The pandemic has wreaked havoc on the dining scene this past year, but considering the bevy of restaurant debuts recently, it seems the tides are definitely turning.
The best new restaurants in the Dallas area include chef Junior Borges’ highly anticipated modern Brazilian concept, Meridian, at the entertainment district in the Village apartments; restaurateur Jesus Carmona’s Argentinian spot, Chimichurri, in Bishop Arts; and Loro, the Asian smokehouse by James Beard Award winners’ chef Tyson Cole and pitmaster Aaron Franklin. There’s also Manpuku, a sleek Japanese barbecue eatery on Greenville Avenue, the hip wine bar Postino in Deep Ellum, and the Exchange, a budding food hall at the AT&T Discovery District downtown.
Speaking of downtown Dallas, one of the most buzzworthy arrivals of the year, the Monarch by two-time Michelin-starred chef Danny Grant, has opened on the 49th floor of the National building.
This list is by no means exhaustive, but these ten exceptional places are a terrific place to start.
For those who love options, welcome to The Exchange, the first food hall to open in downtown Dallas. Spanning 26,700 square-feet, the building houses an upscale cocktail lounge, a small plate concept and a Japanese fusion restaurant on the second floor plus sixteen fast-casual eateries on the ground level. Tuck into Wagyu burgers and frozen pineapple whips at Bobbers Burgers & Whips; lobster rolls at the Dock, and tacos from award winning taqueria, Revolver Taco. Also find eastern Mediterranean delights from Baboushi; Chinese street fare by Monkey King Noodle Co., and Latin food at La Duni. As for sweet options, you can’t beat Press Waffle Company’s authentic Belgian waffles. Wash it all down with a draft cocktail from Double Tap.
Recommended for New and Popular Restaurants because: The Exchange is the best place to go downtown for a range of dining choices under one roof.
Ilene’s expert tip: Valet is available at 208 S. Akard, and there is also a self-park garage at 1212 Jackson St. which offers free guest parking after 4 p.m. on weekdays, and all-day Saturdays and Sundays with validation from any restaurant at the AT&T Discovery District.
Opened in April, this Phoenix-based wine café brings vino and upscale bites to the heart of Deep Ellum. The global wine list boasts a slew of wines by the glass and bottle, all sourced from iconic winemakers as well as from lesser-known producers. Not a wino? No worries, there are also around thirty selections of craft beer, including many from Texas breweries. All which pairs nicely with a food menu built around shareables and snacks, ranging from salads and soups to paninis, charcuterie boards and bruschetta. Not-to-be-missed is weekend brunch where you can tuck into the likes of croque madames, cast-iron sticky bread, and tantalizing brunch cocktails.
Recommended for New and Popular Restaurants because: Postino is a perfect place to go on a date or for just hanging out with friends.
Ilene’s expert tip: Happy hour specials include all wines by the glass and pitchers of beer for $5 from open –” 5 p.m., as well as a bottle of wine and a board of bruschetta for $25 on Monday & Tuesday evenings.
Chef Matt Balke and restaurant veteran Corey McCombs, the team behind this New American eatery, took over the former Bolsa space last fall. Here, guests can expect to find a down-to-earth, seasonal menu with influences from Texas, California, and the South. This translates into appetizers such as skillet cornbread with sorghum butter and black-eyed pea fritters alongside quail, rainbow trout, veal bratwurst, and goat tacos. Drink-wise, expect seasonal cocktails and a dynamic selection of affordable wines. Sunday brunch brings items like migas, turkey confit hash, and blue corn pancakes with butterscotch, salted butter and cajeta.
Recommended for New and Popular Restaurants because: Encina is a terrific place to go for a casual date or night out with friends.
Ilene’s expert tip: Score $6 select cocktails, $5 glasses of wine and $2 beer during Happy Hour in the bar from 4:30-6 p.m., Wednesday – Friday.
This bustling new eatery by restauranteur Jesus Carmona of Tacos Mariachi and Argentine restaurateur Ramiro Fernandez Pazos is the destination for some of the most authentic and mouth-watering Argentinian food in town. So, of course, Asado-style grilled meats and house-made empanadas play a starring role, but the menu also features everything from Argentinian pizzas and pastas to Milanesas, choripáns (chorizo sandwiches) and dulce de leche desserts. Must-try dishes include lamb empanadas, ojo de bife (rib-eye), and milanesa caballero topped with sunny side eggs. In addition to a solid lineup of South American wines and beer, the restaurant boasts a one-of-its-kind Vermoutheria that specializes in a variety of vermouth-based cocktails, bitters and spritzes.
Recommended for New and Popular Restaurants because: Chimichurri is the place for authentic Argentinean cuisine in a vibrant atmosphere.
Ilene’s expert tip: Keep an eye on Facebook for happy hour and an Argentinian inspired speakeasy to open in the back of the restaurant.
The pandemic didn’t slow business for this charming Vietnamese spot by restauranter Carol Nguyen, which landed in the bustling Greenville Avenue neighborhood this past fall. Meaning “delicious” in Vietnamese, the menu is influenced by Nguyen’s favorite foods served by the street vendors in Vietnam. That means you can expect to find traditional Vietnamese classics such as Ha Noi-style pho, shaking beef, and banh mis along with signature dishes like salmon ceviche with mango and green apple as well as a grilled Chilean sea bass collar served on blue rice. There’s outdoor dining and a full bar slinging Vietnamese-inspired cocktails. Don’t skip the Ca Phe Trung (Vietnamese egg coffee) for dessert.
Recommended for New and Popular Restaurants because: Ngon is the best place to find impeccable Vietnamese cuisine in a trendy environment.
Ilene’s expert tip: Reservations can be made 2 hours or more in advance or you can place your name on an online, real-time waitlist if there aren’t any available tables when you plan to stop in.
Situated in a historic, Beaux-Arts style building that once housed the Knights of Pythias Temple, the Kimpton Pittman Hotel has finally provided Deep Ellum with its first boutique hotel. And with it comes Elm & Good, a modern American tavern helmed by chef Graham Dodds, best known as one of Dallas’ farm-to-table dining pioneers. Expect to find a menu filled with twists on southern classics: think hush puppies with charred okra, pimento cheese and Cajun remoulade, blacked gulf coast redfish, and vegan barbecued carrots served alongside collard greens and baked gigante beans. Cocktails are top notch, and desserts like churros with dulce de leche sauce are a must.
Recommended for New and Popular Restaurants because: Elm & Good is an ideal place to go when you have both meat-eaters and vegetarians in tow.
Ilene’s expert tip: There is valet parking available, which can be validated for $7 for 4 hours.
What do you get when you combine two James Beard Award winners, one known for Japanese fusion cuisine, the other famous for Central Texas barbecue? A menu featuring a mashup of grilled and smoked meats with Southeast Asian and Japanese-inspired sauces and sides. Welcome to Loro, the new Asian smokehouse by chef Tyson Cole (Uchi and Uchiba) and pitmaster Aaron Franklin (Franklin’s Barbecue). As for the food, expect to find everything from an array of sandwiches to deliciously charred beef brisket with Thai herbs, oak smoked salmon with cucumber-yuzu broth, and candied kettle corn topped with brisket burnt ends, togarashi and sea salt. Also expect to order at the bar and enjoy it all in a casual, communal space with a pet friendly patio. Don’t sleep on the boozy slushies and batch cocktails.
Recommended for New and Popular Restaurants because: Loro is where to go for a fusion barbecue meat-up.
Ilene’s expert tip: Happy Hour is Monday-Friday from 2-5 p.m. and features discounted menu items along with things like brisket tostadas ($7) and a crispy smoked chicken sandwich ($8). Also find slushies, wine, beer and cocktails priced at $4 to $5. There is free parking on the premises.
Adding to the Lower Greenville dining scene is this highly acclaimed Tokyo-based barbecue restaurant devoted to customized yakiniku experiences. The name, Manpuku means “to be happy with a full stomach” in Japanese, and the menu here looks likely to deliver on that. A la carte selections include everything from sashimi and oysters to a variety of yakiniku-style beef, pork, and chicken. But the best way to get acquainted with Manpuku’s greatest hits is to opt for the one of the omakase-style meals. For a fixed price of $40-$100 per person, you can score a selection of meats (U.S. Prime, American Kobe or Japanese Wagyu) plus appetizers, salads, soup, and rice as well as soft serve for dessert. To drink? Raspberry lychee martini or a Japanese old fashioned.
Recommended for New and Popular Restaurants because: Manpuku is the perfect place for carnivores who enjoy interactive dining experiences.
Ilene’s expert tip: There is free parking available behind the restaurant and along Greenville Avenue.
Arguably one of the most buzzworthy dining destinations at the moment. This glitzy newcomer, led by two-time Michelin-starred chef Danny Grant, opened at the top (49th floor) of The National alongside the Thompson Dallas hotel in March. As for the food, the menu is modern Italian with a focus on wood-fired specialties and handmade pastas, with dishes ranging from a cacio e pepe made with sheep’s milk pecorino to wood-fired salt-crusted fish, and premium steaks. For those who want to go all out, there’s The Royale, a surprise multi-course chef’s tasting experience that includes exquisite items like oysters with caviar and truffle topped Wagyu.
Recommended for New and Popular Restaurants because: Monarch is the ultimate special occasion destination for a celebratory night out.
Ilene’s expert tip: If you can’t snag a reservation, you can order off the full menu in the bar. Complimentary valet parking is available. Note that the attire here is business casual or formal.
One of the hottest openings of 2021 is this 80-seat modern Brazilian restaurant that debuted in May at the new entertainment district in the Village apartments. Under the direction of executive chef Junior Borges, the menu reflects Brazil’s diverse culinary heritage, with many dishes having been inspired by his grandmother’s recipes. Alongside apps such as tapioca cheese fritters and cured fluke tartare, expect to tuck into heartier plates ranging from blue prawn moqueca with charred plantains to adventurous options like wood-fired whole octopus with green garlic-chile vinaigrette. Like the food, cocktails are also Brazilian influenced. Whatever you order, don’t pass up on pastry chef David Madrid’s daily bread course and desserts.
Recommended for New and Popular Restaurants because: Meridian is the only place in DFW to try inventive, modern Brazilian cuisine.
Ilene’s expert tip: Score Happy Hour specials on select snacks, cocktails, wines by the glass and bottled beers from 4:30 to 6 p.m., Tuesday through Friday.
Note that there is complimentary valet parking, just be sure to pick up a validation ticket when you dine. There is also self-parking available in the garage for $3.