Ex-Vietnamese restaurant in Oak Lawn Dallas re-opens with surprising new cuisine
A longtime Asian restaurant in Oak Lawn is reopening with a new profile. The restaurant formerly known as Green Papaya will re-open in early December as Green Papaya Plant-Based, with a menu that is focused on vegan and healthy dishes.
Popular manager Nathan Bui, who has stayed on to help run the new concept, says they've already started hosting previews and hope to be open by December 2.
With burgers, pizza, toasts, and bowls, the menu represents a dramatic departure from the original Green Papaya, which specialized in Vietnamese dishes such as shrimp spring rolls, beef pho, and the namesake green papaya salad.
The change in direction coincides with new ownership. Original founder Alan Mai sold the restaurant in 2019 to current owner Dylan Le, who wanted to recast it as a vegan/plant-based place.
"We've changed the whole restaurant," Nathan says. "We renovated the interior and did a total update on the menu."
Mai first opened Green Papaya in 1999 at 3211 Oak Lawn Ave. in a former coffee shop named Java Jones. He partnered with Khoa Nguyen, who owned East Wind in Deep Ellum (in the space that is now home to On Premise). With few Asian options in the Oak Lawn area, Green Papaya drew a following for its fresh food, plentiful portions, and lively bar.
But Mai was ready to retire from the restaurant biz, and Le felt it was time for a refresh.
The new menu offers breakfast all day, including the following dishes:
- Mushroom toast with mushrooms, umami spread, garlic, chipotle aioli, radish, maitake mushroom dust, truffle oil, seasonal microgreens
- Avocado toast with plum jam, garlic, radish, virgin olive oil, seasonal microgreens, on levain bread
- Unami Green, with Beyond crumbles, umami spread, garlic, truffle oil, black pepper, avocado pesto, radish, and togarashi, on levain bread with seasonal microgreens
- Bacon Egg & Cheese Bagel with Just eggs, cheddar, peanut sauce, smoked flaxseed cheese, and non-GMO soybean bacon, on an everything bagel
- Steak Egg & Cheese Bagel, with Impossible patty, Just eggs, cheddar cheese, peanut sauce, and smoked flaxseed cheese, on an everything bagel
- Hangry Bagel, with Non-GMO soybean bacon, lettuce, avocado, tomato, and goji-mango habanero, on an everything bagel
There's also a big selection of burgers including a bacon burger, smoked jalapeno burger, avocado truffle burger, and the Impossible Burger with sliced cheddar & "island sauce."
Healthy acai bowls include chia with banana & blueberries, Ube Love with purple potato, and a Summer Obsession with strawberries and dragon fruit.
A large selection of smoothies are truly like meals, in avant-garde flavors like the Valentine Vibe with purple potato, avocado, and coconut milk, and the chocolate Butter Shake with banana, cauliflower, chocolate, peanut butter, and date.
And there are nine pretty exotic latte drinks, some using ceremonial-grade matcha including Pistachio Matcha Latte and Lavender Matcha Latte. The Orange Latte has turmeric, cardamom, black pepper, and cinnamon, while the Rainbow Latte contains beet and camu camu, a South American fruit that's high in Vitamin C and antioxidants.
And for those nursing nostalgia, a few little Asian flavors do emerge on the menu such as the "Orange Chicken Burger," with cabbage & orange sauce; and the Lemongrass Chicken Burger with pickled beets, daikon, carrot, and garlic sauce.
It's a huge shift from its former identity as a neighborhood Asian favorite — but in its favor, there are few straight-up vegan places in this part of town, with the closest being Tiki Loco in Deep Ellum. Go plant-based.