That the Dallas Design District would rank as one of the hottest neighborhoods for good eats should hardly be a surprise. This once-industrial area was singled out by the city for redevelopment in the mid-2000s. Apartment and lofts have been built, along with galleries, retail and restaurants such as Kay Agnew's Bridge Bistro.
In the past year, some of the city's hottest restaurants have opened in the district, along with a bowling alley called Bowlounge and a wine retailer called the Wine Poste, which hosts tastings nearly every week. The energy has spilled outside the district to streets nearby with openings such as Off Site Kitchen and Slow Bone joining veterans Original Market Diner and Mama's Daughter's Diner, each bringing their own independent, unique spirit.
Here's six spots that answer the question about where to eat in the Design District:
Its coffee is unique, and it's been praised as a top wine bar. But Ascension is also a likable, serviceable place to grab a bite. Its welcoming atmosphere is matched by a broad menu that extends from oatmeal and breakfast tacos at breakfast, to light sandwiches at lunch, to chicken and mozzarella penne pasta at dinner.
The Design District is home to the most buzzed-about restaurant in Dallas. You may think FT33 is a restaurant, but it's really a laboratory for chef-owner Matt McCallister to experiment with techniques and flavor combinations. If you want cutting edge in Dallas, with artistic presentation on the plate, this is the place. The menu frequently changes, but so far they've kept the smoked potatoes, a perfect dish that manages to be both novel and supremely satisfying.
The Moth blazed the hipster trail into the Design District when it opened in 2010 as this generation's 8.0. That meant craft beer instead of wine coolers and a double dose of bacon on the Cobb salad. The bar staff can be insufferably rude, and the signature "Moth Balls," consisting of ricotta cheese in a cream sauce, is rather funky. But, hey, it was there first, and some of those dozens of beers on tap are unique.
The first restaurant from husband-and-wife restaurateurs Richard and Tiffanee Ellman (Pakpao, Belly & Trumpet), Oak is the Design District ideal, with its mesh of fine dining and restful, elegant decor. The kitchen has had its bumps with staff turnover, but current chef Richard Gras is on track with a new fall menu featuring dishes like roasted bone marrow with short rib marmalade.
Exotic sibling of Oak (and Belly & Trumpet) specializes in Thai, as prepared by chef Eddy Thretipthuangsin. This Thailand native is hitting the two key demographics: the serious foodies who appreciate authentic dishes such as steamed prawn with mung bean noodle and shiitake mushroom, served in a clay pot, and the trendy diners who love that Pakpao means kite and can see some hanging from the ceiling.
Longtime caterer Wendy Krispin does a classic ladies lunch every weekday, with sandwiches, salads, soups and tea, served in a subtly elegant space with tablecloths and chandelier. Dishes such as grilled pimento cheese on pumpernickel with sweet potato fries, smoked salmon and feta cheese omelet, and tilapia on succotash feature just enough innovation to make them intriguing.