• Danyele McPherson of The Grape, soon to appear on Top Chef Seattle.
    Photo courtesy of Danyele McPherson
  • This Love Shack in Denton will soon be a steakhouse.
    Photo courtesy of Love Shack
  • If you want a Love Shack burger, you'll have to head to Fort Worth for now.
    Photo courtesy of Love Shack
  • Bowl & Barrel's menu consists of "clever" tavern food like giant pretzels.
    Photo courtesy of Bowl and Barrel

Dallas-Fort Worth is having such a busy, active, hopping, jumping, lively, sprightly, go-lightly restaurant scene right now that we're deluged with news — from chef changes to new chains coming into the market. Let's make it easy and round it all up in one story.

Chef changes
Movin' on up: Danyele McPherson has been bumped up to chef de cuisine at The Grape, where she'll oversee day-to-day operations. The soon-to-be reality TV star joined the Grape as sous chef in May 2011; Ian Starr takes over her sous chef position.

Movin' on out: Chefs Jeana Johnson and Colleen O'Hare are outski at Acme F&B, having done the proverbial parting of ways with co-owners (and Barcadia empresses) Brooke Humphries and Brianna Larson. Will they install Jenga? Acme's new chef is Norman Grimm.

Openings now
No relation to Frida: Kahlo Restaurante, a Tex-Mex place, opened in Addison Circle from the owners of the Lion and Crown pub, also in Addison Circle (in the old Avanti space). Kahlo took over the old Masaryk space, which had authentic Mexican. Will Tex-Mex be more popular than the real stuff?

And the wind called: Qariah Restaurant is a Lebanese restaurant that just opened on Lower Greenville, on the ground floor of the Vue apartment building; Lauren Drewes Daniels posted a snapshot here. Qariah also has a hookah lounge, for you dozen or so hookah fans.

Uh-oh, has Jim White been informed? Savour Kitchen & Cocktails is taking over the old Rick Stein's/Tre Amici/Office space off the Dallas North Tollway; that location has the worst karma in the world. Thrillist calls it an "amalgamation of the owners' Savour Social Club and Bonnie Ruth's restos." (Side note: Can we ban the words "amalgamation" and "amalgam"?) The menu is a sprawling thing, from $6 hummus to $38 filet mignon.

So far we have Ser Food + Spirits and Ocho Kitchen & Cocktails. Now there's Savour Kitchen & Cocktails. Anyone see a trend?

Openings later
The B-52s are sad: Tim Love's Love Shack burger stand concept is in crisis! The Love Shack in Denton closed Monday; Love plans to replace it with a steakhouse. But weep not: DFW.com reports a new branch opening on Blue Bonnet Circle in Fort Worth as a quasi-replacement for the Shack that shuttered in Fort Worth's West 7th district.

When in doubt: Smashburger will open an outlet in Mockingbird Station in November in a previously vacant space that sits between the old Vapiano space (soon to be Mockingbird Taproom) and Sunglass Hut. This will be Dallas' fifth Smashburger.

No relation to the play: Wicked Po'Boys will open a second branch in January 2013 in Preston Center, next to the new Grip Mediterranean Grill and the also new Hopdoddy Burger Bar. Wicked Po'Boys opened its first branch in Richardson in June. The menu has po'boys, gumbo, étouffée, crawfish and fried shrimp.

Paging Dr. Weil: True Food Kitchen will open at the Plaza at Preston Center in 2013. True Food Kitchen comes from Fox Restaurant Concepts, with a menu centered on Dr. Andrew Weil’s anti-inflammatory diet and food pyramid. It will be the seventh True Food Kitchen in the United States.

Fox is a mega-company that owns a slew of concepts, including Zinburger Wine & Burger Bar, Greene House, Arrogant Butcher, Blanco Tacos & Tequila, Olive & Ivy, Wildflower American Cuisine, Modern Steak, Culinary Dropout, Sauce Pizza & Wine, and NoRTH Modern Italian Cuisine.

Fu to you too: Asian chain Mama Fu's plans to expand to Dallas. The Pei-Wei clone has fast-casual service at lunch but full service at dinner. There are currently 13 Mama Fu's, about half in Austin. The folks bringing it to Dallas include the owners of Egg and I plus Daniel Avery and Tao "Echo" Liu, who own several businesses in Shanghai, and they are moving to Dallas. Really? To run a couple of Mama Fus?

Menu action
Define "clever," please: Bowl & Barrel, a bowling alley opening at the Park Lane complex in November, hired chef Sharon Hage to do its menu. It's billed as "clever tavern food," and it includes giant pretzels, cheese and ham boards, oysters, hot dogs, and an "artisanal" bologna sandwich made on Empire sourdough bread with caramelized onions and Gruyère cheese. That's correct, an artisanal boloney sandwich.

Of all the joints: The Gin Mill on Henderson Avenue has added "upscale, pub-inspired" menu items that include pork shank osso bucco, salt-and-pepper salmon, rib-eye, cioppino and a steak sandwich. Not going away are the flatbreads, Jimmy’s meatball sandwich, banh mi with house-made paté, and fish and chips. True to its name, the Gin Mill offers over a dozen gins.

Duck for breakfast? Boulevardier now serves Sunday brunch, from 11 am to 3 pm, with dinner-menu items such as the French onion soup and croque madame sandwich, plus eggy things like quiche, eggs meurette (poached eggs, toasted baguette, mushrooms, bacon, bone marrow and red wine sauce), and legs and eggs (duck leg confit, duck eggs, grits cake and huckleberry sauce).

Internet food: Central 214 launched its fall menu with some ingredients that required Googling: Dorper lamb shoulder with pappardelle and eggplant caponata, Florida hog snapper with artichokes, grapes and ajo blanco; veal breast with "Hokerei turnips," d'avignon radish and celery leaf pistou; duck with quince and lentils; trompetti with olives, mushrooms and piperade; and Countryside Farm's rabbit with castelfranco and mascarpone polenta. I sure hope there isn't a test.

Mixology spoken here: Cedars Social has new food and cocktail menus from chef Toby De La Rosa and barman Michael Martensen. Those include Akaushi beef tartare; day boat scallops with grapefruit and lemon caramel; Akaushi steak frites with shallots and bordelaise sauce; and a roasted vegetable salad with Benton's 22-month country ham, candied pine nuts and goat-cheese fondue.

Name change
The two restaurants formerly known as Brix Pizzeria — located in Fort Worth and Roanoke — have changed their name to Inzo Italian Kitchen. It's the same basic menu, but there are other Brixes out there, and they didn't want to compete, said a manager at the Roanoke branch. Inzo is short for Inzolia, also spelled Insolia, and it's a grape used to make Marsala wine.

Elvis impersonator department
Stratos Greek Taverna will host live performances by Kenny as the King, an Elvis impersonator, on Mondays and Wednesdays from 6-9:30 pm. They're busy with the entertainment over there; they already have a belly dance floor show five nights a week, which includes dance lessons.

  • Rendering of food truck park for Lower Greenville Avenue.
  • Future location of food truck park off Lower Greenville Avenue.
  • Future home of Trader Joe's, across the street from the Lower Greenville foodtruck park.

Chef Jason Boso to commandeer new food truck park on Lower Greenville

Philly cheesesteaks too

Nearly two years after its conception, the food truck park going in on Lower Greenville Avenue has taken a major step toward reality with the appointment of a steward: chef Jason Boso. The Twisted Root founder has been tasked by landlord Madison Partners with creating a restaurant hub around which the food truck park will revolve.

Boso will not only oversee the food truck operation, but he'll also open a restaurant on-site. It doesn't have a name yet, but it does have a cuisine: Philly cheesesteaks, with a full bar serving craft beers and cocktails. It's slated to open in May 2013.

Boso will not only oversee the food truck operation, but he'll also open a restaurant on-site. The cuisine: Philly cheesesteaks.

"Our food will be Philly cheesesteaks, but the kind of place where you stand and talk to the cook — 'Lemme have some peppers' — and he'll make it right in front of you," Boso says. "And then a pretty nice full bar with some good draft beers and cocktail service, for that backyard area that'll be shared with the food trucks."

As for the food trucks, he wants to make sure there are enough on hand to give customers a few options.

"We'll go for three to four food trucks, just to get some synergy going," Boso says. "I think the biggest challenge will be keeping them there six to seven days a week, lunch and dinner."

The food truck park will be right across the street from Trader Joe's, which could threaten to become a clustertruck of traffic unlike any other, especially because the two will share a common parking lot. But Boso feels confident that the audiences for the food truck park will, for the most part, not intersect with the audience for TJ's.

"We're right across from the front door of TJ's, and I like that," Boso says. "We're sharing the parking right of easement with TJ's, and that's one of the things I'm most excited about. It'll be easy to get in and out, and our traffic flow won't be at the same time."

Construction on Trader Joe's is almost underway; demolition of Encore, the nightclub that sits where Trader Joe's will eventually go, is set to begin Thursday.

The food truck park will be greener than the usual gassy meet-up, because Boso will run electricity to the trucks.

The food truck park will be greener than the usual gassy meet-up, because Boso will run electricity to the trucks. "No noise or stinky smell — it'll be a little more environmentally friendly," he says.

Boso was tapped by Madison, who first took a chance on him in 2006 when he opened the original Twisted Root in Deep Ellum.

"It was owned by Lou Reese [now deceased], who helped me get started by trusting some young dumb cook who didn't have much experience," Boso recalls. "When they saw how I was able to turn that little Twisted Root into a success, they came to me with this and asked if I had any ideas."

He's been busy opening Twisted Roots in locations like the one near SMU, as well as the recent opening of Tacos & Avocados in Roanoke. But his expansion has actually given him more free time.

"I've got more people on my team, so I'm not having to spend all my time in an office," he says. "Something like this, it's straight-up fun."

  • David Garwacki brings his experience at fusing California and Mediterraneancuisines to his new position at Cafe des Artistes.
    Photo courtesy of Cafe des Artistes
  • Cafe des Artistes will open in One Arts Plaza, in the old Screen Door space.
    One Arts Plaza/Facebook

David Garwacki to run the kitchen at upcoming Cafe des Artistes in One ArtsPlaza

Lombardi at it again

UPDATE: Due to construction issues, the opening of Cafe des Artistes has been delayed. It will open no later than Friday, November 9.


Restaurateur Alberto Lombardi has announced the chef for Cafe des Artistes, his newest restaurant in One Arts Plaza: David Garwacki. The Texas native was most recently executive chef at the Bacara Resort and Spa in Santa Barbara, California.

According to the release, Garwacki is developing a Cali-Euro menu with seasonal, market-fresh ingredients, featuring flavors from France, Italy and across the Mediterranean. Cafe des Artistes, set to open November 6, is going into the old Screen Door space.

Garwacki is developing a Cali-Euro menu with seasonal, market-fresh ingredients, featuring flavors from France, Italy and across the Mediterranean.

Garwacki worked at Bacara for 11 years, where he served as executive chef of the resort's Bistro Restaurant and later the property's Miro Restaurant. At Bistro, he created seasonal Cali-Mediterranean menus and daily specials. After three years at Bistro, he moved up to the Bacara's signature restaurant, Miro, where he created seasonal as well as daily tasting menus.

Garwacki also held positions at the now-closed Caliza Grille Restaurant in San Antonio’s Westin Riverwalk Hotel and Browns Beach House Restaurant in the Fairmont Orchid at Mauna Lani, Hawaii.

Brasserie-style Cafe des Artistes will be open Tuesday through Friday for lunch and Tuesday through Sunday for dinner. Garwacki will also do a Sunday brunch.

  • Former Acme F&B chef Jeana Johnson competes at Meat Fight November 4.
    Photo courtesy of Meat Fight
  • Dress like a hillbilly at the Sissy's Southern Kitchen Halloween Hoedown October31.
    Sissy's Southern Kitchen & Bar/Facebook
  • Vegan beer dinners return to Libertine Bar November 5.
    Photo courtesy of Libertine Bar
  • Learn how to raise chickens at the Birds and the Bees workshop November 3.
    White Rock Local Market/Facebook

Murder mysteries, meat fights and Halloween hillbillies: The best food events inDallas this week

Fun with Food

Murder mysteries, costumes and sacrificing goats: It must be Halloween. Time to drink from the cauldron, read the tea leaves and bite the neck of your favorite vegan. If these events won't sate your blood-lust, consult the complete list of things to do in music, entertainment and the arts.

Tuesday, October 30

The People's Last Halloween Party
The People's Last Stand hosts a sinister pre-Halloween evening with decadent dishes from chef Josh Black, a "cauldron" of cocktails, live music, classic slasher flicks and a special appearance by a fortune teller. Wear costumes, because they're giving out prizes for best dressed. You can score two free drink tickets if you find blogger Susie O, and they'll announce other prizes on all your favorite social media.

Wednesday, October 31

Halloween Hoedown at Sissy's
More Halloween madness on Wednesday at Sissy's, when guests are encouraged to wear their best hillbilly costumes, drink custom Stillhouse Moonshine cocktails and enjoy music from Dovetail’s White Lightning Quarter. Best costume wins a prize. Might as well stick around for dinner, including deviled eggs, boo-ha-ha-ha.

Saturday, November 3

The Birds and the Bees Workshop
White Rock Local Market hosts a three-part series covering the basics of raising chickens and keeping bees. Part one takes place at First Unitarian Church of Dallas, which will go over breeds, nutrition, egg production and coop building. If you're still all in, head to Fruth Farms Southwest in Cash, Texas, for parts two and three, where you can work on the farm, building shelters in the goat paddock or helping vaccinate the baby goats. Not sure what vaccines have to do with the birds and the bees, but here's your chance to find out.

Dressed to a Tea Murder Mystery Party
The Fairmont Dallas hosts a spooky night of enter-tea-ment and intrigue. Guests enjoy tea-infused cocktails and a four-course dinner with tea-inspired dishes, whilst trying to solve a murder mystery presented throughout the night. The guest who solves the murder receives a prize package that includes an overnight stay for two, dinner for two at the Pyramid Restaurant and a selection of Fairmont Teas.

WineFest 2012
The 10th annual WineFest, hosted by 500 Inc., features wine from Texas and across the country, complemented by snacks from Addison's top restaurants. The event also includes a cigar bar, music, dancing and large silent auction.

Sunday, November 4

Meat Fight
A dozen of the city's top chefs — among them Brian C. Luscher, Jack Perkins, Tiffany Derry, Jeana Johnson and Matt McCallister — duke it out for bragging rights to the best brisket, pork and sausage at this barbecue showdown benefiting multiple sclerosis. (Noteworthy: Aaron Franklin is coming up from Austin to judge.) The event sold out in an hour and 10 minutes, but, if you act fast and luck is on your side, you can try to win two tickets on the CultureMap Dallas Facebook page.

Monday, November 5

Vegan Beer Dinner
Libertine brings back its vegan beer dinner series with a five-course menu and matching beers created by chef Roseanne Dileo. Once you've worked your way through sun-dried tomato quinoa cakes with chive oil and arugula, pink lentil curry with roasted leaks and smoked cashew, seitan piccata over soba noodles and roasted squash, and pumpkin pudding with almond foam and praline, you may not remember what meat is.

  • Meat Fight founder Alice Laussade. You may know her name from her wildly popularCheap Bastard column in the Dallas Observer.
    Photo courtesy of Meat Fight
  • Fighter Jeana Johnson, formerly of Acme F&B.
    Photo courtesy of Meat Fight
  • Fighter Jeff Bekovac of Neighborhood Services.
    Photo courtesy of Meat Fight
  • Aaron Franklin of Franklin Barbecue in Austin is among the seven judges.
    Photo courtesy of Meat Fight
  • Longtime Meat Fight supporter and 2012 judge Daniel Vaugh, a.k.a., BBQ Snob.
    Photo courtesy of Meat Fight
  • The cast of The League in Meat Fight shirts, from the Meat Fight Tumblr site.
    Photo courtesy of Meat Fight

How Cheap Bastard Alice Laussade turned a backyard BBQ into a big-dealfundraiser

Meat Fight Fun-lanthropy

Alice Laussade is no event planner. At least she wasn’t until a few months ago, when Meat Fight, the sold-out November 4 multiple sclerosis fundraiser, started to get, well, big.

By her own admission, Meat Fight started off as a selfish endeavor. In 2010, Alice and her husband, Mike, were invited to a friend’s house for brisket. “It was the most beautiful brisket I’d ever had,” says Alice, a.k.a., the Cheap Bastard in the pages of the Dallas Observer. “I understood in that moment why you don’t need sauce.”

Later that night, when they were “jonesing for that brisket,” the Laussades remembered they had other friends who knew how to cook stuff, so they invited them over for a party in their backyard. They called it Meat Fight.

“It’s so nice to have people who are excited to be a part of it,” Alice says. “We were hoping for four chefs. We have 12. Not one chef said no to us.”

That first year, they made cups and had a keg for about 40 people. A couple of friends and Alice’s dad judged the meat: brisket, pulled pork, sausage and ribs. Mike won for his pulled pork.

In 2011, Alice invited some local celebrity judges — Jack Perkins of Maple & Motor, Jill Bergus of Lockhart Smokehouse, Diane and Justin Fourton of Pecan Lodge, Brian C. Luscher of The Grape, BBQ Snob Daniel Vaughn — so she could charge at the door and raise some money for MS, a cause she supports passionately.

The barbecue showdown was still in her backyard. In addition to brisket, pulled pork and ribs, there was a pie competition and some T-shirts for sale. And another keg, of course.

I attended last year, as a guest of one of the judges. I had only just met Alice; we were introduced through a mutual friend. But we bonded immediately. MS is a cause near and dear to me as well, because my sister suffers from it.

During Meat Fest part deux, Vaughn took one look at Alice’s dad’s brisket and said, “That’s the winner.”

Turns out, Vaughn was right. Alice’s dad took top honors for brisket, Rob Shearer won for ribs and her husband won for pulled pork — again. Everyone joked that it was rigged. More important, the Laussades raised $2,000 for MS, through ticket and T-shirt sales.

Alice says they had no plans to make Meat Fight any bigger. “But every person at the event was like, ‘You’re dumb.’ So here we are.”

Alice predicts there are two groups of Meat Fighters: the hardcore BBQ fans and the foodies. “It’s going to look like Lee Harvey’s threw up on Dean Fearing,” she says.

Where they are is a 350-person event no longer confined to her backyard. This year’s venue is the Sons of Hermann Hall in Deep Ellum, where the city’s top chefs, split up into teams of three, will compete for bragging rights for the best brisket, pork, sausage and one wild card.

“It’s so nice to have people who are excited to be a part of it,” Alice says. “We were hoping for four chefs. We have 12. Not one chef said no to us.”

Those who didn’t say no include Luscher, Perkins, Chad Houser, Jeffery Hobbs, Matt McCallister, Tiffany Derry, Randall Copeland, Jeff Bekovac, Cody Sharp, Jeana Johnson, Eric Hansen and Omar Flores.

Luscher is captain for team Meatallica. Houser is leading the Cool Arrows. Perkins’ team is called Limp Brisket.

“We are stunned by the names we have,” Alice says. “We were hoping for three judges, and we have seven — and one of them is Aaron Franklin.” Yeah, the guy from Franklin Barbecue in Austin.

Alice predicts there are two groups of Meat Fighters: the hardcore BBQ fans and the foodies. “When you say ‘Aaron Franklin,’ they’re like, ‘barbecue Jesus!’ When you say ‘Matt McCallister,’ the foodies shit their pants,” she says. “It’s going to look like Lee Harvey’s threw up on Dean Fearing.”

Joining Franklin at the judge’s table are Vaughn, Tim Byres, Will Fleischman (Lockhart Smokehouse), Justin Fourton, Stephen Joseph (Riverpoint Bar-B-Que) and Nick Pencis (Stanley’s Favorite Pit BBQ).

“We’re trying to rethink fundraisers,” Alice says. “People want to have a good time. That’s what this is about. It’s so cool, and it doesn’t have to be about charity, but it is.”

The list of sponsors is equally impressive. Among them are Deep Ellum Brewing Company, Local Yocal, Whole Foods, Pop Star and Oh!Brownie. Alice got even more phone calls from potential sponsors after the tickets sold out, which happened in an hour and 10 minutes.

In addition to ticket sales, Alice and team are raising money for MS through T-shirt sales (limited quantities of four new designs by Magnificent Beard), meat calendars, and silent auction items that range from brunch with Tiffany Derry and a “dream date” with Randall Copeland to a meat tornado pillow Alice found on Etsy.

A more legit silent auction item is a round of golf on an exclusive course with local PGA Tour golfer Hunter Haas. All proceeds go directly to the Lone Start Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Despite the social media frenzy — there is a Tumblr site dedicated to people wearing Meat Fight T-shirts, and the chef teams have engaged in virtual trash-talking via video on Facebook — Alice is quick to point out that Meat Fight is about the cause.

She uses the word “fun-lanthropy” but adds she’s almost embarrassed to say it. “We’re trying to rethink fundraisers,” she says. “People want to have a good time. That’s what this is about. It’s an event that’s so cool, and it doesn’t have to be about charity, but it is.”

Alice broke down and hired some help for the day of the event, so she could actually enjoy it. “It’s like my meat wedding,” she says. “My goal is to eat at Meat Fight.”


Meat Fight is Sunday, November 4, 2-6 pm, at Sons of Hermann Hall. The event is sold out, but CultureMap Dallas is giving away two tickets on our Facebook page. To help raise money for MS, you can purchase a Meat Fight T-shirt online or make a donation to the MS Society.

  • Photo by Robert Bostick
  • Photo by Robert Bostick
  • Stampede 66 was packed with people lined up and eager to taste menu items.
    Photo by Robert Bostick
  • Photo by Robert Bostick
  • Photo by Robert Bostick
  • Photo by Robert Bostick
  • Photo by Robert Bostick
  • Jody Nix and The Texas Cowboys band performed for more than 850 guests.
    Photo by Robert Bostick

A stampede 850 strong gets taste of new hot spot by Stephan Pyles

Dinner Party

Obviously Stephan Pyles knows how to cook — but he can also throw a grand party. An unbelievable 850 people showed up for the preview of Stampede 66, his latest restaurant.

Lines to the food stations wrapped around every corner of the restaurant. But guests didn't seem to mind waiting for dinner. The buzzy atmosphere was enough to keep eyes busy.

Pyles' new space is a Southern vision, with moody lighting, stone columns, longhorns and Western flair throughout. At the party, there was also a projection screen showing a film of horses in the countryside.

Vino was passed around, and a specialty cocktail station was set up in the back corner, where bartenders stirred up frozen drinks made with liquid nitrogen.

Truly Texan tasty bites — think venison meatballs — satisfied the palates of guests, including Jason Keeler, Rebecca Murley, Keith Marton, Renée and Buddy Gilbert, Peggy Weaver, Sara Weaver, Ashley and Malcom Ross, Carmaleta Whiteley, Kimberly and George Miller, Micah Byrnes, Kay Zafar, Natasha Mosier, John Sughrue, Imad Anbouba, Cookie and Dan Owen, Rema and Dileep Sirur, and Angela and Doug Nash.

As revelers noshed, Jody Nix and The Texas Cowboys provided the tunes. If the turnout of the party is any reflection of the success of Stampede 66 (opening October 29), it'll give even Stephan Pyles and Samar a run for their money.

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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."