With the holidays looming, company's coming, and you need a plan. You need dining options. Taking out-of-towners to eat is a multi-pronged mission. The restaurant you choose needs to welcome groups, represent your hometown, satisfy a variety of tastes, and hopefully not break the bank.
Here's our list of Dallas restaurant suggestions for where to take your holiday company, the 2017 edition:
For fancy fine dining at its most newly opened, this gilded restaurant in downtown Dallas from chef Bruno Davaillon is where it's at. Unless your guests are big spenders, don't come starving, and plan on drinking up the details, because the details here count. There's the invincible exterior, with a marquee clad in gold scales; the spectacular two-story glass sculpture in the entry; the gleaming Christofle flatware; the linens from Garnier-Thiebaut. It's all subtle, understated luxury, creating a backdrop for the quiet precision on the plate of dishes such as duck with parsnips and endive.
Dallas Farmers Market
Food halls are a thing right now, and props to our downtown market for cleverly reimagining what was once a piecemeal shed into a vibrant collection of eateries and shops. Many food groups are represented: from tacos to banh mi to Indian food to pizza to macarons to tamales to espresso. You can buy cheese and a bottle of sparkling wine to share from Scardello, or beer and a bag of popcorn for the table. Parking's plentiful, and the capper is that you can buy locally grown fruits and vegetables, too.
The savvy Phoenix-based Fox Restaurant Concepts has a thing for Dallas, and the feeling is mutual. We have two of their True Food Kitchens, one Italia North, and we're one of only seven cities (currently) to have a branch of this hippie, happy chain. These days, everyone has a family member who's vegan or vegetarian or watching their gluten or likes organic produce or hates GMO. The menu at Flower Child has something for all tribes. There are bowls and plates with mix-and-match components like tofu and grass-fed beef. It's fast-casual, practical, friendly, and pretty cheap.
Kuby's Sausage House
Connect with Texas' early German settlers at this Snider Plaza restaurant and deli, which has been serving house-made sausages, schnitzels, and German classics since 1961. Meat's a big deal; hunters across Texas bring their kill here to be processed into grillable chunks, which should serve as stimulating conversation while you and the folks dig into Reuben sandwiches, potato pancakes, and the best-selling sausage plate, with sauerkraut, hot German potato salad, and red cabbage.
If Dallas has a local cuisine, it's probably home cooking, kind of the Southern version of the American diner. For years, modest restaurants served daily specials like chicken and dumplings and pot roast, with oodles of vegetable sides. We're more fancy these days, and longtime chain Good Eats/Dixie House bit the bullet. But Norma's Cafe has been a Dallas tradition since 1956. There are biscuits and gravy, meatloaf, some of the Dallas' best pies, and the city's indigenous dish, chicken-fried steak. Five locations include one in Plano, but if you want to find the roots, hit the original in Oak Cliff.
RJ Mexican Cuisine
Veteran downtown Dallas restaurant has dishes from all eight culinary regions of Mexico, and some American food, too. Guacamole, queso, enchiladas, and tacos sit side-by-side with steak, seafood, salads, and ribs. RJ has stuck it through in the historic West End long enough to see the neighborhood through some downs and now ups. Bonus: It's also walking distance from our No. 1 tourist attraction, the Grassy Knoll.
Barbecue has to be on the list, obviously, duh, but Slow Bone makes the cut because it has something special: a trained chef in Jeffery Hobbs, who elevates the quality and oversees an expanded menu that has something for family members who don't just want a slab of brisket. Slow Bone has a great brisket, but it also has Hobbs' fried chicken and many wonderful sides, like fried okra and a potato salad spiked with horseradish. You can make a meal out of the sides.
Breakfast tacos are a mysterious object to some out-of-towners. (Or, for that matter, tacos of any kind.) They know eggs, they know sausage, they just don't necessarily know that you can assemble those ingredients inside a soft tortilla and eat them, all together, before noon. Show them the ropes at Tacodeli, the small chain from Austin, a town that knows a thing or two about breakfast tacos. Both Dallas-area locations are situated in nifty little centers — Sylvan Thirty and The Hill at US-75 and Walnut Hill Lane — where you can shop and walk off your tacos in preparation for lunch.
Restaurateur Phil Romano's restaurant incubator in West Dallas is like a giant outdoor food court with a dozen options under one roof: fried chicken at Fat Chicken, seafood at Amberjax, Asian at Chino Chinatown, craft beer at Luck Kitchen, middle Eastern at Souk, sushi at Sushi Bayashi, vegan at V-Eats. And that doesn't even get into the secret weapons at Trinity Groves: the divine chocolates at Kate Weiser Chocolate, and the stunning cakes at Cake Bar. Hell, just go for cake and chocolate.
Former Oak Cliff slice place, newly re-opened as an Italian-American restaurant in Addison, is going to feel familiar to anyone who grew up in the Northeast in the '60s, which surely represents a goodly chunk of out-of-town guests. The pizza crust here remains one of the best yeast items in DFW, but the restaurant also has a vivacious spirit, with big family-sized tables and kitschy eye-candy on the walls, that makes it a fun destination beyond getting a bite to eat.