October 20, 2021

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Food never sleeps

Dallas’ ideal restaurant and major chef crowned at 2021 Tastemaker Awards

6 min read

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In a 12 months that saw the food stuff and beverage field recovering from the devastating consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, Dallas-Fort Worth’s talented and tricky-performing culinary stars deserved to be celebrated at the 2021 CultureMap Tastemaker Awards.

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The winners have lastly been discovered.

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For months, we have dedicated a specific editorial collection to highlighting nominees in more than a dozen classes, which include finest eating places, chefs, bars, and bartenders. A panel of skilled judges helped choose all of the winners, besides for Most effective New Restaurant. That was determined by you, our audience, in a bracket-design and style event.

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In addition to favored categories like Rising Star Chef of the Yr and Community Cafe of the Calendar year, we threw in a scrumptious new wildcard class: Very best Ghost Kitchen area, that all-critical takeout trend that emerged through the pandemic.

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We also handed out two Hero Awards to highlight individuals who’ve completed remarkable operate to support the cafe business throughout these difficult periods.

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On August 19, the winners had been topped at an awards ceremony and tasting celebration at Fashion Industry Gallery, emceed by comedian CJ Starr.

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Now, let’s elevate a glass to the 2021 Tastemaker Award winners:

DALLAS

Cafe of the Calendar year: José
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Park Towns hotspot functions modern Mexican-inspired delicacies and a mixology application with artisanal spirits, highlighted by a collection of tequilas and mezcals. What was very good grew to become improved when chef Anastacia “AQ” Quinones joined as chef. A firm believer in modern-day Mexican, this CIA graduate and 2018 Tastemaker Award winner has channeled her creative imagination to make and layer intricate flavors into each bite at José.

Chef of the Yr: Matt Balke, Encina
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Balke attained levels in enterprise internet marketing and resort cafe administration from Texas Tech, then a diploma from the Culinary Institute of The us in 2007. He worked at the legendary York Road, as properly as Bolsa, Bolsa Mercado, The Rustic, and Smoke, and was chef at Bolsa when it closed in 2020. He and spouse Corey McCombs took more than the lease once Bolsa shut, and opened Encina, their warm neighborhood cafe showcasing New American delicacies, cocktails, wine, and beer in Oct. He’s a return Tastemaker nominee, owning been nominated for best chef when in advance of in 2017.

Mounting Star Chef of the Calendar year: Carol Nguyen, Ngon Vietnamese
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Nguyen commenced cooking Vietnamese food after relocating to the U.S., in an hard work to recreate dishes and flavors she skipped. She labored in New Orleans in advance of opening Crazee Crab, a Cajun cafe in Grand Prairie, in 2014. In 2020, she opened Ngon, doing foodstuff from the coronary heart, featuring dishes from her native Vietnam as well as the foods she loves to eat, rooted in her enjoy for property cooking and Ha Noi upbringing, and impressed by foods served by avenue vendors in Vietnam. Household operates all over: It’s named for her mother and she works by using recipes from her grandmother.

Best New Restaurant: Monarch
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Downtown cafe at The Countrywide, a residences-plus-lodge in downtown Dallas, is a newcomer to Dallas from Chicago chef Danny Grant that vows to modify the local Italian scene, via dishes like a $55 lasagna and a $12 side of charred asparagus. Its skytop perch affords remarkable sights, generating it the newest special-situation option.

Community Restaurant of the Calendar year: Edoko Omakase
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Bold restaurant in Irving is from Sara Nam and chef Keunsik Lee, who’d labored at Nobu, Japonais by Morimoto in Chicago, and Wasabi Sushi in Fort Worth. Their “omakase” offering, in which diners depart the buying up to the chef put them on the foodie map, but their menu also boasts a host of very affordable sushi choices and bento boxes at lunch — just what you need to have to win around the locals, as well.

Best Ghost Kitchen area: TLC Vegan Kitchen area
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Vegan chef Troy Gardner was a single of the first to introduce a ghost kitchen thought when he debuted TLC in Might 2020. He gives a prolonged variety of vegan items which you can get in relatives-model foods or boxed lunches. The menu features chili chicken-fried steak lasagna with house made ricotta, mozzarella, & Parmesan and desserts together with chocolate lava cake and banana foster pudding.

Pastry Chef of the Year: Corey Thomson, Fearing’s
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A graduate of Le Cordon Bleu in Austin, Thomson has been govt pastry chef for The Ritz-Carlton, Dallas for the previous 10 decades. He oversees all areas of the pastry operation such as the dessert method at Fearing’s, as well as the creation of showpieces for exhibit at The Ritz-Carlton Club Lounge. He also competed on the second season of Netflix’s Sugar Hurry, exactly where he and teammate Zach Manasan won $10,000.

Bar of the Calendar year: Cosmo’s
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Cosmo’s was launched in 2000 — a life span back in bar yrs — by brother & sister Gerald Stogsdill & Debra Peña, who created a chill-funky-retro vibe, furthermore crafty martinis that ended up forward of their time. Bar supervisor and now business enterprise lover Jackson Tran has presented Cosmo’s a 2nd lifetime, adding spouse and children Vietnamese recipes to the menu, this kind of as pho and grilled pork chop with braised collard greens that have drawn a new appreciative viewers of foodies.

Bartender of the Year: Liz Mitchell, Thunderbird Station
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Mitchell started off out at Goodfriend Beer Backyard and Burger House in East Dallas, in which she worked for five yrs right before becoming a member of the “Double Large loved ones,” the selection of amazing bar places owned by hospitality whiz Kim Finch that also include things like One Extensive on Greenville Avenue. Mitchell presently presides more than Thunderbird Station, the groovy retro bar and restaurant on the edge of Deep Ellum, where by all the food items and cocktails are tremendous pleasurable. Mitchell’s method is to generally test to make a individual relationship ahead of she serves you a drink.

Wine Plan of the Calendar year: Veritas Wine Room
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Henderson Avenue charmer has a strong neighborhood bar vibe, but with adventurous wines and a proficient personnel. They are identified for their weekly wine specials and repeated tasting activities, which submit-pandemic, they’ve recently resumed, not a moment much too before long. For $45, you normally get 15 just one-ounce pours from a wide range of amazing wines the house owners have amassed more than the decades. It really is a excellent put to make new wine-savvy mates hit up their $2-off satisfied several hours weekdays from 3-6 pm.

Hero Award: Meaders Ozarow
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The proprietor and founder of Empire Baking Co. has generally built supplying an critical element of her enterprise, through generous donations of her baked merchandise to nonprofits and charities. 

FORT Truly worth

Restaurant of the Yr: Hatsuyuki Handroll Bar
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Sushi chef Jun Mo Yeon opened this tiny, quaint location in 2018, the initially sushi bar in Fort Worth to specialize in hand rolls, or temaki — cylindrical-shaped sushi rolls enclosing rice, fish, and veggies. Rolls are designed on the place, even though you look at, and are handed to you by the sushi chef who built them. Hatsuyuki is a returning Tastemaker nominee, getting been nominated for Greatest New Restaurant in 2019.

Chef of the 12 months: Felipe Armenta, Tavern, Towne Grill, Maria’s
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Armenta is a return nominee, possessing been nominated for very best chef in 2020, and extra than deserving. He is one of Fort Worth’s prolific restaurateurs, with a portfolio of eateries that incorporates The Tavern, Pacific Table, Maria’s Mexican Kitchen (which gained a Tastemaker nomination this calendar year for Greatest New Cafe), and the a short while ago opened Towne Grill, and looks to be developing each individual working day.

Best New Restaurant: La Onda
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Latin-influenced cocktail, seafood, and caviar bar does a special and pleasurable get on Mexican and South American culture and delicacies. It can be the very first joint enterprise for local pair Victor and Misty Villarreal Victor, who recently experienced a pizza concept named Abe’s Kitchen and has worked at eating places this sort of as Grace and Clay Pigeon, handles the foodstuff, when Misty oversees the drinks.

Bar of the 12 months: Tulips
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To start with mid-sized songs location the city has observed since the Caravan of Goals is also 1 of Fort Worth’s favourite community bars, with crafty cocktails, not to mention a Jewish deli and coffee menu.

Hero Award: Jon Bonnell
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This chef and owner of Bonnell’s emerged as a chief during the pandemic, pivoting early with to-go foods at an reasonably priced cost, although also aiding and supporting his friends.

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