Page after page, she describes her menu faves, waxing on about cheesy migas in one entry and swirls of dulce de leche gelato in another. Makes me hungry just thinking about it. How’d she do it — and why? I wanted to know. So I got in touch with June to find out.
Tell me a little about the idea behind the book…how long ago did you have the idea and why did you decide to tackle such an enormous subject – not just restaurants, but all sorts of things related to food – in the Dallas/Fort Worth area?
Actually, the book is one edition in a series from Globe-Pequot, with whom I have numerous titles in Texas travel books. I most closely studied the Denver-Boulder edition, as it was most diverse. The publisher was very interested in a Dallas-Fort Worth edition, understanding that our area is in a massive growth spurt in the food industry and that we have a growing diversity in high-end and low-end dining, as well as in ethnic dining.
Once I’d accepted the job, I began to question my sanity. Our area is undergoing such enormous change and expansion in the food world, I was worried whether I could actually get my arms around it all. But I finally realized I couldn’t include every place of value; I had to be selective and give a good sampling of the available offerings.
How’d you decide what to include?
I tried to figure out which places have real lasting power. When you consider the attrition rate is better than 80 percent in restaurants, it’s scary. A couple of places I would never have thought would close – the best example was Primo’s Tex-Mex, a landmark on McKinney Avenue in Dallas – disappeared between final edit and publication.
I know. It’s so sad about Primo’s. Great margaritas, fabulous salsa and guac. I read about its closing on Facebook, which brings me to the next question…With SO much information available online, what will make someone buy your book instead of just looking at Yelp or whatever?
Online information isn’t always credible. Some is, of course, but the person casually scrolling through blogs or Yelp may not know whether the source is known for accuracy. In a book like mine, you know up front that the author has long expertise in the subject. I’ve been writing about the Dallas-Fort Worth dining scene on a weekly basis for more than 20 years.
Additionally, the book provides interesting background detail on restaurants, chefs, owners, wine programs – the little components that give personality and texture to a place. Finally, it’s organized by neighborhood, and that’s not necessarily something you find online.
Okay, June, we have to know: how did you not gain, oh, 1,ooo pounds while researching the book?
Nobody said I had to eat everything! Taste this, taste that. And I go to yoga rather religiously – the really challenging classes. I started taking Barre classes last year, too, for good cardio work.
Any surprises along the way?
I’ve known all along that I love simple handmade food as much as so-called special-occasion food. But I discovered there are plenty of people out there who are demanding really good comfort food – whether that’s Stephan Pyles’ honey-fried chicken at Stampede 66 or biscuits and gravy at Oddfellows in Bishop Arts or a fabulous tomato soup at Little Red Wasp in Fort Worth – more than more expensive food in more formal settings.
Your book lists 225 restaurants and another 75 places that specialize in one type of food or another. How’d you decide what to include and what not to include?
I like places with a good story, a good fit into the surroundings, a good following. Those were established as priorities.
What did you find were some of the fastest-growing categories…and why?
Food trucks, definitely. But that’s a slippery category with lots of openings and closings.
I love how you’ve indexed the book – by types of cuisine, then specialties and specialty foods. For instance, you’ve got a “Margaritas” category, which I love, by the way. What made you decide to do that?
Readers like quick out-takes, and those are just fun to read. And I’ve yet to find someone who doesn’t want to discover a good margarita! And because I have so much respect for other people who cover food, I asked several friends, including Daniel Vaughn, the BBQ editor at Texas Monthly, and Pat Sharpe, the longtime food editor at Texas Monthly, to contribute pieces. I think the added expertise boosts the book’s appeal.
I’ll drink to that. Thanks so much, June!
Want to win a copy of June’s new Food Lovers’ Guide to Dallas & Fort Worth?
It’s easy. Here’s what you do.
In the comment section below, tell me what your favorite restaurant in the DFW area is and why…is there a particular dish, cocktail or appetizer that you crave? I want to know. Also you must leave your email address in the comment itself so I can find you easily and quickly should you be the lucky winner. Bon chance, everyone!