Stampede 66 by Stephan Pyles has taken over a modest corner in Uptown with a delightfully enticing menu offering “modern Texan cuisine.”
So what is that culinary genre? Apparently, it consists of bocaditos (small bites), tamales, pickles, breads and butter, tacos, bowl and Texas classics, Galveston Bay oysters, meat and game, farm birds and, of course, sweets.
With a list of specialty margaritas, one would seem to be worth your try. The passion-chile margarita was acceptable, but maybe not for the $10 price tag with it. The thick consistency of the passion fruit was complemented by a slight kick in the back of the throat from the jalapeño taste that was in the beverage.
The Paloma pink margarita has a Fever Tree soda, grapefruit and the expected, lime, tequila and agave. A bitterness accompanies this tequila-heavy drink.
The wine list has a selection of nice (for) Texas wines, along with a list of imports, which has offerings from Chile and Spain, along with those from Sonoma, Calif. and Virginia.
The top half of the menu has your smaller plates, but their sizes don’t necessarily warrant sharing. The mushroom and huitlacoche tamales come with two to an order. Offering a moist, traditional tamale consistency, these have a buttery inside of mushroom. (What’s the huitlacoche? Another fungus; this one’s from corn.)
While a mushroom taco sounds equally appealing, the fried oyster taco is a small tortilla filled with fried flavor and six cups of different toppings to change up each bite. The pineapple-pico de gallo is an extra sweet kick.
On another visit, the serving of shrimp and grits is sure to be worth a try, along with another type of taco.
On the bottom half are plenty of options that are worth your money. The barbecued brisket is dry and flavorful, served with a vinegar-based sauce and a simple potato salad.
The chicken-fried buffalo steak is coated with a savory, spicy batter that can be eaten on its own. Although, the salty pan-gravy that comes with it makes it even better. This plate also comes with some almost-too-thin, creamy mashed potatoes and “Gun Barrel Greens.” This bitter assortment of kale, carrot tops and other greens was created by a fellow who goes by Gun Barrel, our waiter told us. (He also said this man was from New Orleans; two sentences later, he said he was from Gun Barrel City. It’s yet to be determined. If this dish by his name were better, I might have been more curious to find out.)
The shrimp étouffée is one of the more flavorful dishes I tried, but it’s not for those who are weary of some spice. Served in a modest bowl alongside dirty rice, the étouffée has a well-made rue that every base should aspire to be. The almost dirty-like texture of it makes the heat and spice help turn that shrimp into a perfect bite.
The list of desserts offers plenty. There’s a chocolate-pecan pie that they call the black-bottom “Bama” pecan pie, which is presented as a small (but share-able) tart. The dark chocolate takes the place of the jelly portion that would normally be underneath these slightly candied pecans.
Some type of cake will be on the menu when you go. The coconut has layers of dense, moist cake, separated by a sweet cream, that has just a hint of coconut. For the crisp coconut, just eat off the back of the slice that could easily feed four people, which is padded with toasted coconut flakes.
The interior of Stampede 66 is overtly “Texas.” Wire horse heads protrude from the top of a tall wall and a large, metal snake is lit from below by lights of changing colors. In parts of the restaurant, it’s a bit bright and the overall feel can seem simply cheesy until you take your first bite of food – then all that’s around you just doesn’t even matter.
It’s also not bad when Pyles himself drops by your table to make sure your dining experience has been more than copacetic.
Worth the price and multiple visits, Stampede better be here to stay.
Location: 1717 McKinney Ave. in Dallas, 214-550-6966
Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., 6 to 10:30 p.m. Monday through Wednesday; 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., 6 to 11 p.m. Thursday and Friday; 6 to 11 p.m. Saturday
Service: Very attentive, extra friendly (If you haven’t ordered the “signature” Modern Star Canyon Margarita, there’s a chance a friendly fellow with a rolling cart will roll over to your table, attempting to persuade someone at your table to purchase the $16 beverage.)
Ambiance: Modern Texan, a little louder and quite bright
Payment information: All major credit cards accepted
Alcohol: Full bar