With December here, we're already thinking about the holidays – that wonderful, wonderful time of year when the house overflows with relatives, ready to be entertained. Do yours show up early to ramp up the festivity, or do they minimize the pain by waiting until the end of the month?
The odds seem high that at some point in December, you'll need a place to take them — someplace fun and forgiving, someplace that presents Dallas in its best light and shows that you know your town inside and out.
These are our suggestions for the best restaurants of the moment to take the fam:
Located on Klyde Warren Park, Savor is Dallas' mini-version of Tavern on the Green. The food's good, but even if it weren't, the atmosphere is magical, with its glitzy chrome columns, white vinyl banquettes and walls of glass that overlook the park. The menu is broad yet light, with sandwiches, salads and shareable appetizers such as the flatbread topped with duck, butternut squash, walnuts and Brussels sprouts leaves. Desserts come in mini-sizes for $3 each. At that price you can afford to try them all.
If there's a calorie counter in your midst, Seasons 52 is the Darden concept whereby every item on the menu is 475 calories or less. Whisper that to the calorie counter and keep the rest of the group in the dark; with dishes such as garlic shrimp with risotto, they'll never know. The wine list is excellent, and the NorthPark location begs for you to stroll the mall and drop hints about gifts when you're done.
From the Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek to Fearing's at the Ritz, Dallas has no shortage of fancy restaurants inside hotels. CBD Provisions just happens to be the newest and the glitziest. The decor is glamorous, and CBD is a Consilient concept, which guarantees excellence in food and service. Split a grilled cheese sandwich and an order of steak frites, then wander through the The Joule complex, home to various boutiques and Weekend Coffee.
Lonesome Dove Western Bistro
Chef Tim Love's signature restaurant in Fort Worth's Stockyards district just reopened after enduring a fire in August. The kitchen's been rebuilt, the dining room's been refreshed and the menu's been updated. New dishes include squid ink pasta with Manila clams and irresistibly crunchy beet home fries. Buying a cowboy hat from one of the Stockyard's many Western stores is totally optional.
Jimmy's Food Store
Not every family expedition has to end in a four-course meal. Take them to this funky foodie hot spot combining a grocery and a deli, where they can peruse the shelves of imported Italian treats like pasta and biscotti. Once their appetites are stirred, graze from the deli counter. It could be a wedge of Grana Padano cheese or one of the monster Cuban sandwiches, almost big enough for a whole family to split.
Our newest ethnic find is a Japanese "home cooking" spot, with food that is a personal reflection of owner Kumi Yamamoto. Get "mom" food like her sukiyaki or else her healthy salads and unique Japanese sides such as furofuki daikon. The location in downtown Plano means not only that you can window-shop on the quaint brick street, but also that you can get there via the DART rail. Families always like train rides, right?
Dallas can do more than Tex-Mex! And here's the Oak Cliff fine-dining mom-and-pop to prove it. At Mesa, you'll not only get Raul and Olga Reyes' carefully crafted Mexican cuisine, you'll also get doting white-tablecloth service; a serene, artful atmosphere; and not too much sticker shock when the bill comes. Show off your savvy as you order enmoladas — nubby corn tortillas with mole — for the table to share.
Here's a way to take a virtual field trip to Central Texas without leaving the 214. Amuse your guests with the liberating prospect of getting their food tossed in a pile on paper. Forbid them from using forks. Share some brisket and the BBQ Snob's recommended shoulder clod. Afterward, you can cruise around Bishop Arts, grab coffee at Oddfellows or, if you're a trooper, a piece of pie at Emporium.
Wherever your family is coming from is likely colder than here. Therefore you must gloat with an outdoor experience. Dallas currently has many to choose from, but possibly none more fun than this rowdy restaurant-patio-music spot in Uptown. Go ahead, name drop co-owner and singer-songwriter Pat Green as if you are BFFs, as you tip a beer and eat fancy snacks such as cactus fritters, burgers and deviled eggs.
Dallas is still in the throes of a craft beer movement like no other. (Well, unless you count Denver or Portland or Chicago or Tampa, but we digress.) And, unless you take a brewery tour, there's probably no better place in town to showcase it than The Moth. With its infinite wall of taps and chef David McMillan in the kitchen, you can have your beer and fine fare too. New goodies include zucchini fries and chicken-skin chips with blue cheese.
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