Boi Na Braza/Facebook

How do you make a hot summer concert lineup even better? Pair your show of choice with a great meal beforehand. There are more than a dozen food and drink options at Toyota Music Factory, from Japanese cuisine to Salvadorian-Mexican fusion to burgers and pizza.

Here are our recommendations for what nibble before the musicians take the stage at The Pavillion at the Toyota Music Factory.

Counting Crows with special guest Live: 25 Years and Counting
July 24
Nosh & Bottle

Not feeling a sit-down meal before a stand-up concert? This Mediterranean and New York-style deli and cafe offers sandwiches, wraps, salads, nosh boards, charcuterie plates, cheeses, and wine pairings. Grab the roast beef with Swiss cheese on a hoagie roll, or a classic meatball sub with sausage and peppers, then get ready to recover the satellites at the amphitheatre venue.

Gladys Knight & the O'Jays
August 8
Bar Louie

Pick a spot on one of the restaurant's two patios, or take advantage of that sweet, sweet air conditioning inside, to order a specialty burger or shareable snack. The hits from the R&B co-headliners are vast, but not as vast as the selections for beer, cocktails, and wines by the glass.

Gerardo Ortiz with Pancho Barraza and Kevin Ortiz
August 31
Boi Na Braza

The Brazilian steakhouse is just the right vibe to pump you up for this concert, which brings the Grammy-nomiated Mexican singer-songwriter to North Texas. Fire-roasted steaks, mouthwatering chickend, fresh legs of lamb, and more are sliced tableside by gauchos, and they'll keep the food coming until you say "stop." Ensure you get the table you want at the time you want by making a reservation.

For a different kind of show, don't forget about Alamo Drafthouse Cinema. The eight-screen theater at Toyota Music Factory serves not just a massive menu of hearty favorites, but also special snacks, entrees, and drinks that are themed to the current celluloid blockbusters.

Photo by Ashley Gongora

Chic Dallasites party poolside at CultureMap's Summer Soiree in the sky

Fun in the Sun

Under a perfect evening sky, about 150 guests gathered for the CultureMap Summer Soiree hosted at The 23, a beautiful new luxury apartment high-rise in Dallas' Victory Park.

Upon arrival, partygoers excited about CultureMap's annual summer social were handed a glass of chilled bubbly and whisked up the elevator to the eighth-floor, indoor-outdoor amenity deck. There, the glistening infinity pool stretched out along the balcony and reflected nearby buildings, making for some stunning architectural photo opps. A few people even kicked off their summer wedges and dipped their toes in the cool water.

While DJ Blake Ward played upbeat party tunes outside, attendees mingled around high-top tables adorned with gorgeous seasonal blooms by Simply Elegant Dallas. They tried their luck at a giant Connect Four game and mugged for the interactive photo booth provided by the aptly named My Event Is The Bomb.

For those who preferred the comfort of air-conditioning, there was plenty of room to relax around TVs, a pool table, and a wall-mounted Scrabble board in the game room.

Bartenders from Sourced Craft Cocktails kept cups full with refreshing summer drinks from Tito's, Deep Ellum Brewing Co., Austin EastCiders, On The Rocks Cocktails, Topo Chico, and more. The two signature cocktails were the talk of the thirsty crowd — "Midnight in Victory Park," made with Tito's Vodka, homemade blackberry syrup, fresh lime juice, and sparkling water; and "Summer of 23," which mixed Casamigos Tequila with fresh grapefruit juice, fresh lime juice, simple syrup, and grapefruit sparkling water.

With spreads set up by favorite Victory Park restaurants, guests certainly did not go hungry. Noshes included flautas, ceviche nachos, and brisket nachos from Mesero; brown-rice Pangoa bowls and energy balls from Freshii; and thin-crust pizza, bruschetta, meatballs, charcuterie, and signature Chocolate Salami from Olivella's.

PopBar provided sweet relief from the heat with their famous gelato and sorbet pops; cookies-and-cream and strawberry were the most-requested flavors.

Spotted in the crowd and donning their chic summer best were Nicole Collins, Travis Reams, Andria Jackson, Valde Mar, Lauren Almand, Tiffany George, Vivien Jordan, Melanie Townsend, Vanda Ungureanu, Meghana Moya, Marilyn Flennings, Olga Nikolini, Jessica Jade, Gerald Collins, Deja Sanders, Craig Morson, Ben Yager, Tanesha Tyler, Shijen Feng, Leandra Contreras, Brittnee Lemmond, Mckennan Wright, Melissa Gray, Gayle Evans, and Stephanie Sims.

Throughout the evening, representatives of The 23 led private tours through one of the luxury apartment homes. The 1,329-square-foot, two-bedroom model was outfitted with modern amenities and luxe touches. Think quartz countertops, closets with Elfa shelving and custom lighting, and a big-as-your-first-apartment shower.

When it was time to fetch the car from valet, guests went home with fab swag bags that included restaurant gift cards and coupons, and a tasty treat — Moscow mule-flavored gummy bears, infused with Tito's, made by Sugarfina.

Gina Carpio, Emily Tamlyn

Gina Carpio, Emily Tamlyn, Summer Soiree 2018
Photo by Ashley Gongora
Gina Carpio, Emily Tamlyn
Photo courtesy of Reliant

Surprise donation from Reliant Gives ensures all Dallas foster kids have a voice

Pay It Forward

CASA of Collin County's executive director, Tricia Clifton, burst into tears at the sight of the Reliant employees carrying a $100,000 check, but it wasn't just because of the five zeros or the impact it would make for abused and neglected children in Collin County. It was because the mission of CASA is personal for Clifton.

As a young child she was placed in foster care, so she knows all too well how important it is for foster children to have someone advocating for their best interest. Court-appointed special advocates, or CASAs, are trained volunteers that give children placed in foster care a voice as they move through a complicated legal system.

Clifton also knows that companies like Reliant are crucial to helping local nonprofits across Texas continue to thrive and support those in need. For CASA of Collin County, $100,000 means that every child in the county who enters the foster care system this year will have an advocate. This is especially crucial, as the number of children currently in the system has almost doubled since last year — all within the first five months of 2018.

Reliant employees join together twice a year to host Reliant Gives, a program that supports deserving causes and communities across Texas. Through nominations by Reliant employees and votes from the public, nonprofits have the chance to receive a $100,000 donation, with runners-up receiving $20,000 and $10,000 donations.

For this year's first round of Reliant Gives, CASA of Collin County received the top donation, with Houston nonprofits The Rose and SIRE securing the runner-up donations through public voting.

Hands and feet in the community
Through the Reliant Gives program, established in 2016, $720,000 has now been donated to 18 deserving nonprofits across Texas. In addition to this program, Reliant supports local communities through volunteerism, charitable giving, and strategic long-term partnerships. In 2017 alone, they provided more than $4 million in financial and in-kind donations to various organizations across the state, and Reliant employees supported over 100 nonprofits with nearly 8,000 volunteer hours.

Giving is in Reliant's DNA, exemplified by programs like Reliant Gives and positiveNRG. The Reliant Gives donations were timed to coincide with positiveNRG Week, which is a week dedicated to volunteerism across the country by Reliant’s parent company, NRG.

In May, Reliant employees throughout Dallas rolled up their sleeves to be the hands and feet at an array of organizations, including:

Whether it's organizing food drives, planting trees, walking for a cause, or fundraising on behalf of nonprofits, Reliant is committed to giving to the communities where its employees live and work. For more information on Reliant Gives, visit reliant.com/reliantgives.

CASA of Collin Country was this year's big winner.

CASA of Collin County
Photo courtesy of Reliant
CASA of Collin Country was this year's big winner.
Photo courtesy of Inwood Village

Tour Dallas' one-stop shopping center with on-the-go influencer duo

Influencer Approved

The life of a social media influencer isn't easy (even though it seems pretty nice!), so having a go-to place to work out, shop, sip, grab a bite to eat, and have a treat yo' self moment is crucial.

For the women behind Dallasites101, Kara Shannon and Lily Kramlich-Taylor, that all-in-one spot is Inwood Village. Instead of running across town from meeting to meeting, errand to errand, and from lunch to cocktails, Inwood Village makes it easy — it's your friendly neighborhood everything.

One of Dallas' oldest shopping centers, Inwood Village is situated on Lovers Lane and Inwood Road. We spent the day with Shannon and Kramlich-Taylor as they stopped by some of their favorite spots in the village.

Hiatus Spa + Retreat
The place to go for an affordable, luxurious spa experience. From massages and body scrubs to facials and nail care, Hiatus offers services that work into a happier, healthier lifestyle. Hiatus makes relaxation accessible with the H-Circle membership, a monthly subscription for one service plus additional discounts and perks.

Susan Saffron Jewelry Boutique
An intimate boutique offering a range of jewelry lines, including Julie Vos, Mercedes Salazar, and Susan herself. It's the perfect spot for a personalized, memorable experience to pick out a thoughtful gift for a friend or yourself.

The Bar Method
A boutique fitness studio offering barre classes for students of all levels. A barre workout not only reshapes your entire body, but it allows for increased inner strength, too. Highly trained instructors customize the exercises to ensure they're safe and effective for all ages and every body. The Park Cities location features three workout studios, a lounge area, and locker room.

The Juice Bar
Dallas' premier juice bar, serving cold pressed juices, smoothies, bowls, and more. Opened in 2012, the Inwood Village location is the company's original shop. The Juice Bar focuses on creating the best flavors, using the highest quality ingredients, and providing great customer service.

Flower Child
A fast-casual restaurant serving farm-fresh, ridiculously healthy brunch, lunch, and dinner. Flower Child is dedicated to serving healthy food for a happy world: all ingredients are locally sourced, proteins are raised naturally without additives, and produce is guided by the wisdom of the Environmental Working Group.

Susan Saffron Jewelry Boutique offers a range of jewelry lines.

Girl holding Susan Saffron jewelry bag
Photo courtesy of Inwood Village
Susan Saffron Jewelry Boutique offers a range of jewelry lines.

Dallas-Fort Worth food fans toast to local culinary stars at Tastemaker Awards

Tastemaker Awards 2018

It was wall-to-wall food and drink at the 2018 Tastemaker Awards, CultureMap's celebration of the top restaurants, bars, and culinary masters, held at Dallas event space Sixty Five Hundred on April 19.

More than 30 bars and restaurants dished out their best in a hedonistic feast, serving spectacular tastes ranging from meatball sliders to hamachi crudo to Texas quail. The fifth year of the annual event, presented by Woodford Reserve and benefiting Bonton Farms, it drew a sold-out crowd of more than 750 attendees and proved to be the most assured and polished yet.

Lines formed quickly for small plates and samples from some of Dallas-Fort Worth's most popular and influential eateries. Buzzy dishes included warm and spicy elote-style corn at Trompo; tenderloin slider at Bob's Steak & Chop House topped with a witty pickled carrot; red snapper ceviche at Cedars Social; Texas quail at Tillman's Roadhouse; fava bean veloute from The French Room; mini-biscuits with sausage gravy from Norma's Cafe; pulled pork on a Hawaiian roll from Ferris Wheelers; and the massively popular breakfast-at-dinner cinnamon-pecan bread pudding French toast from Crossroads Diner.

A bartenders showcase sponsored by Woodford Reserve featured Bartender of the Year nominees Trevor Landry, Jonathan Garcia, and Austin Millspaugh, mixing up signature Woodford cocktails.

Landry's drink, called the Second Wind, combined Woodford Reserve with cacao-infused Flor de Cana rum, Braulio amaro, Disaronno Amaretto, and mole bitters. Garcia's "3:10 to Iwo Jima" combined Woodford Reserve with strawberry shoshito, lemon juice, and ginger beer. Millspaugh's "In the Summer of '62" featured Woodford Reserve with Chartreuse and Averna liqueurs, golden syrup, and chocolate bitters, topped with a head of whipped cream. This one contained a decadent surprise: a chocolate mousse cake ball with a crunchy coating floating inside.

At the Tastemaker Hall of Fame corner, Charlie "Pap" Papaceno, 2017 Bartender of the Year, created a jalaeño-topped "Barbed Wire Fence" cocktail alongside a dish of braised pork and cabbage from Josh Sutcliff, 2017 Rising Star Chef of the Year winner.

The Woodford Reserve main bar poured potent Old Fashioneds, TexaTucky Tea, margaritas, and more. Korbel offered garnished bubbly at the Bubbly Bar; wines by Sonoma-Cutrer and beers from Deep Ellum Brewing, Alaskan Brewing, and Community Beer Co. were served; and guests paced themselves at the Topo Chico Hydration Station.

Desserts got their very own dedicated Compass Sweet Suite, where pastry chef nominees Eric Cobb, Katrina Kent, Keith Cedotal, and Erika Lucio turned out an array of gorgeous sweets such as Orelys "blond chocolate" panna cotta with banana and passion fruit, and a toasted marshmallow and chocolate layered verrine with chocolate-chip cookie butter and chocolate "crack."

But this party wasn't just a feeding frenzy; we had some awards to present. CultureMap senior editor Teresa Gubbins welcomed the crowd and introduced celebrity emcee Jane McGarry​, who announced the winners from restaurants and bars across Dallas-Fort Worth. They were selected by judges Charlie Papaceno, Dan Murry, Jeffery Hobbs, Jesus Garcia, John McCaa, Josh Sutcliff, Kevin Martinez, Malcolm Mayhew, Nancy Nichols, Nico Sanchez, Rich Hicks, Rodney Haas, Sandra Bussey, Sarah Green, Stephen Rogers, and Gubbins.

One of the biggest awards of the night was for Best New Restaurant, voted on by the CultureMap readers and sponsored by Whole Foods Market. The winners were Ferris Wheelers in Dallas and B&B Butchers in Fort Worth. They were greeted with some of the loudest applause and cheers of the night.

Winners went home with major bragging rights, a trophy, and a gift from Seasoned, one of the event's generous sponsors.

Between feasting and celebrating, guests stopped to snap Insta-worthy photos at the SmileBooth and bought raffle tickets benefiting Bonton Farms, an urban farm in South Dallas. DJ Blake Ward kept the music lively all night.

Spotted in the crowd were Dallas dining VIPs and influencers including Monica Greene, Brad Woy, Tim McIneny, Jose Meza, David Denney, Victor Rojas, David Gow, Sander Wolf, Jon Alexis, LeAnn Berry, Phil Schanbaum, Brian McCullough, Christian Armando, Brandon Baker, Rachel Pinn, Susie Oszustowicz, Junior Borges, Tammany Stern, JaLisa E. Vaughn, and Alyssa Harker.

Now go read about all the winners, and we'll see you next year.

Rob Morley, Heather Lawhon, Julie Campbell, Brian McCullough

Dallas Tastemaker Awards 2018, Rob Morley, Heather Lawhon, Julie Campbell, Brian McCullough
Rob Morley, Heather Lawhon, Julie Campbell, Brian McCullough
Courtesy photo

Legendary Dallas chef shares a slice of his childhood with this apple pie recipe

Dean’s Texas Cuisine

Dean Fearing has quite a story to tell. The chef came to Dallas in 1978, everything he owned packed into a brown Celica, to work in the Pyramid Room at the Fairmont Hotel. At the time, Dallas was “a French restaurant town,” he says.

In 1981, he changed all that with the opening of Agnew’s, the first five-star American restaurant in the city. Many restaurants and cookbooks and television appearances later, he’s the most lauded chef in Dallas, and he’s still making headlines and history at his namesake restaurant, Fearing’s, at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Uptown.

In this video, the latest in the series called Dean’s Texas Cuisine, Fearing gets nostalgic about his family's Kentucky roots by making his Granny's apple pie.

He explains which variety of apples he thinks work best for a pie and walks you through what most consider the most intimidating part of baking: the dough.

Watch the video to discover Fearing's secret ingredient, then get to slicing and rolling in your own home.

Granny's apple pie
Makes 1 8-inch pie

Filling ingredients
9 granny smith apples, peeled and sliced
1 tbsp. cinnamon
Pinch of sugar
Pinch of nutmeg
Pinch of ginger
1 cup sugar
1 tbsp. cornstarch
1 tbsp. malt vinegar

In a bowl, combine the apples with all the dry ingredients.

Add in the malt vinegar, then set aside until the pie dough is ready.

Dough ingredients
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. granulated sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 stick plus 4 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp. ice water

In a food processor, pulse the flour with the sugar and salt.

Add the butter and pulse until it is the size of small peas.

Add the ice water and pulse until the pastry is evenly moistened.

Turn it out onto a work surface and knead two or three times, just until it comes together.

Divide the pie dough in half, then roll out each dough onto a floured surface until it is 1/4 inch thick.

Spray the pie tin with non-stick agent, then place one pie dough into the pan and form by pressing it in gently.

Add the apples and cover with other piece of pie dough. Press down on the dough along the edge of the pan, use scissors to cut off any excess dough. Crimp the dough with a fork or your fingers.

Place the pie in the freezer for about 5-10 minutes to set.

Egg wash the pie and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar or Sugar in the Raw. Make an "x" in the middle of the pie with a paring knife for ventilation.

Place the pie in an oven heated to 350 degrees. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the pie starts to bubble.

Just like Granny used to make.

Dean's apple pie
Courtesy photo
Just like Granny used to make.
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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

These 10 Dallas restaurants top the list of best neighborhood spots for 2023

Tastemaker News

The annual CultureMap Tastemaker Awards returns for 2023, honoring the people who make our local restaurant scene special, with their innovation, energy, and creativity.

Restaurants and food industry pros are nominated in categories such as Best Restaurant, then voted on by a panel of former winners and industry experts. (Except for Best New Restaurant, which is determined by a bracket-style online tournament to be unveiled in April.)

Those nominees are featured in a special editorial series followed by a tasting event and awards ceremoney on May 4 at Fashion Industry Gallery (F.I.G.). Tickets are on sale now, including a limited number of Early Bird tickets at discounted rates of $60 for general admission and $99 for VIP (includes early access to the event, valet, and a dedicated bar), available until April 2.

In 2023, the categories include Rising Star Chef, Restaurant of the Year, Chef of the Year, Bar of the Year, Pastry Chef, Brewery, Neighborhood Restaurant, Bartender, Wine Program, Best New Restaurant, and our annual wild card, this year Best Burger..

The event is sponsored by Goodstock by Nolan Ryan, Deep Ellum Brewing Company, Ellum Ranch Patio Water, Topo Chico Sparkling Mineral Water. A portion of proceeds benefits the nonprofit Harvest Project Food Rescue.

The category of Neighborhood Restaurant of the Year is as it sounds: The place that's nearby, your reliable go-to. Here are our nominees:

Douglas Bar and Grill
Park Cities is represented by this fancy barbecue restaurant in Snider Plaza from chef Doug Pickering, a Park Cities native and SMU grad knows the turf first-hand. Pickering, previously at Work Bar in Deep Ellum and Ferris Wheeler's in the Design District knows his brisket and BBQ staples, but this place is also half steakhouse, with oysters on the half shell, steak tartare, truffle fries, and Prime steaks from Allen Brothers Ranch, plus cocktails and a wine list.

El Bolero
Upscale authentic Mexican restaurant is a bright light for Apheleia Restaurant Group, which has suffered some ups and downs. But they were among the first to settle in Dallas' Design District and El Bolero has remained a reliable performer. It's just the place if you're doing gallery runs or if you're one of the growing population of residents nearby seeking something interesting yet affordable, whether a weeknight special like their $8 Taco Tuesday nights, a quick breakfast taco to go in the morning, or their secretly-popular weekend brunch.

El Rincon del Maiz
Family-run Mexican restaurant in a former Sonic has two menus, one featuring classics such as cochinita pibil tacos. But it's their other menu of vegan dishes that has earned them an unprecedented amount of attention, including being named one of Bon Appétit’s Best New Restaurants in America. They're not the only Dallas Mexican restaurant to do tacos with cauliflower or jackfruit, but their homey recipes, drawn from south Mexico, have a complexity that make them a draw not only in their Garland neighborhood but for vegans and foodies across DFW.

Greenville Ave Pizza
"GAP" started out in 2007 as a standard neighborhood pizzeria on Lower Greenville with thin-crust pizzas, wings, salads, and subs, but has blossomed into much more. There's a real sense of personality, from calling their staff "pizza slayers" to amusing limited-edition pies like the five-layer "pizza cake" they once made for the Super Bowl. They've since opened two equally neighborly more locations: East Dallas where owners Sammy and Molly Mandell grew up, and Richardson, which features a full-service bar.

Le Bilboquet
When this Travis Walk restaurant opened in 2013, it became an instant favorite ladies-who-lunch spot — long before the Knox Street district underwent its draconian overhaul, with quaint shops replaced by steely high-rises. But the ladies still love it, and Le Bilboquet prevails with its French-American fusion menu — crab & avocado salad, endive with Roquefort cheese, apple tarte tatin — not to mention its darling casual-yet-elegant atmosphere and proximity to Park Cities.

Meso Maya
Ambitious mini-chain features authentic dishes from Central and Southern Mexico such as mole and posole, but also Tex-Mex touches, a well-appointed atmosphere, and $12 cocktails with muddled fruit. The first location opened in 2012 an iconic spot near downtown Dallas, where it received recognition from Preservation Dallas, but it fits in wherever it resides, from Preston Forest to Lakewood to West Plano to Fort Worth.

Restaurant inspired by the French Riviera is from founder David Lamberti, an Irving local with a real feel for what the neighborhood needs. That means an appetizing and approachable menu, ranging from appealing Bibb lettuce salad to pizzas to risotto to steak frites; an atmosphere that's elegant but not stuffy; and a front seat to the canals for which Las Colinas is known, making Monaco feel like both a destination and a hidden gem.

Casual Mexican spot opened in 2020 in a former tire shop at Ross and Greenville Avenue - a location that could be challenging but for the prowess of chef Fino Rodriguez, who was nominated in 2022's Tastemaker Awards for Best Rising Star Chef. The restaurant draws neighbors and foodies alike with its authentic flavors and upscale ingredients, in ambitious dishes such as tacos with rib eye steak, ceviche, Mexican grits with Cotija cheese, and irresistible frozen mezcalitas.

Casual Italian eatery on Greenville Avenue has been the ultimate neighborhood restaurant before anyone started making lists of such things. It first opened in 1985, was destroyed by a fire in 2010, rebuilt and reopened in 2011, and still endures as a favorite hangout, thanks to its reasonably priced menu of pastas, fun martinis, rooftop patio, and free live jazz. And don't forget the Italchos, their signature dish that's a cross between nachos and pizza. Never forget the Italchos.

Tribal All Day Cafe
Charming community-oriented cafe in Exxir Capital's Bishop Arts development is hugely practical, especially if you're a North Oak Cliffer who loves juices, smoothies, coffee, tea, kombucha on tap, trendy flavored lattes such as beet, breakfast all day, toasts, sandwiches, vegan and vegetarian food, wraps, bowls, beer & great wine, and cocktails made with cold-press juice. Locals know that it can get crowded at breakfast and lunch, and also that they can hang out in the quiet hours between.

Where to see spectacular bluebonnets in Dallas-Fort Worth and around Texas in spring 2023

Signs of sring

In exciting news for wildflower watchers, bluebonnet season not only came earlier across Texas this spring, but the blooms are more abundant, more colorful, and even more fragrant than in recent years.

Thanks to plenty of rain and recent warm, sunny weather, the beloved state flower is painting the landscape blue along highways and in fields all over Texas. At this writing (in the last days of March), bluebonnets are peaking in the Houston area and throughout the Hill Country. Don't wait too much longer to plan your flower expedition; they'll be past their prime by mid-April.

Here in Dallas-Fort Worth, we're a few weeks behind - but not too far off, as anyone who's driven on the local highways in the past week can attest. Our biggest bluebonnet mecca in the region, the Ennis Bluebonnet Trails, are opening Saturday, April 1 - and the blooms are already popping, organizers say.

Following are areas in Dallas-Fort Worth and around Texas where folks have reported bluebonnets already, or where they're looking reliable for pretty photos further into spring. Hopefully, just like the flowers, this list will continue to grow.

And, don't forget: Bluebonnets aren't the only wildflower that bloom in spring. Indian paintbrush, Indian blanket, evening primrose, Mexican hat, anemone, redbud trees, Mexican plum, elbow bush, and coreopsis are also among the thousands of varieties that paint Texas with color throughout the season.


The Ennis Bluebonnet Trails, North Texas’ No. 1 spot for bluebonnet spotting, open April 1 and run through the end of the month. The trails wind visitors through 40 miles of picturesque wildflowers. But not all of them bloom at the same time; be sure to stop at the Welcome Center for a map and expert guidance. The blooms are expected to peak around mid-April, coinciding with the Ennis Bluebonnet Trails Festival, April 14-16. The first week of April, there’ll be pretty patches along Sugar Ridge Road, spotters say. Those interested in making the trek about 40 miles south of Dallas can check out maps and updates on the website and social media channels. Download the Ennis Y’all mobile app to get all the information on your smartphone.

Dallas-Fort Worth roadsides, fields, and parks

Freeway embankments
Stopping beside a highway or posing for photos on the side of the road is never advised. But the blue patches are always thrilling for passengers to spot while traversing local freeways. Some to note: The lush fields of blue along either side of SH 183 are a pleasant diversion while stopped in rush-hour traffic near D/FW Airport. There are some along SH 114 in Grapevine, SH 75 going north out of Dallas, and I-635 in northwest Dallas. Drive I-45 south from Dallas, through Corsicana, toward Houston, and you’ll see them everywhere. Look on either side of I-30 from Dallas to Arlington to Fort Worth, toward Dickies Arena, and west out of the city. There are even some that have popped up at the onerous convergence of I-35W and I-30 west near downtown Fort Worth.

Bluebonnet Trail Greenbeltin Plano is already popping with blooms at the end of March, with many more to come. Bluebonnet Trail runs from Central Expressway to Midway Road, following an Oncor power line easement and along Spring Creek Parkway and Chase Oaks Boulevard; it intersects with the Chisholm Trail in the middle of Plano and connects with the Preston Ridge Trail at Carpenter Park. View maps of the trails here and here.

The Laura W. Bush Native Texas Park, a 15-acre urban park on the grounds of George W. Bush Presidential Center at SMU, features a one-mile network of trails that walks visitors through native Texas environments, including spring wildflowers. Bluebonnets are peeking out among a sea of other native wildflowers, and they're just getting started. Peak is still a few weeks off. According to park personnel, visitors will also find Winecup, Pink Evening Primrose, Plains Coreopsis, Engelman Daisy, Foxglove, Prairie Spiderwort, White Prairie Clover, Prairie Verbana, Texas Yellowstar, Gaillardia, and Scrambled Eggs. Download a guide to the flowers here.

Cedar Hill State Park, a favorite place for mountain bikers, has bluebonnets popping along the trails. Visitors are sure to see some on a guided hike, and the ranger-led sunrise hikes are especially rewarding.

Many Dallas parks have "no mow" wildflower areas, where colorful flowers dot pathways and fill fields in spring. According to the Dallas Park & Recreation website, parks with wildflower areas to watch for include: Flagpole Hill, Harry Moss Park, Bachman, Grauwyler, Kessler Parkway, Gateway, and many more.

Freedom Meadow, Frisco
The field at the Warren Sports Complex is a bluebonnet photo hot spot each year. The flowers are getting revved up; look for them to really pop in April, spotters say.

Fort Worth Botanic Garden/BRIThas thousands of tulips and other spring flowers blooming, but you'll see some bluebonnets, too. Head toward the Cactus Garden greenhouse. Other colorful spring blooms that typically dot their landscape in spring: Texas mountain laurel, peach trees, crabapples, Redbuds, and Dogwood, and cherry blossoms. Keep up with what's flourishing in the gardens via their Facebook page.

Hill Country
Just a few hours out of the Metroplex, wildflowers are at peak already. Here are some places to check out in the Central Texas/Hill Country region.

Marble Falls
The bluebonnets are flourishing in this popular Hill Country town (and home to the famous Blue Bonnet Cafe). Look for bluebonnets, Indian paintbrushes, yuccas, and many other wildflowers to paint landscapes all over the area. Turkey Bend Recreation Area is always a specific hot spot. A old house off SH 281 called, simply, "The Bluebonnet House," is showing up in many picturesque photo shoots already; read about it here. Check out the guide to this year’s fresh patches here. They even have scenic drive recommendations, here.

Muleshoe Bend Recreation Area, Spicewood
The bluebonnet fields at this public park northwest of Austin are more abundant than they have been in years, say spotters. There usually are large patches of flowers on the riverbank, and it's easy to drive around and park a car to set up and take time for photo shoots (rather than pulling over on the side of the road). Find it at 2820 County Road 414, Spicewood.

For many Texans, Fredericksburg is synonymous with bluebonnets. If you're going there, don't delay. "The 2023 wildflower season is in full bloom. Bluebonnets are at their peak and should be abundant through the first 10 days of April," a report on the Visit Fredericksburg website says. While you'll see the blooms all over the region, a good first stop is always Wildseed Farms, the largest working wildflower farm in the country. Then ask the locals for their favorite flower-viewing spots. They offer a list of places to see them here. The Fredericksburg Bluebonnet Festival will happen April 22. Pro tip: Plan a mid-week F'burg getaway since weekends get mobbed during the spring. While you're in the area, don't miss the ...

Willow City Loop
One of the best drives in Texas is the 13-mile, two-lane Willow City Loop. A lot of people start in Fredericksburg, take State Highway 16 north approximately 13 miles and turn east on Ranch Road 1323 to Willow City. It's reportedly more of a wildflower wonderland this season than it has been the past few. It's a pretty drive, traversing hills and creeks, offering gorgeous views of meadows and valleys. Warning: Roadside property along this route is private, so no wandering into the fields.

Southeast Texas
Down toward Houston, fields have been bursting with color in March, reports say. Don't wait to much longer to visit or they'll be past their prime. "Bluebonnets are HERE at peak and looking gorgeous! We anticipate they will look vibrant for the next 1-2 weeks," Visit Brenham posted on March 29.

Brenham/Chappell Hill/Industry, Washington County
Halfway between Austin and Houston, Brenham is a town that prides itself on its wildflowers (and on being the home of Blue Bell Ice Cream). Using "Flower Watch," visitors can check in almost daily on the Visit Brenham website to see what is blooming. Spotters rave about a field of bluebonnets behind a Walmart store.

Washington County as a whole thrives with bluebonnets. Prime viewing spots typically are along Highway 290 east and west as you drive into Brenham; FM 1155 to 2679 in Chappell Hill; and FM 2447 and Highway 290 at First Baptist Church of Chappell Hill (the church typically welcomes visitors, but requests that the parking lot remain open to members of its congregation).

Also between Houston and Austin, Lake Somerville State Park typically has fields of photo-worthy bluebonnets. The nearby towns of LaGrange and Ellinger do, as well; a scenic drive on Highway 71 in the area will bring some colorful stops, spotters say. FM 1291 from Frelsburg through Fayetteville to LaGrange has photo-worthy fields.

2023 bluebonnet festivals

Resources to keep up with wildflower season

Rules of the road

  • Remember that while it isn’t illegal to pick the blooms, it is bad form. Leave them for others to enjoy and so the flowers can go to seed and make more for next year.
  • By the same token, minimize trampling of the plants, as crushing them repeatedly (by, say, sitting on them) can destroy the flowers. Try to walk in other people's footprints in a field.
  • Be aware that fields can also contain fire ants and the occasional snake. Be careful if walking through grass where it’s not possible to see where you’re stepping.
  • Pulling over on the side of a highway for photos is never recommended. Find a nearby parking lot.
  • Also, remember the "groups" rule. If you approach a pretty patch and another family is taking photos, ride on by.
  • Finally, be respectful of private property — no climbing fences, going through gates, or driving up driveways to get that photo. You might get a less-than-warm welcome.


Got a great bluebonnet spot? Email stephanie@culturemap.com.

5 Dallas chefs and restaurants make list of James Beard Award finalists

Awards News

An unprecedented five chefs and restaurants from Dallas and one from Fort Worth are in the running for a prize from the James Beard Foundation, which has selected finalists for its annual Restaurant and Chef Awards.

The awards recognize chefs and other culinary professionals in a wide range of categories, ranging from Outstanding Chef to Best New Restaurant. These finalists emerged from a pool of semifinalists announced in January.

Candidates from Dallas-Fort Worth who are in the running for national awards include:

  • Best New Restaurant: Lucia Dallas
  • Outstanding Bakery: Kuluntu Bakery, Dallas
  • Outstanding Bakery: La Casita Bakeshop, Dallas
  • Best New Restaurant: Restaurant Beatrice, Dallas
  • Best New Restaurant: Don Artemio Mexican Heritage, Fort Worth

In addition to the DFW nominees, three other Texan restaurants and chefs are in the running for national awards:

  • Best New Restaurant: Tatemó, Houston
  • Outstanding Wine and Other Beverages Program: Nancy’s Hustle, Houston
  • Outstanding Bar: Las Ramblas, Brownsville

Texas also gets its own regional award in the category of Best Chef: Texas. The finalists are:

  • Reyna Duong, Sandwich Hag, Dallas
  • Benchawan Jabthong Painter, Street to Kitchen, Houston
  • Emiliano Marentes, Elemi, El Paso
  • John Russ, Clementine, San Antonio
  • Ernest Servantes and David Kirkland, Burnt Bean Co., Seguin

Notably, all of this year’s finalists for both the national categories and Best Chef: Texas are new. None received nominations in 2022.

Last year, Texans did well in the awards, with Houston cocktail bar Julep winning Outstanding Bar Program, Austin chef Edgar Rico (Nixta Taqueria) winning Emerging Chef, and Austin chef Iliana de la Vega (El Naranjo) winning the first ever Best Chef: Texas.

In addition, two Texans won media awards — Austin chef Jesse Griffiths (Dai Due) for his cookbook, The Hog Book: A Chef’s Guide to Hunting, Butchering and Cooking Wild Pigs and Texas Monthly taco editor Jose Ralat for his Tex-Mexplainer columns.

The Foundation will reveal its Restaurant and Chef Award winners at an awards ceremony on Monday, June 5 at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Media Award winners will be announced on June 3.