Beth Rankin became the food editor of the Dallas Observer in January 2016. I met her shortly thereafter at The Theodore’s bar. We drank too many cocktails and she showed me her tattoo of a Japanese-style tree and told me about the titanium rods in her back resulting from a spinal fusion when she was 13. We became fast friends. Over the past three years we’ve eaten together, drank together, judged food events together, gone on a few double dates, dressed up as this guy and then jumped out of the bushes in front of her house at unsuspecting passersby. (Yeah, OK, we’re lucky we didn’t get beat up. Or worse.) We always have fun together.
So, it’s with a bittersweetness that I share with you that Beth has accepted a job at The Denver Post. She tells me she’ll be overseeing The Know, which is basically the newspaper’s version of GuideLive. Ugh. Fine. I guess I’m happy for her. She starts her new gig the first week of July.
I met her last night at Las Palmas in Uptown to ask some hard-hitting questions and find out why she’s decided to abandon me, and more importantly, you, the food-loving people of Dallas. Here’s what happened.
Hi, Beth Rankin!
Hi, Catherine Downes!
How’s your night going?
Pretty good. Four or five cocktails in.
Yeah? What was your favorite cocktail?
I really like this last one that we’re drinking. What was this one?
It’s called We Used to Tango. It’s tequila, lime, sugar cane, mint, cucumber.
Yeah. It’s a good summer sipper.
So, what was the best thing you ate tonight?
It wasn’t even close to the best queso I’ve ever had, but it’s kinda like what they say about pizza: “Pizza, like sex, even when it’s bad, it’s good.” I think the same is probably true with this queso.
Is that what they say? Cool. So, you’re leaving Dallas. What about this new gig are you most excited about?
Well, for the past three years, I’ve been covering food. Before I had this job, I was covering all these other things: arts, music, culture, nightlife, fashion (kind of). Taking this job at the Post means that I can go back to covering a more broad range of things. I miss arts and I miss culture and I miss music. I see my beat as “quality of life.” These are the things that give people quality of life. In Denver they include the outdoors with that coverage. And I think we’ve reached a point in the development of our cities where we’re starting to think more about quality of life issues.
We’re thinking about bike lanes, we’re thinking about walkability, we’re thinking about the way we design our neighborhoods … I am gonna bike commute, I am gonna smoke pot legally. Now that mushrooms are about to be legal recreationally [in Denver], I’m going to enjoy them as well. It was a big change when I moved to Texas, culturally, and I’m looking forward to another big culture change.
What are you going to miss the most about Dallas?
This is such a shitty answer, but before I moved to Dallas, everybody told me that Dallas was full of rich assholes, both fake and real, and that everybody was snooty and that the women were gorgeous and I would feel weird in their presence. I got this idea of Dallas as being this way, but it’s not what it turned out to be. It’s such a cop-out to say “the people,” but the people are amazing. I’m going to miss the people.
Who are the three people that you’re going to miss the most?
Catherine Downes and her two dogs.
Good answer. Which restaurant are you going to miss the most?
The one place that my boyfriend and I are trying to plan one more trip to before we leave is Lucia. Granted, I love Lucia, I’ve probably only been there two or three times. But if we’re talking about the sort of, day-to-day restaurant, it’s definitely Nova. I live in Oak Cliff and it’s the mayor’s house of Oak Cliff. It’s where people always are. It’s where you start your night or end your night. I’ve never had such ridiculously over-the-top, great, attentive service.
What are you going to miss the most about the Dallas Observer?
Oh man. I love the way those of us in the newsroom are able to talk to each other. Patrick Williams, the editor-in-chief, he’s just the best editor that you could ever ask for. Our relationship is so forthright and honest and I know he has my back. You know how it is, you always need to have an editor who you can trust would bail you out of jail, you know? If shit really hit the fan. Because I have needed to be bailed out of jail by an editor and you really want to trust them.
Tell me more.
In 2004, I was working as a student journalist covering the protests outside of the Republican National Convention in New York City and I, along with nearly 2,000 other people, were arrested in what’s called a mass arrest situation. Charged with disorderly conduct and parading without a permit. It was a long time ago, but yeah that’s the first time I learned that you really need to trust that your editor has your back. And I don’t think there’s anyone who’s got my back more than Patrick Williams.
So when are you moving back?
As soon as Texas legalizes weed.
Perfect. I’m gonna miss you.
I’m gonna miss you, too.
And now, I leave you with this Instagram video I took of Beth dressed as a hot dog.