More evidence that Dallas is shaking off its reputation as just a Cabernet-and-steakhouse town: Today Wine Enthusiast magazine named three Dallas restaurants to its annual list of America's 100 Best Wine Restaurants, and none of them specialize in beef or big wines.
The list, which recognizes a broad range of styles and approaches, includes Bullion, Gemma and Flora Street Cafe, with Gemma among the 15 first-timers. In all, eight Texas restaurants made the cut, with Houston accounting for another three. And only one is a steakhouse: Pappas Bros. in Houston.
Check out the full list here.
The restaurants represent "a subjective list," food editor Nils Bernstein said in an email, assembled in consultation with Wine Enthusiast's 23 editors and contributing editors.
"The only criteria is that they be places where wine is a priority and is an integral part of the dining experience," he said. "We love places where the diner feels well taken care of, but also important to us is the idea of discovery. You'll come out of these restaurants having learned or tasted something new, gotten a new perspective or just enjoyed a dining experience that stands out from a restaurant world that can feel annoyingly cookie-cutter."
Though I have some quibbles (where is the French Room's brilliant 60-page list, or the edgy selections at Sachet?), it's good to see Andrew Schawel's all-French list at Bullion singled out. As I noted in last year's review, Schawel has assembled a list that covers every wine region in the country, with bottles that range stylistically from natural wines, such as Matassa 2017 Cuvée Marguerite, to classics like Philippe Alliet 2013 Vielle Vignes Chinon. Some splurges are priced at barely above retail.
Gemma's list has been praised as one of the most compelling in town since Stephen Rogers and Allison Yoder opened their modern American restaurant on Henderson Avenue back in 2014.
And Flora Street, Stephan Pyles' Arts District flagship, captured a five-star review in 2017, the highest the Dallas Morning News awarded at the time, partly because of Madeleine Thompson's thoughtful way with wine. Of course, Thompson left that year to work at the Michelin three-star Single Thread Farm in Sonoma, and now the Riddler in San Francisco.
Today's Wine Enthusiast story praises both the "more casual vibe" at Flora Street and its "global 400-label list overseen by Sommelier and Beverage Manager Madeleine Thompson."
Memo to Wine Enthusiast: Thompson is gone, and the white tablecloths are still there.
Updated at 2 p.m. to add comment from food editor Nils Bernstein.