According to a new end-of-year roundup by dining survey king Zagat, one Dallas restaurant is among the 25 most important in the entire country: Mot Hai Ba. Thanks to an innovative menu that stands out nationally, the East Dallas Vietnamese spot has earned Zagat’s stamp of approval.
Maybe it’s the fact that chef-owners Jeana Johnson and Colleen O’Hare were inspired by a motorcycle journey through North Vietnam. Or maybe it’s that Mot Hai Ba is a chef-driven concept. Or perhaps it’s because nobody else is really doing such a specific North Vietnamese menu — or at such a high level. Per Zagat:
Dishes like the rotating Hanoian lunch, imperial rolls and spicy market crab are not only beautifully prepared and plated but are served up in an elegantly casual space that’s never stuffy. We also think their wonderfully executed pho can take credit for readying Dallas’ palate for the noodle-shop boom.
Lest the rest of Texas feels left out, Houston’s Goro & Gun made the list for showing that downtown Houston is a viable place for foodies to explore, while Austin’s Qui’s focus on “hyperseasonal” local fare has made it one of the biggest openings of the year.
Interestingly, however, the most important restaurants don’t appear to be the most popular among the site’s users. Mot Hai Ba is nowhere to be found among the 10 most searched Dallas restaurants; instead diners are looking for Nick & Sam’s, followed by Oak and Del Frisco’s Steakhouse.
The French Room holds down the No. 4 spot, followed by Stephan Pyles at No. 5. Speaking of Pyles, his Stampede 66, checks in at No. 6. From there it’s a list of very Dallas-y choices like Mi Cocina, Bob’s Steak and Chop House, and Ocean Prime.
It seems that regardless of what editors tell them, people like what they like.