Where to Eat
Where to eat in Dallas right now: 5 fun new easy casual restaurants
This edition of Where to Eat, CultureMap's monthly list of top restaurant recommendations, is all about easy, breezy, casual (and sometimes fast-casual). Forget the formal, ponderous sit-down dinner. These are places where it's easy to get in and out, grab a bite, nothing heavy, man, just good food, maybe a glass of wine, maybe even get it to go.
Here's our October edition of where to eat:
Grocery-cafe concept with four locations — including a brand new one that just opened in the Knox Street district — conveniently has grocery basics, but it's way more than a grocery store. Their grab-and-go consists of an epic selection of prepared foods, not only extensive but also fresh, with everything from carrots & hummus to a turkey sandwich to breakfast tacos to sushi. Prices are more than reasonable, given the quality of the ingredients. The two downtown stores are an amazing amenity for workers and residents in the Central Business District, while the new Knox Street location has a lunch counter and wine bar where you can share a bottle or order by the glass, along with charcuterie and snacks.
Chic new spot in the Santander Tower at 1601 Elm St. in downtown Dallas is open for lunch and an afternoon pre-dinner repast from 3-7 pm. Fond is from chefs Jennie Kelley and Brandon Moore, who've been at the forefront of the pop-up scene with concepts such as Better Half and Frank, the Deep Ellum pop-up restaurant Kelley did with TV-famous chef Ben Starr. Menu items are replete with special touches: a grilled cheese with sharp cheddar on house-made sourdough. Morta & Pesto, a sandwich with mortadella, mozzarella, arugula, and pistachio pesto on house foccaccia. A Veggie sandwich with mushroom, broccoli rabe, and caramelized onions. And rotating sandwiches such as a Wagyu pastrami with Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and 1000 Island, on marble rye.
This truly original concept in North Dallas specializes in onigiri, a portable but hefty treat consisting of rice formed into a ball or triangular shape, stuffed with premium meats like Wagyu beef, smoked pork, shrimp, tuna, and veggies, wrapped neatly with a strip of seaweed. There's something truly satisfying about the contrast of chewy rice and savory filling, as well as the pleasing presentation of a fist-sized triangle with beautifully precise edges, like a gift you get to open. They also have dumplings, trendy bao buns, and fried chicken, and their customer service is superb. Open at 17421 Preston Rd. from 11 am-4 pm and 5-9 pm.
Nick the Greek
Fast-casual chain from California opened its first DFW-area location in Irving, at 7707 N MacArthur Blvd #110, with pitas, traditional plates, salads, sides, and desserts. Their lineup of "proteins" is unique and authentic, and includes "bifkteki," a well-seasoned Greek take on ground beef with a denser texture, and infused with parsley, garlic, onions, and oregano; and a killer falafel, also sharply seasoned and with a nubby texture. There are fries in three versions: seasoned with salt & oregano; Greek fries with feta, garlic, and green onion; or Nick's fries, a loaded fries dish with feta, garlic, spicy yogurt, and choice of protein topped with green onions.
Super fun fast-casual concept dedicated to quesadillas has opened its first Dallas location off Henderson Avenue at 1802 McMillan Ave. Plomo was founded in college town Fayetteville, Arkansas, near the University of Arkansas. Their flavors are bold and a bit mischievous such as the Jesse james with chicken, Buffalo ranch, green onions ... and Ruffles potato chips. They also package the quesadillas smartly, in paper cones that make them easy to go. There's always a fun monthly special — right now, it's Pumpkin Spice Churro Bites, tossed in Pumpkin Spice Sugar and Served with Pumpkin Frosting. Yum.