There are times when you want to go out for a burger, something simple, nothing complicated. But then there are times when you want to be amazed and impressed. Here are eight new restaurants that do something off the beaten path:
Beto & Son
The newest restaurant at Trinity Groves is a Mexican restaurant from chef Beto Rodarte and son Julian. It takes over the former Kitchen LTO space, and the menu will include traditional items such as enchiladas and chile rellenos, as well as some novelties, like a Mexican-inspired "noodle bowl," or Mexican poutine — masa "fries" topped with chicken, green chile sauce, queso, and a fried egg.
Canary By Gorji
Old-timer restaurant gets a splash in the news with its decision to eliminate tipping. Owner Mansour Gorji follows a trend led by restaurants in New York and San Francisco, which seems to work best at smaller places like Canary, which has only five employees. Prices on menu items such as butter-seared shrimp with basmati rice, and gnocchi with Gorgonzola cream, have been increased by about 20 percent — but that means you're all done once you pay the bill.
This newly opened shop in Deep Ellum does a trendy rendition of ice cream, serving it in "rolls." It's a slightly more complicated version of Coldstone, in that ice cream is spread on a surface and enhanced with toppings. But Chill spreads the ice cream onto a frozen disc, then scoops it with a scraper into rolls. It may not taste any different, but it sure does look cool.
Dot's Hop House
What makes this new restaurant-bar in Deep Ellum stand out is intangible yet undeniable. Patrons are already loving its spaciousness ("more space than a small country," says one fan), its chili and cornbread, its big selection of whiskey, and its bar with more 120 beers on tap. Dot's is a laid-back respite in a neighborhood that's becoming increasingly hot, with a great feel and vibe you crave but rarely find.
This family-run Mexican restaurant is tucked in an out-of-the-way location in southeast Dallas, but it's making big waves for its switchover to an all-vegan menu. The transformation was gradual, beginning with one or two nights. Now, the Arias family has removed all animal products from the menu. Even carnivores are fooled by their fabulous fakes, in dishes such as tacos filled with vegan versions of carne guisada and chicharrón. Its secret weapon is the bakery case, filled with treats such as a granola molasses roll topped with toasted coconut.
Nerdvana Food + Spirits
Frisco restaurant brings together the rare combination of a video game-friendly environment with an upscale menu from a gifted chef. Entrées include rib-eye, brick chicken, pappardelle pasta with vegetables, and rib-eye with garlic mashed potatoes and broccolini. Where else in town can you sit at a nice bar, sip on a fancy cocktail, and play video games with other patrons?
New concept from restaurateur Mike Karns (El Fenix, Meso Maya) cleverly combines tacos, tortas, and bowls, with fillers and toppings like tamarind pork and diablo shrimp. The bar list is loaded with mezcal, crafted into sophisticated cocktails like the one with orange peel, bitters, and simple syrup. Food and drink are killer, but more amazing is the transformation of this former Samar/San Salvaje space into a gritty rock-and-roll bar with chains propped just so over the bar and a motorcycle parked inside.
Uptown Urban Market
This is not a restaurant but a food hall with many eateries from which to choose, all of them high performers. You can get some of Dallas' best pizza from Fireside Pies, acclaimed pastries from La Duni, or sips from Buda Juice. The place has a cosmopolitan, easygoing vibe, with plenty of seating nooks, from shared community tables to a street-side patio to a sunny Zen room where you can use the (free) Wi-Fi to your heart's content.