Five Questions for Chef Pyles of Stampede 66

I don't know how else to say it, y'all. There's been a veritable stampede of new celebuchef restaurants saddling up to compete for diners' dollars in this town. McCallister's FT 33, Tesar's Spoon and now Pyles' Stampede 66 are all as big of a deal as the famous chefs behind them. Stampede 66 may be the most approachable of the trio, so I approached chef Stephan Pyles with some questions about his newest addition to the Dallas dining scene. Hang on to your boots.

In fewer than 66 words, what can we expect at Stampede 66? Classic Texas dishes reinterpreted with a modern approach served in an "over the top", high-energy Texas setting ... and yes, I am counting on folks coming in in droves.

Why do a sneak peek for charity? And why the North Texas Food Bank? I have opened restaurants in this manner for 29 years, since Routh Street Café. It's an opportunity for folks to get a preview before the public at large, it gives the staff an opportunity to practice, and it raises funds for a charity that I am associated with. I am a Life Board Member of the North Texas Food Bank and co-founded their perishable food program, The Dallas Hunger Link, in 1988.

Out of all the apartment buildings in all of Dallas, why Park 17 in Uptown? That, too, is like coming home. I opened my first restaurant in Uptown in 1983 really before there was an "Uptown." I was certainly a pioneer in its development with Routh Street Café and Baby Routh, and I am very excited to be opening Stampede 66 on the edge of Uptown and my other favorite area, the Arts District.

Time to talk turkey. What's your favorite thing on the menu? That's a little like asking which is your favorite child? So I will name a full section. There will be a category called "Bowls" which will contain some Texas classics, such as chicken and dumplings, huevos rancheros, shrimp and grits and a good of "bowl of red." Just know you will never have had these dishes the way they will be presented at Stampede 66, especially the bowl of red.

Now, what's all this I hear about crickets? Actually, this was a mistaken bug identity. I tweeted from Mexico that I was eating chapulines tacos and would love to serve them in Dallas someday. Chapulines are grasshoppers, but a certain blogger in Dallas, upon responding to my tweet, called them crickets. I doubt that I will be serving chapulines in the near future at Stampede 66. But don't count it out in the future!

So while the possibility of eating grasshoppers still looms, diners at Stampede 66 should expect a surprising Pyles' twist on down home cooking.

Stampede 66 will open its snake-handled doors on Monday, October 29 inside Park 17 at 1717 McKinney Ave.. Giddy-up.

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