A foodie weekend (with pictures!)

Dallas’ social season really gets rolling in the fall, with tons on foodie events especially ramping up already. Burgers & Burgundy is this Friday, followed soon by Chefs for Farmers, the Caesar Salad Competition, the Beaujolais Festival and more. Heck, if you add in all the fried foods at the State Fair, it’s virtually nonstop.

But it all got moving this weekend especially, starting with the James Beard Taste America Dinner at the Hilton Anatole’s Wedgwood Room on Friday; Abacus, the Uptown eatery, celebrating its 15th anniversary on Saturday; and Les Dames d’Escoffier Dallas hosting its Raiser Grazer on Sunday. (I wasn’t able to make it out to the latter, but Les Dames always do it up right.)

lobster Gnocchi

Gnocchi lobster

The James Beard event, a first of its kind in Dallas, featured five local chefs designing signature apps served during a reception, followed by superchefs Patrick O’Connell of The Inn at Little Washington and Dallas’ own Stephan Pyles taking on two courses apiece at the sit-down dinner. O’Connell’s lobster-gnocchi and Pyles antelope entree were heaven, and Janice Provost’s (Parigi) crab cake with lemony aioli the most heavenly single bite.

Abacus chefs

Abacus chefs

The fun at Abacus the next night was the uniqueness of the menu: The four-course dinner offered your choice of one of three items per course — one from Abacus executive sous chef Chris Patrick, one from former exec Omar Flores and another from Tre Wilcox, also a former exec. The winning chef on my menu? Flores, who delivered two of the four, with Patrick and Wilcox one each. But it’s quite possible the best single item was Wilcox’s duck three ways, especially the lobe of foie gras which started out the evening right. Congratulations to Kent Rathbun for a decade-and-a-half of setting the bar high.

See a slideshow of photos from the two events below.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

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