No More Rubble

Long-rumored closure of Dallas restaurant turns out to be true

Long-rumored closure of Dallas restaurant turns out to be true

Matt McCallister in the kitchen at FT33 in Dallas
Chef Matt McCallister in the kitchen. Photo by Robert Bostick

Dallas Design District restaurant FT33 is closing, according to chef Matt McCallister, who confirms rumors that have circulated for the past few months.

The restaurant will close on June 23.

"It’s just time for the next chapter," McCallister says. "I’m a little more grown up and it’s time to do something with a little more polish."

FT33 was an early settler in the Design District, setting up shop in 2012, well before the area became the buzzy destination it is now. It opened as the city's most serious foodie restaurant, with McCallister adopting state-of-the-art culinary tricks — foams, gels, liquid nitrogen, and plates with food spread like rubble — seen mostly in other cities such as Copenhagen, home to famed Noma restaurant.

The restaurant came of age at the height of social media; McCallister posted photos of trips foraging for local ingredients such as wild onions, or dishes with elaborate ingedient lists such as this May 4 entry:

"Raw snapper with new potato, dill, and pinto miso // we make essentially a leche de tigre with dill brining liquid, chipotles in adobo, Texas olive oil and fresh dill, an aioli with our pinto miso then layer that down with raw snapper, dill oil, just barely blanched new potatoes is salty water and fry and dress some in a mix of dried dill, green garlic, shiitake mushroom, and banana pepper powders."

FT33 was also buoyed in a way that few other restaurants have been by a series of unfailingly positive reviews from the Dallas Morning News, and garnered attention from magazines such as Food & Wine, moving it to the list of restaurants that diners went for special occasions.

It made CultureMap's Top 100 list of the best restaurants in Dallas, coming in at No. 7, and has also earned numerous semifinalists nominations from James Beard.

True to form, McCallister used social media to announce the closure.

"I never planned on FT33 being around forever and most people who know me knew this day would eventually come," he says on Facebook. "I still smile thinking about all the great times, crazy ideas, relentless pushing to BE better, DO better, and push new ideas to our amazing staff and guests. I look at the food we are doing now and it makes me proud to know that, for now, it has a place and a story to tell. I feel that the food we are cooking now is what FT always aspired to be but it took a while to find its true voice. I’ve also grown up a bit…maybe I’ve grown beyond what FT once fulfilled for me. That isn’t a bad thing…it just is."

"This is also the 2-year mark of my sobriety, which was not intentional but feels serendipitous," McCallister says.

He also says he has "something fun" in the works, which has also been the subject of rumors. ("He's doing chicken." "It's a wood-fired grill." "It's going into the old Beck's Prime space.")

In 2016, he opened the ill-fated Filament, a more casual restaurant concept in Deep Ellum; it closed in 2017, prompting a lawsuit over unpaid rent. More recently, he consulted on the menu at Malibu Poke, the poke restaurant concept from TJ's owner Jon Alexis.

"While part of me feels a sense of relief to finally get to this moment, it is still bittersweet and full of emotion," he says.