Dine Divinely in Dallas

Though not historically known as a great foodie city, Dallas has played a significant role as the incubator and headquarters for some of the most well-known restaurants in America.

Casual dining concepts such as Steak & Ale, Chili’s, La Madeline, and Pei Wei set the table in the ‘60s, ’70s, and ‘80s for the industry as we know it today.

Dallas is also the birthplace of the southwestern food movement which had a Big Bang moment around 1983 when five chefs including Dean Fearing, Stephen Pyles, and Avner Samuel – each still active in Dallas’ culinary scene today – incorporated ingredients from Mexican cuisine, the culinary undercurrent of the southwest, and combined them with French techniques and classical ingredients.

Their creativity has cast a rich, chili red glow on culinary outlets in our state and beyond. Restaurants that once relied on cowboy/rancher staples such as chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes, and bacon grease-soaked green beans now offer flavorful tortilla soup, chili-rubbed ribeyes, and dishes punctuated with black beans and cilantro.

Today, Dallas is known as a foodie city, having been anointed the 2019 Restaurant City of the Year by Bon Appetit magazine

Why? Relative affordability compared to other big foodie cities plus access to capital investment, miles of sprawling prairie, population increases, and creativity make it an attractive market to start a restaurant and for national chains to try their luck.

Your new neighbors will direct you to their favorite Tex-Mex and BBQ joints but there is breathtaking culinary diversity throughout the city that is worth exploring.  From authentic Chinese Dim Sum in Richardson to elegant interior Mexican food right on Lover’s Lane, there are tastes for beginner foodies and the adventurous ones, too. 

Sometimes, proximity is the deciding factor on where to dine. 

The Park Cities and Preston Hollow are well-planned communities with centralized areas for dining and shopping.

Highland Park Village – the premier shopping center – offers multiple upscale dining options. Inwood Village is also bursting with excellent dining choices including Odelay, a Tex-Mex restaurant with what is likely the best patio in the Park Cities. 

Snider Plaza, The Plaza at Preston Center, Midway Hollow Shopping Center, Preston Royal Shopping Center, and Preston Forest each offer multiple dining possibilities from fast food to fine dining. The beauty of eating at neighborhood restaurants such as Mi Cocina, TJ’s Seafood, and Kuby’s is that you see your neighbors, classmates, fellow volunteers, and colleagues breaking bread as families, baseball teams, and Girl Scout troops.  It’s where we get to know each other outside of duty, inside of leisure.

Al Biernet’s  Photo: Courtesy of Al Biernet’s

Two insider tips about dining in Dallas:

1. If you have to pay for chips and salsa at a Mexican restaurant, you’re at the wrong place.

2. Some of the best hospitality you’ll ever encounter comes from our restaurant folks.

Welcome home, we are glad to have you. Eat well, be well.

Kersten Rettig’s Must-Try List (Just a Sampling):

Al Biernet’s, 4217 Oak Lawn Ave. – steaks, seafood, people watching

Asian Mint, multiple locations – fresh, modern Thai

Bubba’s Cooks Country, 6617 Hillcrest Road – fast casual southern diner serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner

Café Pacific, 24 Highland Park Village – classic Continental cuisine

Dakota’s, 600 N. Akard St. – top steakhouse with great ambience, a Dallas institution

Homewood, 4002 Oak Lawn Ave. – elevated, creative American food 

India Palace, 12817 Preston Road, Suite 105 – authentic, award-winning Indian food

Knox Bistro, 3230 Knox St. – authentic French bistro by Michelin-star chef

Kuby’s Sausage House, 6601 Snider Plaza – German market with excellent meat and adjacent restaurant

Meridian, 5650 Village Glen Drive – award-winning Brazilian cuisine

Mesero, multiple locations – elevated Tex-Mex

Mi Cocina, multiple locations – a Tex-Mex classic

Montlake Cut, 8220 Westchester Drive – fresh fish, raw bar, Pacific Northwest inspired

Nonna, 4115 Lomo Alto Drive – Italian food, fresh pasta, and locally sourced products

Oishii, 5627 SMU Blvd. (multiple locations) – excellent sushi, Thai and Vietnamese food

Parigi, 3311 Oak Lawn Ave. – neighborhood French/American bistro

Princi Italia, 5959 Royal Lane – Italian classics such as pastas, veal and salads 

Rise No. 1, 5360 W. Lover’s Lane – charming setting serving souffles, soups, and salads

Rodeo Goat, 1926 Market Center Blvd. – burgers, beer, and a spacious patio

Roots Southern Table, 13050 Bee St., Farmer’s Branch – award-winning elevated southern cuisine is worth the drive

Royal Thai, 5500 Greenville Ave. – old school Thai food 

Suze, 4343 W. Northwest Highway – a Preston Hollow favorite serving classic Continental cuisine

The Mansion Restaurant, 2821 Turtle Creek Blvd. – the Grand Dame of Dallas fine dining

TJ’s Seafood, Preston Royal and 4212 Oak Lawn Ave. – excellent fresh seafood restaurant and fish market

Trova Wine Bar, 4004 Villanova St. – restaurant with light fare and retail wine sales

Rise’s Jambon Souffle. Photo: Courtesy of Rise No. 1

Follow Kersten Rettig, a Park Cities-based writer with 30-plus years of experience in food and beverage marketing and public relations, on Instagram @KerstenEats.  

Kersten Rettig

Kersten Rettig has represented some of world's best known brands in her 30+ years in marketing and PR, including Montblanc, Rosewood Hotels, Highland Park Village and Taco Bell. As a former restaurant owner, she knows the business and has a deep affection for the hospitality industry. She is a Park Cities resident and a happy wife, mom of three and dogmother. Follow her @KerstenEats.

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