Dallas' Five Best New Restaurants of 2013
Photo by Catherine Downes
If you've got a thing for trying out new restaurants, you're about to have plenty to choose from. Before you charge forward, though, you might take a glance back. To all of the newcomers that open in the remaining months of the year take notice: these are the five best restaurants that have opened so far. Take your best shot.
Mot Hai Ba (pictured above)
It took too long to build on the trend last visited by the opening of Malai in the West Village and Lemongrass in Deep Ellum. When Asian flavors meet elevated ingredients, good technique and creativity, inspired cuisine transpires. When Colleen O'Hare and Jeana Johnson offered their take on Vietnamese cuisine at Mot Hai Ba, they brought something truly unique to the Dallas dining scene. If you're devoted to suburban ethnic restaurants and worship authenticity above creativity, you may not like dining here. If you've got a thing for inventive cooking and bold, fresh flavors, however, you've found your spot.
Lark on the Park
Seriously, this lamb burger.
Dennis Kelley and Melody Bishop bring their west coast sensibilities to a sharp dining room at Lark in the Park. The couple cooked in Brentwood, California with Suzanne Goin, who has spent considerable time cooking with farm-to-table prophet Alice Waters. At Lark on the Park it's refreshing to see that simple style and approach applied to ingredients that are more than capable of standing alone. If you've had enough overwrought and heavy cuisine just look to the mushroom persillade. It tastes like mushrooms -- the most intense, mushroomy mushrooms you've encountered in some time -- and little else.
Jack Perkins may be one of the few pitmasters who has figured out how to consistently turn out amazing lean brisket. Each slice glistens with moisture as it's sliced from the blackened, smoky hunk of beef. The sides don't hurt his chances either. Gooey mac and cheese, flavorful beans and Brussels sprouts with so much melting dairy fat even your kids will eat them. Slow Bone is busy, but not so busy you have to endure a massive line. Combine the small wait with some notable smoked meats, and you may decide this is Dallas' most perfect barbecue restaurant.
This East Dallas fish shack should be a model for anyone who wants to open a restaurant. Pick a singular theme, narrow your focus to a manageable number of dishes, hone and refine those ideas constantly and then watch the customers go nuts. If you want fish and chips in Dallas, this is where you go. Fried shrimp? Done. And while there are other delicious things to be found at Marc Cassel's seafood restaurant, they aren't thrown into the mix at the expense of the golden fried seafood. Sure, ramen looks a little out of place next to a lobster roll, but when distractions taste this good you welcome them.
Joyce and Gigi's
Joyce and Gigi's is everything you could want in a neighborhood restaurant. It's warm, just stylish enough, has great energy and the drinks will knock you out. Have a seat at the bar and within seconds you'll be talking to the customers sitting beside you. Sit at a table and you'll likely end up talking to nearby customers too. It's a very social dining room. And the food is good too.
Bolivian cuisine is a rarity in Dallas, so the appetizers, soups ,turnovers and other specialties stand out as unique. Feeling timid? Order the churrasco. You'll recognize it as steak and potatoes, except yucca replaces the spuds. Not to mention a few links of house-made sausage are tossed in for fun.