Culturemap Tastemaker Awards 2019 | The Rundown

Top Events | Year in Review

Culturemap Tastemaker Awards is an annual celebration highlighting Houston’s restaurant and bar Community. The event shines a spotlight on those who make our city’s restaurant scene special and honors their innovation, creativity and passion. The Tastemaker Awards is easily one of the most popular foodie events in Houston. During a live presentation Texas hip hop legend Bun B announced the winners to a packed house at Silver Street Studios. My Rundown highlights Houston’s best restaurant, chef, and more.


Culturemap’s Tastemaker Awards honors those culinary professionals who are doing great things here in Houston. A selection of previous winners and restaurant industry experts whittle down the massive list of Houston favorites to create a comprehensive list of categories and contestants. Although, being mentioned is a privileged, winning is the real honor.

Here are your Culturemap Tastemaker Award Recipients:
  • Restaurant of the Year: Nancy’s Hustle
  • Chef of the Year: Manabu Horiuchi, Kata Robata
  • Rising Star Chef of the Year: Ian Levy, Better Luck Tomorrow
  • Pastry Chef of the Year: Ruben Ortega, H-Town Restaurant Group
  • Neighborhood Restaurant of the Year: Giacomo’s cibo e vino
  • Best New Restaurant: Blood Bros. BBQ
  • Bar of the Year: Anvil Bar & Refuge
  • Bartender of the Year: Sarah Troxell, Nobie’s
  • Brewery of the Year: Saint Arnold Brewing Company
  • Wine Program of the Year: Coltivare
  • Favorite Burger: Bernie’s Burger Bus

THE GOOD, THE BAD and THE BEST …bite of the night!

More than 500 hungry Houstonians filled Silver Street Studios in search of delicious food and curated Woodford Reserve beverages. 20 + restaurants from all over the city, lined the walls of Silver Street. Most restaurants brought their A-game, while others offered bites that left me questioning their mental health. Additionally, a “Sweet Suite” was located toward the rear of the venue Here guests nibbled on confections from places like Sweet Bribery, Sugarfina and Maison Pucha.

My goal was to try as many dishes as I could, from restaurants that I’ve been eyeing but haven’t visited. Upon entering I worked my way through all the culinary offerings available in reverse, from the back to the front. I started with Kulture’s Jerk Chicken tostada and moved on down the line.


My best bite of the night was from Burger Chan. Their BBQ Burger Bao was perfectly cooked and the steamed bun set them apart from all the other burgers! A couple of honorable mentions in the favorites category were the ribs from The Pit Room, the Citra hops lemon cupcake with lemon curd and IPA sour cream frosting from The Dunlavy and the one bite salad from Nobie’s.


My massive sweet tooth totally enjoyed everything the Sweet Suite had to offer. From Sweet Bribery’s adult root beer float with Kahlua ice cream to the extensive Strawberry lemonade mini donut display from Morningstar! A mini candy bar from Sugarfina was possibly the cutest thing I’d seen all night.

“WORST” (in my drake voice)

Why International Smoke decided to bring a knife to a gun fight is beyond me. International Smoke’s restaurant menu highlights the various international interpretations of barbecue, via the use of fire and smoke. Well ladies and ghettoman, International Smoke served us soup at the Tastemaker Awards, SOUP! Though I can’t remember the name of the soup served, there’s only one soup on their menu (smoked shrimp & curry soup) and that wasn’t it. I don’t recall any shrimp, fresh peas, tofu, peanuts or Curry cornbread in that soup. There was a huge slice of unnecessary jalapeno though. I walked away from their booth utterly confused. As I was leaving my date and I noticed that their serving station was lined with uneaten cups of neon orange nothingness. So Sad.


Culturemap Tastemaker Awards was a great night in culinary excellence. When compared to other foodie related events (i.e. Menus of Menus, The Morning After Brunch, etc…) I was quite pleased with the level of comfort that come with my general admission ticket. This event was not over sold as so many others tend to be. Ticket holders weren’t subjected to long lines or cold food. Additionally, the ratio of food to beverage was perfect. There’s nothing worse than buying a ticket for a food event only to be greeted by a slew of alcohol vendors.

This is an event that I plan to attend every year and hope that you will join me!

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