The time has come for the return of the CultureMap Tastemaker Awards, our annual culinary celebration, making its comeback with our signature in-person tasting event and awards program.
The Tastemaker Awards spotlights the top talent in Dallas-Fort Worth's restaurant and bar communities, as determined by their peers.
This is the first installment of our special editorial series in which we'll go over all of the nominees. It culminates in a party at Fashion Industry Gallery on August 19, when emcee CJ Starr will announce winners in all the categories. (Tickets are on sale here.)
Our first category is Best Bars: the places we go to socialize with friends, toast an accomplishment, or just enjoy a cocktail or cold beer.
The 2021 crop for Fort Worth is especially rich with variety, from chic wine bars to cool breweries to fancy new hotel spots.
Who will win? Find out at the Tastemaker Awards party on August 19 at Fashion Industry Gallery, where we’ll dine on bites from nominated restaurants while emcee CJ Starr reveals the winners. Buy tickets here.
Here are the 10 nominees for Best Bar:
Backyard at Hotel Drover
The Hotel Drover wanted something special and got it with expansive outdoor oasis outfitted with pool, private cabanas with hanging daybeds, 65 chaise lounges, crystal chandeliers, Adirondack chairs, lawn games, fire pits with s'mores kits, and a live music stage dubbed Backyard Unplugged.
Bowling alleys with bars have become a thing in DFW in the past few years and Bowlounge is a particularly cool version. For its Fort Worth location, it occupies a funky space in a historic warehouse, with vintage-style bowling lanes and a bar with craft beers and cocktails.
Magnolia Wine Bar
Wine bars have definitely become a thing in DFW in 2021, and this rendition in the heart of Magnolia does a great job of combining neighborhood bar vibe with a dedication to wine. It's almost like a living room, but with great wine and service.
Maple Branch Craft Brewery
Brewery from husband-and-wife Stuart and Allyssa Maples produces quality, small-batch craft beer — but the neat part is the massive beer garden, with three types of trees — maples, live oaks, and bur oak — making it a lovely place to drink beer.
Neutral Ground Brewing Co
Brewery and taproom in the River East district is from Stan Hudson and Sean Doublet, who've combined their backgrounds for the brewery and the beers. Hudson is a Texas native who’s home-brewed for more than a decade; Doublet is from New Orleans and has a chemistry degree from Tulane University. (The name "Neutral Ground" refers to the once-disputed border between Texas and Louisiana.) The signature beer? It's king cake-flavored.
Popular bar from Austin opens a Fort Worth spinoff that boasts loads of character: vintage alcohol signs, pinball machines, and a century-old, triple archway bar adorned with carved lions' heads. Frozen drinks like the Frozen Irish Coffee and Frozen Strawberry Negroni are most popular, but they're definitely a go-to for classic cocktails.
Cocktail lounge at the Stockyards has a charming atmosphere that pays homage to the cowgirl. It's from the team behind Taco Heads and Tinie's Mexican Cuisine, which means you can find great grub, too: They do small plates that they call "Texas tapas" such as house-made beef jerky and brisket flatbread.
38 & Vine
Innovative bar in the Foundry District is all about the wine. Its innovative system allows patrons to serve themselves from a 25-foot wall of wine dispensers that pour 1-ounce, 3-ounce, or 6-ounce tastes. They also serve champagne and craft beer from DFW breweries. The space features a 10-seat private tasting room for small group tastings, educational classes, and private reservations, and they also offer wine club memberships.
Trinity College Irish Pub
Irish pub in the West 7th area of Fort Worth has an authenticity that should come as no surprise since owner/founder Alan Kearney is a native of Ireland. Their beer garden-patio is a big hit, and people love their weekend brunch, even if the parking situation is kind of tricky.
First mid-sized music venue the city has seen since the Caravan of Dreams is also one of Fort Worth’s favorite neighborhood bars, with crafty cocktails, not to mention a Jewish deli and coffee menu.