Dallas diners are rather coddled. They're surrounded by restaurants accommodating their every whim, whether it's delivery, gluten-free crusts, or a willingness to serve customers who come in at 9:55 pm when the restaurant is closing at 10.
Everywhere you turn, restaurants are serving decent meals in a nice environment with attentive service. They keep regular hours and websites with reliable info like phone numbers and such that diners need.
Those restaurants have clearly not studied Buddhism, with the very first basic truth, loosely translated, being that "existence is suffering." To suffer — in this case, to not be provided with a menu or to not get all the choices you want — is to live.
These precious restaurants are more enlightened. We're not talking about an occasional gaffe or that one time they forgot to bring you an extra napkin. These are restaurants that have hard-wired denial into their very business plan. They know that to give us everything we think we want will interfere with our journey to nirvana.
Davis Street Espresso: One milk
Owner Shannon Neffendorf is unquestionably the most Zen guy in town. At Davis Street Espresso, his coffee shop that adjoins his coffee roasting company Oak Cliff Coffee Roasters, he's created his ideal coffee shop, with two elements that, at any other coffee shop would be a no-go, but no problem here. First, the hours: They're not open on Sunday. How do you be a coffee shop that's closed on Sunday? You be Davis Street. Second, the milk situation: If you order a coffee or espresso beverage, your only choice is whole milk. Your desire for lowfat, soy, or almond milk is bourgeois and vill not be fulfilled.
Village Baking Co.: Empty website
Let's say you have a stash of croissants purchased from a variety of bakeries hoarded in your freezer for a rainy day. Rainy day comes, you pull out a croissant, heat it up, and take a bite. It is not the plain croissant it appears to be. Instead, it has a slice of proscuitto running down the middle. Euu. You narrow down the options from whence it may have come. Village Baking Co., the picturesque boulangerie on Greenville Avenue, is looking like the likely suspect. You go to their website to see if they make proscuitto croissants. There you will find: An explanation of their "craft." A photo of a guy holding a round of dough. A couple of cheery testimonials. But a menu of the items they sell? What a pedestrian mentality you have. Why would you expect them to list something practical like their products?
La Reunion: No menu
New not-coffeehouse in Oak Cliff comes with sterling credentials. Mike Mettendorf is a coffee consultant and competitor in national barista contests. General manager and "Director of Coffee" (precious!) is Ali Aberrahman, the No. 1 Barista in Texas at the U.S. Barista Champs for 2019. The place comes with so many things including wine, cocktails, food, a patio, and extra-fancy espresso machines hidden under the counter, the idea being that there's nothing between you and your barista. The one thing they don't have: a menu. No list of drinks from which you can choose, not even an espresso or cappuccino to serve as a lifeboat. "Tell me what you like and I can make it for you," the barista says. But what if you don't even know where to begin? Anyway, menus are so limiting. Menus are for suckers.
Salaryman: No room
Izakaya-style restaurant in Bishop Arts from chef Justin Holt is wowing diners and critics with its menu of yakitori, ramen, and cocktails featuring shochu and Japanese whisky. (No sake, because sake is, obviously, too obvious.) Holt is making his noodles in-house using Texas wheat, and fermenting his own pickles and miso. But due to no fault of his, the restaurant is tiny: 27 seats at the bar, a communal table, and three dining tables, and their policy is that you will sit where you're assigned to sit, even if you're squished in with complete strangers. If the restaurant's full, your option is to add your name to a clipboard with a waitlist. Hostesses are so passe. It's been said that the best first date is one where you, as a couple, are forced to confront challenging circumstances, and thereby form a bond. To that end, Salaryman comes highly recommended as a first date option.
Pok the Raw Bar: No cash
West Village restaurant that helped usher the Japanese-Hawaiian seafood dish poke into Dallas has great food, an innovative menu, and an awesome matcha tea program. They do bowls and vegan dishes and recently appointed a name-brand new chef, Jorge Dionicio, who has updated the menus at both Pok and its sister restaurant, Namo. Both of which in 2018 instated a modern policy in which they do not take cash, their reasoning being to simplify things and not have to deal with germ-ridden paper money. And you can forget that giant barrel of pennies. It's card only, baby. If you're not carrying plastic, then no sushi or poke for you.