Courtesy of Tatemó

It’s another one for CultureMap’s history books, folks. Our statewide journey to recognize some of the best chefs, restaurants, and more in 2023 has finally come to a close.

The series kicked off April 13 with our sold-out Houston Tastemakers at Silver Street Studios, then we moved to Cowtown for our Fort Worth event on April 27. The Texas culinary tour steered us to our Metroplex neighbors in Dallas at the Fashion Industry Gallery on May 4. From there, we took a drive to the Hill Country for Austin’s evening festivities at Fair Market on May 11, then concluded our journey with our second-ever fête in San Antonio on May 18.

The 2023 Tastemaker Awards honor the state’s most innovative culinary pioneers, allowing nominated chefs and restaurants to showcase their talents for guests before announcing the winners during a live ceremony.

Guests sampled chefs’ specialty bites and imbibed a variety of creative cocktails or mocktails, with a few Topo Chicos sprinkled in throughout the evening. But as always, our nominees and winners are the main focus of our program and are the reason we can bring these celebrations to life.

Nominees are brought forth by a panel of previous Tastemaker winners and CultureMap editors. While the panel choses a majority of the winners, the winner of Best New Restaurant is determined by our readers in an online, bracket-style tournament.

Without further ado, let’s meet our 2023 CultureMap Tastemaker Awards winners, listed by city:


Emmanuel Chavez Tatemo
Courtesy of Tatemó

Emmanuel Chavez is 2023's Rising Star Chef of the Year in Houston.

  • Restaurant of the Year: Bludorn
  • Chef of the Year: Mark Clayton, Squable
  • Bar of the Year: Captain Foxheart’s Bad News Bar and Spirit Lounge
  • Best New Restaurant: Aiko
  • Rising Star Chef of the Year: Emmanuel Chavez, Tatemó
  • Pastry Chef of the Year: Shawn Gawle, Goodnight Hospitality
  • Bartender of the Year: Kristine Nguyen, Captain Foxheart’s Bad News Bar
  • Neighborhood Restaurant of the Year: Craft Pita
  • Wine Program of the Year: Nancy’s Hustle
  • Best Pop-Up: Khói Barbecue
  • Best Burger: Burger Bodega

Fort Worth:

  • Restaurant of the Year: Fitzgerald
  • Chef of the Year: Juan Ramón Cárdenas, Don Artemio
  • Bar of the Year: Birdie’s Social Club
  • Best New Restaurant: Calisience
  • Rising Star Chef of the Year: Angel Fuentes, Guapo Taco
  • Neighborhood Restaurant of the Year: Cafe Bella
  • Best Burger: Dayne’s Craft Barbecue
  • Best Brewery: Martin House Brewing Company


  • Restaurant of the Year: Shoyo
  • Chef of the Year: Junior Borges, Meridian
  • Bar of the Year: Lounge Here
  • Best New Restaurant: Quarter Acre
  • Rising Star Chef of the Year: Mike Matis, Fearing’s
  • Pastry Chef of the Year: Maricsa Trejo, La Casita Bakeshop
  • Bartender of the Year: Haley Merritt, Midnight Rambler
  • Neighborhood Restaurant of the Year: El Rincon del Maiz
  • Wine Program of the Year: Pappas Bros.
  • Best Burger: Wulf Burger
  • Brewery of the Year: Manhattan Project Beer Co.


  • Restaurant of the Year: Birdie’s
  • Chef of the Year: Amanda Turner, Olamaie
  • Rising Star Chef of the Year: Joaquin Ceballos, Este
  • Pastry Chef of the Year: Mariela Camacho, Comadre Panadería
  • Bar of the Year: Nickel City
  • Bartender of the Year: Erin Ashford, Olamaie
  • Neighborhood Restaurant of the Year: Nixta Taqueria
  • Wine Program of the Year: Bufalina
  • Brewery of the Year: Lazarus Brewing Co.
  • Best Burger: Dai Due
  • Best New Restaurant: Maie Day

San Antonio:

  • Restaurant of the Year: Carriqui
  • Chef of the Year: Robbie Nowlin, Allora, Arrosta
  • Bar of the Year: Amor Eterno
  • Brewery of the Year: Künstler Brewing
  • Neighborhood Restaurant of the Year: The Magpie
  • Pastry Chef of the Year: Sofia Tejeda, Hotel Emma
  • Best Burger: Last Place Burger
  • Best New Restaurant: Reese Bros BBQ
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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

New summer concert series brings Nashville to Margaritaville Lake Resort

Tunes on the Lake

What's better than enjoying a concert al fresco, a warm summer breeze coming in off the lake while you sip a refreshing beverage and gaze at the sunset?

Not much, and Margaritaville Lake Resort on Lake Conroe knows it. That's why it's debuting the Nashville Nights Summer Concert Series, bringing in a rising star from the contemporary county music world each month from June through September.

Here's the lineup:

Sunday, June 4: Gracee Shriver
A contestant on season 17 of the NBC hit television show The Voice, Shriver was also chosen as part of Oklahoma's "Women of Song Project." Her latest song has even made it onto the Women of Country's Spotify playlists.

Sunday, July 2: Abby Anderson
Anderson has a knack for blending new-age tones and personal, heartfelt storytelling with catchy pop melodies. In 2018, Pandora recognized her as a Country Artist to Watch. That same year, Country Music Television named her to its "18 for 2018" list and "Next Women of Country Class," alongside Ashley McBride.

Sunday, August 6: Chris Ruediger
Although originally from Boston, Ruediger's signature country sound has scored big in Nashville. The legendary Bruce Springsteen and Tim McGraw are influences on his music.

Saturday, September 30: Love and Theft
Stephen Liles and Eric Gunderson have had two top hits, including the No. 1 "Angel Eyes" and No. 10 "Runaway." In addition, the talented duo has garnered more than 3 billion radio impressions, over 300 million plays on Pandora, and is nearing 3 million music video streams for their critically acclaimed "Whiskey on My Breath."

"We are thrilled to have such an outstanding lineup of musical talent ready to perform for our guests as they sit back and claim their personal 'license to chill' this summer," says Tom Faust, the resort's vice president of sales and marketing.

Each concert takes place at 7 pm in Palm Court.

If you'd like to book a room — remember, all the rooms are suites here — to return to after the concert, Margaritaville Lake Resort is offering 30 percent off for all concertgoers. You can lock in that special discount here.

For more information about Nashville Nights and to purchase your tickets, head here.

Margaritaville Lake Resort women with tropical drinks

Photo courtesy of Margaritaville Lake Resort

Grab a tropical cocktail for the concerts.

Pop culture provocateur Janelle Monáe brings her Age of Pleasure tour to Houston this fall

Lipstick lover

Janelle Monáe's upcoming Age of Pleasure album is already making headlines with her latest single (and music video) "Lipstick Lover." Her Houston fans won't have to wait long after the album's release (June 9, via Atlantic Records) to watch it come to life on stage.

The critically acclaimed and award-winning singer and actress will bring her Age of Pleasure Tour across North America later this year, with a 26-city lineup kicking off on August 30 at WAMU Theater in Seattle.

She'll hit Houston as part of a three-city Texas stop, playing Bayou Music Center on October 10. She will play Dallas the day before (October 9 at The Pavilion at Toyota Music Factory) and Austin's Moody Ampitheater the day after Houston on October 11.

Known worldwide for her inimitable style and visionary sound, Monáe is an eight time Grammy Award-nominated singer, songwriter, producer, performer, and fashion icon. According to a release, she promises to light up your body, soul, and all of your senses with an unforgettable performance featuring songs off her latest album and classic hits from her discography.

Tickets for the tour go on sale Thursday, June 1, starting with a Verizon presale at 10 am local time; the exclusive presale via Verizon Up gives customers access to purchase presale tickets for select shows until Tuesday, June 6, at 10 pm. Additional presales will run throughout the week ahead of the general onsale beginning Wednesday, June 7 at 10 am on Ticketmaster.

The full list of tour dates is below:

Wed Aug 30 – Seattle, WA – WAMU Theater
Thu Aug 31 – Vancouver, BC – UBC - Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre
Sat Sep 02 – Portland, OR – RV Inn Style Resorts Amphitheater
Wed Sep 06 –Salt Lake City, UT – The Complex
Thu Sep 07 – Morrison, CO – Red Rocks Amphitheatre
Sat Sep 09 – Kansas City, MO – The Midland Theatre
Mon Sep 11 – Minneapolis, MN – Armory
Wed Sep 13 – St. Louis, MO – Stifel Theatre
Thu Sep 14 – Chicago, IL – Byline Bank Aragon Ballroom
Sun Sep 17 – Boston, MA – MGM Music Hall at Fenway
Mon Sep 18 – Philadelphia, PA – The Met
Wed Sep 20 – Montreal, QB – Mtelus
Thu Sep 21 – Toronto, ON – Massey Hall
Sun Sep 24 – Washington, DC – The Anthem*
Tue Sep 26 – New York City, NY – Radio City Music Hall
Thu Sep 28 – Brooklyn, NY – Kings Theatre
Mon Oct 02 – Charlotte, NC – Skyla Credit Union Amphitheatre
Tue Oct 03 – Nashville, TN – Ryman Auditorium
Wed Oct 04 – Birmingham, AL – Avondale Brewing Company
Fri Oct 06 – Atlanta, GA – Fox Theatre Atlanta
Mon Oct 09 – Dallas, TX – The Pavilion at Toyota Music Factory
Tue Oct 10 – Houston – Bayou Music Center
Wed Oct 11 – Austin, TX – Moody Amphitheater
Sun Oct 15 – Phoenix, AZ – Arizona Financial Theatre
Tue Oct 17 – San Francisco, CA – Bill Graham Civic Auditorium
Wed Oct 18 – Inglewood, CA – YouTube Theater

* non-Live Nation date

Houston Tex-Mex institution serves up opening date for long-awaited West University location

bienvenido, los tios

A Houston Tex-Mex institution debuts in West U. next week. Los Tios will open its sixth Houston-area location on Monday, June 5.

Located in the former Buca di Beppo space in the Plaza in the Park shopping center (5192 Buffalo Speedway), the new Los Tios occupies approximately 6,000-square-feet. It joins sister concept Adair Kitchen and CultureMap Tastemaker Awards Neighborhood Restaurant of the Year winner Craft Pita in the Kroger-anchored shopping center.

Open for more than 50 years, Los Tios is known for signature items like the Original Puffy Queso, Tex-Mex combination plates, and being among the first Houston restaurants to serve frozen margaritas. Its current owner, local hospitality group Adair Concepts, acquired the brand in 2000.

“Our clients in West U. and adjoining neighborhoods like Upper Kirby, Greenway Plaza, and River Oaks have long been asking us to open here, and we’re thrilled to finally be part of this wonderful community,” Adair Concepts co-founder Katie Barnhart said in a statement. “We’re especially eager to reveal the interiors to guests. The design reflects our family’s love of Mexican art and culture and incorporates numerous finds from San Miguel de Allende, a colonial-era city brimming with creativity.”

The new restaurant opens to a 40-seat bar area that features a brick ceiling and wall lanterns. From there, diners enter a 150-seat main dining room that’s lit by a large skylight and decorated by a 14-foot tall tree. Groups will gather in a 60-seat private dining room. Other design details include imported furniture, native plants, and the iron door handles from Los Tios’ first location.

Like the restaurant’s other locations, the West U. restaurant will open for lunch and dinner beginning at 11 am Monday-Saturday and 10 am on Sunday for breakfast and dinner. Lunch specials are served Monday-Friday 11 am - 2 pm with happy hour offered Monday-Friday 3-7 pm.

Los Tios food spread

Photo by Rachel Alyse Photography

Los Tios opens in West U next week.