Dallas Observer’s 10 Most-Read Food Stories of 2019

Big Red Chicken Bread: complete with a sunglasses-wearing chicken wing
Big Red Chicken Bread: complete with a sunglasses-wearing chicken wing State Fair of Texas
As we look back on 2019, from the food trends to the best burgers and the best new bars, we also consider what people read the most.

While we may not be stoked about it, Popeyes is on this list (twice!). I'm thankful I met TC Fleming for a number of reasons, but one is that his passion for the chicken sandwich was shared on this site. Some can scoff at us publishing about fast food. But hey, seen here, people read it.

We have a lot of incredible stories here, too. So before we move on to 2020, let's look back on what you all were crazy about in the food section from the past year:

Dragon House in Southlake, a dim sum restaurant closed by the police for its involvement in a prostitution ring.
Dallas Police Department

10. The Dumpling Tycoon Accused of Organized Crime

Dallas food lovers got to know Yong Murphy because of her soup dumplings. But in November, more people got to know her from her dumpling restaurant, Dragon House, which shared finances and bank accounts with a Design District "spa," one that was accused of being a front for prostitution and human trafficking. Brian Reinhart gave us an update with all we could get our hands on at that time.

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Yep, that's a whole bird
TC Fleming

9. Whole Turkeys Are a Thing at Popeyes

I tip my hat to reporter Stephen Young, who mentioned that you can get turkey at Popeyes. TC, like myself, figured this was a serving of turkey, a Thanksgiving meal to-go of sorts. So, as he ended up writing about his process for discovering that's not the case, that you receive a whole turkey instead, we couldn't help but laugh while editing and share this one with the world.

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A sample of wagyu from Curtis Stone at a dinner earlier this year.
Taylor Adams

8. Servant Restaurants

Since it was hard to go places without someone mentioning Brian's column about "servant restaurants," it comes as no surprise that this recent article lands on this list. Here's a bit of what that was about:

"The warning sign is the rise of what I call 'servant restaurants.' Servant restaurants exist primarily to cater to the whims and caprices of extremely rich customers. Chefs in charge of such kitchens aren’t really given creative freedom; their job is to make sure that wealthy patrons stay happy. In other words, they’re servants.

"Being a servant isn’t inherently bad, and we’re not here to shame anyone. Many of these places serve very good, skillfully made food. But an excess of servant restaurants is bad for a city for a number of reasons."

Yep: Some people agreed, some people reacted in the far opposite manner. That's why we ended up having a thoughtful op-ed piece on it.

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Photo-opp galore
Melissa Hennings

7. Candy Pop-Ups

Dallas readers love candy, it seems (an opinion we can't argue with, of course). It's also fair to say much of Dallas loves "the Instagrammy pop-up 'art experience,'" as Beth Rankin wrote in March. So when she shared news of Candytopia, the coming of an "immersive modern-day candy factory pop-up" got people reading.

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For Corey Bradley Jr., turkey legs aren't just for the state fair.
Dalila Thomas

6. Turkey Legs for All

Who doesn't love a turkey leg? And for those of us who go to the State Fair of Texas only to get that one thing, hearing there's a good one outside of Fair Park is good news. That's why when Dalila Thomas shared what Corey Bradley Jr. was up to in his catering, people were into it. Also, take a look at our more recent update on what he's doing in the Cedars.

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The Drunken Clam took over the Whippersnapper at the beginning of 2019.
Taylor Adams

5. Family Guy Goes to the Whip

I'll admit, I don't know why I took this assignment: But when the call went out for someone to cover the Whippersnapper's pop-up bar around Family Guy, I signed up. It was gimmicky, but it was also geographically convenient to home and Louie's. Despite that last point being the highlight of my evening, people got excited about the themed drink menu happening at this spot early this year.

THE fried chicken sandwich everyone was talking about this year.
TC Fleming

4. That Damn Chicken Sandwich

People couldn't get enough of it, clearly. We could see the long lines that approached the neon-orange establishments of Popeyes, but before that, when TC brought this to me, it wasn't yet on my radar. He wrote a charming account of it in his report, one good enough to land on our top-five most-read list. His article was also referenced by The New York Times. This was the first post TC had ever written for the Dallas Observer.

Blues Burger pro-tip: try the Santana Burger, a special made with a chile con carne-loaded cheese enchilada.
Kathy Tran

3. Dallas' Best Burgers

This list couldn't get by without an article by Nick Rallo. He's updated his list of best burgers, but this one in May, for National Burger Month, topped them. He started this one by quoting chef Brian Luscher, who then still had that fantastic burger at the Grape's brunch. The burger was 86'd and later the Grape would close, but there are still burgers on this list that are fantastic.

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Big Red Chicken Bread: complete with a sunglasses-wearing chicken wing
State Fair of Texas

2. Fair Food

Man alive, do people love the food from the State Fair of Texas. My opinion on the food/the fair/its relationship with Fair Park doesn't matter here, because what got people reading was the list of food finalists for 2019. Daniel Rockey tackled this one early that day, and shared all the news about the fried burnt end burrito, the chicken wing on a Big Red-flavored doughnut and quick-fried black gold truffles, among all the other things.

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Circo TX used stamps to brand ice cubes in their cocktails.
Alison McLean

1. The Inside Story of Dallas' Biggest Restaurant Disaster

Brian Reinhart dug deep on this one, revealing what was happened at Circo TX, and people noticed. Simply put, it was nearly unbelievable.

The restaurant’s closure took place in a manner as chaotic as the rest of its existence, just days after a round of layoffs and an interview in which Circo TX CEO Lauren Santagati told the Observer that “we are actually expanding.”
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Taylor Adams has written about the restaurant industry for the Dallas Observer since 2016. Now the Observer's food editor, she attended Southern Methodist University before covering local news at The Dallas Morning News.