby hippopotamus, mysteriously died in 2018.
  • Kipenzi, a baby giraffe, died in 2015 after running in her enclosure.
  • Kamau, a young cheetah, died of pneumonia in 2014.
  • Johari, a female lion, was killed in front of zoo spectators in 2013 by male lions with whom she shared an enclosure.
Photo by Jon Shapley

These notable figures with Dallas  connections passed away in 2022

RIP to all

As 2022 comes to a close, we take a look back at some of the notable figures in Dallas or with Dallas connections who died this year. This year's list includes musicians, actors, media personalities, and figures from local politics.

Here's the 2022 list of notable deaths, in chronological order:

Rock star Meat Loaf, a native of Dallas known for hits such as "Paradise By the Dashboard Light," died on January 20; he was 74. Born Marvin Lee Aday, his career spanned six decades, selling more than 100 million albums worldwide and starring in more than 65 movies, including Fight Club, Focus, Rocky Horror Picture Show, and Wayne's World. Aday grew up in Dallas and was already singing and acting in high school before attending Lubbock Christian College and the University of North Texas. After moving to Los Angeles, he found massive success with Bat Out of Hell, his collaboration with songwriter Jim Steinman, which was released in 1977, won a Grammy Award, and became one of the best-selling records in history, with worldwide sales of more than 40 million copies.

Beloved rock musician Trey Johnson, a founding member of rock band Sorta, died on January 31; he was 53. Born Lewis Harlan Johnson III, Trey was a graduate of Greenhill School and the University of North Texas, and co-founder of State Fair Records, a Dallas music label that released albums by acclaimed artists such as Joshua Ray Walker, Kristy Kruger, and Eleven Hundred Springs. Sorta was an Americana rock band that released four full-length records and garnered national attention when their songs were picked up for several television series.

Dennis González, a jazz musician, artist, and teacher, died on March 15; he was 67. González recorded more than 30 albums for international and domestic jazz labels as well as his own label Daagnim Records. He was also a public school educator for decades in Dallas.

Max Glauben, a Holocaust survivor who co-founded the Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum, passed away on April 28. He was 94. Glauben was a part of a group of Dallas Holocaust survivors who came together with the goal of creating a memorial center where they could remember loved ones and educate future generations about the horrors of the Holocaust. The Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum opened in downtown Dallas in 2019.

Dallas radio personality Jim White, who co-founded the Savor Dallas food festival as well as Restaurant Week, died on June 4. His wife, Vicki Briley-White, confirmed that White passed away while in hospice care, after learning he had cancer just two months before. White, who had a mellifluous voice that could melt ice, served as a news anchor and talk show host for 1080 KRLD for a decade from 1995-2004. He was probably Dallas' original foodie in his capacity as host of "The KRLD Restaurant Show with Jim White," a two-hour talk show featuring famous chefs, cookbook authors, winemakers, and restaurateurs that earned a James Beard Foundation nomination for "Best Radio Show on Food."

Dallas musician Jess Barr, a member of seminal alt-country rock band Slobberbone, passed away on December 6; he was 46. Barr was guitarist for Slobberbone during its heyday, when the quartet put its hometown Denton on the map and created a vibrant local scene at bars like the Barley House. He also played with a Slobberbone offshoot band, The Drams. In 2013, he opened Twilite Lounge, a bar in Deep Ellum, with partner Danny Balis, then opened a spinoff in Fort Worth in 2017. Both earned best bar awards and provided a platform for local musicians — another of his legacies.

Anna Casey, a formidable political consultant and strategist who worked on many pivotal campaigns in Dallas, died on December 8 after a long illness. She was 61. She was known for her difference-making work on several city propositions including helping to vanquish the proposal to build a toll road in the Trinity River, as well as for candidates for the Dallas School Board, Dallas City Council, Dallas County Commissioners Court, and Texas State House of Representatives.

Michael Lindenberger, a former writer and editor at The Dallas Morning News, died on December 11, following an illness; he was 51. Lindenberger worked for the newspaper for 14 years until 2018, when he moved to the Houston Chronicle, and was part of a team that won a Pulitzer Prize in 2022.

Hollywood actor Stuart Margolindied on December 12; he was 82. Margolin won two Emmy Awards for his role as "Angel" Martin in the TV show The Rockford Files. Although born in Iowa, he grew up in Preston Hollow and attended Hillcrest High School. In 1979, already a success in Hollywood, he moved back to Dallas for a couple of years, working on writing projects and establishing a production company River Entertainment.

Photo courtesy of Enchant

From Christmas lights to Banksyland, these 2022 Dallas arts & entertainment stories earned an ovation

This year's hottest headlines

Editor's note: As we look back at the most-read arts & entertainment stories of 2022, we see Dallas readers were eager to get out and have fun, in ways both familiar (Christmas lights) and new (an immersive Banksy experience). We covered a sad musician obituary and the sad closure of a beloved art supply store. Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders got the boot from CMT, but CMT announced it's coming to Texas for its big awards show. These are the most popular A&E stories of the year.

1. Where to see the most spectacular Christmas lights dazzling Dallas-Fort Worth in 2022. In early November, it was already time for Dallas-Fort Worth to light up, merry and bright, for the 2022 holidays — from towering trees that twinkle and shine to dazzling drive-thru displays and immersive walk-thru experiences. This was our guide to the biggest, brightest, most spectacular Christmas light displays in the area (many of which are on through at least New Year's Eve). We also broke out the top homes and neighborhoods for lights in a separate list.

2. How to get every possible discount at the 2022 State Fair of Texas. The 2022 edition of the State Fair of Texas started its 24-day run at Fair Park on September 30, with music, games, and food. But first, we were here for discounts. There were a multitude of discount ticket options being offered by the State Fair and other entities, meaning there's no reason you ever had to pay full price.

3. Texas will host CMT Music Awards for the first time ever in 2023. Big news for country music fans: During Carrie Underwood's sold-out show in Austin on November 2, CMT Music Awards co-host Kelsea Ballerini came on stage to announce that the CMT Music Awards will come to the city's new Moody Center next year. Airing Sunday, April 2, 2023, the fan-voted awards ceremony will be hosted in Texas for the first time ever.

4. Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team gets the boot from CMT. After 16 seasons, CMT broke up with "America's Sweethearts." The network revealed on March 31 that Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team was not being renewed. The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders organization said, however, that it would "look forward to continuing the exclusive journey on a new platform."

5. Dallas musician Jess Barr, one-time guitarist for Slobberbone, dies at 46. A Dallas-Fort Worth musician and club owner died at a young age: Jess Barr, who was a member of seminal alt-country rock band Slobberbone, passed away in the early hours of December 6; he was 46. Friends of the family said he suffered from a heart condition.

6. Art of Banksy comes to Dallas in immersive event with signature secrecy. Street artist Banksy has always been known for his secrecy, and Dallas got a taste of that when a new immersive art exhibition, Banksyland, came to the city for two weekends, June 24-July 4. Held in a secret location in the Dallas Arts District, Banksyland is an international touring exhibition that immerses audiences in the works of the elusive artist.

7. 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, was 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. Philippe began her tenure on December 5.

8. 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.

9. Dallas Summer Musicals lands big Broadway shows and new name for 2022-23. In March, Dallas Summer Musicals — or Broadway Dallas, as it would now be known — revealed its 2022-23 season of touring Broadway shows in partnership with Broadway Across America, and there were some pretty big names on the list. They were not just musicals and not just in the summer.

10. Vivid new mural in Deep Ellum Dallas is from a world-famous artist. In November, Deep Ellum became home to a new mural from a world-famous graffiti artist. Entitled: Texas Tantrum Trots and Pals, it's from Ron English, dubbed the "Godfather of street art." The large-scale mural measuring 1,728 square feet is on the southwest corner of Good Latimer and Elm Street, in a building with plans to become a Velvet Taco.

Enchant Dallas
Photo courtesy of Enchant
Enchant runs nightly at Dallas' Fair Park through January 1, 2023.
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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

DFW's dismal ranking among best places to live leads this week's 5 most-read 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-Fort Worth no longer a top 100 place to live, declares U.S. News & World Report. Dallas-Fort Worth has fallen from grace in a closely watched annual report of the best places to live in the U.S. The Metroplex appears at a dismal No. 113 (out of 150) in U.S. News & World Report's Best Places to Live ranking for 2023-2024. Last year, DFW landed at No. 32; it was No. 37 in 2021. Here's (sort of) why it plummeted in the rankings.

2. Sliders restaurant from Detroit shimmies onto Dallas' Greenville Ave. A slider concept from the Great Lakes State is expanding to Texas, and that includes a high-profile location in Dallas: Called Savvy Sliders, it's a young fast-casual concept founded in Flint, Michigan, and it will open its first Dallas restaurant at 4818 Greenville Ave., in the space recently vacated by vegan chicken restaurant Project Pollo.

3. New lagoon-waterpark with lazy river dives into Dallas-Fort Worth. A long-awaited waterpark in Cedar Hill is debuting Memorial Day weekend with two of Texas' favorite splashy attractions: a lagoon and lazy river. The Lagoon at Virginia Weaver Park will open Saturday, May 27 after more than a year in development.

4. Happy Hippie Brewing to bring peace, love, and beer to new HQ in Richardson. A craft beer brewery is opening a splendid new facility in Richardson: Happy Hippie Brewing Company, a small brewery specializing in Belgian-style beers, is opening an an 11,000-square-foot brewery and taproom at 500 Lockwood Dr., in the Lockwood area within the city's evolving CORE District.

5. Asian restaurant Howard Wang's shutters location in Uptown Dallas. A Chinese restaurant in Uptown Dallas closed: Howard Wang's Uptown Grill, one in a family-owned chain, closed its location at 3223 Lemmon Ave. #103, with the final day of service on May 21. The restaurant had been at that location for 12 years.

21 North Texas museums offer free admission to military families this summer

Giving Back

Nearly two dozen Dallas-Fort Worth museums are honoring active duty military personnel and their families with free admission through the Blue Star Museums initiative, May 20-September 4, 2023.

Established by the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families, and the U.S. Department of Defense, the Blue Star Museums program annually provides military families free access to 2,000 museums nationwide throughout the summer. The program begins yearly on Armed Forces Day in May and ends on Labor Day.

Free admission is extended to personnel currently serving in the U.S Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard (including those in the Reserve), and all National Guardsman. Members of the U.S. Public Health Commissioned Corps and NOAA Commissioned Corps are also included in the program.

Those who qualify can use their military ID to bring up to five family members - including relatives of those currently deployed. More information about qualifications can be found here.

There is no limit on the number of participating museums that qualifying families may visit. Admission for non-active military veterans, however, is not included.

According to the National Endowment for the Arts website, the initiative was created to help "improve the quality of life for active duty military families" with a specific focus on children. The site states 2 million have had a parent deployed since 2001.

"Blue Star Museums was created to show support for military families who have faced multiple deployments and the challenges of reintegration," the organizers say. "This program offers these families a chance to visit museums this summer when many will have limited resources and limited time to be together."

In Dallas-Fort Worth, participating institutions include well-known art, science, and history museums, as well as smaller museums outside the city limits. Here's a look at all the museums in North Texas that are participating in the Blue Star Museums initiative this year.

In Dallas:

In Fort Worth:

In Garland:

In Irving:

In Mesquite:

In Cleburne:

In Krum:

In Sanger:

More information about Blue Star Museums and a full list of participants can be found on arts.gov.

These are the 7 best most intriguing hot dogs in Dallas right now

Hot Dog News

Editor's Note: In prior stories, CultureMap contributor Lila Levy has sussed out the top bagels in Dallas, and tried pretty much every lavender latte in town. Now she's ready to offer her take on that summertime classic: hot dogs.

Portillo's hot dogs
portillo's hot dogs


Hot dogs are the quintessential summer food and an item that nearly everyone loves. They're simple, flavorful, easy to make at home, and affordable if you dine out.

Some cities like Chicago have a long-standing tradition with hot dogs, and while Dallas is not Windy-City-level quiet yet, we've seen an influx of some exciting new hot dog concepts come to town, joining a few locals who've been dishing out memorable hot dogs all along.

Here's the 7 most interesting hot dogs you can find in Dallas-Fort Worth:

Portillo’s in the Colony, Chicago-style hot dog, $4.50
Chicago-based fast casual brand known for its hot dogs and other favorite Chicago fare, has expanded to Texas, with its first restaurant in The Colony, which opened in January 2023. Chicago-style hot dogs are my favorite kind, and Portillo's does it right. Their basic hot dog comes with "everything": mustard, relish, celery salt, chopped onions, sliced tomato, pickle, and sport peppers on a steamed poppy seed bun. I loved the condiments, especially the peppers and relish. My companion thought the bun was too soft, but it was fine for me. Their hot dogs have a snappy casing with a robust tangy flavor.

Hunky'sHunky Dog, $4.25
Cedar Springs pioneer has been serving hamburgers, fries, and malts, since 1984. They're known for their burgers but they also do a trio of hot dogs including the classic "Hunky Dog," a hefty quarter-pounder with relish, onions, and mustard. I've been here before and know it's best to ask for the hot dog to be grilled extra, to give it that additional "burnt hot dog" cookout flavor. At $4.25, it's a bargain and their presentation is cool: They split the hot dog down the middle and place the onions and relish on top, and they toast the edges of their bun.

Fletcher's Original Corny DogsMake Mine Texan, $10
No story on hot dogs is complete without Fletcher's, famed purveyor of the classic corny dog. You used to have to wait for the State Fair of Texas to get them, but now that they have a food truck, you can find them camped at venues such as the Dallas Arboretum, and they're also at Klyde Warren Park Tuesdays-Sundays. They've expanded their lineup of flavors so I ordered their most recent invention: Called Make Mine Texan, it's a hot dog made of beef and brisket, with smoke seasoning that adds a heartier Texas flavor.

Dog Haus in RichardsonTooo Chi, $8
California hot dog chain takes a gourmet approach with jumbo hot dogs, veggie dogs, vegan sausages, and 40+ toppings including some you might not expect, such as arugula. I ordered the Tooo Chi, their version of the Chicago hot dog, which they brag is a hormone- and antibiotic-free beef hot dog, with tomato, pickle, neon-green pickle relish, mustard, diced onions, sport peppers, and celery salt. Their cooking added a nice char that emphasized the grilled flavor. It made me nostalgic to the days when my parents would grill hot dogs in the summer outside. Their point of distinction is their bread: sweet rich King's Hawaiian rolls, which they butter and grill, for a nice contrast of soft roll and crisp edges.

Angry DogAngry Dog, $8.95
Deep Ellum staple had hot dogs on the menu long before hot dogs became the foodie sensation they are today, and they offer a simple plain hot dog on a bun as a nod to those humble days. But everyone gets the signature Angry Dog: a kosher dog, split in half and grilled, placed on a toasted open-faced bun, then topped with chili, grilled red onions, mustard, and shredded cheddar cheese. It's more of a chili casserole than a hot dog, a knife-and-fork kind of deal where the bun gets soggy underneath the mountain of toppings, and you almost lose track of the hot dog. But unbeatable for a hangover cure or a big cheat meal.

Globe Life Field, Ballpark hot dog, $7
In recent years, the Texas Rangers' food service division has been jazzing up its ballpark menu, introducing new items, some of them crazy like the Boomstick 2-foot-long hot dog. I stick to the basic ballpark hot dog, with the only option being that you can get grilled onions at no additional charge. It's a standard six-inch hot dog, with self-serve mustard, ketchup, and relish, on a soft, nondescript bun, with a nice snap, the prototypical hot dog you eat while cheering on the hometown team.

Frank Seoul, Potato hot dog, $5.49
Korean hot dogs, also known as Korean corn dogs, are a Korean street food that started showing up in Dallas a few years ago, via Korean-born chains such as Two Hands and K-Town. Frank Seoul was one of the first and has locations in Carrollton and Frisco. Their specialty is hot dogs coated in a batter and deep-fried, like a corny dog but with a batter made from flour or rice flour, and additional ingredients such as the coating of diced potatoes in the potato hot dog that I ordered. They have a wild variety like a "cream cheese dog" — literally cream cheese on a stick &mdash and prices are all $6 or less.

This is not the place for a hot dog purist. The hot dog itself was lackluster, but the "shell" of crispy fried potatoes was magnificent, like a wonderful hash brown, and great on its own, didn't need the mustard I added a bit.