The good, the bad & the ‘A-List’

These arts, cultural & sports stories defined gay Dallas in 2011

FASHIONS AND FORWARD  |  The Jean Paul Gaultier exhibit at the DMA, above, was a highlight of the arts scene in 2011, while Dirk Nowitzki’s performance in the NBA playoffs gave the Mavs their first-ever — and much deserved — world title. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

FASHIONS AND FORWARD | The Jean Paul Gaultier exhibit at the DMA, above, was a highlight of the arts scene in 2011, while Dirk Nowitzki’s performance in the NBA playoffs gave the Mavs their first-ever — and much deserved — world title. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

A lot of eyes were focused on Dallas nationally in 2011 — for good and bad — but much of what made the city a fun place last year has specific queer appeal. CULTURE The rise of the reality TV star. 2011 was the year Dallas made a big splash across everyone’s television sets — and it had nothing to do with who shot J.R. (although that’s pending). From the culinary to the conniving, queer Dallasites were big on the small screen. On the positive side were generally good portrayals of gay Texans. Leslie Ezelle almost made it all the way in The Next Design Star, while The Cake Guys’ Chad Fitzgerald is still in contention on TLC’s The Next Great Baker. Lewisville’s Ben Starr was a standout on MasterChef. On the web, Andy Stark, Debbie Forth and Brent Paxton made strides with Internet shows Bear It All, LezBeProud and The Dallas Life,respectively.

‘A’ to Z  |  ‘The A-LIst: Dallas,’ above, had its detractors, but some reality TV stars from Big D, like Chad Fitzgerald, Leslie Ezelle and Ben Starr, represented us well.

‘A’ to Z | ‘The A-LIst: Dallas,’ above, had its detractors, but some reality TV stars from Big D, like Chad Fitzgerald, Leslie Ezelle and Ben Starr, represented us well.

There were downsides, though. Drew Ginsburg served as the token gay on Bravo’s teeth-clenching Most Eligible: Dallas, and the women on Big Rich Texas seemed a bit clichéd. But none were more polarizing than the cast of Logo’s The A-List: Dallas. Whether people loved or hated it, the six 20somethings (five gays, one girl) reflected stereotypes that made people cringe. Gaultier makes Dallas his runway. The Dallas Museum of Art scored a coup, thanks to couture. The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk not only featured the work of the famed designer, but was presented the designs in an innovative manner. Nothing about it was stuffy. Seeing his iconic designs in person is almost a religious experience — especially when its Madonna’s cone bra. Gaultier reminded us that art is more than paintings on a wall. (A close runner-up: The Caravaggio exhibit in Fort Worth.) The Return of Razzle Dazzle. ­­There was speculation whether Razzle Dazzle could actually renew itself after a near-decade lull, but the five-day spectacular was a hallmark during National Pride Month in June, organized by the Cedar Springs Merchant Association. The event started slowly with the wine walk but ramped up to the main event street party headlined by rapper Cazwell. Folding in the MetroBall with Deborah Cox, the dazzle had returned with high-profile entertainment and more than 10,000 in attendance on the final night. A Gathering pulled it together. TITAS executive director Charles Santos took on the daunting task of producing A Gathering, a collective of area performance arts companies, commemorating 30 years of AIDS. Groups such as the Dallas Opera, Turtle Creek Chorale and Dallas Theater Center donated their time for this one-of-a-kind show with all proceeds benefiting Dallas’ leading AIDS services organizations. And it was worth it. A stirring night of song, dance and art culminated in an approximate 1,000 in attendance and $60,000 raised for local charities. Bravo, indeed. The Bronx closed after 35 years. Cedar Springs isn’t short on its institutions, but when it lost The Bronx, the gayborhood felt a real loss. For more than three decades, the restaurant was home to many Sunday brunches and date nights in the community. We were introduced to Stephan Pyles there, and ultimately, we just always figured on it being there as part of the fabric of the Strip. A sister company to the neighboring Warwick Melrose bought the property with rumors of expansion. But as yet, the restaurant stands steadfast in its place as a reminder of all those memories that happened within its walls and on its plates.  The Omni changed the Dallas skyline. In November, The Omni Dallas hotel opened the doors to its 23-story structure and waited to fill it’s 1,000 rooms to Dallas visitors and staycationers. Connected to the Dallas Convention Center, the ultra-modern hotel is expected to increase the city’s convention business which has the Dallas Visitors and Conventions Bureau salivating — as they should. The hotel brought modern flair to a booming Downtown and inside was no different. With quality eateries and a healthy collection of art, including some by gay artists Cathey Miller and Ted Kincaid, the Omni quickly became a go-to spot for those even from Dallas. SPORTS The Super Bowl came to town. Although seeing the Cowboys make Super Bowl XLV would have been nice for locals, the event itself caused a major stir, both good and bad. Ticketing issues caused a commotion with some disgruntled buyers and Jerry Jones got a bad rap for some disorganization surrounding the game. But the world’s eyes were on North Texas as not only the game was of a galactic measure, but the celebs were too. From Kardashians to Ke$ha to Kevin Costner, parties and concerts flooded the city and the streets. The gays even got in on the action. Despite crummy weather, the Super Street Party was billed as the “world’s first ever gay Super Bowl party.” The ice and snow had cleared out and the gays came out, (and went back in to the warmer clubs) to get their football on. The XLV Party at the Cotton Bowl included a misguided gay night with acts such as Village People, Lady Bunny and Cazwell that was ultimately canceled. The Mavericks won big. The Mavs are like the boyfriend you can’t let go of because you see how much potential there is despite his shortcomings. After making the playoffs with some just-misses, the team pulled through to win against championship rivals, Miami Heat, who beat them in 2006. In June, the team cooled the Heat in six games, taking home its first NBA Championship, with Dirk Nowitzki appropriately being named MVP. The Rangers gave us faith. Pro sports ruled big in these parts. The Mavericks got us in the mood for championships and the Texas Rangers almost pulled off a victory in the World Series. With a strong and consistent showing for the season, the Rangers went on to defend their AL West Division pennant. Hopes were high as they handily defeated the Detroit Tigers in game six, but lost the in the seventh game. Although it was a crushing loss, the Texas Rangers proved why we need to stand by our men.

— Rich Lopez

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 6, 2012.

—  Michael Stephens

2011 Readers Voice Awards: Dine

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EVEN STEPHAN | Texas’ most acclaimed chef has two restaurants downtown and a legacy of inventive cuisine. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

ULTIMATE CHEF
Stephan Pyles

Stephan Pyles
1807 Ross Ave., Suite 200
Open for lunch Monday–Friday,
open for dinner Monday–Saturday
214-580-7000
StephanPyles.com

Samar by Stephan Pyles
2100 Ross Ave.
Open for lunch and dinner,
Monday–Saturday
214-922-9922
SamarRestaurant.com

It’s not like we discovered Stephan Pyles, but we sure are proud to claim him. Wait, strike that: We did discover Pyles, acknowledged nationally as one of the finest chefs the Southwest — America — has every produced. But he didn’t start out that way. The West Texas native worked in his parents’ truck stop before moving to Dallas, where he immediately settled in the gayborhood as a line cook at The Bronx. He worked his way up the ladder, continually impressing casual diners and genuine foodies (before there was such a term). It’s been almost 30 years since he reinvented Southwestern cooking by opening Routh Street Cafe (then Baby Routh, Star Canyon, AquaKnox and his two current eateries, Samar and his eponymous Stephan Pyles). He’s a celebrichef of the first order, a TV host for an Emmy-winning cooking show, a successful cookbook author and James Beard winner, but he hasn’t forgotten where he came from. Maybe that’s why his food is so damn good.

— Arnold Wayne Jones


HUNKA HUNKA | Hunky’s, now in a new location on the Strip, has been serving gay Dallas’ favorite burgers for nearly 30 years. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

BEST PLACE TO EAT FAST AND CHEAP

BEST BURGER

BEST CHEAP DATE
Hunky’s Old Fashioned Hamburgers

3930 Cedar Springs Road
214-522-1212
321 N. Bishop St.
214-941-3322
Open for lunch and dinner daily
Hunkys.com

What can you say about Hunky’s that hasn’t already been said? The longstanding burger joint in the gayborhood is legendary for its generously-portioned burgers and crisp fries as well as its retro look and campy name (not really campy when you see some of the staff, either). And with the recent upgrade moving to new digs, everything seems fresh and new. We liked the burgers in the old spot, but could swear they taste better now. Hunky’s has a renewed energy about it but didn’t lose any of the charm from its former location across Throckmorton. Whether you’re hitting it up for a workday lunch to slake your hunger, or just want to take your boyfriend out for an inexpensive but endearing impression, Hunky’s is winning — and, likely, you are, too.

— Rich Lopez

 

BEST BARBECUE
Dickey’s Barbecue Pit

2525 Wycliff Ave. (and additional locations)
Open for lunch and dinner Monday–Saturday
214-780-0999
Dickeys.com

If you’re in need of just a really great meat fest, Dickey’s is your place — especially now that they’ve added the sublimely spicy cheddar sausage to their menu. The new addition has only upped the ante on their already delicious and quality selection of beef, pork, chicken and ribs, whether sliced, pulled or roasted. And what’s up with those coupons and frequent dinner loyalty cards? Keep an eye out for those because you can easily walk out of there with a full stomach for way cheap. Just stay away from our stockpile of ‘em. They’re sticky from all the barbecue sauce anyway. Sweet.

— Rich Lopez

 

HOT AND COLD | The gooey cheese on an Eno’s ‘central’ pie is nearly as creamy as an ‘original’ frogurt from Red Mango. M&Ms only go well on the latter, though.

BEST ITALIAN / PIZZA
Eno’s Pizza Tavern

407 N. Bishop St.
Open for lunch and dinner daily
214-943-9200
EnosPizza.com

Voters in this category had a range of Italian cuisine to concentrate on, whether the rich red sauces of the toe of the boot or the fresh cream sauces of northern Italy. But in picking Eno’s they sent a clear message: We. Like. Pizza. Pizza is an idiosyncratic cuisine, like the comfort food you grew up with. Maybe you prefer Chicago deep dish. Maybe New York’s thin, floppy slices. But Eno’s stakes its own claim with a crisp cracker of a crust, like on the “central pie” (our server’s favorite and ours, too:  a strong scent of rosemary wafting over the cheesy center). The serving plate looked like it had been ravaged by wolves within five minutes. It had. Wolves who love pizza and are willing to put in the gym time to enjoy it.

— Arnold Wayne Jones


 

BEST YOGURT
Red Mango

4123 Cedar Springs Road (and other locations)
Open daily at 11 a.m.
214-522-6886
RedMangoUSA.com

A few months ago, America, and especially North Texas it seemed, experienced an invasion of epic, summer-action-movie proportions. Fortunately, instead of flesh-eating aliens with their crosshairs set on Big Tex or the downtown Dallas skyline, our fair city was overtaken by something much friendlier, but equally motivated to dominate: Frozen yogurt shops. A new storefront popped up on nearly every corner, each more gimmicky than the last. But in the end, all people really want is frozen yogurt that tastes great — and tastes like yogurt —with high-quality toppings and friendly service. Red Mango quickly became a favorite rising above the competition — not just in the gayborhood at its ilume location, but in Uptown, NorthPark Center and several other Metroplex outposts. Whether it’s all-natural Madagascar vanilla, the wonderfully addictive tartness of the pomegranate or one of many other great flavors, they’re equally good all alone in a cup, accentuated with fresh fruit and crunchy toppings, or blended into a smoothie for a more portable, fast-lane-friendly way to enjoy Red Mango. Here’s hoping they continue to open new stores because this is clearly a case where world domination wouldn’t be a bad thing at all.

— Steven Lindsey

 

ULTIMATE BREAKFAST
Original Market Diner

4434 Harry Hines Blvd.
Open for breakfast and lunch daily;
open for dinner Thursday—Saturday
214-521-0992
OriginalMarketDiner.com

 

ULTIMATE BRUNCH
Mattito’s

3011 Routh St.
Open for lunch and dinner Monday–Saturday,
Sunday brunch from 10 a.m.–2 p.m.
214-559-0720
Mattitos.com


DIVA DINER
Original Market Diner

4434 Harry Hines Blvd.
Open for breakfast and lunch daily;
open for dinner Thursday—Saturday
214-521-0992
OriginalMarketDiner.com


BEST VEGGIE RESTAURANT
Cosmic Cup Cafe

2912 Oak Lawn Ave.
Open for lunch and dinner daily
214-521-9195
CosmicCafeDallas.com


BEST ASIAN / SUSHI • TIE
Oishii Sushi & Pan-Asian Cuisine

9525 Wycliff Ave, Suite 110
Open for lunch and dinner Monday–Saturday
214-599-9468
DallasOishii.com

Thai-Riffic

3068 Forest Lane, Suite 212
Open for lunch and dinner Monday–Saturday
972-241-2412
ThaiDallas.com

Zen Sushi

380 W. Seventh St.
Open for dinner daily
214-946-9699
ZenSushiDallas.com

 

BEST SEAFOOD
Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen

3520 Oak Lawn Ave. (and additional locations)
Open for lunch and dinner daily
214-521-4700
Pappadeaux.com


BEST MEDITERRANEAN • TIE
Fadi’s

3001 Knox St., Suite 110
(and other locations)
Open for lunch and dinner daily
214-528-1807
FadisCuisine.com

Ali Baba Mediterranean Grill

1901 Abrams Road
Open for lunch and dinner daily
214-823-8235
AliBabaCafe.com

 

BEST STEAKHOUSE
Bob’s Steak & Chop House

4300 Lemmon Ave.
Open for dinner Monday–Saturday
214-528-9446
Bobs-SteakandChop.com

 

BEST MEXICAN / LATIN
Cyclone Anaya’s Mexican Kitchen

3211 Oak Lawn Ave. (and other locations)
Open for lunch and dinner daily
214-420-0030
CycloneAnaya.com

 

BEST DESSERT
La Duni

4264 Oak Lawn Ave. (and other locations)
Open daily for lunch and dinner (no dinner
Sunday); open for morning coffee Monday
214-520-6888
LaDuni.com

 

ULTIMATE DINING EXPERIENCE
The French Room

Inside the Adolphus Hotel, 1321 Commerce St.
Open for dinner Tuesday–Saturday
214-742-8200
HotelAdolphus.com/Dining

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This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 18, 2011.

—  John Wright