December is the month for holidays, and for many people, holidays mean visitors from out of town. As a good host, you need to know where to take them: which restaurants can handle a group, have a holiday flair, or represent what's going on in Dallas right now.
These are our suggestions for the best restaurants of the moment to take your out-of-town guests:
Cafe on the Green
With long hours and customer-friendly menus, hotel restaurants are almost always a practical choice for the holidays. What makes the Four Seasons in Las Colinas especially enticing, aside from its verdant setting, is its dedication to festivity, including an annual gingerbread house display. And Cafe on the Green is an excellent restaurant that hews to a high standard.
A bright spot in the Sylvan Thirty complex, CiboDivino is a fun combination of restaurant, market, and wine bar. Its casual yet cosmopolitan atmosphere and flexible options make it an easy place to bring a brood. There's housemade pasta, Neapolitan-style pizza, charcuterie, wines by the glass, and espresso drinks. You can also linger and browse the shelves of olive oil and other goods.
Home cooking is one of Dallas' indigenous cuisines, along with Tex-Mex and steak. Our options are plentiful, including Original Market Diner, Norma's, Celebration, Mama's Daughter's Diner, and Babe's Chicken Dinner House. But only Dixie House sits in the quaint heart of Lakewood, where it's been for nearly 40 years, serving chicken-fried steak and meatloaf with a choice of homey sides like mashed potatoes, plus cornbread and rolls.
940's Kitchen & Cocktails
New Denton restaurant joins peers such as Queenie's and Hannah's on the Square in upping the game beyond the standard college-town fare. 940's parent-worthy efforts make for a solid day trip up north. Stroll the square, then head over to 940's for your burger topped with egg, but also for eggplant fries with horseradish dipping sauce — which happen to be vegan. So Denton.
With barbecue becoming a national trend, your out-of-towners are sure to be interested in one of the best barbecue restaurants in Texas. The cherry on the sundae is that it's in one of Dallas' most entertaining neighborhoods. For groups, Pecan Lodge has just the dish: the trough, with a sampling of meats including sausage, ribs, and its signature brisket, big enough to feed four-to-five people.
Resto Gastro Bistro
Restaurant at Trinity Groves serves up a global cuisine as created by chef DJ Quintanilla, with dishes such as crab cakes with artichokes, at a moderate price. For the holidays, there are special cocktails such as the one with chocolate whiskey and chocolate bitters. Speaking of chocolate, be sure to end your meal with a walk down to Kate Weiser, Trinity Groves' artsy chocolatier.
Sissy's Southern Kitchen & Bar
Dallas should always have a restaurant like Sissy's, serving Southern cuisine with fine china, servers in lace aprons, and vodka-spiked tea. The signature dish is fried chicken, along with other specialties such as the ham salad and pimento cheese plate, biscuits, and fritters made with squash. And don't forget a cocktail, guaranteed to make you tipsy — in a genteel fashion, of course.
New eatery from a vibrant restaurant group (Bolsa, Smoke, Spork) is located at a mall, namely NorthPark Center. Any other time of the year, you might wonder whether a restaurant at a mall is a cool thing. But during the holidays, it's the ultimate in convenience. Theodore has a whole backstory that involves a dead president, and it also has a trendy dish on the menu: toasts. But let's get down to it: It's only steps away from the Swatch store.
If you have company in town, it's almost required that you take them to the Bishop Arts District. While the neighborhood is being eclipsed by other "walkable" areas such as Greenville Avenue, BAD still has the cute sidewalks, brick buildings, and a gallery or two that you can cruise before or after your meal. Dining options in Oak Cliff are plentiful; but we'll recommend Tillman's, the upscale yet rambunctious Texas roadhouse with deer sculptures, designer French fries, and signature s'mores.
Few restaurants are more quintessentially Dallas and more classic than The Zodiac at the downtown Neiman Marcus. From the delicate salads to the signature popovers with strawberry butter to the Mandarin orange soufflé, it's a well-oiled exercise in refinement that need never change. And if you're talking about the holidays, nothing beats Neiman Marcus, whose well-mounted annual window displays epitomize a big-city Christmas spirit that's the stuff of dreams.