With coronavirus being the prevailing story, restaurant openings in Dallas died down for a few weeks. Months, even. And there's no predicting the future, especially when Gov. Greg Abbott is involved.
But these five new openings have emerged, full of optimism and safe practices, to cheer up these gloomy times.
Here are 5 brave new openings around Dallas:
More than a year in the making, this Cajun-Asian restaurant finally opened in the Bishop Arts District at 233 W. 7th St. in June. Krio began as a pop-up with dishes such as gumbo and po'boys with Asian flavors before owners Dan Bui and Connie Cheng settled on this permanent location.
Specialties include jambalaya eggrolls, with chicken jambalaya stuffed into an eggroll with sweet chili sauce on the side; and Cajun-esque baos consisting of a soft bun with pickled carrots, green onion, sriracha aioli, and choice of chicken, Andouille sausage, or shrimp.
Their slogan says it best: "Where the Far East meets the Deep South."
Standard Service is part of the HG Sply Co. empire, and opened its first location in 2016 in a faraway land called Rockwall. That restaurant relocated to an even more faraway land called Heath, where it has a sprawling campus with a stage for live music; outdoor LED screen for family movies and sports; turf areas for gaming; and fire pits.
Now a second location has quietly opened in the Lower Greenville neighborhood on Alta Avenue, in the space that used to be Feed Co., where it's open for lunch and dinner. They're even starting brunch this weekend with $2 mimosas on Saturday and Sunday.
The menu draws inspiration both from HG Sply Co and from Remedy, the now-closed restaurant on Greenville Avenue. Appetizers include Frito pie with bison, French onion dip, and deviled eggs. There are salads, bowls, sandwiches, wraps, and the burger from Remedy.
These Japanese sandwiches are so cool, they don't need the entire word. It's not "sandwich," it's "sando."
The menu is small: chicken katsu (breaded chicken cutlet), egg salad (although it's really more like soft-boiled eggs cut in half with the yolk all dripping out), truffled hot chicken, and strawberry with cream cheese. There is serious culinary cred and research behind them. They also have a unique dessert: miso brown sugar bread pudding topped with matcha powder.
But really, the packaging is what clinches it. They come in little boxes, and have stickers. They're trimmed neatly, like finger sandwiches, or like the sandwiches your fantasy mom made where she cut off the crusts.
Ordering them is a process. It requires a password. You must follow @sando.itchi to catch their weekly menu and pickup date. And they always sell out. This is for younger people. Curbside pickup is Wednesday and Thursday from 11 am-2 pm at Niwa Japanese BBQ in Deep Ellum.
Located in Oak Cliff/Cockrell Hill, on Jefferson Boulevard at the intersection of Cockrell Hill Road, this is the fourth location of a small family-owned restaurant concept that specializes in authentic Salvadoran and Mexican food. Salvadoran mostly, but some Mexican thrown in for good measure.
Of course, there are pupusas, the thick filled corn cake that's a Salvadoran signature but also sandwiches, empanadas, barbecue, fajitas, fried plantains, Salvadoran bread, and more.
Entrees such as Pan Con Pollo are homey: a bone-in chicken stew, with mayo, mustard, lettuce, hard-boiled egg, cucumber, tomato, and Salvadoran coleslaw on their famous white bread. And breakfasts are lush: Chopped eggs with tomato, green chili, and onion, or scrambled eggs with tomato, bell pepper, and onion, both served with beans and plantains. The Rodriguez family launched the concept and their son Edwin is currently at the helm, with locations in Farmers Branch, Dallas at I-35 and Royal Lane, and Grand Prairie.
New Italian restaurant has opened in Plano at 2707 W. 15th St. with your usual Italian-American specialties: pizzas, pastas, generous salads, and entrees such as cheese-stuffed tortellini with onions, Canadian bacon, mushrooms, tomatoes, and artichoke hearts in creamy pink sauce. Desserts include cannoli, tiramisu, and a nice-looking version of what others call a choco-flan, with chocolate cake on the bottom and a layer of custard on top.
That all sounds good, and it's fun to see the guy tossing the pizza crust in the air.
But the real reason to visit is the fabulously over-the-top decor. Plaster columns. Vividly-colored murals of the Venice canals and the Roman coliseum that cover entire walls. And the piece de resistance: an in-house "Leaning Tower of Pizza," an 8-foot-tall replica of the tourist favorite, which occupies a place of glory in the center of the dining room.
In the old days, they called this kitschy; today they call it "Insta-worthy."