For decades, Lower Greenville was the last neighborhood that came to mind if you were looking for a good meal. The area had its exceptions, and a few old-timers remain: Pietro's, Thai Thai, New Big Wong, Greenville Avenue Pizza and what many consider to be one of Dallas' best sushi places, Teppo.
But what Greenville Avenue was mostly noted for was bars. Bars and late-night partying and callous bar owners and, sadly, crime.
Cut to 2013, and things have changed. Bars must now get a special permit to stay open late, putting them under the scrutiny of the city. The streets have been narrowed, landscaping's been installed, and landlords are renting to restaurants. This once-boozy area stretching from Belmont down to Ross is now one of the most dining-friendly strips in the city.
What makes it unique is the fact that they're restaurants and businesses with specific angles – "foodie" angles.
Name any hot dining trend of the past couple of years, and it's now for sale on the Lower G.
Gluten free. GF is one of the biggest trends in food-eating. Company Cafe came early to Greenville Avenue and was ahead of the curve. This has to be the only place in the city with gluten-free chicken-fried steak. Burgers feature grass-fed beef, and the fries are sweet potato. Definitely save room for a thick slice of gluten-free cake in flavors such as peanut butter.
Ethnic finds. Sophisticated gourmands like to try new cuisines. Nora is the younger sibling to Afghan Grill in North Dallas; signatures include the kadu, sautéed pumpkin with yogurt. Qariah is Lebanese, featuring Middle Eastern classics such as falafel, grape leaves and hummus.
Paleo. This year's version of the Atkins diet has developed a small but fierce following, especially among fans of the macho CrossFit workout program. The "HG" in HG Sply Co. stands for "hunt and gather," the cornerstone of the Paleo diet. The menu is broken into meat and vegetables, with a few sandwiches and bountiful salads in between.
Craft beer. These days, every neighborhood must have its craft beer presence. On Greenville, you can find it two ways: at the growler bar-store called The Bottle Shop, or at Dallas Beer Kitchen, a restaurant with a friendly menu – hummus, burgers – and a well-stocked set of taps.
Gourmet grocery. When a headliner like Trader Joe's moves in, you have a scene with a capital S. This much-anticipated California discount gourmet grocery chain could have chosen any neighborhood in town for its first foray into Dallas proper. It chose Lower Greenville. It's a great place to get nuts, wine, ginger cookies, frozen fish fillets, edamame, mochi ice cream and more.
Food trucks. Greenville Avenue doesn't just have food trucks; it has the big Kahuna: a food truck park called Truck Yard that's straight out of Austin. Finally, a place to sit outside on picnic benches and drink beer and nosh on cheesesteaks and food from trucks served in throwaway containers.
Vegan. While no dedicated vegan restaurant has yet to open on Lower Greenville, it is surely a matter of time. Meanwhile, congenial bar Libertine picks up the slack with vegan beer dinners and vegan dishes on its menu, such as seitan tacos and delectable tempura-fried portobello mushroom fries.
Coffee. With Mudsmith, Barcadia's Brooke Humphries gives Greenville Avenue the "third wave" coffee spot it desperately needs. Mudsmith does great espresso and coffee drinks brewed via a variety of methods, including Chemex, V-60, French press and two gleaming La Marzocco machines, custom-made for Mudsmith. In addition to coffee, Mudsmith serves craft beer and wine on tap.