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From Mourning The Closures Of Storied Eateries To Being Hailed As Restaurant City Of The Fucking Year, A Look Back On 2019’s Biggest Moments In Dallas Food.

As we approach the final days of the decade, taking a moment to reflect back on the final year of the 2010s — and everything we ate — seems appropriate, if not necessary.

And naturally, we ate a lot of awesome stuff, not-so-awesome stuff, experienced ups and downs in the business and saw restaurants come and go – just like every year. But amongst all of that, 10 things stood out above all others, for better or for worse.

Here’s one last look at the best and worst of 2019 in Dallas Food:

Best Food News of 2019: Dallas is #1!
Easing us into this is the news that Bon Appetit Magazine named Dallas its number one food city this year. After being a culinary bridesmaid to cities as close as Austin and Houston all these years, it felt nice (and still does) to be recognized for the delicious, culinarily diverse city we are. High fives all around. We fuckin’ did it.

 

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Our 2019 Restaurant City of the Year is Dallas, TX. (And, no, we didn’t spell Austin wrong.) Chefs in this oft-skipped food destination are *finally* ditching the large-scale restaurant group models of yesteryear and instead forging their own paths. These new highly specific, highly personal spaces are ultimately making the city A Very Good Place to Eat. See: Donny Sirisavath’s artful yet technically pristine riffs on the Laotian food he grew up eating at @khaonoodleshop, or Misti Norris’s butchery-and-fermentation playground at @petraandthebeast, or Reyna Duong’s tiny-but-mighty banh mi spot @sandwich_hag. Because once you look past the slick football-field-sized steakhouses, you’ll find a city of thriving neighborhoods, each boasting its own homegrown gems. Head to the link in our profile for more reasons to book a flight to DFW ASAP. 📸: @yungbludlau

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Best Restaurant Community: Sandwich Hag
We would be remiss to not acknowledge the energy that chef-owner Reyna Duong has cultivated for her business — intoxicating in the best way. Doung has brought various cultures, flavors and all walks of life together, all while working side-by-side with her brother, Sugar (who has Downs Syndrome). She creates customers who are more than just fans, more than just loyal — they’re champions. Honorable mention in this category goes to Bishop Arts’ CocoAndre Chocolatier, which hosts feel-good community events in its own literal backyard.

 

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Biggest Trend in Bars & Restaurants: Over-the-top Themed Takeovers
Forget miracle “fakeovers” or weekly tiki nights, we saw a good number of bars this year absolutely reinvent themselves for a few weeks just to get bodies through the doors. And it worked; the excitement of The Drunken Clam made it cool to be an adult who watches cartoons, Bourbon & Banter went full-tiki for a couple of weeks this summer and folks clamored for butter beers at a Harry Potter-themed takeover. Not to mention the annual switchover from Fiction Coffee to Deck the Hall Street that happened once again just in time for the holidays.

 

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Best Really, Really Good-Looking Restaurant of 2019: Paradiso
Honestly, choosing just one really, really good-looking restaurant is kind of silly because 2019 was the year of really, really good-looking restaurants. Honorable mentions in this category include: Ebb and Flow, Te Deseo, 400 Gradi, Partenope and The Botanist. See what we mean?

 

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Good views and good food. 📸:@doublewindsor

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Dumbest Food Thing of 2019: Waiting in line for a fucking sandwich
You know what you can’t drive a mile without hitting in America? A fast food restaurant. Food is delicious but it’s not rocket science, and it’s certainly not worth waiting hours in line just to eat in your car like a bitch. And to everyone who talked about how great Popeye’s marketing team was for getting people to rush out, wait in line and then share their chicken-fried experiences on social media? Pump the breaks, because those same people did all those things themselves, to the tune of $65 million, in fact. And scene.

 

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The Year’s Hardest Goodbye: The Grape Restaurant closes its doors
After 47 years (12 years under owners Courtney and Brian Luscher) Dallas date night pillar The Grape Restaurant closed its doors in October. Good news though: chef Brian Luscher is moving on to the title of director of culinary operations at 33 Restaurant Group. Those paying attention would note that Luscher was a consulting chef when the group’s Taverna Rossa opened, so he’s no stranger to the new digs.

 

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Best Key Menu Item: The pizza fritti at Partenope Ristorante
Something to note about chef Dino at Partenope. He’s a pizza olympian. Secondly, and this is obviously related: there really is such a thing as the Pizza Olympics. To create this must-try item at Partenope, which opened back in September, the pie is quickly fried, allowing the dough to puff up, before being baked. This creates an unreal texture and chew that you’ve got to taste to believe.

 

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THE Drink of 2019: the Old Fashioned.
If 2018 was the year of mezcal, 2019 was whiskey’s year.Is it just us or is everyone suddenly drinking old fashioneds? We’re not mad at it — it’s almost a response to the Fireball shots the younger generation is obsessed with. It’s oh-so-sophisticated to serve up side-eye while sipping something more grown-up, right? Cheers to that.

 

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The Best Comeback: Preston Royal Shopping Center
After the devastating tornado (sorry, 10 tornadoes) that tore through our city in October, homes and businesses in the extremely hard-hit Preston/Royal area are still recovering. The first restaurants to reopen were neighborhood favorites like TJ’s Seafood, Royal China and Princi Italia. In December, the shopping center hosted two Sip & Shop events featuring shopping, live music and holiday festivities to celebrate the businesses’ resilience, and bring in more customers. Damage estimates total up to about $2 billion in the damages throughout the city.

 

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Best Restaurant Clap Back: Zoli’s MEH
Some of you might remember one of our most infamous pieces of 2019, a little exposé about the Magical Unicorn Dessert Bar in Deep Ellum. Well, the team at Zoli’s New York Pizza, makers of a very real and very fabulous pizza, also offer a little more. In January, they seized the opportunity to show off a little unicorn magic of their own with the Magical Equestrian Hamberder. Well played.

 

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Cover photo courtesy of Te Deseo.

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