After a full week of voting and endless deliberation, it’s officially time to announce the winners of the 2018 Eater Awards. In five categories, Eater editors carefully considered candidates for the city’s best restaurants and culinary professionals, and readers voted for their favorite establishments to win the Reader’s Choice award.
Dallas’s dining scene continues to grow in exciting ways, and there’s never been a better time to eat and drink in the Big D than the present. Without further ado, scope out the full list of this year’s winners, and congratulate yourself on living in a city with such an excellent dining scene.
Restaurant of the Year: Macellaio
After opening Lucia in 2010 and earning a reputation as one of Dallas’s most talented chefs, David Uygur returned in 2018 with Macellaio, a modern Italian restaurant with a major focus on salumi. In the bright, industrial space on Bishop Avenue, Uygur and his team turn out a rapidly-changing selection of stunning cured meats, ranging from Red Wattle pork salame studded with apricot kernels to classic mortadella and dry-cured blood chorizo.
In addition to its killer cocktails and attentive service, Macellaio is also responsible for one of the year’s most-discussed dishes: tender confit duck tongues served with an addictive onion dip. Unlike Lucia, where a reservation is still pretty difficult to score, Macellaio makes for a more accessible entry point into Uygur’s cuisine that’s a little more affordable.
Reader’s Choice: Izkina
Chef of the Year: Anastacia Quinones, Tacos de Tacha
In early 2018, chef Anastacia Quinones took the reins at The Cedars Social, bringing one of the city’s most compelling Mexican menus to a space in desperate need of revitalization. With Quinones at the helm, The Cedars Social transformed into a destination for modern Mexican fare like deconstructed tamales and hamachi aguachile spiked with Texas peaches. Later, the restaurant added a backyard taco stand where Quinones could experiment with tacos featuring tortillas made with masa flavored with ancho chile, squid ink, and cilantro.
Quinones abruptly left the restaurant in October, and restaurateur Monica Greene transformed the restaurant once again, developing a Tex-Mex menu for the space. Desiring more creative freedom, Quinones launched her Tacos de Tacha pop-up, where innovative options like coconut fried okra served on a green curry tortilla brilliantly showed off her skills. Quinones may not have a restaurant right now, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t serving some of the city’s most innovative fare. Stay tuned for what this chef on the rise has planned for 2019.
Reader’s Choice: Joel Orsini, Izkina
Most Gorgeous Restaurant of the Year: Fine China
Designed by Merriman Anderson Architects, this stone cold stunner inside the Statler Hotel is one of Dallas’s most detail-oriented openings of 2018. In a space that’s full of focal points, vivid floral wallpaper draws the eye, a cluster of modern pendant lamps serves as functional art, and a giant golden duck mural pays tribute to one of the restaurant’s best dishes — chef Angela Hernandez’s lacquered Cantonese duck.
The restaurant’s most gorgeous scene can be found in one of its private dining rooms, where a wall of precariously-placed teacups, each at different heights, provides a stunning backdrop to a large communal dining table. Dramatic curtains and dim lighting round out the laid-back, glamorous vibe.
Reader’s Choice: Fine China
Bar of the Year: Las Almas Rotas
Most Dallasites only visit Exposition Park around the time of the State Fair of Texas, but mezcaleria Las Almas Rotas offers one of Dallas’s most compelling selections of spirits, and it’s always worth the trip. A dazzling array of agave-based spirits — mezcal, tequila, sotol, even agave-based gin — awaits, along with a cozy vibe and welcoming regulars. There is truly no better place to sip a margarita or sample interesting mezcals in the city. Don’t sleep on the food, either — pop-ups from chefs like Anastacia Quinones are common, and the regular menu is replete with fine bar fare.
Opened by Leigh Kvetko, Shad Kvetko, and Taylor Samuels, a trio of first-time bar owners, Las Almas Rotas originally began as a private club for mezcal enthusiasts. It’s extremely fortunate for the city’s drinkers that these three agave enthusiasts decided to take their obsession with these excellent spirits public. Order a frozen mangonada spiked with mezcal and chamoy, or consider the El Charro, a mix of pineapple-chipotle mezcal, orange, and chocolate mole-spiced bitters.
Reader’s Choice: Hide
Casual Restaurant of the Year: Malibu Poke
A project of noted seafood nerd and TJ’s Seafood owner Jon Alexis, the menu developed by chef Matt McCallister for Malibu Poke is decidedly more innovative than the typical poke bowl joint, and the ingredients are as fresh as those offered in much fancier environments. Alexis describes the offerings at Malibu Poke as “the fishmonger’s poke,” made with the freshest fish possible and adorned with equally compelling sauces and toppings, ranging from smoky bonito aioli and coconut curry to “umami powder” and sansho pepper. However the national poke trend fares in the coming years, Malibu Poke is definitely here to stay.
Reader’s Choice: Namo