The year 2022 has been a weird post-pandemic roller coaster ride for restaurants with boffo openings on the left and dismal closures on the right. Times are uncertain and unpredictable but the human spirit perseveres, filing permits and building restaurants with the hope that by the time opening day comes, everything will be back to normal, and they'll be rewarded with a packed house.
This week has been an especially active week, with a handful of major openings all coming at the same time. Everyone's scurrying to get open before the holidays, which can be key in launching a restaurant's fortunes.
They include high-flying restaurants from big names in Dallas, a high-profile California import, a vegan restaurant, and a popular local pub that's opening in a prominent location.
Here's five major openings all going down this week:
Brass Ram: Downtown restaurant from one of Dallas' most popular chefs
Dallas loves chef Nick Badovinus, starting with his Neighborhood Services concept, and almost always cares deeply about what he does, whether it's his buzzy Town Hearth steakhouse, or his seafood spot Montlake Cut. His newest restaurant also has a unique location: on the second floor of the distinctive triangular former Magnolia Oil building at 2130 Commerce St., right above his other casual restaurant National Anthem, which opened earlier this year.
Brass Ram is his take on old-school prime rib joints with a menu that includes prime rib, wedge salad, French Dip sandwich, and a tomahawk pork chop. There are also martinis and bourbons, and a decor that's in true Badovinus style, with one-of-a-kind finds such as collected books, framed photographs of Marilyn Monroe, and brass stags.
El Carlos Elegante: Stunning new Mexican restaurant from a buzzy hospitality group
Duro Hospitality group has opened some of the buzziest restaurants in Dallas in the past few years including The Charles, Sister, and Cafe Duro. This new one - located in the Design District, just down from its sibling The Charles - vows to show what Mexican food can be, reimagined through a chef's eyes. No Tex-Mex: instead large-format wood fired meats seasoned with chiles, moles good enough to be a meal on their own, and a ceviche program that will wow sushi fans.
The menu is structured in an intuitive manner under categories such as Cold, Grill, Vegetales, and Masa. Salads include burrata with beets, and a Caesar with grilled Little Gem lettuce. There's ceviche with chicharron & kumquat, tuna toro, and crab croquettes with avocado & goat cheese. "Masa" includes inventions such as a Mushroom Tetela, a ricotta tamale with mole negro, and a duck confit Tlacoyo. Grilled items include osso bucco carnitas and a whole fish with mint mojo. Five clever vegetable dishes include clever twists such as refried lentils, roasted sweet potato with citrus & peanuts, okra & shishitos, and Mayan hummus.
They've been hosting friends & family events and will officially open - super quietly - on November 21.
The Londoner Dallas: Hugely popular pub beloved for its international sports broadcasts
New Dallas location next week at 5321 E. Mockingbird Lane, Ste. 250 in Mockingbird Station. The English pub has it all: British and American cuisine, a full bar, a late-night menu, and brunch on weekends. But its real secret weapon is that it hosts live soccer game broadcasts, and that includes its plans to show the FIFA tournament. This is the third location for The Londoner, in addition to its existing pubs in Addison and Colleyville.
Pizzana: Renowned pizza in California from Sprinkles Cupcakes team
Pizzeria from the founders of Sprinkles Cupcakes opened at 3219 Knox St. on November 15. It originally debuted in Los Angeles in 2017. This is the first location outside California, so that's a big deal. And it stars pizzaiolo Daniele Uditi, who has appeared on Hulu's "Best in Dough" pizza competition series. Also a big deal.
The menu includes pizzas, antipasti, salads, desserts, and vegan options. They ferment their dough for 48 hours. Some of their pizzas are traditional like the Margherita, while others are originals such as Uditi's signature cacio e pepe pizza. They're also doing a collaboration with a local: a pizza with ingredients from BBQ restaurant Pecan Lodge featuring brisket, smoked fior di latte, jalapeño, pickled red onion, fontina crema, cilantro, and San Marzano barbecue sauce.
TLC Vegan Cafe: Vegan restaurant with corporate backing
New restaurant from veteran vegan chef Troy Gardner opened November 11 in Richardson at 1930 N. Coit Rd. #140 in the space previously occupied by Reverie Bakeshop, with dine-in and a market for sandwiches and other grab-and-go items. The menu includes Gardner's signature oyster mushrooms, said to taste like chicken, the inspiration for the name TLC, which stands for "Tastes like Chicken."
It's surely a big deal on the vegan front but it's also among the first locations in the country to offer Better Balance, a new plant-based food brand currently available in Europe and Mexico that launched in the U.S. in 2022 and is headquartered in Dallas.