Stampede 66 by famed Chef and Restaurateur, Stephan Pyles, is a dining experience unlike any other in Dallas. You’ve heard the saying, “it’s all in the details,” right? Well, it couldn’t apply more to Stampede 66. Every detail comes together for a cohesive dining experience that takes you directly to West Texas where Pyles spent his childhood and, in turn, lovingly shares that experience with diners.
This past week, I had the pleasure of taking their new cocktail and happy hour menu for a spin. Stampede 66 is perfectly located on the edge of both uptown and downtown at 1717 McKinney Ave. Upon arriving your nose is hit with the smell BBQ smokers and cedar from the wood that lines the walls of the indoor/outdoor screened in porch where diners can enjoy the massive fire pit during the colder months. A large sign announces you’ve arrived to Stampede 66. Named for pieces of Pyles’ childhood, “Stampede” is a dance hall from his hometown, and “66” is taken from Phillips 66, the business his parents owned.
Through the front doors, you’re hit with the overwhelming sensation that you’re in for a treat. A large shed-like structure covers five or six tables below that can be reserved for events or larger parties. The back wall is lined with squares of wood that have names of west Texas towns and sayings branded onto them. Another wall includes three large televisions that represent the “windows to the west,” meaning they display constant video of the west Texas pastures from Pyles’ childhood. While dining, you can expect a longhorn or cowboy herding cattle to creep past your table.
The remainder of the dining room is peppered with pieces of art by friends and artists collected by Pyles. A massive wire-sculpture tree sits in the middle of the dining room below an LED lit “sky” that, again, is meant to represent the wide open spaces of west Texas. Another LED-lit wire-sculpture snake creeps around a banquette of booths. Above the bar, actual longhorn horns hang that were given to Pyles from a personal family friend – some are over 100 years old! Complimenting the horns is a large painting of, you guessed it, longhorn cattle by acclaimed artist, Sherri Alexander.
Upon taking a seat at the bar, you’re greeted with a complementary bowl of pork chicharrons – a sign of welcoming. They had recently launched their Spring/Summer seasonal cocktail menu, so I ordered a Pegasus (chosen not only for the iconic Dallas name, but also for my love ofDeep Eddy’s Grapefruit vodka.) The drink is fresh, light, slightly sweet from agave, and topped off with prosecco for a bubbly finish. It’s garnished with a sprig of basil that tickles your nose and gives you the essence of basil without the overwhelming bite.
I was also stoked to find out they had one of the most amazing happy hours for a restaurant of this caliber. Only available in the bar, happy hour runs from 4-7 p.m., Monday – Friday, and includes drink and food specials – including a cocktail of the day decided by the A.M. Bartender and passed along to the P.M. Bartender. I decided on the Beef Brisket Tacos and the Chicken Adobo Tamales. First let me tell you the tacos were ONLY $2 and the tamales were $4! But also, the taste was top-notch! The tamales were covered in a savory, smoky, and spicy chili con carne sauce. The brisket in the brisket tacos was beyond perfect with a smoked flavor reminiscent of summer BBQ’s out in the country. Pro-tip: Happy Hour’s are a great way to try hotspots at a discounted cost.
To finish the night, it was decided by the bartender that I had to try the Modern Star Canyon Margarita. To say it was show-stopper would be an understatement. Full disclosure, I hadn’t had much experience with desserts or drinks made using nitrogen. And, up until now, thought it was kind of gimmicky. But this margarita shut me down and made me quit being such a hater. It was so delicious, made with Hornitos Plata tequila, prickly pear fruit, Patron Citronge, Lime, and topped with candied jalapeno. The drink is tart and not overly sweet – which I prefer in a margarita. The texture was velvety smooth and, most importantly, didn’t have those tiny ice bits you usually get in frozen margaritas. This drink could very well be a dessert and I’d be just as happy – and tipsy.
Overall, Stampede 66 is a dining experience unlike any other in Dallas. Really and truly, one of a kind. Not to sounds repetitive, but every detail is cohesive and coherent. But, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, it’s true to what we’ve come to expect from all Stephan Pyles’ concepts. I’m almost mad I gave away the happy hour secret of the century, but I guess it was bound to get out.