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Justin Holt/Ralph Smith Studios

Each year we hold a Texas-sized celebration of two of the things we love most: food and drink. The annual CultureMap Tastemaker Awards honors the top restaurant and bar talent in Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, and San Antonio.

The program started in Austin in 2012 and has expanded to include every city we cover. Our mission is to shine a spotlight on the people making the restaurant scene special and honor their innovation, energy, and creativity. Here's how it works. First, we collaborated with industry experts to determine a list of nominees in each city. Our local panels then selected winners in every category, except Best New Restaurant, which was determined by you, our savvy readers.

The winners were revealed at our swanky tasting events and awards ceremonies, held April 18-20 in Houston, Austin, and Dallas. (See highlights from the Austin party here.)

Meet the winners below, and join us in toasting the best of Texas dining right now.

Austin

  • Restaurant of the Year: Emmer & Rye
  • Chef of the Year: Todd Duplechan, Lenoir
  • Rising Star Chef of the Year: James Dumapit and David Baek, Old Thousand
  • Pastry Chef of the Year: Abby Love, Dai Due
  • Bar of the Year: King Bee Lounge
  • Bartender of the Year: Josh Loving, Small Victory
  • Brewery of the Year: Hops & Grain
  • Wine Program of the Year: Bufalina
  • Neighborhood Restaurant of the Year: June's All Day
  • Best Burger: Contigo
  • Best New Restaurant: Sophia's

Dallas

  • Restaurant of the Year: Lucia
  • Chef of the Year: Julian Barsotti, Nonna, Carbone's, Sprezza
  • Rising Star Chef of the Year: Josh Sutcliff, Mirador
  • Pastry Chef of the Year: Sarah Green, The Joule
  • Bar of the Year: Armoury D.E.
  • Bartender of the Year: Charlie Papaceno, Industry Alley Bar
  • Wine Program of the Year: Gemma
  • Neighborhood Restaurant of the Year: Bbbop Seoul Kitchen
  • Best Fried Chicken: The Slow Bone
  • Best New Restaurant: Pie Tap Pizza Workshop + Bar

Fort Worth

  • Restaurant of the Year: Tokyo Cafe
  • Chef of the Year: Jesus Garcia, Oni Ramen
  • Best New Restaurant: Tortaco

Houston

  • Restaurant of the Year: Coltivare Pizza & Garden
  • Chef of the Year: Ryan Pera, Coltivare Pizza & Garden
  • Rising Star Chef of the Year: Martha de Leon, Pax Americana
  • Pastry Chef of the Year: Victoria Dearmond, One Fifth/Underbelly
  • Bar of the Year: Eight Row Flint
  • Bartender of the Year: Leslie Ross Krockenberger, Reserve 101
  • Wine Program of the Year: Pappas Bros Steakhouse
  • Neighborhood Restaurant of the Year: State of Grace
  • Favorite Taco: Tacos Tierra Caliente
  • Best New Restaurant: State Fare

San Antonio

  • Restaurant of the Year: The Bin Tapas Bar
  • Chef of the Year: Stefan Bowers, Feast
  • Best New Restaurant: Sangria on the Burg

Lucia, Dallas Restaurant of the Year.

Justin Holt/Ralph Smith Studios
Lucia, Dallas Restaurant of the Year.
Photo by Shelley Neuman

Texas foodies get their fill at best Tastemakers party yet

A Taste of Tastemakers

A huge crowd gathered at the Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin on April 19 for the annual CultureMap Tastemaker Awards, our big event celebrating the top food and beverage talent in Austin and San Antonio.

Almost 800 foodies attended the swanky tasting event. It all culminated in an awards ceremony, emceed by beloved Texas chef Tim Love, in which the night's big winners were revealed.

Attendees noshed on bites from San Antonio's own Boiler House Texas Grill and Wine Garden, as well as Austin's 827Ray's Kitchen + Cellar, Cannon + Belle, Culinary Dropout, Emmer & Rye, Geraldine's, Grizzelda's, Juniper, Lonesome Dove Western Bistro, Old Thousand, Parkside, Ritual (Houston), Rosemary's Catering, Salt Traders Coastal Cooking, Sophia's, Swift's Attic, Uchiko, and Wu Chow. A Sweet Suite featured treats from Chocolaterie Tessa, General Tso'Boy, The Cupcake Bar, Spread & Co., and Sugarfina.

Craft cocktails incorporating Woodford Reserve were flowing at the main bars, and the Bartender Showcase featured signature drinks from Natalie Mauser-Carter of Backbeat, Dennis Gobis of The Roosevelt Room, and Angela Zamora of Stay Gold, all of Austin. Wine from Sonoma-Cutrer and beer from Oskar Blues Brewery, Alaskan Brewing Co., and SweetWater Brewing Company rounded out the bar options. An Illy coffee bar got folks caffeinated, and Topo Chico kept them hydrated.

Nominees were treated to an exclusive lounge courtesy of Korbel, which featured free bubbly and swag bags filled with goodies from Jack Black Skincare, Kettle & Brine, Krave Jerky, Liber & Co., Nina Berenato Jewelry, Outdoor Voices, SoulCycle, Whole Foods Market, and Woodford Reserve.

A fun photo booth helmed by Ben Porter Photography and powered by Whole Foods Market had everyone smiling. Across the room, Priv pampered guests with fun, foodie nail art. The best part? Ten percent of the proceeds from the Tastemaker Awards supports the Austin Food & Wine Alliance.

Spotted in the crowd: Pedro Cuéllar, Geronimo Lopez, Jeff White, Tyson Cole, Kevin Fink, Tavel Bristol-Joseph, Page Pressley, David Baek, James Dumapit, Abby Love, Jack Gilmore, Bill Norris, Billy Hankey, Justin Lavenue, Mark Sparacino, Paula Collins, Alexis Cawley, Simon Cawley, Stephanie Samuels, Kim Fuller, Kayluis Peña, Mary Verhaeghe, Dani Verhaeghe, Lizzy Verhaeghe, Shaun Monforte, William Jackson, Gabby Cikota, Stacy Hubrath, Holli Young, Hayden Walker, Misty Journey, Faez Khan, Melissa Kuo, Rebecca Kan, Craig Beveridge, Sarah O'Brien, Thien-Y Hoang, Melissa Grady, Torie Gehrig, W.H. Harris, and Marie Smyth.

Mary Verhaeghe, Dani Verhaeghe, Lizzy Verhaeghe, and Shaun Monforte.

Photo by Shelley Neuman
Mary Verhaeghe, Dani Verhaeghe, Lizzy Verhaeghe, and Shaun Monforte.
The Bin/Facebook

San Antonio restaurant of the year and top chef revealed at 2017 Tastemaker Awards

Tastemaker Winners

Recently, we've introduced you to the top restaurant talent in San Antonio as part of our 2017 Tastemaker Awards. These outstanding nominees, selected by an expert panel of judges, represent the very best of San Antonio's food scene.

On Wednesday night, emcee and Texas restaurateur Tim Love revealed the winners at our annual Tastemaker Awards party, held at the Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin.

Join us in toasting the 2017 Tastemaker winners:

Restaurant of the Year: The Bin Tapas Bar
East Grayson Street is as inviting as ever, thanks to this new restaurant from acclaimed chef Jason Dady. The Bin's patio is great for dining al fresco, and the bites are super quick and designed for sharing, if you so choose.

Chef of the Year: Stefan Bowers, Feast
Chef Bowers is over-the-top creative with his food, and it shows in every bite. His restaurants (including the just-opened Battalion) are a collective of culinary prowess. From brunch to pasta, Bowers always hits the mark.

Best New Restaurant: Sangria on the Burg
Sangria on the Burg opened quietly on Fredericksburg Road last summer. The eclectic little neighborhood bar and grill specializes in the pairing of craft sangria, margaritas, and beer with tacos, sliders, and salads from Ceasar Zepeda.

And we can't forget about our neighbors to the north. Here are the Austin Tastemaker winners for 2017:

  • Restaurant of the Year: Emmer & Rye
  • Chef of the Year: Todd Duplechan, Lenoir
  • Rising Star Chef of the Year: James Dumapit and David Baek, Old Thousand
  • Pastry Chef of the Year: Abby Love, Dai Due
  • Bar of the Year: King Bee Lounge
  • Bartender of the Year: Josh Loving, Small Victory
  • Brewery of the Year: Hops & Grain Brewing
  • Wine Program of the Year: Bufalina
  • Neighborhood Restaurant of the Year: June's All-Day
  • Best Burger: Contigo
  • Best New Restaurant: Sophia's

Restaurant of the Year: The Bin Tapas Bar.

The Bin/Facebook
Restaurant of the Year: The Bin Tapas Bar.
Photo courtesy of Tre Trattoria

Get a taste of the 10 best restaurants in San Antonio

Meet the Tastemakers

We're celebrating the top culinary talent in San Antonio with our annual Tastemaker Awards. You've met the nominees for Best New Restaurant and Chef of the Year, and, with the big event around the corner, we're giving you a taste of our Restaurant of the Year nominees.

These 10 spots represent the very best of San Antonio dining. We'll celebrate all the nominees and unveil the winners in Austin on April 19.

The Bin Tapas Bar
East Grayson Street has never been more inviting. Rosé all day should be the theme of your next visit to this spot. Pair your wine with the papas bravas — rosé and potatoes make perfect sense, in particular with that spice. The Bin's patio is great for dining al fresco, and the bites are super quick and designed for sharing, if you so choose.

Bite
Just a bite is all you need at this Presa Street eatery with a South American focus. Chef Astorga-Watel never misses the mark on delicious or over-the-top pretty food, and the menu evolves with seasonal ingredients.

Bliss
Bliss is known as the perfect special occasion spot, which it clearly is, but it is also so much more. Bliss is an experience, a gathering spot for you and your friends to celebrate occasions big and small, with an amazing wine list and a menu that is out of this world.

Botika
We can’t say enough about this Asian Peruvian extravaganza. The Buenazo Roll, with shrimp, avocado, mango, sesame, crispy noodles, and sweet aji sauce, is still our favorite. A new favorite is the green fried rice with tofu — it’s worth the trip alone.

Cured
The charcuterie boards at Cured give us life. This Pearl gem has an amazing selection of delectable cuisine devoted to preserving and curing naturally. Oh, and the bar program is dazzling all by itself.

Dough Pizza Napoletana
Upgrade your pizza experience with pulled mozzarella and straight-from-the-farm ingredients at Dough. Always ahead of the curve, the authentic pizza oven makes magic happen.

Feast
Southtown's crown jewel mixes it up just right. We suggest you enjoy brunch, dinner, happy hour, and repeat. A favorite neighborhood joint, the experience at Feast is exactly what dining should be.

Grayze
Grayze has been heating up Grayson Street with a farm-chic vibe, amazing outdoor patio, and hearty American cuisine with international sensibilities. The varied menu is delicious and definitely worth grazing.

Restaurant Gwendolyn
Restaurant Gwendolyn celebrates time-treasured techniques with a thoughtful process that goes into every single course. Everything is fresh and made to order ih an intimate setting that can't be achieved anywhere else.

Tre Trattoria
Tuscan done right, from the pulled mozzarella to the golden beets to the pasta. Everything hits the spot at Tre Trattoria, and it all pairs well with the Italian varietals of wine on the lengthy list.

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Buy tickets now to the Tastemaker Awards on April 19 at Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin. Learn more about the event here.

Tre Trattoria.

Photo courtesy of Tre Trattoria
Tre Trattoria.
Photo courtesy of Botika

10 best San Antonio chefs define good taste

Meet the Tastemakers

The CultureMap Tastemaker Awards return April 19, so it’s only fitting that we spotlight the nominees for San Antonio Chef of the Year prior to the big event. We're celebrating the 10 San Antonio chefs that define good taste — and inspire us in our own kitchens.

We'll announce the winner during our tasting event and awards ceremony in Austin, once again emceed by Texas celebrity chef Tim Love.

Bruce Auden, Biga on the Banks
Chef Auden has been nominated for just about every accolade on the culinary planet, so it seems fitting that he should be among the top in town at every turn. Biga on the Banks is a go-to for the fine dining crowd, thanks to the amazing dishes, the expansive wine list, and the view.

Mark Bliss, Bliss
Chef Bliss can tackle any kind of protein or vegetable, however, his superpower remains his beloved chicken-fried oysters. Diners flock to Bliss for his celebrated ability to make every plate better than the next.

Stefan Bowers, Feast
Chef Bowers is over-the-top creative with his food, and it shows in every bite. His restaurants are a collective of culinary prowess — from brunches to pasta, Bowers always hits the mark on good food.

Luis Colon, Folc
Chef Colon has enjoyed many an accolade, from his top burger in Texas from Texas Monthly to his new concept being a neighborhood hit. Fans of Folc, rejoice: There will be a new and freshly moved Folc and Park Social opening soon — the fire damage couldn’t bring a great chef down.

Pedro Cuéllar, Grayze
Chef Cuéllar has been lighting up the scene as of late with his love of San Antonio cuisine that's apparent in every dish he rolls out on his neighborhood restaurant's menu. Grayze has been at the forefront of decadent and healthy food since its opening, and diners have flocked to the spot for each and every morsel.

Johnny Hernandez, La Gloria, El Machito, and The Frutería
Chef Hernandez has been busy as of late, opening restaurants across the pond, adding additional concepts in San Antonio, and celebrating authentic Mexico cuisine in all of them. Still, he remains committed to San Antonio and serves it well.

Geronimo Lopez, Botika
Chef Lopez has successfully created a thoughtful and stunningly stylish Asian-South American restaurant. The dishes range from the crowd favorite of octopus to some amazing sushi. It’s no wonder that Lopez excels in the arena of creative concepts; the former Culinary Institute of America instructor led an extraordinary venture, starting the CIA-run restaurant Nao prior to breaking out on his own.

Michael Sohocki, Restaurant Gwendolyn, Il Forno
Chef Sohocki’s time-treasured techniques never gets tiresome. He is constantly breaking into new ways of doing things, collaborating with other chefs, and sharing the secrets to his success.

Andrew Weissman, Il Sogno Osteria and Signature
Chef Weissman is committed to great service and high-end ingredients that come together magically. His newest restaurant, Signature, has proven to be another beautiful and delicious space up north.

Jeff White, Boiler House Texas Grill & Wine Garden
Chef White is legendary for his commitment to local farms and the infusion of fresh ingredients on his menus. People come from far and wide to garner a spot at his brunch tables.

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Buy tickets now to the Tastemaker Awards on April 19 at Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin. Learn more about the event here.

Geronimo Lopez, Botika.

Photo courtesy of Botika
Geronimo Lopez, Botika.
Photo by Alex Hilmy

8 best new restaurants in San Antonio compete for Tastemaker title

Best New Restaurants

We're celebrating San Antonio's newest eateries in our 2017 CultureMap Tastemaker Awards. Eight of the top new restaurants in San Antonio will go head to head in our annual tournament, powered by Whole Foods Market, where you decide who will be crowned the Best New Restaurant of 2017.

Vote for your favorites in the bracket-style elimination challenge now through April 18. The first round ends Tuesday, April 11. You can vote once a day, every day, but first, meet all of the nominees:

Battalion
The newest concept from the Stefan Bowers/Andrew Goodman restaurant empire, Battalion serves easy Italian in a renovated firehouse. The cool space will fire up your appetite, and the fresh pastas, char-grilled meats, vegetable dishes, and Italian classics will leave you satisfied.

Chisme
Chisme comes from the team behind Hot Joy and Barbaro. The kitchen puts a creative spin on Tex-Mex favorites, ranging from barbacoa served with green onion kimchee to charred Brussels sprouts in guajillo mole to pumpkin churros.

High Street Wine Co.
This hot spot for wine and bites in the Pearl district also offers tastings, classes, and professional consulting. High-quality, small-production, seasonal varietals can be enjoyed by the bottle or by the glass, and the food menus are crafted to complement the exquisite selection.

Jazz, TX
This San Antonio destination for music, food, and drinks comes from Doc Watkins. In addition to live music, you can enjoy a full menu of San Antonio-inspired eats by chef Lorenzo Morales — think country-fried pork chops and chilaquiles, plus craft beers and sultry cocktails.

Sangria on the Burg
Sangria on the Burg opened quietly on Fredericksburg Road last summer. The eclectic little neighborhood bar and grill specializes in the paring of craft sangria, margaritas, and beer with tacos, sliders, and salads from Ceasar Zepeda.

Signature
San Antonio chef-owner Andrew Weissman returns with Signature. Named one of Texas Monthly's best new restaurants for 2016, star dishes include butter-poached lobster and sweetbreads with a wine-and-mushroom reduction.

The Well
Lone Star comfort food — made from scratch daily — is on the menu at The Well. This hot spot for food, drinks, and dancing also serves a Texas-sized Sunday brunch.

Whiskey Tree
Whiskey Tree is a new addition to San Antonio's Northside, complete with an awesome patio. The bar offers unique whiskey-based cocktails, and the kitchen serves a full menu of Southern favorites that go hand in hand with the drinks.

Jazz, TX.

Photo by Alex Hilmy
Jazz, TX.
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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

San Antonio suburb among the richest places in Texas for 2023, plus more top stories

Hot Headlines

Editor’s note: It’s that time again — time to check in with our top stories. Here are five articles that captured our collective attention over the past seven days.

1. San Antonio suburb cashes in among the richest places in Texas for 2023. Alamo Heights has been renamed the third richest place in Texas for 2023 in a recent study.

2. San Antonio home sales slowed in December 2022, report finds. San Antonio sold 36,477 homes all year, a 10 percent decrease from 2021.

3. Here are the top 5 things to do in San Antonio this weekend. Nina Simone, Pink Floyd, the Beatles and more music-centered events made our roundup of the best things to do in Alamo City this weekend.

4. San Antonio Home & Garden Show returns with HGTV star. Ati Williams will headline the San Antonio Spring Home & Garden Show, which takes place February 24-26.

5. H-E-B opens first location in growing San Antonio suburb. The state-of-the-art facility offers 110,000 square feet of floor space, providing everything from cat food to charcuterie.


Popular Pearl brunch spot remixes with new weekend DJ nights

OONCE OONCE OONCE

Though Full Goods Diner has barely been open for half a year, it has already become a San Antonio staple for working weekday lunches and lingering Sunday Fundays. Now the Pearl eatery is looking to be a hot spot after dark.

Via release, the popular local haunt just announced a new limited-time music series, Full Goods at Night. Starting on February 2, Full Goods Diner will open select evenings throughout the month.

The Full Goods at Night series will feature popular local San Antonio DJs, including El West Side Sound, Hector Gallego, DJ Plata, Steven Lee Moya, and Cami Gee. Guests can enjoy live sets while indulging in a specially curated food and drink offerings.

The menu will include some of Full Goods Diner's best—selling items, such as French toast sticks, barbacoa waffle fries, and jumbo cheesy tots. Libations like the Attaboy Negroni, Royal Bermuda Daiquiri, Pink G&T, and more will fuel the festivities.

In addition to enjoying moonlight brunch, guests can relish some prime people-watching. And, of course, the restaurant is just a hop from other nightlife destinations like Pink Hill, 3 Star Bar, and Summer Camp Bar, making it the perfect party starter.

The series runs every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from February 2-25, 6-10 pm. The complete DJ schedule is listed below.

February 2 — El West Side Sound·
February 3 — Hector Gallego
February 4— DJ Plata
February 9 — El West Side Sound
February 10 — Steven Lee Moya
February 11 — Cami Gee
February 16 — El West Side Sound
February 17 — Steven Lee Moya
February 18 — Hector Gallego
February 23 — El West Side Sound
February 24— Steven Lee Moya
February 25 — DJ Plata

4 San Antonio culinary pioneers win $21K from the Texas Food & Wine Alliance

CULINARY INNOVATION

Texas’ skyrocketing culinary scene is about to get a huge boost. The Texas Food & Wine Alliance’s grant program has awarded $107,500 to 19 culinary innovators around the state. This marks the Alliance’s 11th year providing funding to support culinary projects contributing to local communities.

The award winners were announced in a ceremony at Austin's Holdsworth Center on January 21. A private panel of distinguished culinary experts chose the winners out of 40 grant applications this year. Nine winners hail from Austin, three from Dallas-Fort Worth, three from Houston, and four from San Antonio. The awards range from $1,500 to $10,000, with a special $25,000 grant investment from Austin favorite Tito’s Handmade Vodka in honor of the company’s 25th anniversary. Grant funding will support chefs, farms, and culinary education groups, among others.

Out of the four San Antonio area winners, Talking Tree Farm received the most from the grant program, $6,250 to purchase shipping containers for storage and to buy a solar-powered cold room for their harvests. John Marshall High School’s culinary arts program will use their $5,000 grant to establish a morning café. Agricultural project Habitable Spaces and pasture-raised chicken farm Cielito Lindo Farm also won $5,000 each to purchase equipment or build infrastructure to further their endeavors in the culinary space.

Austin-area winners received the most funding from the grant program, totalling $53,750, while San Antonio winners received $21,250 in total. Dallas/Fort Worth winners were awarded $19,750, and the three Houston recipients won $12,750. All of the 2022 winners reflect just how diverse the state's trailblazing culinary scene continues to expand.

“All of this year’s funded projects will further enrich the state through innovation and giveback,” said Erika White, executive director of the Alliance. “We’re extremely grateful to each of the Texas communities, our sponsors and their support in allowing us to reward these mold-breaking projects.”

In Austin, organic farm Trosi Farms was awarded the most funding ($10,000), which will help construct a germination shed for more stable plant start production. Locavore pioneer Boggy Creek Farm won $7,500 in grants to provide ADA-compliant accessibility to their new climate-controlled Tomato House, while Texas’ first organic feed mill, Coyote Creek Organic Feed Mill & Farm, received $6,250 to help purchase a building to be used as a store for the local community.

The six other Austin area grant recipients, each winning $5,000, include Vista Farms at Vista Brewing, Jamaican family business Tierra Todun ATX, coffee roasters Rising Tide Roast Collaborative, culinary educator Chef Pascal Simon from Bake Austin, East Austin food truck Community Vegan, and Latinx pastry project Comadre Panaderia (who also just earned a James Beard nomination). All winners will be able to use their grants to improve efficiency and expand their businesses, or in Chef Pascal's case, further research and development for her upcoming cookbook for Gen-Z young adults.

After starting the program in Austin, grant co-chair and TFWA past president Cathy Cochran-Lewis says it was the Alliance’s dream to expand the grant statewide.

“We’re so humbled and thrilled to now not only support worthwhile projects across Texas but also to give more than a half million dollars in funding over the last decade to help dreams come true,” she says. “This is a tribute to the culinary talent and the community mindset we are lucky to have in our state.”

The winners in the Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston areas include:

For this year's Honorable Mention, the Alliance chose San Antonio eatery Tacos Cucuy, who will soon open a brick-and-mortar space with an expanded menu. Tacos Cucuy are currently looking for support to develop a Tex-Mex charcuterie program called La Cura Carnes Especiales.

More information about the 2022 grants and its recipients can be found on texasfoodandwinealliance.org.