Chef Stephan Pyles pays delicious homage to the Lone Star State mystique

D Magazine

As we checked in with the hostess, my friend turned to me and, with a thick, sarcastic drawl, whispered, “Yee. Haw.” I arched my eyebrow in agreement. It was our first reaction to celebrity chef Stephan Pyles’ new Stampede 66, a celebration of the Texas mythos in all its jingle-jangle-jingle glory. A jaded view? Perhaps. If, like me, you’ve lived in Dallas most of your life, then you’ve probably been burned by Texas-themed eateries one too many times. Most border on theme-park tackiness.

I can be a bit leery when it comes to replicating the Texas mystique. It’s romantic and alluring, but it’s not really Dallas. Our city is more gleaming skyscrapers than wide-open spaces. Sure, you’ll find a few local souls into ropin’ and ridin’. But you’ll find far more into shoppin’ and brunchin’. Besides, few local restaurateurs ever get the Texas thing right. At first glance, Stampede 66 did two-step a bit too close to those well-worn cliches. Look, longhorns above the bar! Cowhide banquettes! Video of cowboys on horses! Imagine my surprise, then, when I found myself completely charmed by Stampede 66 by the end of my first meal. The reason why it works here? Stephan Pyles. The accomplished restaurateur and fifth-generation Texan loves his home state, and it shows. Stampede 66 can be big and brash—in other words: very Texan—but it also drips with sincerity. Pyles makes those Lone Star State cliches feel playful and chic…