Downtown Dallas just got a sophisticated new restaurant from a pair of savvy pop-up pros: Called Fond, it's a chic new spot in the Santander Tower at 1601 Elm St. #110, where it's 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, which has surfaced at restaurants such as Cosmo's and Lounge Here; and Frank, the Deep Ellum pop-up restaurant Kelley did with TV-famous chef Ben Starr.

Fond is the first brick-and-mortar for Kelley and Moore, who previously helmed the kitchen at Ocean Prime in Uptown Dallas. It's a three-pronged concept under one roof:

  • lunch spot
  • natural wine bar
  • "Aperitivo Hour," an innovative late-afternoon drop-in for snacks and drinks to be enjoyed after work and or a teaser before dinner

With Fond, they're providing not only a new destination for downtown, but also a built-in amenity for the Santander building, formerly Thanksgiving Tower, which is converting 14 floors into residential units.

"It's a place for residents in the building to come down and get quality food," Kelley says.

Their lunch menu features soups like lemony chicken orzo; salads such as a smoked salmon Niçoise; and sandwiches including a club, a veggie on a hoagie roll, and a rotating sandwich such as the one-of-a-kind bologna sandwich on bread made in house, with bologna imported from Michigan.

"When people try it, they say it's the best bologna sandwich they've had," Kelley says. "Our goal is to take the things you might see elsewhere and elevate them a little bit."

A grab-and-go section has items for under $10, for workers on the run.

After lunch ends at 2 pm, they reopen from 3-7 pm with a separate menu for the Aperitivo Hour, featuring Detroit-style pizzas and shared plates which can serve as a pre-dinner appetizer or an all-out dinner feast.

FondFond boasts chic chairs, pale woods, Edison light bulbs.Jeffrey Liles

This may sound like Happy Hour, but Moore cautions that it is not.

"When you say Happy Hour, people assume discount drinks," he says. "But this is more like the aperitif hour you find in Europe where you wind down from the day with light snacks and wine before dinner."

This is the only time they offer Detroit-style pizza - Moore is a native of Detroit - with a house-made sourdough crust, "secret" cheese blend, and a variety of sauces including Motor City Red, vodka sauce, and Bolognese. The "Brussell Crowe" has Brussels sprouts, onions, bacon, and garlic; the Better Half has famous Jimmy's sausage, broccoli rabe, and vodka sauce.

"From the Better Half pop-ups, we've developed a repertoire of about 10 pizza options, which we'll rotate through at Fond," Kelley says.

Shared plates include many veg-friendly options such as carrots cooked for two hours via the sous-vide method and served with Tajin aioli; and fingerling potatoes with garlic crisps and Romanesco aioli. There's also soft-serve ice cream for dessert.

The third major element in Fond is the unwavering dedication to natural wines, the only wines they'll serve, plus local beer and batched cocktails. Natural wines are a growing category and indicate wines made with organically or biodynamically grown grapes, with no or low sulfites, which are used to preserve wine but can cause headaches, stomach aches, and other symptoms.

They were originally looking to open in The Cedars, but were encouraged by Downtown Dallas, Inc. to consider the Central Business District. They've given the location a spiffy-chic design with Edison bulbs, plush white leatherette banquettes, and creative floral arrangements.

They landed in the space in a serendipitous way.

"We were walking around downtown, when I spotted these chairs in the space," Kelley says. "They were these very clean, white, modern European-looking chairs. The entire space was appealing with concrete floors and natural wood. I asked about the chairs but they belonged to another business planning to open there. They ended up not opening, so we not only got the chairs, we got the whole space."


New food park in East Dallas lets kids roam freely while the parents sip

Food Park News

A family-friendly outdoor food park has opened in East Dallas: Shindig Food Park, located at 3732 Samuell Blvd., is a new destination for families to eat and relax without worrying about their kids.

The park is from Terri and Kam De León, a pair of hospitality industry veterans who've created a place designed around family so everybody can have a good time.

"Bring us your children, the entire soccer team and their families, where they can run around, enjoy a good time. We will never ask your children to sit down," Kam says.

The couple, who previously owned a catering business called De León Provisions, came up with the food park idea as a place that parents could take a group after flag football games and other events. They're on a half-acre space in what was once upon a time a Keller's Hamburgers. Kids can run around freely, and there is plenty of parking.

They currently have one permanent vendor: Locura Bites, a restaurant specializing in elotes and other Mexican items, which was previously at Trinity Groves.

The rest of the food options consist of rotating food trucks and small operators. Recent vendors include Pop Popcorn and Beary Cool Shaved Ice. A beverage window sells soda, beer, wine, and cocktails.

A dog-friendly patio, which Terri and Kam's sons helped build over the summer, features pallets, small trampolines, a ping-pong table, and TVs with sports on. The spot is nestled between I-30 and Samuell Grand Park, and is right by White Rock Creek, which creates a breeze, even in the hottest days of summer. Patio shades help, as well.

They're currently open Tuesday-Sunday 5-10 pm, but plan to open at 3 pm after Labor Day, for after-school visits, and all day on weekends for post-game crowds.

Photo courtesy of Klyde Warren Park

Klyde Warren Park presents National Food Truck Day

Klyde Warren Park will host thousands of North Texas food enthusiasts for its annual National Food Truck Day celebration. The celebration will include an array of activities for visitors to enjoy while snacking, including free games and photo ops, as well as summer fun in the Nancy Best Fountain and recently enhanced Children's Park.

Photo courtesy of Market Street Allen USA Celebration

Market Street Allen USA

Market Street Allen USA Celebration

Market Street Allen USA, presented by Credit Union of Texas, is a summer party featuring music from Emerald City Band and Audacity, food trucks, and one of the best fireworks shows in Dallas-Fort Worth.


Dallas gelato startup featuring fun Filipino flavors hosts first pop-up

Ice Cream News

There's a new Dallas-based artisanal gelato with a Filipino twist. Called Sorbetera, it's a startup that delivers gelato and frozen desserts to your door, and is about to host its very first pop-up.

The concept was founded by pastry chef Cessy Mendoza and marketing/operations manager Kai Ayala, both natives of The Philippines who moved here in their teens.

In the Philippines, a "sorbetero" is an ice cream street vendor, typically manned by men. Sorbetera with an "A" is their twist.

"We want to offer a product that embodies Filipino flavors and brings nostalgic memories of back home," Ayala says.

They offer gelato in scoops and cups to-go, plus what they call "ice-candy" popsicles, featuring ingredients such as jackfruit, ube, and calamansi, the Philippine citrus that evokes flavors of kumquat and mandarin, purchased at local Asian markets.

"With Filipinos, word about authentic items spreads quickly, and about half of our business is in the Filipino community," Ayala says. "But the other half of our customers are a diverse, adventurous mix."

Flavors include:

  • Ube: Purple yam with latik (caramelized coconut curds)
  • Taho: Silken tofu, brown sugar syrup, and sago (little tapioca balls), typically served hot, which they transformed into gelato
  • Calamansi: Their first sorbet

They distribute weekly to a growing group of fans, with varying dropoff points that change, depending on who orders.

"We currently don't have a permanent zip code, but we service all of DFW by organizing local meet-ups/drop off points and concentrating them where most of our clients order from," Ayala says. "They vary week over week."

They offer two sizes: 8 ounce for $9 or 4 ounce for $6. If you bundle flavors, there's a discount: three 8-ounce servings for $20, or three 4-oounce servings for $15.

Mendoza comes from a family of caterers and has worked at acclaimed restaurants including Nobu Las Vegas, where she started her career as well as Nobu Dallas, Nobu Houston, Abacus, Georgie’s, Villa Azur, and the W Hotel.

Ayala has a background in corporate technology, and is also a food blogger. Their skills are complementary: Ayala leads marketing and operations while Mendoza oversees menu creation, which changes monthly.

For example, during May, they created two sweet flavors that were dedicated to their moms:

  • Abokado at Kondensada: "Tita Chit (Kai’s mom) loves everything avocado. She grew up eating it with sugar or condensed milk, just like our gelato! Tita Chit is a cancer survivor who continues to find comfort in eating all things avocado, including our gelato."
  • Turon (Banana and jackfruit in a spring roll wrapper and caramelized with sugar): "Tita Letty (Cessy’s mom) is a chef of her own right. Cessy learned how to cook and bake by watching her. Our Turon flavor is inspired by her. Tita Letty continues to be a huge influence in Cessy’s visions for Sorbetera."

On June 17, they'll do their first pop-up with a booth at Queens Market, a semi-regular event at Vector Brewing featuring 30-plus women-owned small businesses. They'll be offering two flagship flavors: Taho and Ube Halaya, plus, two of their "ice-candy" (popsicle) flavors: Cantaloupe with evaporated and condensed milk; and Maiz con hielo IE, iced sweet corn. Admission to the market is free, but they suggest reservations; find information online.

Photo courtesy of Fair Park

Fair Park Fourth

Fair Park Fourth will feature hands-on activities for kids, live music, photo opportunities, food trucks, and other concession offerings. As the sun sets, a spectacular firework show will light the sky. Guests can experience the show inside the iconic Cotton Bowl Stadium or across Fair Park.

In addition to Fair Park Fourth activities, guests can visit some of Fair Park’s cultural institutions and attractions, including the African American Museum, Children’s Aquarium, and Texas Discovery Gardens.

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New H-E-B stores in DFW top this week's 5 hottest Dallas headlines

This week's hot headlines

Editor's note: A lot happened this week, so here's your chance to get caught up. Read on for the week's most popular headlines. Looking for the best things to do this weekend? Find that listhere.

1. H-E-B continues Dallas expansion with 3 new supermarkets in the suburbs. Texas supermarket chain H-E-B continues its Dallas-Fort Worth expansion, with three new stores in the works. The retailer is opening stores in Melissa, Prosper, and Rockwall. This comes just as the chain opens a new store in Allen.

2. Country's largest hot springs pool complex coming to Grandscape in The Colony. The newest attraction headed to Grandscape in The Colony is a wellness spa-amusement park: WorldSprings, a nine-acre outdoor mineral springs experience, will debut in spring 2024.

3. Award-winning Mexican restaurant hits the jackpot at new location in Denton. A DFW restaurant that's earned national acclaim has opened in Denton: El Rincón del Maiz, previously of Garland, is now located at 1431 E. McKinney St. in Denton where it's winning over locals with its Tex-Mex classics and vegan dishes.

4. New burger joint in McKinney with chef toppers and full bar is a sizzler. McKinney has a new burger joint that is already lighting up the Collin County foodie scene. Called Loyo Burger, it's part of the Local Yocal empire, and is newly opened in downtown McKinney at 216 W. Virginia St. #102.

5. Pickleball-restaurant with chef-level food paddles into Farmers Branch. A new pickleball concept is paddling into Farmers Branch: Called At Fault, it's a pickleball-restaurant facility, opening its first DFW location at 2330 Jett St., in spring 2024.

Where to drink in Dallas right now: 5 best new happy hours

Where to Drink

Maybe because it's fall or maybe because we're just lucky, but it's an especially rich time right now for happy hour offerings, with five spots that have either just debuted new happy hours (or are about to debut). There's a chef take at a restaurant-bar on Greenville Avenue; a fun music bar in Bishop Arts; a chance to sneak into a upscale steakhouse in a Dallas high-rise; and a restaurant-bar overlooking a tranquil golf course in Frisco.

Here's five hot new happy hours for our latest installment of Where to Drink:

Quarter Acre
Greenville Avenue restaurant has a new “Garden Hour” happy hour program Tuesday-Friday from 5-6:30 pm on the patio or at the bar, featuring snacks, three for $11, such as the Watermelon Bite, Crispy Pork Belly with avocado whip and sour lime, Half Shell Oyster with kiwi bubbles and rosé mignonette, and Mushroom Croquette with goat cheese. Select cocktails are $8 including the Front Deck Spritz with Aperol, passionfruit, and bubbles; and Bumble Bee’s Knees with Ford’s Gin, honey, and lemon. Three bottles of wine are $40: Pierre Sparr “Brut” Cremant d’Alsace, Mahua Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough 2022, or Black Cottage Pinot Noir, Marlborough 2021.

Revelers Hall
New Orleans-style bar in Bishop Arts has a new summer happy hour Monday-Friday from 4-7 pm, with good deals: half-price food, $6 wines, $5 well drinks, and $4 beers. They also have live music daily, featuring a variety of genres including jazz, bebop, Cumbia, and Latin jazz. Plus indoor and outdoor seating, and now is the time of year for that.

Ryder Cup Grille
Restaurant-bar at the Omni PGA Frisco Resort — one of 13 restaurants and bars at the resort — has a new happy hour with postcard-worthy views overlooking the Fields Ranch golf courses. It's an early one, running Monday-Friday from 2-5 pm and includes some domestic beers for $6, house wines for $10, and Ranch Water for $13. Food specials include Parmesan fries ($7), a guacamole and salsa flight ($9), chicken tenders with Buffalo sauce, Deep Ellum blue cheese dressing, and ranch ($11), nachos with brisket and refried beans ($12), and Cobb salad ($12).

SER Steak & Spirits
Steakhouse on the 27th floor of the Hilton Anatole has a Social Hour Tuesday-Thursday from 5-6:30 pm with $10 cocktails, $10 wines by the glass. A new bar menu features oysters, beef tartare, and gochujang chicken, priced from $9 to $23. They also have two new cocktails: Fall Berry Bush with tequila, Chambord, lime, rosemary, and sage; and a boozy lemonade with vodka, lavender, dill, lemon juice, and soda water.

Whiskey Cake
A new $7 Social Hour begins September 26, and runs Monday-Friday 3-6 pm with cocktails like the Old Fashioned, Margarita, Daiquiri, and a CYOM (create your own martini) with vodka or gin, clean or dirty, wet or dry, shaken or stirred, with a twist of lemon or olives, all for $7. House wines are also $7 and beers are $5. A menu of bar bites includes Wagyu corn dogs, BBQ spiced pork rinds, and blue cheese kettle chips.

Famous doner kebab restaurant makes Dallas debut with location in Frisco

Kebab News

A big name in doner kebabs is coming to Dallas-Fort Worth: German Doner Kebab, famous for pioneering gourmet doner kebabs in the UK and worldwide, will open its first location in Frisco, at 12025 E. University Dr. #100.

According to a release, it'll open on September 25, with seating for 77, making it the brand’s largest North American restaurant in terms of capacity.

Doner kebabs are a street food, centered on meat cooked on a rotating vertical spit. The name comes from two Turkish words: 'Doner' meaning rotate, and 'Kebap' meaning grilled meat. It's similar to a gyro, but döner meat is made from lamb or pork, while gyros are lamb or chicken.

German Doner Kebab, abbreviated GDK, is known for its distinctive waffle bread, in which the pita-like bread is imprinted with a waffle pattern. The company opened its first restaurant in Berlin in 1989 and is headquartered in Scotland. There are now 100-plus locations across UK, Europe, and the Middle East.

They made their U.S. debut in 2021 and have locations in New Jersey, Astoria, Queens, New York, and Sugar Land, Texas, outside Houston, which opened in 2022.

Their menu features doner kebabs made with toasted waffle bread, halal meat, vegetables, and signature sauces. GDK locations have an open kitchen so you can see the food being prepared to order.

In addition to the waffle bread, you can get the doner as a wrap, a panini, or in quesadilla form. Other items include a burger topped with Doritos and cheese sauce - like chips & salsa on top of doner meat, but all inside a bun; a black bean veggie burger; spring rolls; jalapeno poppers; and fries in a quartet of options including cheese fries, flaming fries, and curry fries.

“Many Americans are familiar with gyro, shawarma, and shish kebabs, however our ‘doner kebabs’ will be a new experience in both taste and format to most," says GDK North America managing director Nigel Belton in a statement.