Staying atop Dallas' dining scene is a quixotic pursuit. There is always the cool new thing, mercilessly eluding you. Just when you've figured out how to get to the Foundry, along comes the Truck Yard, and you have to re-set your GPS all over again. Right about the time you've divined the charcuterie at Lucia, you find out about the charcuterie at Mercat, CBD Provisions, Encore, HG Sply Co., Blind Butcher, etc.
A person could spend every waking hour trying to keep up. Or they could do what we do: stalk the Facebook pages of The Brad and his fabuloso Maria. Brad is the ultimate epicurean and founder of a dining blog. Maria is his Ginger Rogers; she does everything he does, but in heels.
Their radar for what is cool and hot rarely errs and gives us a jumping-off point for our June edition of where to eat in Dallas right now: the 10 best insider foodie destinations.
The meat room at Knife
Everything about Knife, chef John Tesar's new steakhouse at the Hotel Palomar, is hot. But the coolest thing is the restaurant's temperature-controlled meat aging room, where Tesar stores his 240-day-old beef. You can peep it from the lobby: No bigger than a closet, it has all the charm of a walk-in refrigerator. And it must stay bacteria-free, so it's not exactly open to the public. And yet scoring a private Tesar tour is the new ultimate foodie "get."
Velvet Taco at 3 am on a Saturday night
Aside from Buzzbrews and Cafe Brazil, precious few restaurants service the late-night foodie. Those that do reap the rewards. Like Velvet Taco. On weekend nights, when many of us are already deep into the REM stage of sleep, the party people congregate at this upscale taqueria on Henderson and 75. After lining up for their shrimp and grits taco, customers spill out onto the patio. Music plays. It's like a club, but with tacos.
Sitting in the "bird chair" at Pecan Lodge
Now that Dallas' barbecue sweetheart has settled in its Deep Ellum digs, it is building new traditions. There's the patio with picnic benches, all in view of the smoker. There's the longhorn statue, bought sight unseen, whose unexpectedly large family jewels earned it the name "Huevos." The throne is inside: a wooden chair owner Diane Fourton found, with birds carved into it, and a plaque she whimsically placed on the back that reads "Bullshit Corner."
Wine chats at the Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek
Every Thursday from 6:15 to 7 pm, beverage director Michael Flynn hosts an informal wine chat in the Mansion Bar where he "pulls some corks" and talks about what's new and notable. A chat will typically entail three to five bottles, and sometimes there'll be a theme, based on the season or on the latest travels of Flynn, still as much an avid student as he is a teacher. At $35, access to that caliber of wine is a steal. Reservations are not required, and everyone leaves friends.
Standing in line at Steel City Pops
Steel City Pops from Alabama is not the first in Dallas to offer frozen popsicle-like treats on a stick, nor the first to describe them as gourmet. But they are the newest, and they have some unusual, heretofore-unseen flavors such as coffee, buttermilk and avocado. They're novel and delicious, but the best part about them is the thrill of standing in line and waiting for them right on Greenville Avenue, which has emerged as the most surprising food neighborhood in Dallas.
Monday nights at Veritas
The casual atmosphere and lengthy wine list make Veritas Wine Room a pick any night of the week. But the magic happens on Monday nights when every glass is half price. It being a Monday — when many restaurants around the city are closed — the place swells with sommelier types and other food-and-beverage industry folks. Rubbing elbows with chefs, there's some cachet.
No surprise this Henderson Avenue hottie has earned positive reviews, what with its photogenic husband-and-wife owners, California-bred cred, tastemaking pastry chef and familiar dishes such as chicken with roasted potatoes. Even still, its sommelier Sabrina Snodderly has decamped to Knife, while newer cute restaurants like Stock & Barrel wait in the wings. Make no mistake, these lists are dog-eat-dog!
Tei An rooftop
Patio-crazy Dallas has more than its share of rooftop spots. But Tei An is in a league of its own. Its location at One Arts Plaza puts it in the cat bird's seat as far as views of downtown Dallas. That comes with excellent cocktails, top-notch nosh by chef Teiichi Sakurai, the occasional live band and the charming host skills of manager Yosuke Fukuda. The atmosphere, like a chic futuristic moonscape, is nonpareil.
Sunday brunch at Cane Rosso Fort Worth
The third branch of Neapolitan-style pizzeria has ably duplicated the fervor and crowds of its branches in Deep Ellum and White Rock Lake. But where Fort Worth surpasses its siblings is at Sunday brunch, which is drawing mobs. Is it a dearth of brunch options in the area? The $1 mimosas? The biceps of pizzaiolo Shon Ben-Kely? Or is it menu items such as a "breakfast pizza" topped with bacon, egg and roasted potato?
Growler station in Lakewood from Stacie and Dale Czech has an unpretentious hospitality, not to mention handsome wooden furniture (crafted by the couple themselves). The place and clientele are a true reflection of the neighborhood, with all of its lovable quirkiness. Beer selection is killer, with brews from Dallas and across Texas, including rarities such as the Texian Charlie Foxtrot. All the taps are displayed on a mesmerizing digital board that hangs over the bar; it's like watching Beer TV.
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