For those who like to meet for lunch in downtown Dallas, things have never been better. And by "better," we mean new places, opening all around the central core. You'll always have your classics like the Zodiac at Neiman Marcus, but if you're hungry for what's brand new, here's the list.
Black Ship/Little Katana
A sibling to the Little Katanas on Travis Street and at Galleria Dallas, the Omni location is the new project of LK Concepts and Dallas businessman Odes Kim. In addition to tuna towers and mega sushi plates served on ornately carved wooden boats, the menu features Japanese, Korean, and American touches on dishes such as miso-glazed sea bass and Wagyu New York strip steak.
The just-opened downtown location of this Greenville Avenue favorite has its classic items, including the hummus of which it is very proud, plus some new offerings. Diners can get "bowls" with a protein, choice of saffron rice or salad, and a side of vegetables. It also offers baked flatbreads and pide (pies), an arugula salad, Izmir house fries, doner (thinly shaved lamb and beef), and many sandwich options.
Latest branch of this local chain from colorful restaurateur Joseph Palladino hits the lunch market hard. At dinner, it follows the pattern of its siblings in Uptown Dallas, Addison, Plano, and Southlake, with wine service and a sit-down experience. But at lunch, it goes fast-casual, emphasis on fast, serving pastas and $8 personal pizzas in basic flavors such as pepperoni, in a few minutes.
Grill & Vine
Open at the newly renovated Westin Dallas Downtown, Grill & Vine does an updated reinterpretation of the classic bar and grill, with a tavern design, following the example set by the first Grill & Vine, which debuted in the Bay Area in 2013. The tavern-style launch menu includes the specialty, smoked brisket eggs Benedict, plus pulled pork on brioche sliders, deviled eggs, sweet potato bisque, steel-cut Irish oats, and a Caesar made with kale.
One of Dallas' favored Mexican restaurants celebrates its downtown debut in mid-March with a menu that includes Tex-Mex staples along with new, more upscale Mexican items. Think seafood, including ceviche and fish tacos. There'll be a full bar, so that means margaritas. (There's another Herrera's by a different family member on Sylvan Avenue.)
Second branch of the charming Lakewood-adjacent restaurant sits across from the JFK Memorial, near El Centro College, where it serves dishes from Colombia, Peru, and Venezuela. The sandwiches are winners, especially the Cuban sandwich, a trademark item. There's coffee and breakfast chilaquiles in the morning, as well as beautiful, house-made cupcakes in unique options such as tres leches and sweet corn, which you can feel free to eat any time you like.
Upscale but casual, featuring a blend of American and Creole favorites, NOLA is a unique concept in Dallas, as most restaurants with New Orleans cuisine are lower-scale concepts offering po' boys and fried fish. The menu includes fried oysters with coleslaw and hush puppies, and gumbo with rice. In the '60s, this location was home to the only Dallas branch of Brennan's, the famed Creole restaurant in New Orleans' French Quarter.
Modest home-cooking restaurant moved from Irving Boulevard into a space at Field and Main streets that was previously the Original Italian Cafe. The menu includes P.O. signatures such as chicken-fried steak, chicken and dumplings, and pot roast, plus a huge salad bar and pizza by the slice.
Spice in the City
Get health-conscious to-go food at lunch and dinner with Indian, Pakistani, and Malaysian spices and flavors at this canteen located in the former Fuse kitchen at the Dallas Power & Lighting building. Sample dishes might include grass-fed steak saag gosht, a Pakistani dish, atop a cashew and raisin pulao (spicy rice). They'll open in the lobby and poolside patio space in June.
Former food truck concept makes the big step to a real-live restaurant, in Dallas' upwardly trending West End. It occupies the location that used to be Dick's Last Resort, a large space with an enviable patio, where it serves pizzas and sandwiches such as the Italian Hot Date with pepperoni, spicy calabrese, ham, bacon, spinach, and tomatoes on house-baked bread, served with house-made chips.