For a variety of reasons, certain restaurants in Dallas get the royal treatment when they open. Sometimes it's fair, sometimes it's not. This is not for us to say. For us, we're just striving to not pile on to the latest big thing. For this chapter of Where to Eat, we're trying to champion restaurants that merit attention, regardless of the buzz.
These 10 restaurants are all putting out great food, and the good news is, they probably have an open table.
Here's our list of restaurants that deserve a second look:
Blatt Beer & Table
One of the many dining options at Preston Hollow Village, this gastropub has a congenial atmosphere, lots of great beers, TVs if you want them, and solid, affordable food. They recently updated their brunch menu, with new dishes such as chicken and waffles, smoked salmon cakes, cinnamon roll waffles, and the veg-friendly Southern tofu tacos.
Downtown Dallas restaurant was a-buzz when it opened, and it has also received national attention for its charitable mission of giving at-risk youths a culinary career. But things have died down. They also cycle in (and out) interesting chefs. Currently in the kitchen: Patton Robertson, formerly of Five Sixty; and John Mercer, previously at V-Eats, the vegan restaurant at Trinity Groves. New dishes include an entree that revolves entirely around a king oyster mushroom, served with kale and spaghetti squash.
Deep Ellum has been rocking and rolling with openings and closings, and yet this bistro on the eastern edge of the neighborhood keeps chugging along. If you want a personal experience with a hands-on chef, Local is your place. Tracy Miller has a chef's tasting with seven courses that iclude roasted butternut squash soup, polenta with chantarelles and charred broccolini, and short rib with roasted fall squash-sweet potato mash and Balsamic-maple jus.
Maple Leaf Diner
North Dallas spot gives a Canadian twist to the home-cooking joint, combining classics like meat loaf and fried chicken with Canada's famed french fry dish, poutine, in which the fries are covered with cheese curds and gravy. Breakfast is a mad scene but you can slip in like a ninja for dinner, no sweat.
For its ardent Oak Cliff regulars, Nova is far from obscure — it's their beloved neighborhood restaurant with nicely prepared food served without pretension. There's seafood and a bit of a low-country theme to the menu, with dishes like red rice and Andouille sausage, fried oysters, and cheese grits. Service can be iffy, but locals just take it in stride as part of its charm.
Design District restaurant got the royal treatment when it debuted, majorly. But that was six years ago, and other foodie darlings have come along and sucked all the attention away. When that happens, you get out of Dodge or you buckle down. Owners Richard and Tiffanee Ellman gave the restaurant a makeover and installed new cocktails and dishes like grilled beet and fig salad, and a hummus made from pumpkin seed.
Pok the Raw Bar
West Village restaurant was among the first in the wave of poke restaurants, but it's the non-poke stuff they do that compels a visit. There's a beets and sweet potato bowl with avocado, and another bowl with shiitake mushrooms and kimchi. Trend watchers have futilely predicted tea as a rising trend over the years, but Pok brings it to life, pairing matcha with ingredients like almond milk, turmeric, and dates.
It's a chain, but it's from Dallas, it's still real small, and people go nuts for fried chicken. Fried chicken tenders form the base of the menu, which you can get with sauces on the side or in a handful of sandwiches such as Nashville hot, or else topped with BBQ sauce and cheddar cheese. The other building block here is frozen custard, available in a cone, shake, or blended with ingredients into a thick flavorful "fusion." A fourth location just opened at 3311 Preston Rd. in Frisco.
Y.O. Ranch Steakhouse
West end steakhouse from a member of the famed Street family does steak and big game, plus smoked meats and even a smoked baked potato. Ever since The Palm closed, Y.O. has become even more popular as a business lunch destination. You can get a buffalo filet for $28 served with mashed potatoes and two grilled shrimp, or else saddle up to the bar and dig into a bowl of chuck wagon chili for $6.
Zoli's NY Pizza
If only the word could get out on this hidden find, which moved very quietly from its original location in Oak Cliff to the North Dallas/Addison border. In a spacious, welcoming room decorated with clever winks to pop culture, it's serving up pizza with great crust and Italian-American classics like garlic knots and chicken parm. It's also a cousin to Cane Rosso, the celebrated Dallas-based Neapolitan pizza chain, which you possibly have never heard of, either.