The 8th Annual Dallas Observer Tacolandia will feature some of Dallas-Fort Worth’s best taquerias, from urban contemporary to authentic street-style. It will also include music, cash bars with beer, wine and cocktails, and awards for best tacos in various categories.
Two Dallas taquerias will get on national TV as part of a traveling taco tour by Good Morning America.
The yakky morning show will make a stop in Dallas on Tuesday, August 29, at Dallas' AT&T Discovery District, where they'll conduct a taco competition between Milagro Tacos Cantina in West Dallas, and Mami Coco in East Dallas.
For those who don't watch much TV, Good Morning America, abbreviated GMA, is a show that airs on ABC Monday-Friday from 7-9 am, featuring the anchor team of Robin Roberts, George Stephanopoulos, Michael Strahan, and meteorologist Ginger Zee.
According to a release, Dallas is one of four cities in the U.S. that the show will visit, beginning in Chicago on Monday, August 28; then Dallas August 29, Miami August 30, and Atlanta August 31.
It takes place from 7 to 9 am.
Each city will host a taco cookoff with a panel of guest judges who determine the first-round winners, who will go on to compete in-studio on GMA on Friday, September 1. The winner gets $20,000.
Milagro Tacos Cantina is the acclaimed spot for Tijuana-style tacos and margaritas in Dallas' Trinity Groves; and Mami Coco is the also-acclaimed mini chain with excellent, affordable Mexican street food.
Milagro Tacos Cantina owner Jesus Carmona will prepare the Costra de Salmon taco; Mami Coco owner Gustavo De Los Rios will prepare their Barbacoa Taco.
The competition will take place outside on the District concourse. Attendees are welcome and will get a chance to be on camera throughout the morning, including during the segment and in live shots throughout the broadcast.
Dallas guest judges will include:
- Evelyn Garcia, chef, TV personality, and restaurateur
- Grant Williams, player for Dallas Mavericks
- Marc Istook, WFAA anchor
Judging the finale showdown in the big city on Friday, September 1 will be chef Chris Valdes plus three surprise guest judges.
ABC News staffers in Dallas will include correspondent Will Reeve and contributing correspondent Becky Worley.
Hit the Road
Texans don't need much of a reason to hit the open road. Our state is brimming with natural beauty and charming small towns, but nothing motivates us to fill up the tank like a bonanza of regional foods.
There are renowned Texas flavors to be found throughout the entire state, from small towns like Round Top to the far west end in El Paso. And with meals ranging from Tex-Mex and barbecue to Frito Pie and kolaches, the Lone Star State is known for some of the most iconic foods in America.
When you hit the open road to explore (and taste) it all, know that a Hilton Hotel is nearby for a good night's rest. Whether you're traveling with family, friends, or as a couple, the right room is waiting with a warm welcome.
Hope you're hungry, because here is but a small slice of some of the best.
Goldee's BBQ, Fort Worth
Few barbecue joints in Texas can make a name without serving the holy trinity of brisket, sausage, and ribs. Still, the young chefs and pitmasters at this Fort Worth stop one-up the competition with unexpected sides like chicken rice and collard greens and crowd-pleasers like fish and chips.
Chicken Fried Steak
Babe's Chicken Dinner House, Carrollton
All Texans take their chicken fried steak with some degree of seriousness. We dare say this eatery — which originated in Carrollton and has locations all over North Texas — takes it the most seriously of all, with plenty of family-style sides to round out the table.
La Cocina, McAllen
Former oil worker Evin Garcia combines tradition and innovation at this McAllen haunt. Enjoy everything from birria tacos dipped in a luscious consommé to an octopus version served with traditional al pastor fixings like onion, cilantro, and grilled pineapple.
Elotes Fanny, Austin + North Texas
With locations in Austin, Fort Worth, and Garland, this snack shop mini-chain knows everything about corn. Get it by the cob or in a cup, and make sure to douse it in the fiery homemade Atomic Salsa.
Dolli's Diner, Nacogdoches
This diner does just about everything right, but the crowning jewel of the menu is undoubtedly the chicken fried chicken. It's served with mashed potatoes, gravy, and fresh veggies for color and is best enjoyed with funnel cake fries for dessert.
RD's Burger, Cibolo
This casual stop does its namesake dish with aplomb, but found pure magic in its Frito Pie. It's served with no muss or fuss and occasionally on the insanely delicious burger.
When it comes to kolaches, any bakery in West will serve the real deal. Relative newcomer Slovacek's gets the vote for its dozens of fruit flavors and creative klobasnek (the meaty cousin of kolaches) filled with boudin, pepperoni, or kraut.
Royer's Round Top Cafe, Round Top
No trip to Round Top's famous antique fair is complete without a stop at this darling cafe. "Pie Man" Bud Royer makes every visit sweet with pies like buttermilk, pecan, and the multi-fruit Troy's Junk Berry.
L & J Cafe, El Paso
This El Paso tradition is by a graveyard, sure, but don't let that deter you from enjoying its queso. The miraculous concoction made with roasted green chile, tomatoes, and onions is served with just-fried tostadas.
Leal's Tamale Factory, Lubbock
A Lubbock classic, this mainstay doesn't go for newfangled tamale flavors like sweet potato. Order pork, chicken, or cheese and rediscover the fundamentals.
Viet-Cajun crawfish boils
Crawfish & Noodles, Houston
Who knows what James Beard-nominated chef Trong Nguyen puts in his secret sauce. What we do know is that it's one of the most intensely flavorful experiences in all of Houston.
Texas knows no bounds when it comes to to where you can go (and eat). No matter where your next foodie adventure takes you, a Hilton hotel is waiting for you.
With over 550 Hilton hotels spanning across the state of Texas, the possibilities to earn more while exploring the Lone Star State are endless.
There's culinary action brewing in Dallas' West Village with an award-winning chef turning out some amazing Mexican food. It's a new restaurant pop-up called Mexican Test Kitchen, located at 3699 McKinney Ave. #307, and it stars Matt McCallister, one of Dallas' most high-profile chefs.
Mexican Test Kitchen is the working title for a new concept in the works between McCallister and restaurateur Mike Karns, who recently took ownership of the West Village. It occupies the space that was previously Honest Taco (and before that, Taco Diner); Honest Taco closed in April.
For now, they are doing a pop-up, with a menu that McCallister has designed, featuring tacos, bowls, and salads, plus inventive margaritas.
"I didn't want to see the West Village get hurt with the closure of a restaurant, so we mobilized our team and opened Mexican Test Kitchen as a pop-up," Karns says.
Their plan is to be open this summer with an interim menu of dishes they are developing, while they reconcept and redesign the space.
"It'll still be Mexican but leaning a little more healthy than Tex-Mex — more like healthy Mex, with a lower price point and a little more casual," Karns says. "We feel like it will bring some energy to West Village."
McCallister is the award-winning chef who at age 31 founded FT33, an acclaimed restaurant in the Design District. It earned numerous accolades both locally and nationally in magazines such as Bon Appétit and Food & Wine. He followed that up with Homewood, a restaurant he opened on Oak Lawn Avenue in 2019, which made Texas Monthly's Best New Restaurant list in 2020, and Best New Restaurant in CultureMap's 2020 Tastemaker Awards.
McCallister is now working with Karns' Local Favorite Restaurants group (El Fenix, Snuffer's, Meso Maya, Taqueria La Ventana, Tulum, Village Burger Bar, Jalisco Norte, Twisted Root) full time. He joined following the untimely closure of Homewood in February.
"When Homewood closed, I reached out to Matt," Karns says. "He works with us now as well as Alex Urrunaga (Plan B Group, Reach Restaurants)."
That team will help create their fun new concept. Karns says they'll close the pop-up in late August, then re-open in September after the remodel is complete.
"Mike is a super cool guy, it's kinda crazy I get to work for him," McCallister says. "At the end of the day I just want to contribute my slice of the pie to Mike's vision for the company."
Those craving McCallister flavors can meanwhile enjoy the current pop-up menu featuring:
- Citrus pig with citrus-braised carnitas, griddled onions, pineapple, cotija cheese, & mint
- Brisket, barbacoa style with rajas, blistered corn, & chipotle mayo
- Asada Steak with cilantro, caramelized onion, peanut salsa macha
- Grilled chicken with smoky chipotle marinade, chiles toreados
- Habanero lime shrimp with pickled red onion & watermelon radish
- Tempura cod with Mexican tartar sauce, & green cabbage crunch
- Griddled Camote (sweet potato) with goat cheese, toasted pepita sprinkle, charred green onions
- Mexican mushroom with caramelized creminis, maitakes, trumpets, & oyster mushrooms, griddled onion, cilantro, & watermelon radish
Chips & queso feature a pale whipped queso fresco with peanut salsa macha and pumpkin seed crunch. Guacamole comes topped with pomegranate and toasted pistachio.
Salads and bowls include a beautiful ensalada rossa with wild arugula & matchstick beets; a “shades of green” salad with hearty greens, spinach, tri-color quinoa, crispy chickpeas, avocado, roasted corn, dried cranberries, & green Carognola olives; and a Ranchero bowl with black beans, white rice, sweet potato, marinated beets, crispy Brussels sprouts, Mexican kimchee, hearty greens, & mojo.
If all that's not enough, everything's crazy-cheap: Tacos come in at $4-5, and salads and bowls at $12.
An award-winning Dallas food truck has acquired a brick & mortar location with a very high profile: Cuates Kitchen, which launched as a food truck in 2018, will expand with a regular restaurant at 3811 Fairmount St., in a quaint little cottage most recently known as the home to acclaimed though short-lived restaurant Modest Rogers.
Cuates Kitchen owners Carlos and Carla Rodriguez, who are twin brother-and-sister, are working on the location and hope to be open by mid- to late-May.
The siblings are originally from Veracruz, Mexico, and have a sweet story: "Cuates" means twins.
"Our passion has always been food, starting in Veracruz watching our abuela and abuelo make queso (the real kind), barbacoa, empanadas and homemade tortillas," they say.
After encouragement from friends and family who tried their food, they took the plunge and started a food truck with the assistance of their father, and have been serving authentic Veracruz-style food since 2018.
Their menu includes:
- Tacos, options such as carnitas pulled pork, barbacoa beef, chicken tinga, cochinita pibil marinated pork, any three for $13
- Empanadas stuffed with chicken, two for $15
- Sopes, topped with black bean spread, two for $9
- Nachos with white cheese, pickled jalapenos, pico de gallo, sour cream, $11
- Chips & queso, $8
It took little time for them to gain acclaim including an award for "Best Traditional Taco" at the Tacolandia festival in 2019.
"My whole family has always worked in the restaurant industry, and we always wanted to open a restaurant but there's a lot to it," Carlos says. "My sister and I became inspired after watching a Netflix show about a food truck. We went to Austin which is such a big food truck city, and saw how it could be done. We came home that day with a food truck."
The food truck has not only earned them accolades, it's also given them valuable training in running a business.
"We do a lot of corporate events, birthday parties, weddings, it helped established our name and brand and food," Carlos says. "We'll continue to do the truck, but we started to reach a point where we were expanding beyond the food truck and needed more room to operate."
The location is a perfect next step.
"It has six tables inside and six outside, and we love that it's an established location and that we can start offering our food during predictable hours, which a lot of our customers requested," he says. "People liked our food and would ask if it were available outside of special events."
The restaurant also gives them an exciting chance to flex on the menu.
"We're from the coast so we're definitely adding seafood: ceviches, shrimp tacos, fish tacos," he says. "We also have a wonderful chicken mole taco. We'll add tortas and appetizers, as well as a vegan taco, plus a fun platter that will have some signature items for which Veracruz is known."
Elotes tacos and empanadas are currently their two top sellers, but their homemade sopes are a not-so-distant third.
"Our empanadas are a huge hit — they're savory and we make them with a corn-flour crust so they're gluten-free, which people love," he says.
They'll open softly, just for dinner at first, and eventually add lunch hours. They're also working on getting a permit to sell wine and beer.
"Everything is happening so fast, it's lucky we have a mom back in the kitchen and our dad is helping on the weekends," he says.
The Dallas Cowboys Tacos & Tunes Festival at Miller Lite®House at AT&T Stadium will feature a variety of tacos and food truck options, cold drinks, and live music.
CultureMap Emails are Awesome
This week's hot headlines
Editor's note: A lot happened this week, so here's your chance to get caught up. Read on for the week's most popular headlines. Looking for the best things to do this weekend? Find that listhere.
1. H-E-B continues Dallas expansion with 3 new supermarkets in the suburbs. Texas supermarket chain H-E-B continues its Dallas-Fort Worth expansion, with three new stores in the works. The retailer is opening stores in Melissa, Prosper, and Rockwall. This comes just as the chain opens a new store in Allen.
2. Country's largest hot springs pool complex coming to Grandscape in The Colony. The newest attraction headed to Grandscape in The Colony is a wellness spa-amusement park: WorldSprings, a nine-acre outdoor mineral springs experience, will debut in spring 2024.
3. Award-winning Mexican restaurant hits the jackpot at new location in Denton. A DFW restaurant that's earned national acclaim has opened in Denton: El Rincón del Maiz, previously of Garland, is now located at 1431 E. McKinney St. in Denton where it's winning over locals with its Tex-Mex classics and vegan dishes.
4. New burger joint in McKinney with chef toppers and full bar is a sizzler. McKinney has a new burger joint that is already lighting up the Collin County foodie scene. Called Loyo Burger, it's part of the Local Yocal empire, and is newly opened in downtown McKinney at 216 W. Virginia St. #102.
5. Pickleball-restaurant with chef-level food paddles into Farmers Branch. A new pickleball concept is paddling into Farmers Branch: Called At Fault, it's a pickleball-restaurant facility, opening its first DFW location at 2330 Jett St., in spring 2024.
Where to Drink
Maybe because it's fall or maybe because we're just lucky, but it's an especially rich time right now for happy hour offerings, with five spots that have either just debuted new happy hours (or are about to debut). There's a chef take at a restaurant-bar on Greenville Avenue; a fun music bar in Bishop Arts; a chance to sneak into a upscale steakhouse in a Dallas high-rise; and a restaurant-bar overlooking a tranquil golf course in Frisco.
Here's five hot new happy hours for our latest installment of Where to Drink:
Greenville Avenue restaurant has a new “Garden Hour” happy hour program Tuesday-Friday from 5-6:30 pm on the patio or at the bar, featuring snacks, three for $11, such as the Watermelon Bite, Crispy Pork Belly with avocado whip and sour lime, Half Shell Oyster with kiwi bubbles and rosé mignonette, and Mushroom Croquette with goat cheese. Select cocktails are $8 including the Front Deck Spritz with Aperol, passionfruit, and bubbles; and Bumble Bee’s Knees with Ford’s Gin, honey, and lemon. Three bottles of wine are $40: Pierre Sparr “Brut” Cremant d’Alsace, Mahua Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough 2022, or Black Cottage Pinot Noir, Marlborough 2021.
New Orleans-style bar in Bishop Arts has a new summer happy hour Monday-Friday from 4-7 pm, with good deals: half-price food, $6 wines, $5 well drinks, and $4 beers. They also have live music daily, featuring a variety of genres including jazz, bebop, Cumbia, and Latin jazz. Plus indoor and outdoor seating, and now is the time of year for that.
Ryder Cup Grille
Restaurant-bar at the Omni PGA Frisco Resort — one of 13 restaurants and bars at the resort — has a new happy hour with postcard-worthy views overlooking the Fields Ranch golf courses. It's an early one, running Monday-Friday from 2-5 pm and includes some domestic beers for $6, house wines for $10, and Ranch Water for $13. Food specials include Parmesan fries ($7), a guacamole and salsa flight ($9), chicken tenders with Buffalo sauce, Deep Ellum blue cheese dressing, and ranch ($11), nachos with brisket and refried beans ($12), and Cobb salad ($12).
SER Steak & Spirits
Steakhouse on the 27th floor of the Hilton Anatole has a Social Hour Tuesday-Thursday from 5-6:30 pm with $10 cocktails, $10 wines by the glass. A new bar menu features oysters, beef tartare, and gochujang chicken, priced from $9 to $23. They also have two new cocktails: Fall Berry Bush with tequila, Chambord, lime, rosemary, and sage; and a boozy lemonade with vodka, lavender, dill, lemon juice, and soda water.
A new $7 Social Hour begins September 26, and runs Monday-Friday 3-6 pm with cocktails like the Old Fashioned, Margarita, Daiquiri, and a CYOM (create your own martini) with vodka or gin, clean or dirty, wet or dry, shaken or stirred, with a twist of lemon or olives, all for $7. House wines are also $7 and beers are $5. A menu of bar bites includes Wagyu corn dogs, BBQ spiced pork rinds, and blue cheese kettle chips.
A big name in doner kebabs is coming to Dallas-Fort Worth: German Doner Kebab, famous for pioneering gourmet doner kebabs in the UK and worldwide, will open its first location in Frisco, at 12025 E. University Dr. #100.
According to a release, it'll open on September 25, with seating for 77, making it the brand’s largest North American restaurant in terms of capacity.
Doner kebabs are a street food, centered on meat cooked on a rotating vertical spit. The name comes from two Turkish words: 'Doner' meaning rotate, and 'Kebap' meaning grilled meat. It's similar to a gyro, but döner meat is made from lamb or pork, while gyros are lamb or chicken.
German Doner Kebab, abbreviated GDK, is known for its distinctive waffle bread, in which the pita-like bread is imprinted with a waffle pattern. The company opened its first restaurant in Berlin in 1989 and is headquartered in Scotland. There are now 100-plus locations across UK, Europe, and the Middle East.
They made their U.S. debut in 2021 and have locations in New Jersey, Astoria, Queens, New York, and Sugar Land, Texas, outside Houston, which opened in 2022.
Their menu features doner kebabs made with toasted waffle bread, halal meat, vegetables, and signature sauces. GDK locations have an open kitchen so you can see the food being prepared to order.
In addition to the waffle bread, you can get the doner as a wrap, a panini, or in quesadilla form. Other items include a burger topped with Doritos and cheese sauce - like chips & salsa on top of doner meat, but all inside a bun; a black bean veggie burger; spring rolls; jalapeno poppers; and fries in a quartet of options including cheese fries, flaming fries, and curry fries.
“Many Americans are familiar with gyro, shawarma, and shish kebabs, however our ‘doner kebabs’ will be a new experience in both taste and format to most," says GDK North America managing director Nigel Belton in a statement.