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The fast-rising Pie Tap Pizza + Bar won this year's CultureMap Dallas Tastemaker Award for best new restaurant, and Chef John Hrinkevich is celebrating. And when a chef celebrates, our bellies win.

He's at Whole Foods Market to shop for lasagna bolognese ingredients, because in addition to incredible pizzas, Pie Tap also serves up fresh pasta. Join him as he cracks open a local brew, grabs a cart, and heads into the aisles, picking up everything from organic tomatoes to grass-fed beef. Then follow the recipe below to make an Italian meal the whole family will enjoy.

Lasagna Bolognese

Egg pasta dough ingredients
1 lb. 00 flour
12 egg yolks
1 whole egg
1 tsp. sea salt

Ricotta cheese ingredients
1 qt. whole milk
1.5 cups heavy cream
2 cups buttermilk
1 tsp. sea salt

Bolognese sauce ingredients
4 oz. olive oil
2.5 lb. ground beef
8 oz. white onion, diced into 1/8-inch pieces
4 oz. celery, diced into 1/8-inch pieces
4 oz. carrot, diced into 1/8-inch pieces
2 tbsp. garlic cloves, minced
1 cup white wine
1 cup beef broth
1 qt. tomato sauce
2 cups whole milk
2 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. black pepper

Egg pasta dough directions
Combine flour and salt in the mixer or pasta machine and mix thoroughly for 3 minutes.

Add whole egg and egg yolks and mix until thoroughly combined, then form into a ball.

Let dough rest for 30 minutes before extruding through the pasta machine.


Bolognese sauce directions
Heat olive oil in a braising pan. Add ground beef and brown, seasoning with salt and pepper.

Remove ground beef from pan and add onion, celery, carrots, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper.

Sweat vegetables for 10 minutes, stirring frequently (do not brown).

Add white wine and cook over medium heat until reduced by half.

Add the beef broth and tomato sauce, and return the cooked ground beef to the pot. Season with salt and pepper.

Bring to a simmer, add milk, and continue to simmer on medium-low for two hours, stirring occasionally.

Skim grease from the top while cooking.


Ricotta cheese directions
Combine ingredients in a large pot and heat slowly, stirring often. Important: do not scorch!

When curd has fully formed on top of the liquid, turn off heat and let rest for 15 minutes.

After 15 minutes, skim curd off the surface and place into a cheese cloth-lined colander.

Place colander on a sheet pan to continue draining off remaining liquid.

Chef John Hrinkevich goes shopping at Whole Foods Market.

Courtesy photo
Chef John Hrinkevich goes shopping at Whole Foods Market.
Photo by Melody Fury

These are the best restaurants and bars in Texas for 2017

Texas Tastemakers

Each year, we hold a Texas-sized celebration of two of the things we love most: food and drink. The annual CultureMap Tastemaker Awards honors the top restaurant and bar talent in Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, and San Antonio.

The program started in Austin in 2012 and has expanded to include every city we cover. Our mission is to shine a spotlight on the people making the restaurant scene special and honor their innovation, energy, and creativity. Here's how it works. First, we collaborated with industry experts to determine a list of nominees in each city. Our local panels then selected winners in every category, except Best New Restaurant, which was determined by you, our savvy readers.

The winners were revealed at our swanky tasting events and awards ceremonies, held April 18-20 in Houston, Austin, and Dallas. (See highlights from the Dallas party here.)

Meet the winners below, and join us in toasting the best of Texas dining right now.

Austin

  • Restaurant of the Year: Emmer & Rye
  • Chef of the Year: Todd Duplechan, Lenoir
  • Rising Star Chef of the Year: James Dumapit and David Baek, Old Thousand
  • Pastry Chef of the Year: Abby Love, Dai Due
  • Bar of the Year: King Bee Lounge
  • Bartender of the Year: Josh Loving, Small Victory
  • Brewery of the Year: Hops & Grain
  • Wine Program of the Year: Bufalina
  • Neighborhood Restaurant of the Year: June's All Day
  • Best Burger: Contigo
  • Best New Restaurant: Sophia's

Dallas

  • Restaurant of the Year: Lucia
  • Chef of the Year: Julian Barsotti, Nonna, Carbone's, Sprezza
  • Rising Star Chef of the Year: Josh Sutcliff, Mirador
  • Pastry Chef of the Year: Sarah Green, The Joule
  • Bar of the Year: Armoury D.E.
  • Bartender of the Year: Charlie Papaceno, Industry Alley Bar
  • Wine Program of the Year: Gemma
  • Neighborhood Restaurant of the Year: Bbbop Seoul Kitchen
  • Best Fried Chicken: The Slow Bone
  • Best New Restaurant: Pie Tap Pizza Workshop + Bar

Fort Worth

  • Restaurant of the Year: Tokyo Cafe
  • Chef of the Year: Jesus Garcia, Oni Ramen
  • Best New Restaurant: Tortaco

Houston

  • Restaurant of the Year: Coltivare Pizza & Garden
  • Chef of the Year: Ryan Pera, Coltivare Pizza & Garden
  • Rising Star Chef of the Year: Martha de Leon, Pax Americana
  • Pastry Chef of the Year: Victoria Dearmond, One Fifth/Underbelly
  • Bar of the Year: Eight Row Flint
  • Bartender of the Year: Leslie Ross Krockenberger, Reserve 101
  • Wine Program of the Year: Pappas Bros Steakhouse
  • Neighborhood Restaurant of the Year: State of Grace
  • Favorite Taco: Tacos Tierra Caliente
  • Best New Restaurant: State Fare

San Antonio

  • Restaurant of the Year: The Bin Tapas Bar
  • Chef of the Year: Stefan Bowers, Feast
  • Best New Restaurant: Sangria on the Burg

Emmer & Rye, Austin Restaurant of the Year.

Photo by Melody Fury
Emmer & Rye, Austin Restaurant of the Year.
Photo by WJNPHOTO

Dallas-Fort Worth foodies toast best of the best at annual Tastemaker Awards

Tasting Notes

Last night was an evening of feasting and toasting, as hundreds of hungry fans streamed into Sixty Five Hundred for the fourth annual CultureMap Tastemaker Awards, the grand finale of our annual program celebrating the best in local food and drink. We honored nominees in all categories of food and beverage, from best chefs to the best restaurants in Dallas-Fort Worth.

This year’s event featured tasty bites from 30(!) area restaurants, showcasing the best in local dining right now. Sample bites included Kung Pao Lobster Rolls from Nick & Sam’s Steakhouse; Love Me Tenders (peanut butter and jelly fried chicken on a bed of cheesy grits) from Dot’s Hop House and Cocktail Courtyard; sriracha-spiked deviled eggs and smoked and fried Chicken Lollipop drumsticks from Street’s Fine Chicken; and confit quail over strawberry-rhubarb jam and goat cheese grit cake from Grayson Social. Is your mouth watering yet?

On the cocktail front, guests had their choice of beer (courtesy of Deep Ellum Brewing, 11 Below Brewing, and Alaskan Brewing Company); wine from Sonoma Cutrer; or five signature cocktails, including a Woodford Rye Old Fashioned with Woodford Reserve rye, vanilla syrup, and Woodford Reserve barrel-aged spiced cherry bitters, and the Texas Mule with Finlandia vodka, Topo Chico, lemon juice, and Liber & Co.’s fiery ginger syrup and Texas grapefruit shrub.

Meanwhile, Bartender of the Year nominees Eddie “Lucky” Campbell, Kyle Hilla, and Michael Martenson mixed up original cocktail samples in the Bartender Showcase, where attendees showed their love by voting for their favorite libations with golden coins.

Between mixing, mingling, and noshing, guests were pampered with manicures by MiniLuxe before heading over to strike a pose at the zany SmileBooth. Those with a sweet tooth satisfied their cravings with freshly made (or should we say spun?) cotton candy by Cottonsmith, as well as treats by Sprinkles and Sugarfina. Ice cream lovers couldn’t help but rave about the The Joule’s dark chocolate hazelnut soft-serve ice cream with olive oil and a candied baguette.

Nominees received the star treatment at the Korbel Lounge, where celebratory glasses of champagne and swag bags filled with everything from Jack Black skincare to Krave jewelry and gift cards from Uchi, Top Knot, Soul Cycle, and more were on offer.

But this party wasn't just about the eating and drinking — we had some awards to present. Celebrity chef emcee Tim Love revealed this year's winners to an enthusiastic crowd, who cheered on both Fort Worth and Dallas entrants alike. Special thanks to judges Alison Morse, Amy and Andrew Savoie, Chad Solomon and Christy Pope, Lindsey and Jacob Sloan, Jeffrey Gregory, John Tesar, Kirstyn Brewer, Kyle Hilla, Ladd Biro, Malcolm Mayhew, Marlene Duke, Nick Rallo, and Tim Love, who helped us determine who would take home the titles.

Spotted in the crowd were Daniel Forsythe, Martin Arista, Lauren Clapper, Nick Fragnito, Marcus Eerndt, Nicole Sanderson, Vodi Cook, Christina Thompson, Trinda Wood, Linda Snorina, Rosa Williams, Todd Howard, Melissa Becker, Travis Lyon, and Hailey Finucane.

Ten percent of ticket sales from the event are being donated to Trigger's Toys, which is dedicated to reducing the financial and emotional stress on chronically ill children and their families.

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

Robyn Gilliam, Rachel Collins

Photo by WJNPHOTO
Robyn Gilliam, Rachel Collins
Justin Holt/Ralph Smith Studios

Dallas-Fort Worth restaurants and chefs win big at Tastemaker Awards

Tastemakers Awards

Now in its fourth year, the CultureMap Tastemaker Awards is here to pay tribute to the people and places doing exceptional work in the Dallas-Fort Worth restaurant and bar community. For the past few weeks, we've celebrated the nominees in a special editorial series. And on April 20, we revealed the winners at a swanky tasting event and awards ceremony at Sixty Five Hundred, emceed by celebrity chef Tim Love.

Every year, a panel of expert judges helps us compile the contenders, and the panel selects all of the winners except for Best New Restaurant. That is determined by you, our readers, in a bracket-style tournament — and this one was close, in Dallas and Fort Worth.

Meet the 2016 Tastemaker Award winners:

DALLAS

Restaurant of the Year: Lucia
CultureMap is not the first to give an award to this Bishop Arts District restaurant, and it certainly won't be the last. Chef David Uygur executes his vision of upscale Italian comfort food, making everything on-site, including the popular salumi plate, pasta, and house-baked bread. Doting service includes wine tips from co-owner Jennifer Uygur, and the small vintage atmosphere is darling.

Chef of the Year: Julian Barsotti
Barsotti is the current poster boy in Dallas for Italian food, with a growing Italian-restaurant empire that includes his original restaurant Nonna; his Italian-American restaurant Carbone's, which he opened in 2012; and Sprezza, a Roman-themed restaurant that opened in 2016. And the empire continues to expand, with Fachini, another Barsotti Italian creation opening in Highland Park Village this year.

Rising Star Chef: Josh Sutcliff, Mirador
Sutcliff came to Dallas from a San Francisco restaurant to join forces with chef Matt McCallister at his Design District restaurant, FT33, then at his Deep Ellum restaurant, Filament. Now he's at Mirador, the restaurant at the downtown Forty Five Ten boutique, where he works with Junior Borges on a modern American menu that includes lobster roll; deviled eggs; Cobb salad; and a farro bowl with cauliflower, cherries, and Marcona almonds.

Best New Restaurant: Pie Tap Pizza Workshop + Bar
Pizzeria concept from Mooyah co-founder Rich Hicks has the makings of a chain, and there are already two branches, one on Henderson Avenue and one in the Design District. It serves excellent pizza, pasta, beer, and wine, in a brisk, cosmopolitan setting. Everything is available on-site or via delivery to your door — meaning you can get a complete meal with wine or beer included, even a six-pack if you like, a delivery option that's unique.

Neighborhood Restaurant of the Year: Bbbop Seoul Kitchen
Family-owned Asian-fusion restaurant chain has three branches, and true to this category, each has its own charm: from the bustling practicality of Upper Greenville to the foodie cachet of North Oak Cliff. They all share the same basic cuisine theme, with a focus on Korean dishes including bibimbap, the traditional rice bowl dish topped with veggies, egg, and meat if you want, that inspired their name.

Best Fried Chicken: The Slow Bone
You wouldn't expect fried chicken at a barbecue place, but Slow Bone is full of surprises, including having a 4-star chef — Jeffery Hobbs — behind the line. The chicken gets brined, but he gives it a barbecue twist by smoking the water first, to imbue it with an appropriately smoky taste.

Pastry Chef of the Year: Sarah Green, The Joule
Green was one of three nominees from the Joule hotel, but she's the one who won. Her career has taken many creative twists and turns in her career since acquiring a degree in culinary arts from Le Cordon Bleu. She earned her pastry chops at Oak Dallas restaurant, but has also dabbled on the savory side as well. She spent two years with Cafe Momentum in downtown Dallas, and she has also cooked at restaurants on the West Coast including Sycamore Kitchen in Los Angeles.

Bar of the Year: Armoury D.E.
Deep Ellum establishment is definitely one-of-a-kind: What other bar serves Hungarian food like chicken paprikash with brown butter spaetzle? It also has a big selection of whiskeys, rare liqueurs, and a serious list of distinctive cocktails such as the Jackie O, made with rye, sarsaparilla, maple syrup, and angostura and black walnut bitters.

Bartender of the Year: Charlie Papaceno, Industry Alley Bar
"Charlie Pap" has been a godfather of the Dallas bar scene, first at the Windmill Lounge, which he opened with his ex-wife, Louise Owens, in 2005, and now at Industry Alley, the comforting South Side retro dive that he opened in 2015. It's a favorite of the service industry and other savvy insiders, who appreciate its solid drinks, pool tables, pinball machines, arcade games, and neon beer signs.

Wine Program of the Year: Gemma
Gemma has won many "best restaurant" awards, and part of the credit goes to its expansive wine list, with bottles from just about every wine region in the world, including some rarities from Napa Valley. There's a large selection of half-bottles, and more than a dozen French white burgundys, which has become the favorite pick of the wine hipster set.

FORT WORTH

Restaurant of the Year: Tokyo Cafe
Did this venerated Japanese restaurant win because its sushi and bento boxes are so nicely put together by creative chef Kevin Martinez? Or was it the courageous endurance of husband and wife owners Mary Kah-Ho and Jarry Ho, who spent two long years rebuilding — and updating — the restaurant after a fire? How about a little of both.

Chef of the Year: Jesus Garcia, Oni Ramen
Garcia helped make Fort Worth a ramen destination after opening his fast-casual gourmet-caliber restaurant in 2016. Previously chef at Little Lilly Sushi, Garcia earned many a rave. He's also worked at Five Sixty By Wolfgang Puck, Piranha Killer Sushi, and Shinjuku Station. To learn the ramen ropes, Garcia moved to Seattle to work at ramen restaurants there, including famed chain Kizuki Ramen. At Oni, they make stocks daily and incorporate sous vide cooking techniques.

Best New Restaurant: Tortaco
Latest concept from restaurateur Mike Karns (El Fenix, Meso Maya) won out over seven other new restaurants in Fort Worth. Tortaco combines tacos, tortas, and bowls filled with ingredients such as tamarind pork and diablo shrimp. There's lots of mezcal, crafted into cocktails like the one with orange peel, bitters, and simple syrup. Chains propped over the bar and a motorcycle parked inside adds a cool, gritty rock-and-roll atmosphere.

Trompo

It's tastemaker time for the 10 best restaurants in Dallas

Top Awards

We're mere days away from the 2017 CultureMap Tastemaker Awards, our annual event celebrating the best in local food and drink. We're honoring nominees in all categories of food and beverage, from best chefs to the best restaurant in Dallas-Fort Worth.

We'll toast them at a party on April 20 from 7-10 pm at Sixty Five Hundred, with tastings and awards, emceed by Texas celebrity chef Tim Love. Tickets are on sale now.

We've profiled the candidates for Rising Star Chef, Best Neighborhood Restaurant, Best Bars, Best Bartenders, Best Wine Program, the top pastry chefs, the best fried chicken, and the Best Chefs.

Now we take a look at the contenders in the biggest category of all: Best Restaurant in Dallas. Here are the nominees:

Americano
The casual sibling to CBD Provisions at The Joule hotel specializes in Italian-American classics. That includes house-made pastas, such as tortellini stuffed with ricotta and butternut squash, or and hand-cut pappardelle with Bolognese. There are Neapolitan-style pizzas, small plates, larger composed plates, as well as house-cured meats and cheeses. Pastries and desserts include house-made gelato.

Casa Rubia
Casa Rubia is one of the shining stars of Trinity Groves, with lots of critical raves for its modern tapas and dark, trendy atmosphere. Menu includes charcuterie, as well as many seafood options such as mussels and octopus. Paella is the signature dish and it changes daily. Drinks are unique: There's a long Spanish wine list, plus sherries and beers from Spain and South America.

Filament
Chef Matt McCallister's second restaurant is designed for the "everyday crowd," i.e., more casual than FT33. The machinist shop theme with exposed brick walls and wooden ceiling beams makes handy use of a vintage Deep Ellum building. Menu items include onion dip with warm potato chips, trout fritters, and pork chop with braised collards. There's also a "secret" burger available at the bar that's not really that secret.

Flora Street Cafe
Chef Stephan Pyles' latest concept, Flora Street Cafe represents a surprising pivot away from fast-casual burger joints and into fine dining, filtered through Pyles' Southwestern POV. Flora Street also dabbles in molecular gastronomy, with amusing tricks such as the seafood carpaccio starter that emits dry-ice smoke when it comes to the table. This is special-occasion dining; it's expensive. Restaurant has a central location in the middle of the Dallas Arts District, with a floor-to-ceiling glass front.

Lucia
Award-winning restaurant in the Bishop Arts District is where you'll find chef David Uygur, executing his vision of upscale Italian comfort food. Everything is made on-site, beginning with the salumi plate, with options such as spicy sopressata, salame, duck pate with pistachio, and lardo on crostini. Pasta is a must, whether it’s Meyer lemon risotto with crab, spaghetti with bottarga, or lamb brain ravioli; you can get it in half-portions. Doting service includes wine tips from co-owner Jennifer Uygur, and the complimentary house bread has its own following. The restaurant is generally booked a month out, but there are four seats at the bar that are first-come, first-served.

Montlake Cut
Seafood restaurant from chef Nick Badovinus (Neighborhood Services) picks up the former Spoon spot in Preston Center, with oysters, mussels, chowder, Dungeness crab, and a burger. You can't not have a burger. Atmosphere is casual-chic, with an emphasis on chic; the steak frites are $39. Seafood theme pervades the decor as well, with pole-mounted seats at the bar reminiscent of a bass boat, and Seattle-themed graphics on the wall.

Nonna
Italian restaurant at the foothills of the Parks Cities from chef Julian Barsotti (who also owns Carbone's and Sprezza) does house-made pasta, thin-crust pizza, salads, and salumi, in a cozy but cool setting. Menu items rotate, but favorites include gnocchi, lobster ravioli, and white pizza with clams. The wine list is loaded with Italian labels, although prices are high, starting at $12 per glass. One nice convention is the complementary "bomba" bread, a puffy round full of hot air, accompanied by a small dish of olives.

TNT Tacos and Tequila
Hip, more casual sibling of Blue Mesa has tacos, in the Quadrangle. Owners Liz and Jim Baron devised TNT as a place where their Southwestern food would reach a younger audience. It's a synthesis of Blue Mesa food but with a mix-and-match menu. Best-selling tacos include the corn-crusted chicken street taco with pickled onions, and the Buffalo chicken street taco, featuring grilled chicken brushed with spicy-hot wings-style sauce.

Trompo
Life changed for this taqueria in West Dallas when it made the Bon Appetit list of best new restaurants for 2016. But owners Luis Olvera and Juan Carlos Overa were making great tacos before the magazine came along, including al pastor, beef, and a surprisingly good vegetarian paneer-poblano, all served on house-made corn tortillas and sprinkled with onions and cilantro. As impressive as the tacos are, the quesadilla is a must-get, too.

Uchi
Famed chef Tyson Cole opens a third branch of his Austin-based sushi-eria Uchi, in a sleek wood-paneled building on Maple Avenue. Menu-wise, the Dallas branch includes items from both Uchi and sister concept Uchiko, with fish both hot and cold, plus sake and wacky desserts, such as the one with fried milk. Prices aren't cheap; you must pay for the opportunity to eat celebrity chef-conceived raw fish. You'll likely wait for a table, too, but there's a lobby designed for that. Seeing and being seen is all part of the Uchi plan.

Photo courtesy of Flora Street

Put your hands together for the 10 best chefs in Dallas

Chef's Choice

We're only a week away from the 2017 CultureMap Tastemaker Awards, our annual event honoring the best in local food and drink. As part of our run-up, we've elected nominees in all categories of food and beverage, from best chefs to the best restaurant in Dallas-Fort Worth.

We'll toast them at a party on April 20 from 7-10 pm at Sixty Five Hundred, with tastings and awards, emceed by Texas celebrity chef Tim Love. Tickets are on sale now.

We've profiled the candidates for Rising Star Chef, Best Neighborhood Restaurant, Best Bars, Best Bartenders, Best Wine Program, the top pastry chefs, and the restaurants with the best fried chicken.

Now we move on to one of the biggest categories of all: best chef.

Angela Hernandez, Top Knot
A native of Austin, Hernandez joined the Uchi family in 2014 to work at Uchiko in Austin before coming to Dallas in 2016 to open Top Knot, the whimsical spot atop Uchi Dallas. A graduate of the Texas Culinary Academy, she worked for six years in New York including at Allen & Delancey and Corton, and she also worked at Flores, and at The Bazaar by Chef Jose Andres, both in Los Angeles.

Bruno Davaillon, Bullion
A native of the Loire Valley in France, Bruno Davaillon came to Dallas in 2010 to take on the post of chef at the venerable Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek. Prior to Dallas, he was executive chef at Alain Ducasse's Mix at THE hotel at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. Under his five-year leadership, Mix was awarded a Michelin star in both 2008 and 2009. Davaillon began cooking at age 16 and has cooked in some of the world's most legendary restaurants, such as Restaurant Lasserre, a temple of classic French gastronomy near the Champs-Élysées. He'll open a new restaurant, Bullion, in downtown Dallas in 2017.

Dean Fearing, Fearing's Restaurant
Charismatic Dean Fearing is one of the founders of Southwestern cuisine and one of Dallas' most beloved chefs. He helped make the Mansion on Turtle Creek a culinary destination before leaving to found Fearing's Restaurant at the Ritz-Carlton hotel. He also authored the 2014 cookbook The Texas Food Bible. He's had countless features in national and international press and numerous TV cooking shows. He was recognized as a "Pioneer of American Cuisine" by his alma mater the Culinary Institute of America, and was presented with the Silver Spoon Award for sterling performance by Food Arts.

Julian Barsotti, Nonna, Carbone's, Sprezza
The current poster boy in Dallas for Italian food, Barsotti comes from a cooking family. His mother owns the catering operation Food Company, and his grandmother's family owns restaurants in New Jersey. He cooked at Oliveto in California before opening Nonna in Dallas in 2006. He's since followed that up with Italian-American restaurant Carbone's, which he opened in 2012, and Sprezza, a Roman-themed restaurant that opened in 2016.

Kirstyn Brewer, 80/20 Hospitality
Brewer is a returning nominee; in fact, she won in 2016 for Best Rising Star Chef. Her resume includes The Bazaar by Jose Andreas in Beverly Hills, where she worked with Top Chef Michael Voltaggio, and Consilient Restaurants' Westside Tavern in Los Angeles. Her employ with Consilient brought her to Dallas. She first worked at Hibiscus before moving to Victor Tangos, where she was executive chef for three years. She left in 2016 to open a still-to-come American/Chinese restaurant in the old Remedy space on Greenville Avenue.

Matt Balke, Bolsa
A native of Texas, Balke is an exceptionally well-rounded chef who graduated from Texas Tech with degrees in business marketing and hotel restaurant management before moving on to the Culinary Institute of America, where he graduated as salutatorian in 2007. He worked at York Street, then two years at Bolsa and Bolsa Mercado, The Rustic in Dallas, and Smoke in Plano, before returning to rule the roost at Bolsa again.

Matt Hoa, Ten Ramen
A native of California, Hoa comes from a restaurant family, and is part of the "Teach" family of restaurants, including his tenure at Tei An, the noodle restaurant at One Arts Plaza. He began to attract attention as executive chef at Ten Ramen, whose intimate confines provide a showcase for the creative labors and exciting action of the chef team. Hoa is part of the opening team at the new offshoot at the Shacks complex in The Colony.

Matt McCallister, FT33, Filament
After cooking in kitchens across the country, Arizona native Matt McCallister found his home in Dallas at FT33, his first solo venture, which made waves on a national scale, including a spot on the 2013 Top 50 New Restaurant list from Bon Appétit, and a 2014 Food & Wine Best New Chef nod. He's since opened Filament, a more casual restaurant in Deep Ellum. He favors the rubble-on-the-plate look and is famous for his foraging expeditions.

Michael Ehlert, The French Room
A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Ehlert began his cooking career at Colorado restaurants such as Boulder Cafe and Jax Fish House, the restaurant of Top Chef winner Hosea Rosenberg, and in New York at the Brasserie and chef Daniel Boulud’s DBGB Kitchen & Bar. In Dallas, he's worked at The Chesterfield, Campo, Hibiscus, and the Front Room at Hotel Lumen.

Stephan Pyles, Stampede 66, Flora Street Cafe
A fifth-generation West Texan born into a restaurant family, Stephan Pyles has led an amazing life of restaurants, travel, education, and charity. Prolific and creative, he's launched more than a dozen restaurants, from his ground-breaking Routh Street Cafe to the iconic Star Canyon to his eponymous restaurant on Ross Avenue to his latest stunner, Flora Street Cafe. He's produced and starred on TV cooking shows, published cookbooks, and won a James Beard Award, an accomplishment few Dallasites have achieved.

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

Texas hot spot hooks No. 1 ranking as best college city in America

Studies Show, Study Here

It might be a bit reductive to call Austin a college town, but that's what makes it so good. It certainly benefits from the creativity and industry of college living, but there's a lot more to do than go to gentrified lunches and cool, underground shows.

Recognizing this special balance, financial website WalletHub has declared Austin the No. 1 college city in the United States for 2023, beating out some obvious contenders like Pittsburgh and Columbus, Ohio.

In addition to being the best city overall, Austin also tops the large cities list, and is one of only two Texas locales represented in the top 10 of any category; the other is College Station, No. 6 on the small list.

The most represented state, perhaps not surprisingly, is Florida, with four cities in the overall top 10. The top 10 college cities for 2023, according to WalletHub, are:

1. Austin
2. Ann Arbor, Michigan
3. Orlando, Florida
4. Gainesville, Florida
5. Tampa, Florida
6. Rexburg, Idaho
7. Provo, Utah
8. Scottsdale, Arizona
9. Miami
10. Raleigh, North Carolina

And how did Austin make the grade? WalletHub looked at key metrics across three categories to determine the rankings.

Austin scored best, No. 12, in the “social environment” category, determined by metrics like students per capita; breweries, cafés, and food trucks per capita; and safety issues like vaccination and crime statistics.

Its ranking at No. 21 in the “academic & economic opportunities" category puts it in the 95th percentile, even above Boston and Cambridge, Massachusetts, famous for their Ivy League prevalence.

And perhaps unsurprising to those who currently reside in Austin, the Capital City ranked worst in "wallet friendliness,” at No. 204 out of 415.

Elsewhere in Texas, El Paso did well on the overall list at No. 36, followed by Houston (No. 64), Dallas (99), Fort Worth (153), and San Antonio (169).

Dallas landed well down the list in every category: wallet friendliness (226), academic & economic opportunities (168), and social environment (147).

Fort Worth fell even farther down the list in the same categories: wallet friendliness (242), academic & economic opportunities (201), and social environment (149).

Notably, cities that tend to fall lower in similar studies ranked relatively well among college towns.

These are the 9 best food and drink events in Dallas this week

This week in gluttony

Christmas spirit is in full swing, with all but one of this week’s events being holiday-themed. Check off pics with Santa for both the family and fur babies; take a Christmas cocktail-making class; sample holiday spirits from around the world; and stroll acres of candlelit walkways while indulging in holiday hors d’oeuvres and drinks – just to name a few. ‘Tis the season.

Tuesday, December 6

Caymus Wine Dinner at Carrabba’s Italian Grill
Decadent four-course meal features pairings with wines from award-winning Caymus. Courses include Stuffed Mushrooms with Shrimp, Rigatoni Al Forno with Chicken, Filet & Scallop Spiedino with Mashed Potatoes, and Crème Brulée, paired with Caymus wines including Cabernet Sauvignon and Conundrum Red Blend. The dinner is $75 starts at 6:30 pm. For the Dallas location, reserve here, and for Plano, reserve here.

Fontodi Wine Dinner at La Stella Cucina Verace
The Dallas Arts District Italian restaurant will host a five-course dinner paired with wines from Fontodi, a producer located in the Chianti Classico region of Tuscany. Courses will include beef carpaccio, butternut squash cappellacci with brown butter and sage, porchetta di Pienza with marble potatoes, Wagyu New York strip tagliata with porcini mushroom and butternut squash, and apple crostata. Dinner begins at 7 pm and is $175 plus tax and gratuity.

Thursday, December 8

Santa Paws at Texican Court Hotel
The Irving hotel invites furry friends and their humans to pop by for photos with Santa and complimentary hot apple cider and s’mores by the fire. Santa will be available for pet photos from 5-7 pm. Also enter to win a “Pups Night Away” overnight stay. Don’t miss the hotel’s pocket tequila bar, Salt, for new holiday cocktails in jolly keepsake glassware.

Reindeer Games Bar Crawl
Here’s a holiday bar crawl that spans beyond just drink specials. Participants get their money’s worth with a night of mini golf, axe throwing, unlimited video games, a chartered “sleigh bus,” and a pizza buffet. Start at Another Round and make stops at Flashback Retro Pub, LoneStar Axe Dallas, and Sylvan Avenue Tavern. Participants will also get a beer or seltzer at each stop. Tickets are $150 per duo, and the crawl will run from 6:15-10:30 pm.

Holiday Spirits Around the World at Hotel Vin
Sample an array of global spirits during this tasting experience at Grapevine’s Hotel Vin. Spirits to be served include Montenegro Italian liqueur, The Dalmore Scottish whiskey, Komo tequila, and Horse Soldier bourbon. Each spirit will be paired with globally-inspired bites. The tasting is $50 and will begin at 7 pm.

Friday, December 9

Cocktails by Candlelight at Old City Park
Candlelight will feature more than 13 acres of holiday cheer with decorated buildings, carolers, craft vendors, and candlelit walkways in Old City Park. Its 50th edition is set to begin on December 10, but adults only can get a sneak peek the night before during Cocktails by Candlelight, which comes with heavy hors d’oeuvres and drinks. Tickets are $100 per person or $175 per couple, and the event begins at 6 pm.

Saturday, December 10

Shaken, Not Stirred, Holiday Cocktail Class at Elm & Good
The modern American restaurant inside the Kimpton Pittman Hotel will host a holiday cocktail class great for groups looking to make spirits bright. Elm & Good’s lead mixologist Indy Acevedo-Fowler will guide guests through creating three cocktails: a cranberry margarita, peppermint espresso martini, and sangria rosa. Guests will also receive a branded take-away gift. The class is $35 and will begin at 2 pm.

Sunday, December 11

Brunch with Santa at the AC Hotel Dallas by the Galleria
Meet the big guy himself while indulging in brunch dishes during this family-friendly Sunday Funday. Tickets are $25 for adults (includes one mimosa) and $15 for kids 3-12. Children will get to meet Santa and take family photos. Brunch will run from 11:30 am-1:30 pm.

Monday, December 12

12 Days of Thompson
The Thompson Hotel Dallas will spread Christmas cheer with 12 days of daily holiday activations. The festivities start Monday with Home Alone, S’mores & Sips, a movie night with cocktails themed after the Christmas classic, a s’mores bar, and movie screening amid downtown views. The price is a $15 charitable donation. Doors opens at 5 pm with the movie to start at 6 pm. Other 12 Days of Thompson events range from a pie-baking class and cookie decorating to brunch with Santa and Holiday High Tea. See the complete calendar of events here.

Dedicated volunteers extract Spaghetti Warehouse trolley from Dallas' West End

Trolley News

Thanks to a dedicated team of conservation-minded folks, the vintage trolley from the Spaghetti Warehouse in Dallas' West End has been moved to a temporary new home: in a warehouse at Orr-Reed Architectural Co., the salvage store just south of downtown Dallas, which will provide a safe space for the vehicle while it undergoes a restoration.

A permanent home is still TBD, but Orr-Reed will be housing the trolley for at least the next 12 months.

The trolley was one of the original streetcars that ran through East Dallas nearly a century ago. It surged to fame in 2019 when Spaghetti Warehouse closed after 47 years, and the company held a giant auction of its extensive collection of memorabilia.

The streetcar got a bid from an anonymous buyer, but that buyer bailed once they encountered the difficulties of removing the trolley from the location.

The trolley was donated to the Junius Heights Historic District, a neighborhood association in Old East Dallas who wanted to save the trolley because of its role in the original streetcar program that was key to the establishment of Junius Heights.

Orr-Reed is providing the space and backup manpower for free.

"The first time it went on the auction block, I wanted to buy it because I'm obsessed with keeping the city’s history," says Orr-Reed owner Hannah Hargrove. "Dallas is known for tearing things down and replacing it with bigger and better things, but 'bigger and better' only lasts 50 years. Since we have the space, we wanted to be helpful in providing the trolley's next chapter of life."


spaghetti warehouse trolley A team unloads the Spaghetti Warehouse trolley into a warehouse at Orr-Reed.Johann Huebschmann

The move
JD Middleton, who builds out restaurants and bars for his "day job," oversaw a team of volunteers who broke the trolley down into pieces and transported it to the new location.

"My buddy JJ Velez and I saw it in the news, we both had a personal connection," Middleton says. "My grandfather drove the trolley, it's possible he drove that one, while JJ had seen it when he was a little kid, after the Christmas parade in downtown Dallas."

With another friend, Randy Lasiter, assisting, they volunteered to do it on a 100 percent volunteer basis. For the past six months, they've been going there in the early morning, before heading to their regular job sites.

"We do a lot of crazy things for customer requests, and this was right up our alley," Middleton says.

This entailed cutting the exterior into parts: removing the front and back "nose pieces," breaking down the body of the trolley into panels, then splitting up the chassis foundation — like a vertebrae that they cut up, to be reassembled by a welder.

Middleton says that Uncle Dan’s Pawn Shop donated saw blades and trailers and other equipment, as did Frida's Social Club on McKinney Avenue, who provided a big trailer and truck to haul it over to Orr-Reed.

Middleton assembled a group of friends who spent four hours on December 3, loading the trolley piece-by-piece onto trailers, then unloading it at Orr-Reed. He's also volunteered to help restore it.

"There's some rusting on the inside, it's like an old Ford Model-T that's been sitting in a garage," he says. "We'll get it sand-blasted and primed and painted, then put it back together again."

Their work is saving the Junius Heights Historic District hundreds of thousands of dollars.

"It's like an art project for us, and we're getting the opportunity to help take care of history," Middleton says. "JJ ate there when he was a little kid, and he'd like to take his kid to see it when it's finished. That’s why we're doing it."


Spaghetti Warehouse trolley Spaghetti Warehouse trolley, in pieces.Johann Huebschmann

The new home
The Junius Heights group does not yet have a permanent home for the trolley, nor a plan for how it will be managed or maintained. Details details.

For now, it resides in Orr-Reed's "dry house" — a warehouse they've used for overflow and for items that need to be kept out of the elements such as big furniture items, casement windows, and things that cannot get wet.

Hargrove and her staff built shelving and redesigned the warehouse to make it work.

"It'll definitely affect our day-to-day routine — there's a giant cumbersome trolley that's taking up space — but it’s worth it," Hargrove says. "If we hadn't done it, they would have had to spend a lot of money on storing it rather than restoring it. I'm a keeper of history, it’s my duty, although I've never done anything on this scale."

"We're not doing it for the money, we're doing it because someone has to," she says. "I feel like I'm doing the right thing."