They say if you don’t like the weather in North Texas, just wait a few minutes—it’ll change. The same can be said of the Dallas dining climate, which may or may not play in a restaurant’s favor, depending what patrons determine is “in” or “out” at the time.
On the one hand, the fair-weathered fanfare can generate some substantial buzz, but it can also be potentially detrimental if said buzz doesn’t remain after the initial hype begins to fade. On the other hand, it’s always interesting to see what the movers, shakers and up-and-coming chefs can drum up with some applied pressure and a little imagination.
Here, we highlight the dining trends and new concepts offering a unique atmospheres as well as creative gourmet dishes and bar menus. From fresh, coastal flavors and health-conscious creations to succulent steaks, you’ll find it at these tastefully Texan restaurants. Dig in.
Spirit of the South
If there’s any cooking style that’s always in season, it’s that of the Southern persuasion. Restaurants serving up innovative spins on the region’s rich, creamy cuisine guarantee the familiar comforts of dishes like chicken fried steak, macaroni and cheese and bread pudding. The new Junction Craft Kitchen in Deep Ellum bills itself as a Southern-style neighborhood bistro with an Asian twist. The well-crafted menu features fun, creative éntrees like "Shrimp & Octopus Agua Chile Ceviche" and "Boudin Po Bao," where Vietnamese flavors meet New Orleans.
The family behind Street’s Fine Chicken comes from a legacy of Southern restaurants, so it’s no surprise the Oak Lawn eatery has garnered a following locally; it will open a second location later this year. Belly up to the bar at Grayson Social if you’re downtown, where the interior is contemporary and inviting. Sip craft cocktails spiked with a touch of class, and indulge in those fluffy biscuits.
Despite the bounty of deep-fried Southern cuisine and Tex-Mex here, the area has welcomed a variety of dining concepts catering to health-conscious patrons. The growing trend toward clean eating and fast-casual fare that’s actually fresh is nothing new; in fact, DallasFort Worth boasts many homegrown eateries—Cosmic Cafe, Spiral Diner and Mud Hen Meat & Greens, for example—that remain go-to locales for vegan- and vegetarian- friendly cuisine.
A recent addition to the Park Cities neighborhood, Flower Child is the affluent enclave’s latest healthy hot spot. Salads, protein bowls, avocado toast and seasonal juices—rotated daily—look and taste as colorful as the the bright, sizeable interior. True Food Kitchen has expanded its North Texas presence with an outpost in the Shops at Legacy West in Plano. West Dallas foodie destination Trinity Groves welcomed V-Eats, a modern vegan restaurant known for creative and flavorful plant-based dishes, from "brisket” to bread pudding.
Raising the Steaks
A generation of pubs and steakhouses is having its moment: Chef and restaurateur Nick Badovinus’ latest endeavor Town Hearth offers exquisite fine dining in an opulent, decked-out space; go big or go home is the theme here. Likewise, Corrientes 348, the city’s first Argentinian steakhouse, hails from Buenos Aires and promises a unique and interactive experience.
Deep Ellum’s Japanese barbecue eatery Niwa is more than just good food, too. Here, guests cook strips of wagyu and high-quality meats over an open grill at their table, making communal, upscale dining both authentic and fun.
For sophisticated, chef-prepared cuisine with a more casual vibe, enter the modern gastropub.
In this category, Wheelhouse takes the cake for this season’s local favorite. Open daily and for weekend brunch, the Design District hangout serves “elevated pub fare”—think burgers, housemade sausage, mussels and craft beer—that’s casual, but not too casual. And since it’s still a pub, Wheelhouse’s beverage menu doesn’t disappoint; plus, it’s got TVs and ample patio space to watch a game.
The swanky and sleek Sassetta—Wheelhouse’s sister concept, the arrival of which was met with much local excitement—joins a wave of contemporary Italian eateries popping up around town as of late. While eateries like Dolce Riviera, Pie Tap Pizza Workshop + Bar, Plano’s North Italia and Sprezza are also at the forefront of the Italian culinary trend, each concept lends itself to a different occasion. At Sprezza, for example, the focus is on authentic food and wine from Italy’s Southern region. When it comes to date night, Dolce Riviera has mastered the airy, romantic ambience; it’s probably the closest one can get to Amalfi Coast in the heart of Uptown.
At Pie Tap, homemade pastas and pizzas are paired with a cocktail menu created by one of Dallas’ best bartenders.
Throw in the fact that they’ll deliver and you’re guaranteed to spruce up your next tiresome pizza night. Not sure what to order? Treat your tastebuds and order either the bucatini with chicken meatballs or the prosciutto pizza. With charming design touches that include a subtle hat tip to the iconic Harry’s Bar in Venice, Sassetta is a modern interpretation of the quintessential neighborhood café in Europe: Al fresco dining areas, an artisan coffee bar and fresh interpretations of regional Italian fare.
The result is a restaurant with a genuine feel—and an identity that’s far from pretentious yet still cosmopolitan and cool.