Reality TV roundup: Dallas playas and the gaying of ‘So You Think You Can Dance’

Two gay North Texans on original summer programming reality shows are continuing to thrive.

Lewisville’s Ben Starr and  Dallas’ Leslie Ezelle have been standouts on their respective series — Starr on Fox’s MasterChef and Ezelle on HGTV’s Design Star.  Starr was a top-three finisher in this week’s episode on Tuesday, while Ezelle made a strong impression Week 1 of Design Star and has never been in the bottom of the pack since. (Another Dallasite, local chef Carrie, has been most known as the object of hatred among her team on Fox’s Hell’s Kitchen.)

The rest of the summer’s reality life will continue to gay it up: Local pastry chef  Lina Biancamano, who works in the kitchen at Stephan Pyles, is a contestant on Top Chef: Just Desserts starting next month, and the series Most Eligible: Dallas debuts in three weeks on Bravo. And tonight on Lifetime, the new season of Project Runway premieres.

But what has really interested me this summer on reality TV has been the rotating guest judges on So You Think You Can Dance. A few seasons back, senior judge and exec producer Nigel Lythgoe took it on the chin for making comments perceived as homophobic — an odd claim, considering that SYTYCD has among the gayest (though least out) cast of contestants on reality TV (as well as many gays behind the scenes.)

Maybe that controversy led to Lythgoe intentionally gaying up the lineup this season. Starting with the mass auditions, guest judges this season have been gay choreographers Adam Shankman and Jason Gilkison. Then during the live elimination weeks, the first round of judges included gay faves Megan Mullally, Kristin Chenoweth and Debbie Reynolds, then in the past three weeks the 1-2-3-4 punch of Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Neil Patrick Harris (pictured), Rob Marshall and Lady Gaga. All have made pretty out-there comments for the family-friendly show. “Do you have a boyfriend?” Ferguson asked one of the female dancers. “So do I,” he said. Harris joked that one girl was so good even he was attracted to her, and last night Gaga joked that she “loves a queen” … and she wasn’t talking about Elizabeth II.  Can’t wait to see who’s up next to judge.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Weekly Best Bets

Friday 03.18

Footes won’t fail you now
Honoring the Texas playwright, the theater community unites for the first Horton Foote Festival. The fest kicks off with DTC’s Dividing the Estate. but even a touch of gay can be found with The Young Man from Atlanta, which Uptown Players will perform in April.
DEETS:
Various theaters and venues. Through May 1. Visit HortonFooteFestival.com for details.

Friday 03.18

When wine strolls attack
Savor Dallas is upon us again, filling the weekend with food, wine and fabulosity. The event starts off with an Arts District Wine Stroll within the museums and venues. Just don’t get tipsy and spill the wine on the art. That’s a whole lot of bad karma. And look for local celebrichefs like Stephan Pyles and Blythe Beck. Bon appetit!
DEETS:
Various venues. 5 p.m. $35. Through Saturday. Visit SavorDallas.com for schedule.

Saturday 03.19

Hey, why don’t you go take a walk
Designer Anthony Chisom took issues into his own hands starting the Anthony Chisom AIDS Foundation and creating the inaugural South Dallas AIDS Walk. Seeing the impact of AIDS beyond the gayborhood, Chisom’s foundation strives to expand the city’s vision of where AIDS impacts. After all, it is the same fight for the cure.
DEETS: South Dallas Cultural Center, 3400 S. Fitzhugh Ave. 8 a.m. SouthDallasAIDSWalk.org.

—  John Wright

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

<<<BACK TO CATEGORIES

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

—  John Wright

Strap on the food bag: Beaujolais, Pyles, Dish

This is a foodie kinda season anyway, with Thanksgiving around the corner, but I gotta say, there are almost too many interesting eating opportunities going on this week even for me. Here are a few:

Beaujolais Festival. The French-American Chamber of Commerce for DFW hosts this event every year, on the Friday after the third Thursday in November — traditionally, the day in France when the beaujolais nouveau is first released. It’s a fun, huge event (back at the World Trade Center this year) that offers up not only 2010 beaujolais but some vintage French wines as well as some Texas-grown grape. It starts Nov. 19 at 7 p.m. and tickets are $60 at the door. Visit FACCDallas.com for info.

Stephan Pyles 5th Anniversary Festival. Pyles has been full of celebrations this week: On Tuesday his Samar cheered its naming by Esquire as one of the top 10 new restaurants in America (they didn’t hold a similar part last December, when it made my top 5, but let’s not linger). Now on Sunday, he’ll toast the fall harvest with live music, cooking demonstrations and of course food and drink. It’s Nov. 21 from 4 to 8 p.m.; the cost is $50. Visit StephanPyles.com for tickets.

Dish dinner and benefit. You can get a great meal for a good price ($45/$65 with wine pairings) and do something wonderful for the community on Wednesday — Thanksgiving Eve. Just stop by the ilume restaurant from 6 to 9 and order the special thee-course dinner and the restaurant will donate a week’s worth of groceries to a client of Resource Center Dallas for each dinner served. I mean think about that for a sec: You eat one meal, you feed someone else for a week. The dinner includes such options as mushroom risotto, herb roasted tenderloin and pecan brownie. Call 214-522-DISH to make a reservation.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Local briefs • 11.05.10

COH holds vigil for equality

The Cathedral of Hope 20Something Ministries and Peace House Dallas in conjunction with other community activism groups are hosting a candlelight vigil to commemorate and express gratitude to those who struggle for peaceful equality on behalf of LGBTQ people.

They will gather with local community leaders on the grounds of the recently dedicated Interfaith Peace Chapel, 5910 Cedar Springs Road, on Saturday, Nov. 13 at 8 p.m. Speakers will include representatives of Lambda Legal, Cathedral of Hope and Peace House Dallas.

The evening will conclude with a prayer for peace and strength with a progressive lighting of candles as a tribute in honor and memory.

Celebrichefs grill burgers for AIDS

A dozen celebrity chefs joined Chef John Tesar, culinary director of DRG Concepts, on the fifth floor pool deck at The House in Victory Park, for the second annual Burgers & Burgundy event benefiting Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS. The chefs crafted a variety of burgers from BBQ spiced beef with smoked sausage to grilled garlic lamb sliders to raise funds for DIFFA.

This year’s event raised more than $25,000 while guests sipped burgundy wines and with  downtown Dallas serving as a backdrop.

Chefs who participated in addition to Tesar included Cooking With Friends host Nick Stellino, James Beard award winner R.J. Cooper, Stephan Pyles, Kent Rathbun, Tim Byres, Scott Romano, Dan Landsberg, Samir Dhurandhar, Sharon Van Meter, Kevin Williamson, and Brian Luscher. They represented restaurants as diverse as Samar, Nick and Sam’s, Smoke, Tillman’s Road House and The Grape.

Silent auction packages included four Kenmore grills paired with a celebrity chef visit or a party with Michael Martensen.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 5, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

Local eateries help you ‘go vegan’ for a week

Here’s the problem I have with most vegans: It is all-or-nothing with them. Sure, I like soy burgers on occasion or a big leafy salad (no egg or cream dressing!) for my entree every once in a while. But I also crave veal scallopini and foie gras occasionally — so sue me. (No. Don’t.)

But this is why my friend Eddie Garza is different. Eddie’s not a proseyltizer. He’s a true vegan, and I avoid ordering steak tartare when I’m with him, but he’s not the kind to throw blood on me as I exit a meat factory. He just wants people to be aware of the damage done to animals for the sake of food, cosmetics and the like. But he knows I drink milk and he’s still my friend.

He’s also the local organizer for Mercy for Animals, the national vegan-friendly organization established by a gay guy, Nathan Runkle. And he wants everyone in Dallas to go vegan … at least for a little while.

First there’s “Vegan Day at the State Fair,” which takes place on Saturday. Local chefs and foodies will judge the best fried vegan foods and no-kill lovers can commune with Big Tex. (Hint: Steer clear of the corny dogs — not exactly vegetarian, despite the word “corn.”)

CORRECTION: The Texas State Veggie Fair is NOT affiliated with the State Fair of Texas. It takes place at 406 S. Haskell St. on Oct. 16. DallasVegan.com

Then there’s MFA’s planned “Go Vegan for a Week” initiative with area restaurants. From Oct. 24–31, five upscale restaurants — Salum, The Second Floor, Bijoux, Tillman’s Roadhouse and Stephan Pyles — will offer vegan options — “compassionate, sustainable and healthy” — on their menus. That’s in addition to already-vegan and -vegetarian places like Bliss, Kalachandji’s and Cosmic Cup Cafe.

Many of the options sound yummy: tempura cauliflower and broccolini with white bean puree at Salum; soba noodles with bok choi and Thai chile vinaigrette at The Second Floor — which may prove you don’t have to give up flavor to save an animal.

You can learn more at DallasVeganWeek.com.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Tasting notes

Stephan Pyles’ fundraiser  sets lofty goal; Seasons 52 finally arrives in Texas

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES  | Life+Style Editor jones@dallasvoice.com

TASTEFUL PURSUERS

TASTEFUL PURSUERS | Stephan Pyles, third from left, with the platoon of chefs preparing the annual dinner which aims to end childhood hunger in the U.S. by 2015. (Photo courtesy Carter Rose)

Stephan Pyles made a startling admission Sunday at his annual A Tasteful Pursuit dinner, which raises money for the anti-hunger charity Share Our Strength: More children go to bed hungry today than they did when Pyles helped found the organization. But that has not deterred Pyles from setting the goal of ending childhood hunger by 2015. It’s a startlingly ambitious aim that he came a little closer to achieving at the event this week.

Seven chefs from six restaurants (including two from Pyles’ namesake eatery) regaled $175-a-plate diners with lavish bites paired with wine (and some beer). Starting strong with a dessert-like fois gras mousse from chef R.J. Cooper (opening a new restaurant later this fall in Washington, D.C.), it ended just as sweet with Maggie Huff’s trio of deconstructed but delightful dolces with retro appeal: a Moon Pie, a Thin Mint and the best of the lot, a Snickers.

Pyles oversaw but did not cook a dish. The treat of that experience was saved for my tablemates, who bid $7,500 for a private dinner for eight prepared by Pyles himself at his home. A bid well-worth the experience — for a cause well-worth the effort.

At a time when so many businesses are suffering in the economy, it’s refreshing to go into a restaurant on a Wednesday night and see tables abuzz with diners. But at Oishii, they need to manage it better.

It’s frustrating to be told you’ll have to wait 35 minutes when you can see three cleared, empty tables in front of you; to be told it will be another 15 minutes after you’ve been waiting 45 minutes smacks of chaos. (We weren’t the only ones to complain either, although our fussing did miraculously get us our seats faster.)
The food itself is good as ever. I especially enjoy the crunch from the tempura roll and the spider roll, which were spackled with a miso glaze. The Philadelphia roll divided the table: Cream cheese is hardly traditional Japanese fare, and it tended to overwhelm the tuna, but it’s well-priced and tasty.

I’m just glad we ordered edamame (fresh pods well-cooked, though inconsistently salted) to start the meal. The rolls, which aren’t exactly complicated dishes, took forever to arrive following our prolonged wait in the bar without so much as the offer of a beverage.

“Nobody goes there anymore,” Yogi Berra once noted about a popular restaurant; “it’s too busy.” Good for Oishii to have a wait. But empty tables and a wait and slow dinner service? Might not be busy long, which would be a shame. The food is worth an effort, but there are limits.

It took long enough, but finally Seasons 52 is making it to Texas. I first tried the Florida-based restaurant in 2004 at the recommendation of then-Ciudad chef Joanne Bondy when I was headed to Orlando. The concept — all the entrees cap out at 475 calories; all the “mini-indulgence” desserts just 300; and everything made from the freshest ingredients selected for a rotating menu throughout the year — was an early adopter of local, healthy, good-tasting cuisine. I couldn’t wait to get it nearby.

It took six years, but the restaurant will open at the Shops at Legacy in Plano this October — the first Season 52 in Texas. Management is hiring for all positions starting Aug. 23. If one of the perks is free food, go.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 13, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

Pyles gets cookin' with Martha Stewart

atp_dallas_6_large

Dallas celebrichef Stephan Pyles, who pioneered the development of Southwestern cuisine 30 years ago, will be talking with everyone’s favorite domestic goddess, Martha Stewart, on Martha’s Sirius Radio (channel 112) talk show, “Living Today,” at 1 p.m. local time today. Pyles will also discuss his latest concept, the award-winning Samar that opened downtown last summer.

If you don’t have Sirius, you can sign up here for a seven-day free trial to check it out.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Stephan Pyles gets two shout-outs from James Beard Foundation

The James Beard Awards, named for the celebrated gay gastronome, announced their semi-finalists for the best culinary achievements of the past year, and Dallas’ Stephan Pyles appears on the list. Twice.

Pyles was among the nominees for outstanding chef, an overall award of the 20 best chefs nationwide for his eponymous Downtown Dallas restaurant. The list also include Pyles’ fellow founder of Southwest cuisine, Robert Del Grande of Houston’s Bar Annie, Craft’s Tom Colicchio and Michael Mina.

Pyles was also singled out for best new restaurant for Samar, which opened last fall across from Stephan Pyles. (You can read my review here.)

Sharon Hage of York Street was, again, a finalist for best chef in the Southwest.

Two recent Top Chef competitors, Kevin Gillespie and Bryan Voltaggio, are also in their categories — Gillespie for rising chef and Voltaggio for his Volt restaurant (Mid-Atlantic).

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

LGBT community makes a mark in D Magazine's modern Dallas history

In D‘s January issue, they celebrate not only their 35th anniversary, they mark the 35 biggest moments in modern Dallas history. Some good stuff but we especially like seeing the following listed.

Coming in at 21 (although the list is in no particular order) is simply, the Cathedral of Hope with a piece by Reverend Michael Piazza detailing the church’s history.

Former DGLA board member Campbell Read recalls the Dallas PD raid of the Village Station, which is now Station 4. Did you know over 20 years ago, cops “arrested 12 people who were doing a bunny hop on the dance floor for public lewdness.”

And of course, how you could not have Stephan Pyles in the list. His article goes back to the opening of Routh Street Cafe.

—  Rich Lopez