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Spotty address on Dallas' Ross Avenue welcomes new pink palace restaurant

Spotty address on Dallas' Ross Ave welcomes new pink palace restaurant

XOXO Dining Room
The food seems like it'll be good. Courtesy photo

An unusual restaurant and lounge has opened along the Ross Avenue corridor leading into downtown Dallas in a space with a spotty past. Called XOXO Dining Room, it's opening at 3121 Ross Ave., a location most previously occupied by Republic Ranch.

XOXO is a mishmash, encompassing a dining room with a pink color scheme, and a "speakeasy" cocktail lounge with DJs on weekends.

A release says that managing partner Maria Lagios is taking her cues from Sketch London, a tea room and lounge noted for its pink dining room. XOXO follows suit with an eye-catching pink exterior paint job and Barbie-pink seating inside. Each booth has "press for champagne" doorbells, a feature that should be mandatory at every restaurant and bar.

Lagios says she feels fortunate to still be able to open and share her vision with the Dallas community even during the COVID-19 pandemic when several other concepts in Dallas have had to shut their doors.

They have a name-brand chef: Zach Warner, a Culinary Institute of America graduate whose resume extends from New York to Nantucket to Phoenix; from WD-50 to Wylie Dufresne restaurant Alder. Most recently, he was executive chef at Up On Knox in Dallas.

His menu includes arancini with truffle, "Impossible" meatballs, and iceberg salad. Entrees include 44 Farms Filet Mignon, Crisped Chicken, Rack of Lamb, and Ricotta Gnocchi with English peas, oyster mushrooms, and black truffle.

Sides include Smoked Potato Mousse, a fancy mashed potatoes; and fries tossed with parmesan and truffle oil. Desserts include something called the cupcake wheel, infused with strawberry champagne.

Mr.X is the speakeasy. To find the entrance, you need to do some kind of texting routine on your cellphone. Vintage phones are part of the lounge's decorative theme, and there's entertainment such as burlesque dancers, aerial artists, and live music. Edgy.

Prior to the ill-fated Republic Ranch, which got shut down by the city for pretending to be a restaurant when it was really a bar, this location was a catering operation called Victoria Hall, and has flipped back and forth over the years between caterer and restaurant.

XOXO was on the brink of opening in March but that got postponed by  COVID-19. And with the pandemic, they'll observe limited hours: Thursday-Saturday from 6 pm-to midnight, with plans to extend the hours in July.