And the winner is ...
In a year that has left the food and beverage industry devastated from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, Dallas-Fort Worth's talented and hard-working culinary stars deserved — more than ever — to be recognized and celebrated at the 2020 CultureMap Tastemaker Awards.
The winners have finally been revealed.
In a special editorial series over the past several weeks, we've been honoring nominees in a wide range of categories. A panel of expert judges consisting of CultureMap editors and former winners helped compile the contenders and select all of the winners — except for Best New Restaurant. That was determined by you, our readers, in a bracket-style tournament.
Like many events this year, the presentation of the Tastemaker Awards went virtual. On July 30, viewers tuned in to watch our our first-ever online awards ceremony hosted by Texas rap legend Bun B.
And instead of gathering for an in-person tasting extravaganza, ticket-holders enjoyed an at-home Tasting Tote featuring everything they needed to bring the Tastemaker experience to them: savory and sweet bites from nominees, complimentary beverage kits, gifts, and games to play throughout the night.
In addition to favorite categories like Bar and Restaurant of the Year, we introduced a new Hero Award to spotlight individuals who've done outstanding work to support the restaurant industry amid the pandemic.
Now, let's raise a glass to the 2020 Tastemaker Award winners:
Restaurant of the Year: Ellerbe Fine Foods
This darling restaurant is one of Fort Worth's best culinary treasures. Chef-owner Molly McCook opened the restaurant in 2009 and continues to roll out enticing and inventive dishes. The stylish re-do of what was once a former gas station still charms.
Chef of the Year: Tim Love, Lonesome Dove, Love Shack, Gemelle
With restaurants spanning the nation from Seattle to Knoxville, Love's roots remain in Texas, where he is chef and owner of Lonesome Dove Western Bistro, Woodshed Smokehouse, Queenie's Steakhouse, Gemelle, Love Shack, and the newly opened Atico, as well as the storied White Elephant Saloon. He's easily Fort Worth's most famous chef and a regular on food television shows.
Best New Restaurant: Hot Box Biscuit Club
Hot Box started out as a pop-up — one so hugely successful that owners Sarah Hooton and Matt Mobley were persuaded to take the next step. They opened this permanent restaurant in 2019. Their signature buttermilk biscuits and biscuit sandwiches remain the big draw, but don't overlook the fried green tomatoes or their twist on deviled eggs, topped with a dusting of Flaming Hot Cheetos.
Bar of the Year: Blackland Distillery
The full-service, upscale cocktail lounge and tasting room produces four sophisticated spirits: vodka, gin, bourbon, and rye whiskey. You can get a cocktail, tour the distillery, and enjoy a tasting flight of all four spirits for $20.
Hero Award: Mike Hoque, Hoque Global
Hoque and his restaurant company, DRG Concepts, have fed thousands of healthcare workers and restaurant employees displaced by the virus. And he continues to fund 50 meals every day, delivered to hospitals around Dallas-Fort Worth.
Restaurant of the Year: The Charles Dallas
Dallas Design District stunner is an Italian-inspired eatery starring chef J Chastain (Stephan Pyles, Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek) and Chas Martin (Nick & Sam's, Hotel Zaza). It has a wood-fired grill, and menu standouts include fresh crudo, house-made pasta, and a large assortment of vegetable dishes.
Chef of the Year: Justin Holt, Salaryman
Holt attended Cordon Bleu and began his Dallas culinary career cooking at Nana at the Anatole Hotel for four years, before joining David and Jennifer Uygur at Lucia. He started doing pop-ups to fulfill his passion for Japanese food, and they regularly sold out. At Salaryman, he's carved out a niche and won the approval of the city's most discriminating foodies.
Rising Star Chef of the Year: Toby Archibald, Georgie by Curtis Stone
The New Zealand native is an international chef who has worked in some high-flying restaurants and cities. He came to Dallas with his wife to open a restaurant, and has worked with big-name chefs at Bullion (Bruno Davaillon) and at Georgie by Curtis Stone.
Best New Restaurant: Georgie by Curtis Stone
This Knox District restaurant, in the former Villa-O space, comes with the participation of celebrity chef Curtis Stone and is a spinoff of Gwen, a Hollywood restaurant and butcher shop he owns with his brother Luke. Georgie is a collaboration between the two brothers and Dallas restaurateur Stephan Courseau. The menu features Australian Blackmore wagyu and caviar with red wheat blini and crème fraiche. The restaurant is still closed, but the adjoining butcher shop is open.
Neighborhood Restaurant of the Year: Parigi Restaurant
The highly personal chef-driven restaurant in the Oak Lawn district summons a touch of Paris with a little soupcon of New York, as useful for ladies who lunch as it is for a lovers' rendezvous. Few other restaurants in Dallas have survived for 30 years, and definitely not as fresh and vital as Parigi. They're currently open for lunch and dinner with limited seating; reservations are required.
Best Queso: E-Bar Tex Mex
This East Dallas Tex-Mex spot has been open for six years but in some ways, it still feels like a treasured secret. Owner Eddie Cervantes, who used to run the show at Primo's, has re-created the old Primo's vibe on Haskell Avenue. He offers queso standard or E-Bar style with ground beef, guacamole, and sour cream.
Brewery of the Year: 3 Nations Brewing
Launched in 2015, 3 Nations is the brainchild of Gavin Secchi, whose family owns Ferrari's Italian Villa. The brewery resides in a cool building, a former grain storage shed, in downtown Carrollton, where they're doing adventurous beers such as Crazy Pale Ale and Mango Smash IPA. Their taproom is currently closed, but they have a robust curbside program.
Pastry Chef of the Year: Diana Zamora, Lockwood Distilling
Zamora has a wide bank of experience that includes catering, as well as restaurants. At Lockwood, she did fun desserts like ice cream sandwiches, using ice cream from local company Sweet Firefly. She's also a dedicated activist; during these COVID-19 days, she's been working with the Harvest Project, which feeds hungry kids and families.
Bar of the Year: Black Swan Saloon
Opened in 2010, it remains one of Dallas' most highly regarded bars, thanks in no small part to the doting hospitality of bartender-owner Gabe Sanchez and his magical drinks. Yet the trailblazing bar has a modest demeanor. It's a small space, not too glitzy, that surpasses first impressions and sneakily wins you over.
Bartender of the Year: Josh Hendrix, Las Almas Rotas
Easily one of the most liked figures in Dallas' mixology world, Hendrix "doesn't know a stranger," says one peer; "he's a sweetheart," says another. He started in Atlanta with pit stops in New Orleans and Baton Rouge, and has been on the Dallas scene for more than a decade. Hendrix is also supportive of other bartenders, of bars, and of the local scene.
Wine Program of the Year: Macellaio
The Oak Cliff restaurant specializing in cured meats and small plates is a spinoff of Lucia Dallas, the Italian restaurant from husband and wife David and Jennifer Uygur. They tend to choose unusual wines you can't find elsewhere, many though not all Italian. Currently, curbside pickup only, Thursday-Sunday 4-7 pm, with a new menu posted every Tuesday.
Hero Award: Jacob Tindall, 5G Studio Collaborative
Tindall founded a nonprofit called 7740 Dallas to support the healthcare community and keep restaurant workers employed. In April and May, 7740 provided 1,000 meals per week to COVID wards around Dallas-Fort Worth and continues to deliver meals to hospitals every day.