Photo by Kelly Knight Photography

At the 2015 CultureMap Dallas Tastemaker Awards, local foodies and restaurant industry insiders spilled out of the Empire Room, where they had gathered to celebrate — and sample — some of the best food and drink in the city. It was also the time and place to reveal this year's winners in our annual showcase of the top culinary talent.

Eager attendees paused to pose at the ShutterQube digital photo booth and win prizes from Celebrity Cruises before making a very difficult choice: Where to start?

The Bartender of the Year nominees took turns shaking up special creations made with Herradura tequila, and guests could also sip on Barefoot wines and craft beer from Alaskan and Odell. Wildflower-inspired florals by Dirt and furniture and decor provided by Fauxcades helped turn the Design District venue into a fun and funky party palace.

On the other side of the blue-lit room, a tantalizing array of nibbles awaited. Participating restaurants included Henry's Majestic, CrushCraft Thai Street Eats, The Rustic, The Second Floor by Scott Gottlich, Public School 214, Luscher's Red Hots, The Grape, Small Brewpub, Urban Taco, BBBop Seoul Kitchen and Cane Rosso. Pork was a popular ingredient, and tacos of various fillings were also crowd-pleasers.

Outside, Tiff's Treats handed out soft and warm cookies to those craving something sweet. In the VIP lounge, 40 lucky diners at the Celebrity Cruise Tasting Table were served a four-course meal by four of our nominated restaurants: Shinsei, Oso Food & Wine, Ser Steak + Spirits, and American Food and Beverage.

Joining our usual CultureMap revelers were nominees Jack Perkins (Maple & Motor), Matt McCallister (FT33), Kyle McClelland (Proof + Pantry), Jeff Harris (American Food and Beverage) and Omar Flores (Casa Rubia); judges Brian Luscher (The Grape), Eric Dreyer (Fearing's) and Michael Martensen (Proof + Pantry); and representatives Corey Admire, Jef Tingley and Darian Thomas from beneficiary Cafe Momentum.

Many were reluctant to leave when the event came to a close, perhaps hoping for one more morsel or mini cocktail. That just means there's more to look forward to at next year's awards.

Nick Padlo, Sondra Padlo, Erica Zeiler, Chris Molaro

2015 CultureMap Dallas Tastemaker Awards
Photo by Kelly Knight Photography
Nick Padlo, Sondra Padlo, Erica Zeiler, Chris Molaro
Photo by Kevin Marple

The 2015 Tastemakers are the rulers of the Dallas restaurant and bar scene

Tastemaker Award Winners

Our annual Tastemaker Awards pay tribute to the people and places doing exceptional work in the Dallas restaurant and bar community. For the last several weeks, we have introduced you to the nominees in nine categories, from Rising Star Chef of the Year to Best Burger.

A panel of expert judges helped us compile the contenders, and they selected all of the winners except for Best New Restaurant. That was determined by you, our readers, and it was a close race.

But enough about how we did it. Meet the 2015 Tastemaker Award winners, whom we toasted at our grand tasting event at the Empire Room:

Restaurant of the Year: Gemma
Chef of the Year nominee Stephen Rogers and his wife, Allison Yoder, do American food with a fresh California sensibility and seasonal focus at this Henderson Avenue award-winner. Rogers is a native of Dallas; both worked at Napa Valley restaurant Press. The wine program gets as much care and attention as the food.

Chef of the Year (tie): Tim Byres, Smoke, and Graham Dodds, Hibiscus
Fun to see these two share the title. Graham Dodds has breathed new life into Hibiscus, giving it the seasonal focus for which he is known. Tim Byres, Dallas' smoked-meat guru, has made Plano seem cool with the second outpost of his famous Smoke.

Rising Star Chef of the Year: Sarah Snow, The Grape
Sarah Snow has spent time in some great Dallas kitchens — Common Table, Pyramid Restaurant, Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek, Bijoux — but now she's manning the stove at The Grape, where she churns out, among other things, the special hand-made pastas for which she's known.

Neighborhood Restaurant of the Year: Cane Rosso
At this authentic Neapolitan pizzeria chain, the use of top ingredients, some local, transforms pizza from its former stature as throwaway grub into a true gourmet experience. Despite a mini-expansion, each branch fits its neighborhood, from Deep Ellum to White Rock Lake to Fairview.

Best New Restaurant: Clark Food & Wine Co. and C'Viche
These sibling restaurants on hot hot hot Greenville Avenue come from former Rosewood Manion on Turtle Creek chef Randall Warder, who dove back into the fray after a stint as a corporate chef. Clark Food & Wine is an American restaurant with a modern European sensibility; C'Viche is a casual drop-in with several varieties of ceviche and a fabulous bar with sangria, tequila, mojitos, caipirinhas and margaritas.

Bar of the Year: Parliament
At this State-Thomas watering hole owned by Bartender of the Year Eddie "Lucky" Campbell, the atmosphere is transformative, the service attentive, the level of seriousness intense and the cocktails simply transcendent. Parliament also is our readers' pick for best new bar of 2014.

Bartender of the Year: Eddie "Lucky" Campbell, Parliament
Eddie Campbell is the a master of his craft and yet always learning new things. He's an enthusiast in his field, generous of spirit, a friend to everyone. Wherever he goes, the best drinks happen.

Brewery of the Year: Revolver
This Granbury brewery has carved out a reputation for doing things right since it opened in fall 2012. Its beers are approachable yet well-made, and the Blood & Honey, a wheat beer flavored with blood orange, orange zest and local honey, is a big local favorite.

Best Burger: Off-site Kitchen
OSK is a chef's fantasy of what a burger joint is, located on the more industrial side of the Design District. The Locals Only — a medium-rare patty, with thick bacon and a harmonious balance of ingredients that includes mustard, American cheese and jalapeño — is just $4.75, so it's cheap and good.

Rabbit pappardelle at Restaurant of the Year winner Gemma.

Rabbit pappardelle at Gemma in Dallas
Photo by Kevin Marple
Rabbit pappardelle at Restaurant of the Year winner Gemma.
Photo by Marc Lee [http://marcsclips.com/]

10 Dallas Restaurant of the Year nominees compete for culinary supremacy

Top Restaurants in Dallas Right Now

We've come to the final chapter in our Tastemaker Awards: Restaurant of the Year. These are the places that have stood out in the last year, with noteworthy food, service and atmosphere.

They join a series of bests we've already recognized, including neighborhood restaurants, breweries, bartenders, bars, burgers, chefs and rising star chefs.

They're different from the contenders in the best new restaurant tournament, most of which have only opened in the past few months. We invited you to vote for your favorite; it's now down to two restaurants, Dallas Grilled Cheese Co. and Clark Food & Wine, and you have until May 13 to help decide the winner.

All of the champions will be announced at our grand tasting event on May 14 at the Empire Room.

Here they are, the 10 candidates for Restaurant of the Year:

AF+B, which stands for American Food and Beverage, is a chic, comfortable tavern in Fort Worth's West 7th district from Consilient Hospitality. Reflecting the finicky focus of Consilient's Tristan Simon, every element speaks of precision, from the meticulously trimmed cut-outs on the menu to the golden crispness of the French fries to the accompanying house-made ketchup, better than Heinz. The menu changes often; chef Jeff Harris has been observing seasonal cooking longer than most.

CBD Provisions
Located at The Joule hotel in the heart of the central business district, CBD Provisions is an brasserie serving American comfort food with an artisanal sensibility. Menu items range from coddled eggs with house-baked bacon bread for breakfast to seasonal salads for lunch to pan-fried organic chicken for dinner. CBD is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day of the week. It serves Sunday brunch and a complete menu until midnight on the weekends.

CrushCraft Thai
CrushCraft serves spicy Thai "street food," from drunken noodles to the comforting curry noodle dish called khao soi. The level of execution is high, reflecting the four-star experience of chef Paul Singhapong, who has worked at the French Room, Beau Nash, Melrose Hotel and Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek. CrushCraft might be the perfect restaurant: It stays open late, and prices are incredibly low.

Critically acclaimed restaurant from husband-and-wife California transplants Stephen Rogers and Allison Yoder serves American food with a fresh California sensibility and seasonal focus. Rogers is a native of Dallas; both worked at Napa Valley restaurant Press. Wine program includes boutique labels, and a glass-enclosed wine refrigerator keeps both whites and reds at the proper temperature.

Boutique restaurant in McKinney's downtown square does seasonal menus featuring organic, local and regional products that celebrate the seasonality of ingredients, food and the rich contributions of farmers. Specials include red grouper with English peas, chorizo red pepper vinaigrette and parsnips chips.

Henderson Avenue favorite features cuisine anchored in the modern chophouse genre while showcasing the best of local, regional and responsibly raised products. Wood cooking is a specialty, especially when applied to pasture-raised steaks, poultry and game from nearby ranches. Chef Graham Dodds adds his signature seasonal focus.

Hotel restaurant starring celebrity chef and Top Chef contestant John Tesar takes the steakhouse model that Dallas knows and loves and modernizes it. That means unusual cuts of meat, steak sold by the inch and a custom-built aging room where steaks are aged for 240 days. It has an equally serious commitment to vegetable side dishes and salads.

Proof + Pantry
Northeast native Kyle McClelland has helped anchor this American restaurant at One Arts Plaza. But the cocktail program is on equal footing, thanks to barman Michael Martensen. The drinks complement the progressive, yet approachable American fare priced from $10 to $30.

San Salvaje
​Stephan Pyles restaurant takes over the former Samar space with a wide range of Latin influences, from Mexico, Peru, Argentina, Brazil, Cuba and the Caribbean. Menu includes novel dishes such as the causa limeña with spicy shrimp, but Samar's festive atmosphere remains intact.

Stock & Barrel
Oak Cliff restaurant is the passion project of well-regarded chef Jon Stevens. Expect to see various fish, fowl and game from the rotisserie and custom wood-fire grill, as well as house-made pastas and dumplings. An entire section of the menu is dedicated to his favorite comfort food: fried potatoes.


Buy tickets now to the Tastemaker Awards on May 14.

Stock & Barrel in Oak Cliff treats vegetables well, such as this broiled artichoke.

Broiled artichoke at Stock & Barrel in Dallas
Photo by Marc Lee [http://marcsclips.com/]
Stock & Barrel in Oak Cliff treats vegetables well, such as this broiled artichoke.
Photo courtesy of DGC

Which of these best new Dallas restaurants will emerge victorious? Up to you.

Tastemaker Tournament Finals

For our annual Tastemaker Awards, there is one category that isn't judged by our panel of food and beverage industry experts: Best New Restaurant. Instead, we pit the nominees against each other in a tournament so our readers can determine the winner.

Let it be known the competition has been fierce, and it's down to a face-off between two restaurants: Dallas Grilled Cheese Co. and Clark Food & Wine/C'Viche.

These two have so far competed masterfully, emerging from a pack that began with 16 nominees. We matched them up, bracket-style, then waved the checkered flag. They beat strong contenders such as Remedy, Small Brewpub and Cafe Momentum. They endured through three rounds of voting to make it to the finals.

You have until May 13 to help decide who wins; you can vote once a day. The winner will be announced at our Tastemaker Awards grand tasting event on May 14, where you will also learn who emerged victorious in categories such as neighborhood restaurant, breweries, bartenders, bars, burgers, chefs and rising star chefs.

Need help deciding where to place your vote? Here's our summary:

Clark Food & Wine/C'Viche
After a tenure in the corporate world, former Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek chef Randall Warder dives back into the restaurant fray by opening two adjoining concepts side-by-side, in the hottest stretch of Greenville Avenue. Clark Food & Wine is an American restaurant with a modern European sensibility. The menu features shared plates and house-smoked meats. C'Viche is a casual drop-in with several varieties of ceviche and a fabulous bar with sangria, tequila, mojitos, caipirinhas and margaritas.

Dallas Grilled Cheese Co.
As the name implies, this place is dedicated to the grilled cheese sandwich, with more than a dozen versions running from the classic with American cheese on white to a gourmet corker with American, cheddar and Gruyere on sourdough. Salads are nicely composed, but don't overlook the trio of soups, including tomato with basil. Located in hip Bishop Arts, DGC is the perfect match of restaurant and neighborhood.


Buy tickets now to the Tastemaker Awards on May 14.

Vote for your favorite candidate for Best New Restaurant.

Dallas Grilled Cheese Co.
Photo courtesy of DGC
Vote for your favorite candidate for Best New Restaurant.
Photo by Marc Lee [http://marcsclips.com/]

The 10 best chefs in Dallas always leave diners hungry for more

Top Dallas Chefs

The clock is ticking on our Tastemaker Awards, where we pay tribute to the best of the best in Dallas food and beverage, leading up to our grand tasting event on May 14 at the Empire Room.

We've recognized the best neighborhood restaurants, along with breweries, bartenders, bars, burgers and rising star chefs. For this chapter, we look at the nominees for Chef of the Year. These chefs are well-established in the field, not only presiding over a kitchen or a restaurant, but also standing out in recent months for their accomplishments and culinary chops.

Like all of our categories, the winner will be announced at our party. And don't forget to weigh in on our Best New Restaurant tournament, where your vote decides who takes the title.

Here are the 10 candidates for Chef of the Year.

Tim Byres, Smoke
The chef and cookbook author (Smoke: New Firewood Cooking, whose foreword was written by recently deceased food writer Josh Ozersky) has achieved a noteworthy feat with the opening of a second branch of Smoke, his upscale meat-centric restaurant: He's almost made Plano seem cool. With every town in Texas requiring a smoked-meat guru, Dallas has Byres.

Graham Dodds, Hibiscus
After exiting the hotel restaurant world (Central 214, Front Room), chef Graham Dodds has breathed new life into Hibiscus, giving it the seasonal focus for which he is known. Dishes like Wagyu oxtail with crisp gnocchi and arugula pesto fill the same opulent niche Hibiscus has always occupied and yet are simultaneously trademark Dodds.

Omar Flores, Casa Rubia
After much critical acclaim at Oak Cliff seafood restaurant Driftwood, chef Omar Flores has rebounded at Casa Rubia, his Spanish tapas restaurant and one of the success stories at Trinity Groves. Classics like paella and mussels are on the menu but upgraded via Flores' finely tuned chef perspective.

Jeff Harris, AF+B
How to put this: Chef Jeff Harris, formerly of Craft Dallas and Bolsa, is good enough to get people from Dallas to drive to Fort Worth. At AF+B, he's doing high-end gastropub fare, putting a fine-dining polish and creative flair on rustic dishes such as chorizo Scotch eggs.

Kelly Hightower, Oso Food & Wine
Between owner Michael Cox and veteran chef Kelly Hightower, there's a lot of experience at Oso Food & Wine, Cox's charming neighborhood restaurant at Preston and Forest. Hightower is in his element with international flavors from Mediterranean hummus to lamb kofte with Moroccan spices to an Italian-themed chop salad.

Andrea Maricich, The Second Floor
At the Second Floor, the high-end hotel restaurant at the Westin Galleria, chef Andrea Maricich starts with traditional dishes, then adds cultural influences and seasonal notes that bring a new level of excitement. Her spring menu includes deviled eggs with New England lobster and a lemon Parmesan crisp.

Matt McCallister, FT33
​Chef Matt McCallister continues to make waves at FT33, his Design District fine-dinery known for its minimalist-sounding menu and plate presentations in which much energy is devoted to making things look like a pile of rubble. The chef remains on the crest with the announcement of Filament, a second restaurant opening in Deep Ellum.

Kyle McClelland, Proof + Pantry
Northeast native Kyle McClelland helped anchor Proof + Pantry, the One Arts Plaza restaurant that was at the center of a media maelstrom when it rejected a review from the Dallas Morning News. He'll also helm a new sibling restaurant, Madrina, which will feature Mexican dishes crafted via French techniques.

Stephen Rogers, Gemma
Gemma is the favorite restaurant of the foodie set, thanks to husband-and-wife owners Stephen Rogers and Allison Yoder. Rogers is a Dallas native who cooked in California before returning to his hometown where his thoughtful menu filters global flavors through a California sensibility.

John Tesar, Knife
One of the city's most mercurial and talented chefs, John Tesar is known for never being afraid to speak his mind; in staid, scared Dallas, that makes you dangerous. Knife, his modern revision of a steakhouse with a whole pantheon of meats, was one of the most important openings of 2014. Never at rest, he's now also helping out at the Design District restaurant Oak.


Buy tickets now to the Tastemaker Awards on May 14.

Mercurial and talented chef John Tesar.

Chef John Tesar of Knife steakhouse in Dallas
Photo by Marc Lee [http://marcsclips.com/]
Mercurial and talented chef John Tesar.
The Rustic/Facebook [https://www.facebook.com/therusticdallas/photos_stream]

Dallas' best neighborhood restaurants serve more than just a good meal

Best Neighborhood Eats

We're on the home stretch of our annual Tastemaker Awards, where we celebrate the best among Dallas restaurants and bars, culminating in a grand tasting event on May 14 at the Empire Room.

We've already spotlighted the best breweries, bartenders, bars, burgers and up-and-coming chefs. And you still have the opportunity to pick best new restaurant; our tournament is down to a close race, and your vote will determine the winner.

This entry celebrates the nominees for Neighborhood Restaurant the Year, the places that both serve and reflect the neighborhood where they reside.

Fried chicken is the nominal draw at this home-cooking old-timer, and it's an epic specimen with a crunchy crust. Communal-style sides not only mean you can help yourself to Babe's creamed corn, mashed potatoes and other excellent options, but they also give a clue to Babe's enduring appeal, which extends across numerous suburban branches, from Garland to Roanoke. It's a place where you break bread together.

Blind Butcher
Greenville Avenue restaurant from Matt Tobin and Josh Yingling, owners of Goodfriend in East Dallas, rides two trends: an obsession with meat and a fondness for craft beer. Chef Oliver Sitrin, who cures meat and stuffs sausage, gets radical with options such as pig ears and oxtail scrapple, but the restaurant's signature has become poutine, the Canadian-born dish of French fries topped with cheese curds and mushroom gravy.

Canary By Gorji
Small, sweet Far North Dallas restaurant is a sleeper, with gracious service and an exotic "new Mediterranean" menu that's as impressive as it is unexpected. Dedicated chef-owner Mansour Gorji uses novel ingredients such as pomegranate on dishes that incorporate a swath of influences, including French, Greek, Italian, Spanish and North African. You'll feel like this is your special discovery.

Cane Rosso
​Authentic Neapolitan pizzeria chain slings the best pizzas in town, which not only draws the most discriminating pizza fanatics, but it also elevates the pizza conversation in Dallas-Fort Worth. Its use of top ingredients, some local, transforms pizza from its former stature as throwaway grub into a true gourmet experience. Despite a mini-expansion, each branch fits its neighborhood, from hipster Deep Ellum to patio-happy White Rock Lake.

Fireside Pies
Pioneering pizza chain changed owners in 2014 — it's now owned by the Genghis Grill team — but it remains a collection of neighborhood restaurants dedicated to serving artisan pizza baked in a wood-fired oven. Each branch reflects the character of its neighborhood, so no two are the same, from the date haunt on Henderson to the family-friendly atmosphere in Plano.

Monkey King Noodle Co.
It's easy to be fooled by the fast-casual model and low prices at Monkey King Noodle Co., but this tiny noodle stand is seriously special. Its menu of Chinese street food is small, but everything — noodles, dumplings, cucumber salad — is hand-made. There's nothing quite like standing on the street in Deep Ellum, gazing into a display window as a ball of dough is transformed into a batch of noodles that'll go into your spicy soup.

The Porch
When it opened on Henderson in 2007, The Porch was a reflection of owner Tristan Simon and chef Nick Badovinus. Somehow it has survived turnover and remains enduringly popular as an unpretentious but satisfying foodie hang, with a Southern twang that's evident in dishes such as the buttermilk fried chicken Cobb salad. Wisely, they've kept the signature Stodg burger topped with bacon and a fried egg.

The Rustic
Partly owned by singer-songwriter Pat Green, the Rustic is just what Uptown Dallas ordered, with its combination of food, drink and live music. Patrons can go for one and indulge in the other. A menu of sandwiches, salads and grilled steaks covers all diners, and there are dozens of local and regional beers on tap.

A favorite haunt of the Park Cities crowd, pan-Asian restaurant Shinsei serves sushi that's at the head of the pack thanks to the craft of master sushi chef Shuji "Elvis" Sugawara. But owners Tracy Rathbun and Lynae Fearing keep things fresh: The duo recently hired chef Jeramie Robison, formerly of Uchi, and revamped their second-floor lounge with izakaya-style service.

Urban Taco
This small, cosmopolitan taqueria chain with bright flavorful food and flashy cocktails set the standard locally for the "gourmet taco" trend, which has since become a crowded field. It has locations in only the hippest parts of town, but with a well-studied owner of Mexican descent, Urban Taco can stake a claim to an authenticity that the competition cannot.


Buy tickets now to the Tastemaker Awards on May 14.

A hearty pork chop to accompany your craft beer at The Rustic.

Pork chop at The Rustic in Dallas
The Rustic/Facebook [https://www.facebook.com/therusticdallas/photos_stream]
A hearty pork chop to accompany your craft beer at The Rustic.
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Lazy Dog Restaurant & Bar is headed to Garland and more Dallas dining news

News You Can Eat

This roundup of restaurant news around Dallas is topped by a mega-exciting opening for Garland, plus new dishes for spring and lots of fresh new beverages.

Here's what's happening in Dallas restaurant news:

Lazy Dog Restaurant & Bar, the casual dining restaurant known for its innovative twists on American dishes served with small mountain-town hospitality, is opening a location in Garland. It'll be located at 5180 N. President George Bush Highway, and marks their sixth in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. According to a release, it'll open in spring 2024.

“We look forward to bringing our concept of delicious food, warm hospitality and small mountain-town vibes to Garland. Lazy Dog has been received with open arms as we’ve joined new neighborhoods, and we can’t wait to be part of this community,” says Chris Simms, Lazy Dog founder & CEO in a statement.

Influenced by the lifestyle of the Rocky Mountains, Lazy Dog Restaurant serves made-from-scratch American food and drink with seasonally inspired ingredients. Other DFW locations are in Addison, Allen, Arlington, Euless, and Plano.

Salad and Go has four new drive-thru locations coming to DFW: 1102 W Main St, Lewisville April 1; 3401 Midway Rd, Plano April 3; 211 E. Euless Blvd, Euless April 10; and 3820 Belt Line Rd., Addison April 22.

Taco Bell opened a location at 12015 University Dr. in Frisco. This location utilizes Taco Bell's Endeavor model which is outfitted with the latest digital channels, free Wi-Fi, power outlets, and comfortable seating. The drive-thru features an easy-to-navigate menu board with an electronic ordering system.

A-T Bistro is the new name for Au Troisième, the Park Cities bistro that opened in Preston Center in 2022. A-T Bistro has been its nickname all along. Now they've decided to make it official. The restaurant is a nominee for Best New Restaurant in CultureMap's 2023 Tastemaker Awards and also madeTexas Monthly's "10 Best New Restaurants in 2023" list. In addition to the name change, A·T Bistro has also added a 600-square-foot outdoor dining space, 14-seat private dining room, 600-bottle wine cellar, Sunday brunch, daily lunch specials, and happy hour menu.

Boneless Butcher, the Dallas startup that makes vegan BBQ ribs and steaks, is now popping up at the Dallas Farmers Market every weekend with a small menu, three-to-four items including Korean BBQ burritos, a bulgogi steak sandwich, steak nachos, sloppy BBQ sliders, loaded steak nachos, and a banh mi.

La Madeleine has new limited-edition bakery items for spring: Blueberry & Lemon Individual Cheesecake topped with tart lemon whipped cream; Blueberry and Lemon Crepe with blueberry-cheesecake filling and fresh blueberries; and Carrot Cake with cream cheese frosting. Three seasonal favorites are also returning: Lemon Blueberry Danish with blueberries and a lemon cream center; Lemon White Chocolate Chunk Cookie with tangy lemon glaze; and Lemon Poppyseed Muffin with a sweet lemon glaze drizzle.

Dog Haus has a new creation: the Pepperoni Pizza Sausage, a savory link with pork and fennel Italian sausage, pepperoni, mozzarella, tomato, and oregano. Guests can get it the Würst Way, served on King's Hawaiian rolls with spicy basil aioli and grated cheese; the Corn Dog Way dipped in Dog Haus’ root beer batter; and “Sliced Way” grilled and sliced with spicy basil aioli. A new item in the Absolute Würst Sausage Series arrives each month.

Cowboy Chicken, famous for its rotisserie chicken, has added chicken tenders to its menu, served with honey blaze, ranch, BBQ, and honey mustard sauces.

Genghis Grill has partnered with chef Robert Kabakoff on a trio of new Fried Rice bowls: Kimchi Fried Rice with spicy pickled cabbage, fried rice, scrambled egg, in spicy Korean chili sauce; Jambalaya with chicken, sausage, shrimp, onion, bell pepper, and dirty rice; Farmhouse with chicken, bacon, jalapeños, ranch seasoning, fried rice with carrots, bell pepper, onions, and a cream BBQ ranch sauce. They start at $8.49.

Dunkin' has new Breakfast Tacos with scrambled eggs, sharp white cheddar cheese, fire-roasted corn, and tangy lime crema in a soft flour tortilla, with or without bacon. What sets Breakfast Tacos apart is the fact that the fire-roasted corn takes center stage.

Cicis Pizza is collaborating with Mike’s Hot Honey to offer a Hot Honey pepperoni pizza, drizzled with the signature chili pepper-infused honey. Now through April 30, the Hot Honey Pizza will be in the third slot after Garlic Cheesy Bread and Pepperoni Pizza, or to-go, $10 for a medium, $12 for a large, or $15 for a giant.

Yogurtland, the self-serve frozen yogurt brand, has two new seasonal fro-yo flavors: Thai Tea and Boba Milk Tea, inspired by two classic tea experiences. Thai Tea frozen yogurt is new, with a bold black tea flavor and sweet cream notes. Boba Milk Tea is a returning flavor, with brown sugar notes. They also have a new limited-edition topping: rainbow mochi.

Chick-fil-A has brought back Watermelon Mint Lemonade after six years. It's available as Watermelon Mint Sunjoy, Watermelon Mint Iced Tea, and Watermelon Mint Frosted Lemonade, starting Monday, April 3. According to a release, the Watermelon Mint Lemonade has a devoted following. "Guests loved the Watermelon Mint Lemonade in 2017, so we are thrilled to bring it back to our menu and introduce new ways for guests to enjoy this flavor," a spokesperson says.

Gong Cha has a new Sparkling Series of bubbly beverages featuring combinations of fruit flavors, pearls, jelly, milk foam, and sparkling water: Sparkling Milk Foam Mango with Star Jelly, a bright, fruity and fizzy mango drink topped with milk foam and chewy, peach flavored jelly in star shapes; Sparkling Lychee with Mango Popping Pearls, a tropical fruit blend of lychee with bursts of mango in each pearl; and Sparkling Hibiscus with White Pearls — sweet & sour hibiscus drink with tart, floral flavor and chewy white pearls. The chain has seven locations in DFW.

Häagen-Dazs Shops has a new ice cream confection: Pineapple Coconut Shake, an alcohol-free ode to the classic piña colada, made from Häagen-Dazs Pineapple Coconut ice cream, topped with whipped cream and a slice of fresh pineapple, available April 1-June 14.

Milk Bar, the New York dessert company, has launched two new cookie types in grocery stores: bite-sized crunchy cookies (“crunchies”) and ready-to-bake cookie dough. Known for familiar-yet-unexpected items like their Compost Cookies, Milk Bar entered into the Grocery category in 2020. Crunchies will come in four flavors: Brown Butter Chocolate Chip, Cinnamon Toast, Pretzel-y Chocolate Chip, and Vanilla Butter Crunch, and sold at Whole Foods. The cookie dough comes in two flavors: Cornflake Chocolate Chip Marshmallow and Fruity Cereal, and is sold at Target and Kroger.

El Chico has two new cocktails featuring tropical flavors: Guava ‘Rita: with Monte Alban 100% Agave Silver Tequila, Gran Gala Orange Liqueur, Reàl Guava and margarita mix; and Sangria Swirl, a house frozen ‘Rita with El Toro Silver Tequila and red sangria swirl. Both are $7 and will be available April 3-July 3 at participating El Chico locations: 1549 S. Bowen Rd. Pantego; 7621 Baker Blvd., North Richland Hills; and 503 I-30, Rockwall.

Manhattan Project Beer is launching a blonde beer called Peacekeeper as a permanent offering. It's a blonde ale with a hint of guava and a crisp finish, and will be available in cans, and on tap at some bars, still TBA.

WES Brands, the Dallas-based company launched after the $610 million sale to Diageo of Aviation American Gin, has a slate of executive hires: Shawn Thurman as CEO, Sean Penn to President & COO, Kyle Stein as President, Lauren Ryan-Kiyak as Senior VP of Marketing, and Chris Jebbia as Senior VP of Finance. The company is focused on the growth of its existing brands — Mark Wahlberg's Flecha Azul Tequila and Jamie Foxx’s BSB Flavored Whiskey — and soon-to-launch spirits brands.

Chili’s is no longer using children’s activity placemats that promote keeping parrots and monkeys as pets, after a complaint was lodged in Nebraska. The North American Primate Sanctuary Alliance collaborated with PETA to discourage use of the placemats.

Miami restaurant Komodo brings South Beach flash to Dallas' Deep Ellum

Deep Ellum News

A restaurant from Miami that's been penciled in for Dallas for four years has at long last arrived: Komodo, a Southeast-Asian-Inspired restaurant from Miami-based Groot Hospitality, will finally make its debut.

The Dallas location is in The Epic office tower at 2550 Pacific Ave., at the intersection of Good Latimer Freeway, and according to a release, it will open on April 7.

Founded in Miami, and one of an array of Miami concepts that's migrated to Dallas, Komodo is known for Southeast Asian-inspired cuisine, cocktails, eye-catching decor, and buzzy atmosphere. The first location opened in Miami's Brickell neighborhood, and is said to be among the most profitable restaurants in the United States. Sounds delicious!

Dallas has been in the works since 2019, and was forecast to open in 2022 until the pandemic intervened. So they've really stuck it through. This will be the first location outside of South Florida, representing a big step for Groot Hospitality, says founder David Grutman in a statement.

"To open our first property outside of South Florida in Dallas is a huge privilege and honor," Grutman says. "I’m so excited to bring our Groot Hospitality experience to Texas with Komodo. The restaurant is a perfect showcase of what we deliver: High-level hospitality, delicious food, luxe decor, marquee entertainment and shareable, memorable moments."

Komodo’s Dallas menu will feature Southeast Asian dishes developed and interpreted with a global approach, with rotating specials plus house favorites such as Peking duck, salmon tacos, miso Chilean seabass skewers, and plant-based Kung Pao chicken. There's also a full sushi bar.

Menu items that are exclusive to Dallas include Wagyu cuts of Texan beef such as tomahawk and filet, oh gee more steak; and Szechuan Texas quail using locally-sourced quail.

Komodo Dallas spans two stories and accommodates up to 270 diners, acaross tabletop, booth, and bar seating. Design by New York-based firm ICRAVE takes visual cues from Miami, including Komodo's signature illuminated “bamboo” cutout columns and duck display windows. The lounge area features eye-catching wallpaper and a dramatic fabric-draped corridor.

Groot Hospitality is a Miami Beach-based collective of restaurants, cafés, nightlife ventures and hotels formed in 2018. Properties include The Goodtime Hotel, the nightclubs LIV and Story, the restaurants Gekkō, The Key Club, Komodo, Papi Steak, Strawberry Moon, and Swan, all based in South Florida.

Goofiness keeps Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves light on its feet

Movie Review

In the franchise world in which we now live, movie studios are always looking for the next big thing that will ensure fans come flocking to the theater. The role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons has gotten a pop cultural boost in recent years thanks to the Netflix show Stranger Things, and now – just shy of its 50th anniversary – it’s getting its own blockbuster movie, Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves.

Michelle Rodriguez and Chris Pine in Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves

Photo courtesy of Paramount Pictures

Michelle Rodriguez and Chris Pine in Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves

The somewhat complex story centers on two of the titular thieves, Edgin (Chris Pine) and Holga (Michelle Rodriguez), who lead a group of rogues who make a living by stealing, but only from those who deserve it. One such altruistic mission, a relic that can bring back the dead, leads to the pair getting caught and put in jail, separating Edgin from his daughter, Kira (Chloe Coleman).

Fellow thief Forge (Hugh Grant) agrees to look after her, but after a daring escape, Edgin and Holga discover that Forge is even more of a scoundrel than they thought, rising to the title of Lord in their absence with the help of the sorceress Sofina (Daisy Head), and poisoning Kira’s mind against them. They must gather the rest of the team, including Simon (Justice Smith) and Doric (Sophia Lillis), to try to take him down and recover the relic once and for all.

Written and directed by John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein, with help from co-writer Michael Gilio, the film has the unenviable task of turning the famously dense game into something that pleases both fanatics and those unfamiliar with its many characters, creatures, and locations. It’s clear the filmmakers are trying to strike a balance between the two, loading the story with terms they barely attempt to explain while at the same time making the movie as goofy as possible.

Only the second of those two approaches truly works. The problem the filmmakers run into is that this is an introductory film that barely seems to care about introducing its characters. A lengthy speech by Edgin at the beginning attempts to do that, but is staged in such a way that the humor of sequence takes precedence over the details of the people. The only reason the characters wind up likable is because of the sheer amount of time spent with them and the actors’ performances.

Well, that and the comedy sprinkled throughout the film. If Daley, Goldstein, and Gilio do anything right, it’s not taking the material too seriously. The world has already seen Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones, so adding in funny elements like the wise-cracking Edgin, a supremely fat dragon, and more keeps the film from getting lost in its own minutiae. Not all the jokes land, but 75-80 percent of them do, which is enough to keep the film buoyant.

Pine, as he’s shown in the recent Star Trek and Wonder Woman films, has charm to spare. He occupies this particular role extremely well, and so even if you can’t remember his character’s name, his performance carries the film. Rodriguez is an acquired taste, but her surly demeanor and physical prowess works for her here. The supporting actors shine at times, but the film doesn’t showcase them enough to make them stand out.

While miles better than the reviled 2000 Dungeons & Dragons, Honor Among Thieves is a merely okay beginning for a possible new franchise. There’s some excitement to be had and it stays light on its feet thanks to the comedy, but more attention paid to the story is warranted if they decide to make sequels.


Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves opens in theaters on March 31.