Where to Eat
Where to Eat

Where to eat in Dallas right now: 10 best restaurants for a casual meal

Where to eat in Dallas right now: 10 best restaurants for casual meals

City Hall Bistro
Photo by Steven Visneau

After all the holiday hullabaloo, the office parties, the fancy dinners and family events, it feels like it's time to chill. Time to grab a bite in a place that's nonjudgmental, easy come-easy go, where the food is good but you probably don't need a reservation. Where you could show up in your pajamas if you wanted.

Here are the 10 best restaurants in Dallas to grab a casual meal:

Chelsea Corner
Longtime bar got resuscitated in 2016 with new managing owners and a new menu designed by marquee chef Kent Rathbun. It includes tacos, fish & chips, lobster-crab cake, plus burgers, giant pretzels, and the pizzas for which they've always been known. Their renovation included the freshening of a 2,500-square-foot dog-friendly backyard patio and 19 large HD screens for catching sports.

City Hall Bistro
This is the Other Restaurant at the Adolphus Hotel, as in not the French Room. It has kind of a company cafeteria vibe, although like all of the Adolphus, it's also very nice. It's an "all day" featuring Southern European-inspired cuisine with house-made breads and pastries, grain and vegetable salads, braised meats, and fish. There are craft cocktails, and the wine list features a variety of quartino options.

Dallas Farmers Market
Downtown Dallas destination is the epitome of laid-back with a variety of eateries from which to choose, bars and kiosks where you can buy a bottle of wine, and lots of seating to grab in a pinch. You can choose from La Ventana tacos, Nammi banh mi, a sandwich at Caribbean Cabana, Whole 30 at Mudhen, and more. Plus you can support your local farmers and get some produce to take home.

Dream Cafe
Uptown Dallas has become filled with many bright and shiny a restaurant. But before Uptown was Uptown, there was Dream Cafe, the trailblazing restaurant that showed 'em all how to do it with healthy dishes, vegetarian options, and amazing brunch. They rotate in dishes regularly, like the grilled vegetable sandwich on a warm pita or a lamb burger with goat cheese, sundried tomato, and basil-pesto aoili. And they're the most comfortable place in the world.

The Lot
Family-friendly is a big thing at this East Dallas hangout, thanks to a sand pit on the patio frequented by many a demon spawn. Avoid that area entirely and head straight for the bar where you can grab a tall table and dishes to share such as shisito peppers, yuca fries, and chipotle hummus. There are salads, sliders, burgers,  a friendly staff, and lots of cold beer.

Nazca Kitchen
Superb restaurant near The Hill development at US 75 and Walnut Hill Lane offers a fresh take on traditional South American cuisine with a menu that ranges from roasted chicken to ceviche to Acai breakfast bowls. There are burgers and sandwiches such as chicken with almonds, criolla, yogurt, spicy chili jam on a sun dried tomato tortilla. They also have some creative and satisfying salads such as kale & Romaine with red peppers, carrots, feta, avocado, pepitas, tomatoes, jack cheese, cumin & mustard seed dressing.

Orno
To call this Cedar Springs restaurant "casual" probably doesn't do it justice. It's a classy place with shared plates, a nice atmosphere, and an outstanding wine menu. But it has a cozy welcoming atmosphere that makes you feel at home. The menu ranges from simple to fancy, with panini, a roasted cauliflower head with pesto dip, and a "grilled Caesar" consisting of a head of Romaine, sliced in half and charred, then topped with shredded Parmesan cheese. It's perfectly okay just to stop in for a glass of wine, too.

Scout at the Statler
Fun spot at the Statler Dallas hotel has quesadillas, white bean hummus, chili-cheese fries, 7-layer dip, and sliders, consisting of 4 mini-burgers on Parker House rolls with cheddar, lettuce, tomato, white onion, and bread & butter pickles for only $10. You can also get pasta, shrimp & grits, and even steak frites. All that, plus 20 beers on tap, bowling lanes, ping pong, pool tables, and foosball.

Wheelhouse
This gastropub is part of the Tim Headington village in Dallas' Design District where it shares a courtyard with its Italian sibling, Sassetta. The dominant bar with big-screen TVs gives a laid-back impression but the food and drink — sausages made in house, sandwiches, salads, and bowls, as well as simple but complex-tasting cocktails — are right on point.

Whistlebritches
Fried chicken concept from award-winning chef Omar Flores is a good bet if you live in the northern 'burbs. It's a low-pressure place with servers that can be, possibly, too casual. But there's a fun outdoor space and the chicken and biscuits are worth the trip. For the Plano crowd, a second location just opened at the Shops at Willow Bend mall.