Legendary Dakota's Steakhouse in downtown Dallas reopens with new boss
An iconic Dallas steakhouse that closed in 2020 due to the coronavirus is getting a second life: Dakota's Steakhouse, a downtown landmark in a one-of-a-kind subterranean location at 600 N. Akard St. for 36 years, will reopen in July under the mantle of a new owner, Meredith McEneny.
McEneny won the space but was not the only one vying for it; a number of operators had expressed interest in taking it over.
McEneny is a familiar name in the Dallas restaurant world: Meredith's husband is Tim McEneny, a longtime operator and current owner of Sloane's Corner. Meredith has worked with Tim for more than a decade in behind-the-scenes roles such as accounting and payroll.
Tim helped run Dakota's in recent years: He was hired by Lincoln Property Corporation in 2009 to oversee the operation and his 10-year contract ended in December 2019. Lincoln shut down the restaurant just months later.
Meredith became moved to get more involved due to her personal connection with Dakota's, which includes but also extends beyond her husband's involvement.
"I remember celebrating special occasions there when I attended SMU," McEneny says. "Tim put a lot of time and effort into Dakota's, and I hope to not let all of that go to waste."
Tim McEneny's concepts have included Jalisco Norte, Front Room Tavern, and Dish. In addition to Sloane's Corner, he also launched Pizza Leila, a ghost kitchen for Sicilian-style pizza, in 2020.
In a statement, Tim says he's proud that Meredith has ventured into the hospitality world. "We're truly a restaurateur family now with me, Meredith, and even our daughters having restaurants with their monikers." (Sloane's is named for one daughter, and Pizza Leila is named for another.)
Dakota's Steakhouse was among Dallas' oldest restaurants when it closed in 2020, and its closure provoked great nostalgia for its unique location and history.
The restaurant had seen many Dallas food & beverage veterans during its tenure including chefs Bertin Tamayo, Jesse Carmona, Taylor Kearney, Ted Grieb, Chris Arbukle, Pete Harrison, Jim Severson, Martin Sarabia, Cole Kelley, and Lisa Smith; as well as front-of-the-house professionals such as Courtney Luscher, Michael Cox, Jeff Barker, and Janet Cobb.
The menu is still in development but will feature USDA Prime steaks from famed purveyor Allen Bros. including filet mignon, New York strip, and a 32-ounce dry-aged tomahawk steak, as well as seafood towers, oysters, and lobster tail.
The kitchen will get a total overhaul, but in terms of ambience, Meredith intends to preserve signature elements including the room's Italian Carrera marble, wood paneling, gas lamps, and black & white photos. The space's other amenities include a granite water wall, with lava rock fire pit and black granite bar.