Beloved Dream Cafe scores prominent relocation spot in Uptown Dallas
UPDATE 7-7-2021: Dream Cafe opened in its new location on June 30.
One of Dallas' longest-running and most-cherished restaurants is relocating: Dream Cafe, which has been serving wholesome, healthy food at the Quadrangle for 33 years, will move to a more prominent location on McKinney Avenue, Uptown Dallas' main drag.
The restaurant is moving to 2811 McKinney Ave., IE the space formerly occupied by Christies Sports Bar. Dream Cafe owner Mary O'Brien says the move will take place in early summer.
The cafe's days are numbered since Stream Realty Partners, the developer that bought the center in 2019, plans to build a 12-story office and new retail space.
Christies, which shuttered in July (and has since reopened on Greenville Avenue), is a perfect location because it's still in Uptown and offers some Dream-y amenities including a tranquil courtyard oasis.
"We'll have a patio in front on McKinney Avenue and an amazing courtyard for folks who want to be outside but not in the streetside hubbub," O'Brien says.
The Dream Cafe first opened in 1986 on Knox Street, starting out as a "healthy" place with an easygoing, quirky, hippie-ish, effortlessly hip, California-Austin vibe. More than a few artist and photographer types have worked — and eaten — there over the years.
The cafe relocated to the Quadrangle in 1988 where its combination of good-quality food at an affordable price has been a perennial pleaser. It draws clientele from all walks of life, creating a sense of community and urbanity that's unique and can be summed up in its informal slogan, "We filter coffee, not people."
The Dream has also been a trailblazer: It was ahead of the curve on the vegetarian front and one of the first places in Dallas where a vegan could eat, specifically the "square meal" with black beans, brown rice, and an irresistible tahini miso dressing.
It was also among the first restaurants in Dallas to make brunch a tradition, and to so purposefully incorporate an outdoor patio.
You could be pretty much guaranteed a wait on Sunday, but an adjoining pasture of grass that ran along Laclede Street made that wait tolerable, and offered a sweet haven of nature in the middle of the city as well as a place for diners' kids to play. Alas, that space was developed into the Amli Quadrangle apartment complex in 2008.
At the new spot, O'Brien will use the occasion to try some things, including a reintroduction of dinner.
"We used to be open for dinner until I stopped a few years ago, but customers still ask for it," she says. "I'm starting to work on the menu, and that's been fun. At first, we'll start with a small lunch on weekdays and weekend brunch, then when the dust settles, we'll add dinner Wednesday through Saturday night."
There've been Dream Cafe expansions over the years, including a location in Oak Cliff at 1131 N. Zang Blvd. in the mid-'90s, and Addison, which opened in 2003 and thrived for 15 years before closing in 2018. One other location on Mockingbird Lane which opened in 2017 is owned by a franchisee.
"I feel nostalgic about the Quadrangle, I've been there a long time and it put me on the map, so I'll always be appreciative," O'Brien says. "But I'm excited about moving. Uptown has changed so much and continues to change, and I see this as an opportunity to do some new things."