Perched on the border of Preston Hollow and the Park Cities, Preston Center is about as North Dallas as it gets, with an ebb and flow of the locals depending on time of day.
In the morning, it's moms in Lexus SUVs, grabbing juice at Jamba or Gem after dropping off the kids at private school. Lunch is a madhouse: The neighborhood is surrounded by offices, so by noon, 20-and 30-somethings in blue shirts have descended upon Chipotle and Pei Wei, hoping to get out in an hour for $10 or less.
In the afternoon, high schoolers swarm in. At dinner, the swells hit Hillstone, families sup at Rathbun's Blue Plate Kitchen and oldsters split $15 lasagna at Bowen's Cafe Expresso.
But there's one group that Preston Center hadn't seen much of: the proverbial foodies. No instagrams of pork belly, no "checking in."
And then Tesar arrived. Followed by Sprinkles – first the cupcake ATM, then the ice cream. Lines formed. Photos appeared on Facebook. The air began to change. Soon the area will be home to one of the biggest foodie openings of all: True Food Kitchen, the restaurant chain with a menu overseen by author Andrew Weil, M.D.
Preston Center has arrived. Here's where to get a bite:
Be Raw Bar
This minimalist spot specializing in raw (uncooked) dishes not only blazed a trail for vegetarian and vegan dining, it also set the stage for Preston Center to be a place for healthy eating a la The Gem and True Food Kitchen. Tacos, Thai noodles (made from zucchini) and the best-selling coconut kale enchiladas are magical creations, chased by a selection of fresh-squeezed juices and elixirs.
California Pizza Kitchen
It's a chain, it's from California and it's been around for years. But California Pizza Kitchen remains cutting-edge, 30 years after it was founded. The fusion of cuisines, upscale ingredients and modern-casual combination of salad and pizza are all basic CPK components. The trademark barbecue chicken pizza still feels fresh, and there's a whole-wheat crust. CPK's arrival helped make Dallas the pizza-savvy place it is today.
Hopdoddy Burger Bar
It's a chain and it's from Austin, and yet Hopdoddy is so Preston Center. Its menu is simple: burgers done fancy, over-the-top milkshakes and beer. It meets the needs of the neighborhood yet draws in the burger bunch. You get to wait in line (which has actually become a recreational activity for foodies), plus doting service, a lively atmosphere and a check that won't break the bank.
The little sibling of Houston's nearly outdoes its big brother. R&D Kitchen is less formal with a modern menu that lets you stop at a salad or go for meatloaf with mashed potatoes. You can even get an omelet for dinner. R&D doesn't judge. Everything's made in-house and it's all good, from deviled eggs to a veggie burger with avocado to a three-layer carrot cake. California chic atmosphere makes you feel instantly more attractive, even if you're waiting for a table (which you probably will).
Reliable, good-natured and always accommodating, Sevy's is the chef-driven hangout that every neighborhood would love to have. Whether lunch or dinner or a glass of wine at the bar, the place is always hopping. Game and meats are a thing here, but seafood such as the crab-stuffed sole seems to be even better. The foodie-friendliness here is almost a secret, until you taste the creamy corn chowder, savory shrimp cakes and luscious three-citrus pie.
Regardless of what else is in Preston Center, it boasts what Conde Nast Traveler called one of the best new restaurants in the world: Spoon. Chef John Tesar's version of Le Bernardin, Spoon has elegant, pristine seafood and desserts by David Collier. Tesar is a nut, but he's a Northeast native who knows his fish, whether it's a lobster roll, soft-shell crab or oysters with tomato consomme.