Bon Appétit magazine recently named Dallas its 2019 Restaurant City of the Year. That may be surprising to some, since Dallas isn’t often known as a trendy foodie destination – at least not compared to cities like San Francisco or Los Angeles. But food critics say that reputation is changing.
Eve Hill-Agnus is a food critic for D Magazine in Dallas, and says that the revitalization of smaller restaurants was an important factor in Dallas’ new designation.
“We didn’t have as many small restaurants opening with a lot of world food by second-generation immigrant chefs in the way that we have now,” Hill-Agnus says. “And some of them … are coming from pop-ups, and there’s a new enthusiasm and energy in the kind of mainstream dining populous.”
Bon Appétit ranked Khao Noodle, a Southeast Asian-inspired noodle shop that started as a pop-up, No. 2 on its America’s Best New Restaurants 2019 list.
Beyond Bon Appétit, the James Beard Foundation recently announced that Texas will be its own region when it comes to the foundation’s regional culinary awards. Texas used to be part of the Southwest Region, which included several other states. Hill-Agnus says that will enable chefs outside of Texas’ largest cities to compete for notoriety.
“It allows for the focus to be a little less laser-sharp on just a couple of chefs maybe from Houston or Austin,” Hill-Agnus says. “Once we look at this region as a whole, we can take others, take a broader view and really look at the talent that is here across the state.”
And the accolades could make Texas a popular food destination for those outside the state. Hill-Agnus says she heard of people from Utah traveling all the way to Dallas to eat at Khao Noodle.
“As a destination, people might think about it in much more serious terms than they otherwise would have,” she says.
Written by Libby Cohen.