Photo by Thanin Viriyaki

It’s another one for CultureMap’s history books. The 2023 Tastemaker Awards, which recognized Texas' best chefs, restaurants, and more culinary superstars of the year, have finally come to a close.

The series kicked off April 13 with our sold-out Houston Tastemaker Awards at Silver Street Studios, then we moved to Cowtown for our Fort Worth event on April 27. The Texas culinary tour steered us home to Dallas, at the Fashion Industry Gallery, on May 4. From there, we took a drive to the Hill Country for Austin’s evening festivities at Fair Market on May 11, then concluded our journey with our second-ever fête in San Antonio on May 18.

The Tastemaker Awards honor the state’s most innovative culinary pioneers, allowing nominated chefs and restaurants to showcase their talents for guests before announcing the winners during a live ceremony.

Guests sampled chefs’ specialty bites and imbibed a variety of creative cocktails or mocktails, with a few Topo Chicos sprinkled in throughout the evening. But as always, our nominees and winners are the main focus of our program and are the reason we can bring these celebrations to life.

While a panel of local food and beverage pros choses a majority of the winners, the winner of Best New Restaurant is determined by our readers in an online, bracket-style tournament. New this year in each city, a sizzling on-site Burger Throwdown sponsored by Goodstock Beef by Nolan Ryan.

Without further ado, let’s meet our 2023 CultureMap Tastemaker Award winners, listed by city:


  • Restaurant of the Year: Shoyo
  • Chef of the Year: Junior Borges, Meridian
  • Bar of the Year: Lounge Here
  • Best New Restaurant: Quarter Acre
  • Rising Star Chef of the Year: Mike Matis, Fearing’s
  • Pastry Chef of the Year: Maricsa Trejo, La Casita Bakeshop
  • Bartender of the Year: Haley Merritt, Midnight Rambler
  • Neighborhood Restaurant of the Year: El Rincon del Maiz
  • Wine Program of the Year: Pappas Bros.
  • Best Burger: Wulf Burger
  • Brewery of the Year: Manhattan Project Beer Co.

Fort Worth:

  • Restaurant of the Year: Fitzgerald
  • Chef of the Year: Juan Ramón Cárdenas, Don Artemio
  • Bar of the Year: Birdie’s Social Club
  • Best New Restaurant: Calisience
  • Rising Star Chef of the Year: Angel Fuentes, Guapo Taco
  • Neighborhood Restaurant of the Year: Cafe Bella
  • Best Burger: Dayne’s Craft Barbecue
  • Best Brewery: Martin House Brewing Company


Photo by Thanin Viriyaki

Shoyo took home the title of 2023's Restaurant of the Year in Dallas.

  • Restaurant of the Year: Bludorn
  • Chef of the Year: Mark Clayton, Squable
  • Bar of the Year: Captain Foxheart’s Bad News Bar and Spirit Lounge
  • Best New Restaurant: Aiko
  • Rising Star Chef of the Year: Emmanuel Chavez, Tatemó
  • Pastry Chef of the Year: Shawn Gawle, Goodnight Hospitality
  • Bartender of the Year: Kristine Nguyen, Captain Foxheart’s Bad News Bar
  • Neighborhood Restaurant of the Year: Craft Pita
  • Wine Program of the Year: Nancy’s Hustle
  • Best Pop-Up: Khói Barbecue
  • Best Burger: Burger Bodega


  • Restaurant of the Year: Birdie’s
  • Chef of the Year: Amanda Turner, Olamaie
  • Rising Star Chef of the Year: Joaquin Ceballos, Este
  • Pastry Chef of the Year: Mariela Camacho, Comadre Panadería
  • Bar of the Year: Nickel City
  • Bartender of the Year: Erin Ashford, Olamaie
  • Neighborhood Restaurant of the Year: Nixta Taqueria
  • Wine Program of the Year: Bufalina
  • Brewery of the Year: Lazarus Brewing Co.
  • Best Burger: Dai Due
  • Best New Restaurant: Maie Day

San Antonio:

  • Restaurant of the Year: Carriqui
  • Chef of the Year: Robbie Nowlin, Allora, Arrosta
  • Bar of the Year: Amor Eterno
  • Brewery of the Year: Künstler Brewing
  • Neighborhood Restaurant of the Year: The Magpie
  • Pastry Chef of the Year: Sofia Tejeda, Hotel Emma
  • Best Burger: Last Place Burger
  • Best New Restaurant: Reese Bros BBQ
Photo by Roderick Pullum

Dallas food fans toast to culinary superstars at 2023 Tastemaker Awards

Celebrating the Tastemakers

Dallas' biggest foodies and brightest culinary stars came together May 4 for the 2023 Tastemaker Awards, CultureMap's annual celebration of the top restaurants, bars, chefs, and more.

Held at the Fashion Industry Gallery in downtown Dallas, the event brought 750 hungry foodies to a hedonistic feast where dozens of nominated chefs and restaurants dished out delectable tastes. A portion of the proceeds benefited Harvest Project Food Rescue, which fights food insecurity in Dallas.

Lines formed quickly for small plates and samples from some of Dallas' most popular and influential eateries. Buzzy dishes included Japanese Shepherd's Pie from Mixtitos; Pork & Beans from Restaurant Beatrice; sweet and savory "keeshes" from KEESH; Thai Cucumber Salad from Cry Wolf; and an assortment of vegan- and non-vegan tacos from El Rincon del Maiz. Those with a sweet tooth could include in mini cakes in many flavors from Cake Bar; Almond Cake from Empire Baking; and one of the most talked-about bites of the night, La Casita Bakeshop's Bete Noir flourless chocolate-raspberry cake.

Neighborhood Restaurant of the Year nominee Greenville Ave. Pizza had the longest line of the night, and it's no wonder: They were heating and plating a whole feast for each guest: Butcher's Revenge or Margherita Pizza plus grilled chicken Alfredo Penne and their signature Pizza Poppers.

While many of the dishes were beautifully presented, the most Instagrammy bite of the night (described by several people as "a work of art") was the Octopus from SER: octopus al pastor with wood-grilled pineapple vinaigrette and confit heirloom potatoes, topped with a delicate squid ink toile.

VIP ticket-holders could arrive early to valet park easily and mingle at a dedicated bar just for them. Beer drinkers made themselves at home in the Beer Garden presented by Deep Ellum Brewing Company and Ellum Ranch Patio Water.

The main bar poured signature cocktails featuring the spirits of sponsors Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey and Flor de Cana Rum: Cherry Old Fashioned, The Blinker, Jicarita, and Flor Fashioned. Spicy Pineapple Ranch Water, a mocktail featuring non-alcoholic spirits brand Ritual Zero Proof, was served at all the bars, and guests could stop by their table to try more A-F varieties.

Twang Partners, LLC offered Micheladas and samples of their signature beer salt. And guests stopped to rehydrate with plenty of Topo Chico Sparkling Mineral Water.

But this party wasn't just a feeding frenzy; we had some awards to present. For weeks leading up to the event, we published a special editorial series that highlighted nominees in 11 categories. Emcee Jason Preston announced the nominees and winners; each time a new category was announced, drummer Kyle Thomas heightened the suspense with a dramatic snare drum roll.

Preston was joined onstage by Rob Sullens representing Goodstock by Nolan Ryan, which sponsored the Best Burger category, as well as an on-site Burger Throwdown. The Burger Throwdown - new this year - proved to be a hit with attendees, who had a hard time choosing which one of the four nominees to vote for.

Competition sizzled among Chop House Burger's signature burger; The Omni Dallas' Monte Cristo Beef Sliders; E.J. Wills Gastropub's Spicy BBQ Cheeseburger; and Bizzy Burger's Very Bizzy Buger. In the end, voters chose The Omni Dallas' beefy take on the Monte Cristo sandwich as their favorite. (Omni chefs know their burgers; the Omni Fort Worth Hotel won the Burger Throwdown at Fort Worth Tastemaker Awards also.)

CultureMap Dallas Tastemaker Awards 2023

Photo by Roderick Pullum

The CultureMap Dallas 2023 Tastemaker Awards were held May 4 at Fashion Industry Gallery.

The rest of the winners were chosen by a panel of local food and beverage experts, except for the category of Best New Restaurant, which was voted on by readers in a bracket-style competition online.

The winners were:

Winners accepted gorgeous glass trophies onstage and posed for pictures.

Between feasting and celebrating, attendees stopped to snap Insta-worthy photos at a photo booth and bought raffle tickets benefiting Harvest Project Food Rescue. They got to learn more about the organization's good work from Danae Gutierrez onstage.

Participating chefs received additional hands-on support throughout the night (plus refreshing drinks and $300 food credit/stipends) from Hardie's Fresh Foods.

Hungry to be a part of it all next year? You can read about all the winners here, and we'll see you in 2024. Cheers!

Wolfe Investments

Downtown building's transformation tops this week's 5 most-read Dallas stories

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 list here.

1. Blue-paneled '50s office building in downtown Dallas to become residences. A distinctive '50s building in downtown Dallas has a new owner with big plans. The building is 211 North Ervay, notable for its pretty pale-blue paneled facade, and it's been acquired by Wolfe Investments, a real estate company headed by CEO Kenny Wolfe, with plans to transform it into residences.

2. 10 best restaurants in Dallas include fresh upstarts and revered classics. This entry in our special editorial series highlighting Tastemaker Award nominees paid tribute to the big kahuna: Restaurant of The Year. These 10 restaurants are the established players, the places that for one reason or another ruled the Dallas scene in 2023.

3. Mi Cocina veteran opens new modern Mexican restaurant in Sunnyvale. A former Mi Cocina pro has opened his own restaurant on the southeast side of Dallas in Sunnyvale: Called La Carretera Modern Mex Kitchen, it's from Erick Barrera, who worked with beloved restaurateur Mico Rodriguez for many years first at Mi Cocina and then at Mesero, Mico's post-Mi Cocina startup.

4. Dolly Parton hosts pop-up shop at Frisco's Star during ACM Awards week. ACM Awards co-host Dolly Parton knows what the people want: more Dolly. So the Queen of Country is opening a limited-run pop-up shop called Dolly! All Access during ACM Awards Week, at The Star in Frisco, May 9-14.

5. Dallas' best chef, restaurant, and more winners crowned at 2023 Tastemaker Awards. After weeks of anticipation, the best restaurants, bars, chefs, and more culinary superstars were crowned at our 2023 CultureMap Dallas Tastemaker Awards. On May 4, the winners were revealed at an awards ceremony and tasting event at Fashion Industry Gallery.

Ad Placement 300x100
Ad Placement 300x600

CultureMap Emails are Awesome

Office sexual politics rear their ugly head in Netflix's Fair Play

Movie Review

The career of Alden Ehrenreich has – so far – been one without much progress. He was the star of Beautiful Creatures 10 years ago, a film that made little impact. Since then, he’s been in a Woody Allen movie, a Coen Brothers movie, and played a young Han Solo, none of which made him a star. After a few years away from movies, he’s back with a bang in 2023, with roles in Cocaine Bear, Oppenheimer, and now Netflix’s Fair Play.

Ehrenreich plays Luke, who’s in a relationship with Emily (Phoebe Dynevor), which they must keep secret because of a no-fraternization policy at the hedge fund where they both work. Working in finance, both are naturally ambitious, although Luke is a bit more naked in his desires. When Emily gets promoted ahead of Luke, he is at first is supportive, but is soon unable to hide his jealousy.

Written and directed by Chloe Domont in her feature film debut, the film tracks the devolution of Luke and Emily’s relationship, going from hot and heavy to heavily antagonistic. The sexual politics at play in the story are front and center, with Emily being the lone visible woman working in an otherwise all-male office. Luke initially bristles at whispers that Emily was promoted for reasons other than her financial skills, but working as her underling starts to bring out the worst in him.

Because Luke and Emily start the film as equals, the power dynamics take on an unusual form. Emily arguably does much more for Luke after her promotion than he would for her if the roles were reversed, sometimes to her own detriment. His blindness to her helpfulness, which eventually turns to suspicion, speaks volumes about the fragile ego of many men.

Another type of reversal is the sexuality depicted in the film. Most films of this type build up to the big sex sequences, using them as a culmination of a particular relationship. But Domont starts the film with them, and uses the absence of them later on as a way to denote how much Luke and Emily have drifted from each other.

It’s understandable why Domont set the film in a hedge fund, given the disparity between men and women in the field. But the scenes in which the employees, led by boss Campbell (Eddie Marsan), talk about the intricacies of their work just don’t pop, mostly because the dense terminology feels like the characters are speaking a foreign language.

Ehrenreich and Dynevor (best known for Bridgerton) each start off great, but as the film goes along and they’re required to get increasingly histrionic, they both become less believable. Domont saves most of the drama for the film’s final act; if the film was more balanced in its ups and downs, the two leads might have been able to even out their performances as well.

Still, the film has a propulsion to it that keeps it interesting, and the intensity of the final sequence is sufficient to forgive any earlier missteps. And, unfortunately yet again for Ehrenreich, it’s Dynevor who leaves the bigger impression, making a case that she should get many more lead roles in the future.


Fair Play is now playing in select theaters; it debuts on Netflix on October 6.

Alden Ehrenreich and Phoebe Dynevor in Fair Play

Photo courtesy of Netflix

Alden Ehrenreich and Phoebe Dynevor in Fair Play.

Cool Dallas mid-century hotel off I-35 gets funding to become apartments

Hotel News

Developers of the historic Cabana Hotel, the distinctive mid-century Dallas lodging where the Beatles once stayed, received a $41 million go-ahead from the Dallas City Council to turn the building into apartments.

Cabana Sycamore Development Inc., a subsidiary of Sycamore Strategies, plans to transform it into a $116 million, 160-unit mixed-income apartment building.

Located at 899 Stemmons Fwy., the Cabana was built in 1962 by Las Vegas entrepreneur Jay Sarno, who several years later developed Caesars Palace hotel and the Circus Circus in Las Vegas. The Beatles stayed there on their 1964 U.S. tour, reportedly followed by other British acts including the Who, Led Zeppelin along with President Richard Nixon.

The hefty cash outlay, which will be paid through the Design District tax increment financing (TIF) district once the project is complete, is a marked increase from a $15.5 million incentive that was approved in 2019, when building owner Centurion American Development Group sought to renovate the hotel and open it as luxury lodging once again.

A TIF allows cities to subsidize developers by refunding or diverting some of their taxes.

Centurion, who renovated the similar Statler Dallas in downtown Dallas, had gone so far as to gut the building, but after four years of inaction, put it up for sale; Sycamore Strategies' lead Zachary Krochtengel put it on contract in May.

The project had few dissenters at the Dallas City Council's September 27 meeting other than former city council member Ed Oakley who was in office in the early 2000s when the Design District TIF was first created.

Oakley noted that, with the $116 million price tag, each unit will cost $725,000, and reminded the council that the current TIF board voted against it on September 11, objecting to its "higher than typical costs."

But council member Omar Narvaez said the building is needed in part to introduce housing for those working within the Design District.

“There is no workforce housing in this area and that’s something we have all committed to fixing,” Narvaez said. “This is the mixing of income levels and brackets that we have talked about.”

Okla. favorite Hideaway Pizza tiptoes into Texas with first shop in Plano

Pizza News

A new pizza purveyor is coming to Texas where it will bravely enter the Dallas-Fort Worth market: Hideaway Pizza an Oklahoma-based chain serving pizza, craft beer, and cocktails, is making its DFW debut with a location in Plano, at 5410 SH-121.

According to a spokesperson, the restaurant will open in mid-October.

Based in Tulsa, Hideaway was founded in 1957 by Richard "The Big Kahuna" Dermer and his wife Marti in 1957 near the Oklahoma State University campus in Stillwater. They became known for making deliveries via a fleet of Volkswagen Beetles.

In 2006, the company was purchased by Brett Murphy and Darren Lister who've successfully retained the anti-chain irreverent spirit and laid-back atmosphere, with employees wearing tie-dye shirts. Their help-wanted ad, for example, says, "We're looking for Weirdoughs and Fungi's to join our team!"

There are now 23 locations across Oklahoma and Arkansas, and they recently made a list of the "10 Established Casual-Dining Restaurant Chains Consumers Love" by Nation's Restaurant News.

Expanding to North Texas made sense because the area has many OSU alumni as well as Oklahoma transpants. The owners also observed that many pizza concepts have moved to to-go only.

"The pizza casual dining space has been vacated by competitors chasing delivery and quick dining," Murphy said in a December 2022 interview. "Hideaway offers premium pizza and a fantastic dine-in experience you can’t find anywhere else."

For pizza, they have two crust options: thin and hand-tossed, slightly thicker and puffier. There are also two alternative crusts: GF and cauliflower.

Signature pies include 17 options, from chicken Florentine with alfredo sauce to the Capone, with sausage, pepperoni, Genoa salami, bacon, red onion, black olives, garlic, and their "Parmesan-herb shake."

There are sandwiches, pastas, salads, meatballs, and garlic cheese bread. Their fried mushrooms are a big customer favorite, and beer is served in frosty cold mugs. Their Sweetza cookies dessert are big boys baked in a six-inch pizza pan and topped with vanilla ice cream. They also have a full bar.

Following Plano, they'll open a location in McKinney at 2101 N. Hardin Blvd. in early 2024, and have Fort Worth penciled in next.