A Town Called Alice

Pan-Asian restaurant brings the bao to prized spot near downtown Dallas

Pan-Asian restaurant brings bao to prized spot near downtown Dallas

Alice Dallas
Cool new gal named Alice is in town. Photo courtesy of Brian Rutt

A new restaurant has snared the prized spot near downtown Dallas vacated by Joyce & Gigi's. Called Alice, it's a pan-Asian restaurant that will reside at 1623 N. Hall St., in the space next to Fiction Coffee, with a target opening date of March 1.

Alice comes from a group headed by Brian Rutt, who founded The Standard Pour as well as hot event space DEC on Dragon St. He's also behind a handful of other venues including High Fives, The Whipper Snapper, and the recently-opened Tiny Victories in Oak Cliff.

Rutt travels frequently to Asia for business, which has given him an awareness and appreciation of the cuisine. That helped inspire the menu at Alice: pan-Asian shared plates, with dishes such as shumai dumplings, spring rolls, and bao, the irresistible steamed bun from China filled with meats or vegetables that's become very trendy.

The concept was visioned in part to fill a niche for Rutt and his partners, who sought something beyond the bar scene.

"We have grown with our concepts," Rutt says. "We wanted to create an atmosphere to hang out, have dinner, and enjoy the conversation of the room, back to the spirit of the '50s and '60s."

Joyce & Gigi's was the charming Peruvian restaurant from chef Gigliola "Gigi" Zimmermann with her mother Joyce. They opened in a former body shop in 2012, preceding a massive revival along Ross Avenue, which has seen new apartment buildings, restaurants, and bars such as Ross & Hall, East Bound and Down, and Republic Ranch.

When her lease ended after five years, Zimmermann opted not to renew and closed in mid-2017 — setting off a flurry of inquiries from interested restaurateurs. Scoring the location was a coup.

Alice will be an exercise in minimalism, with 40-50 seats, plus a patio. They'll be open nights only Tuesday-Saturday, from 6-11 pm, with later hours on the weekend, when it will revert into a sexy neighborhood cocktail lounge with a a DJ playing sultry '70s and '80s tunes.

There'll be 25 items on the menu, max and the bar is similarly restrained, with half a dozen cocktails, and a wine list consisting of five reds and five whites. "We're going for quality over quantity," Rutt says.