Matchbox Lights Up New Locale

A delicious bit of Washington, D.C. has recently landed in Dallas. The modern tavern called Matchbox, which specializes in brick-oven-fired pizzas, inventive sandwiches, craft beer, and cocktails, opened in Preston Hollow Village at the end of February.

The eatery adds elevated American bar fare to the mix at the retail complex, which is also home to Thai restaurant Pakpao; Middle Eastern pita shop Verts; healthy fast-casual café Modern Market; and sushi restaurant Blue Sushi Sake Grill.

Standouts on Matchbox’s list of starters include a trio of crispy-creamy arancini in a puddle of tomato sauce; a phenomenal sherry-splashed cream of crab soup; the Ginormous Meatball, a sphere of pork and beef doused in tomato sauce; and spicy tuna tartare tacos.

Matchbox co-founder and owner Drew Kim said his team had an inkling the restaurant’s menu would find success at its first Texas locale. “We have been looking to put a pin in Dallas for quite some time,” Kim said. “The Dallas diner appreciates great restaurants; they are sophisticated and warm and welcoming. And, boy, they love great food and spirits.”

Kim added that after researching numerous Dallas locations, Preston Hollow Village had stood out as the most enticing location. “Preston Hollow Village has been wonderful,” he noted. “It offers guests and residents an amazing lifestyle center, and that was something we wanted to be a part of. The dining scene in the area and all the people we met have been great.”

Greatness also lies in other categories of the menu past the starters. The prime rib French dip — with caramelized onions, mozzarella, and zesty horseradish mayo — was a meaty, melted-cheesy delight. The Italian sausage rigatoni was simple, but burst with bright, fresh flavors and generous chunks of Italian sausage.

More of a chicken person? The MB Crispy Chicken is a giant slab of fried chicken (you can also opt for grilled) with deviled egg mayo. You can even hop on the current chicken-sandwich bandwagon and get the crispy version drenched in hot sauce, aka “Nashville Hot” style.

The restaurant’s signature burger falls into good-not-great territory, and really should be the latter considering its $14 price tag. But pizzas are easily Matchbox’s wheelhouse, with a dozen classic and artisanal varieties offered, all on thin crusts that walk that fine line between tender and crunchy.

Highlights of a recent visit included the simple, superb white pizza (roasted garlic cream sauce and house-spun mozzarella); chicken pesto pizza; a three-meat pie called the Matchbox Meat; and the prosciutto and white Turkish fig pizza.

All achieved ideal cheese-to-topping-to-sauce ratios, and were served at piping-hot perfection. For those on special diets, pizzas are available on gluten-sensitive crusts.

The bar’s beer list spotlights local brews as well as national labels, and all wines are on tap and reasonably priced. But cocktails were hit-or-miss across a couple of visits, including an off-balance signature Moscow mule; happily, it was remade and well-crafted on the second try.

Speaking of drinks, Matchbox’s very inviting warm, wood-lined space makes it all too easy to pop in for several sips. Kim said design was key to creating the feel of the restaurant. An expansive patio dotted with tables, stools, and fireplaces curves around the outside of the building, making for an enticing view for anyone driving up Walnut Hill Lane.

“We hope our guests feel Matchbox is a place that respects design but also is innovative and pushes outside the box,” he said. “We aim for cool, modern spaces using exposed natural elements that are authentic and offer guests private areas as well as larger communal areas.”

Adding to the cool factor are a handful of glass-sided “floating” booths, two of which overlook the main dining room. Neat as they are, however, Kim said they couldn’t beat the No. 1 element of every Matchbox space: “At the end of the day, our guests need to feel special and that they are the most important part of the design.”

Farah is the founder and editor of TheDallasDiva.com and SwineAndSwill.com. She is also a restaurant writer for Thrillist and was previously a local editor for Zagat.

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