The Greek Cafe

A revered family-owned restaurant in Dallas' Oak Cliff has closed: The Greek Cafe, which had been open more than 13 years, shut down, according to a heartfelt note from co-owner Joanna Tatakis.

"It is with great sadness I announce that we have closed and will not be able to open back up," she said. "I’m sorry it has taken me so long to tell everyone, but every time I sat down to say goodbye, it was just too hard."

The Greek Cafe was founded by Joanna's parents, Emmanuel "Mike" and Maryann Tatakis, and was known for Greek classics, including their signature gyros and Greek-style French fries with oregano and feta. Other popular items included dolmas and baklava.

The couple initially opened in Duncanville in 2008, then opened a second location in Bishop Arts in 2009; sadly, Maryann died in 2013.

The cafe struggled through the pandemic and the ensuing rising costs to do business.

Then Mike became ill, and was sent to hospice care - putting great strain on Joanna, who was not only running the restaurant single-handedly, but was also her father's sole caretaker. A GoFundMe was established in April to try and lighten her load. (Donations are still welcome.)

"To our neighbors, from all the gyros ordered, the get well soon card passed around for my dad, the many things borrowed, the hugs and encouragement, to the late night brain storming sessions, you know who you are," she said. "Thank you always for the support. It was an honor to be part of the community."

Photo courtesy of Hey Sugar Candy Store

Hey Sugar Candy Store pops open sodas and sweets in Dallas' Bishop Arts

Candy News

Dallas' Bishop Arts District is due for something sweet: A shop called Hey Sugar Candy Store will open in a century-old location at 409 W. 8th St., in one of two side-by-side nearly-identical former homes that have been renovated and repurposed for retail.

According to Hey Sugar owner Kristin Brittan, the store will open at the beginning of March.

Brittan founded Hey Sugar back in 2013, with her first store in Roanoke, which has become a big family and tourist destination, with not only sweets galore but an entertainment component, including TVs airing Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, and kiddie rides on the front porch.

Brittan grew up around candy: Her father was a candy distributor, and she and her sister would attend candy conventions when they were young.

The candy thing then reemerged after Brittan was married with kids. Three of her children liked going to horse shows, but her youngest son did not. So Brittan set him up with an Airstream trailer to sell candy at the riding events, and he made a killing.

She's since opened locations in Celina, College Station, Decatur, Denison, Waco, and Broken Bow, Oklahoma.

The stores have all kinds of bulk candy, plus nostalgia candy, plus funky things like suckers with scorpions inside. Some locations have ice cream, but this one will not: Instead, she promises it will boast the largest selection of vintage sodas in Texas, not unlike the location in Broken Bow.

"The Bishop Arts location will still be a Hey Sugar with the same branding, but a smaller footprint in a tiny home on 8th Street," Brittan says. "We won't be selling hand-scooped ice cream since there is so much competition for that in the area. It will be very retro, focusing on candy and old-fashioned sodas, in glass bottles."

Hey SugarSodas at Hey SugarHey Sugar

They'll also have a chocolate case with gourmet chocolates.

Bishop Arts has had a vintage soda shop off and on over the years (who remembers The Soda Gallery), which turns out to be a favorite amenity of Bishop Arts landlord David Spence, who first reached out to Brittan back in 2016.

"David Spence from Good Space has wanted an old fashioned candy soda store in Bishop Arts for many years," Brittan says. "He loved the concept and felt it was good fit. Seven years after he first contacted me, we found a location that was the perfect fit being it’s a 100 year old home; very vintage!"

This has been somewhat of a Hey Sugar motif. The original location in Roanoke was built in 1880, and her location in Decatur is more than a century old.

"I love old buildings," she says.


Roma's Italian Bistro adds affordable Italian-American to Dallas' Oak Cliff

Italian restaurant news

An Italian restaurant with deep suburban roots has opened in Dallas' Oak Cliff: Called Roma's Italian Bistro, it's located at 839 W. Jefferson Blvd., in a small brick storefront at the corner of Tyler Street, in a space that was once Mi Fondita Restaurant, where it's winning over the locals with its basic Italian-American at an affordable price.

Roma's is owned by Julian Leshnja, who also owns locations in Duncanville, Lufkin, and Jacksonville.

His goal with the Oak Cliff location is to offer an alternative to Mexican food that's more common in Oak Cliff, but at about the same price. Appetizers start at $5.95, and pastas start at $10.95.

Specials include:

  • Julian’s signature: shrimp, garlic, basil, tomatoes, and feta cheese over penne pasta
  • Chicken carciofi with artichoke and mushroom in a sherry pink sauce
  • Chef’s special with chicken, shrimp and scallops in a pink sauce
  • Ribeye with marsala wine sauce and penne garlic pasta
  • salmon over sauteed veggies

There are also pizzas, calzones, stromboli, subs, and desserts such as tiramisu, cannoli, and cheesecake. [Calzone vs. stromboli, courtesy of Food Network: "A calzone features a circle of dough that's folded in half over the filling and sealed by crimping, like a pasty or empanada. A stromboli starts with a rectangular piece of dough that's then topped with add-ins and cheese, rolled up lengthwise and sealed by folding and pressing the extra dough over the edges."]

They offer delivery in a 5-mile radius. Add the three sibling locations and Roma's has pretty good coverage in the southeast Dallas corridor.

Leshnja moved from Albania to the U.S. when he was nine. Owning restaurants is in the family: His brother Florenc owns Gallo Nero, a similar concept that debuted on Greenville Avenue in Dallas in 2018, followed by Frisco, which opened last year.

The two brothers got their start with their first Roma's in Duncanville, back in 2011. There are now 14 other loosely connected Roma's locations around DFW, East Texas, and Louisiana that have been sold over time yet all operate under the same name — not unlike other Albanian-run chains around DFW such as Joe's Pizza & Pasta.

All Roma's locations have a similar look and feel with comfortable seating and high ceilings, but in smaller spaces.

"I don’t really like to do big restaurants," Leshnja says. "I’d rather have a small place that I can manage and where my employees are happy. This helps us provide fresh food and a consistent experience."

Palmieri Cafe

Coffee shop with authentic Italian eleganza opens in Dallas' Bishop Arts

Coffee news

An acclaimed coffee cafe has debuted in Dallas' Bishop Arts: Palmieri Café, known for its authentic Italian approach to coffee, has opened at 307 N. Bishop Ave., in a former beauty spa, where it quietly premiered on December 10.

Palmieri was founded by owner Corrado Palmieri, a native of Italy who opened the first location at the Dallas Farmers Market in 2016. But Bishop Arts has been an area of interest for a long time: As an MBA student at SMU, he remembers going to events such as Bastille Day, and thinking that the neighborhood was the closest to Europe that he could find in Dallas.

When the time came to open a second location, Bishop Arts was his No. 1 neighborhood choice.

He'll join what is now a crowded coffee scene in the area, but he's optimistic that he'll bring his own twist.

"My hope is that there is business for everybody, for myself and my competitors," Palmieri says. "I'll differentiate myself, and one way is that we do authentic Italian espresso, which is far less common."

The menu at Bishop Arts will be nearly identical to the original, with coffee, espreso drinks, gelato, and pastries, including their signature pastry, the pasticciotto, a shell of short-crust pastry stuffed with a warm custard originally from Galatina, Corrado’s hometown in Puglia.

He's also introducing two new ice cream flavors that will be exclusive to Bishop Arts: dark chocolate gelato and strawberry sorbet.

The shop boasts a sleek, dark facade utilizing Palmieri's trademark color scheme of black with red lettering, carried through to the interior which welcomes with a gleaming case of pastries and croissants. There's a backyard patio, not yet open to the public, and they're still waiting on a shipment of custom-made mosaic tile from Italy, which is so very Italian.

"It will add another touch of Italy to the design and atmosphere I want for the shop," he says. "Authenticity is one of the values of Palmieri Cafe and everything has been thought with that in my mind and heart, including making everything naturally, without preservatives or chemicals, and making everything — pastries, gelato, and coffee — from scratch."

Record store in Dallas' Oak Cliff to spin off hip new restaurant-lounge

Bishop Arts News

There's a hip new lounge bar restaurant opening in Dallas' Bishop Arts: Called Ladylove, it's going into the favorably located space at 310 W. 7th St. previously occupied by Dallas Grilled Cheese Co., and is forecast to open in early 2023.

Ladylove, whose subhead is "Lounge & Sound," is from David Grover and Kate Siamro, the same amazing team who own Spinster Records, the vinyl record store in Bishop Arts.

Siamro says this fulfills a dream they've nurtured for a few years.

"David and I have been talking about having a lounge but it really came to fruition a few months ago," she says. "It'll be a restaurant and lounge but our main goal is to bring more music to the neighborhood. We feel like Bishop Arts needs more sound."

To that end, the space will include a stage and a DJ booth.

"We love the idea of a spot where you could come on a first date, with a warm and welcoming atmosphere and inspiration from the conversation pits of the '70s, a place you can sit and have a drink for hours," she says.

Grover and Siamro are a cosmopolitan duo who bring a fresh splash of color to Dallas: Grover is a musician who fronted '90s band Loud Sugar and was singer for L.A. bands Drop and The Fizzies, before going to work for retailers like Best Buy. Siamro is a native of Canada and unapologetic "music nerd" who comes from glamorous stock: Her father was in '80s new wave band Direktive 17 and her mother was a model.

They opened Spinster Records in 2014, a pioneer not only in the now-burgeoning vinyl record renaissance but also a relatively early settler in Oak Cliff, first opening at 829 W. Davis St. before relocating to 408 N. Bishop Ave., in the thick of Bishop Arts in 2019.

For the lounge, they initially considered a storefront next to their record store, but then Dallas Grilled Cheese Co. suddenly became available in September.

"At first, we thought it might be too big, but once we walked in, we could envision a great lounge," she says.

Ladylove will draw some inspiration from Spinster, including walls lined with vinyl records, and record-listening nights where you "BYOV," V for vinyl. The lounge will also be available as an event space, with album-release parties surely being one obvious example, but also engagement parties and other festive milestones.

"We hope to have an interesting space with good food and drink, but the quality of sound will be important," she says.

"Listening lounges are a popular concept that haven't yet hit Texas, where you hear vinyl records on high-end equipment," Siamro says. "When you work in the audio industry, it can be challenging going into restaurants with poor sound quality. We want to bring high quality sound, and also offer the opportunity if people want to buy gear like speakers."

For food and drink, they're consulting with Jimmy Contreras, owner of Taco Y Vino, the acclaimed taqueria also in the neighborhood.

"The menu will be concise, with a small selection of cocktails and tapas-style bites — high-quality bites in portions you can share, and not in any one cuisine," she says.

They'll probably go light on beer out of respect to the new brewery and bakery being opened next door by the owners of Oddfellows.

"But think about how great it will be to be able to source our bread from the bakery right next door," Siamro says.

One item that's already been requested reflects the legacy of the space: "People have asked if we'll be offering any grilled cheese sandwiches, I expect we'll have to have at least one," she says.

Isla & Co.

Ex-Lucia Dallas space makes way for NY restaurant with brunch all day

Bishop Arts News

Pull out your world atlas for this: A new restaurant and bar based in New York is coming to Dallas from an Australian team. Called Isla & Co., it'll open in Bishop Arts, at 408 W. 8th St., better known as the former Lucia Dallas space. (Lucia relocated to 287 N. Bishop Ave.)

Isla & Co. is from Parched Restaurant Group, a New York outfit from two natives of Australia, Barry Dry and Tom Rowse, whose other concepts include coffee cafe Hole in the Wall, The Sentry penthouse lounge, and Daintree in Midtown Manhattan.

There are currently Isla & Co. locations in Williamsburg, Brooklyn; Fairfield, Connecticut; and Midtown Manhattan. Bishop Arts opens October 21.

Co-owner Tom Rowse says that their goal with Isla — pronounced "eye-la" — is to recreate a common concept in Australia.

"Isla is one of most popular female names in Australia," Rowse says. "We liked the idea of having a female name, and it's also a Scottish word that translates to 'island'."

"The concept started in New York where we could find coffee specialty shops and places doing good brunch or good dinner, but no one that did them all," he says. "That kind of versatility is not unique in Australia."

So they're there for morning coffee, lunch, and dinner, with a seasonal food and beverage menu featuring influences from Australia, Europe, and SouthEast Asia, plus cheerful, engaging service.

"The service aspect can be challenging, especially in this environment, but it's important to us," Rowse says. "We are very culture driven and put a lot of time into not just hiring the right staff but in doing continuous training. We want to create a fun work culture that passes on to the guest experience. We even have a 'culture officer' who supervises this process."

Dallas had been on their radar for a couple of years.

"A few years ago, we might've gone to Austin, but Bishop Arts spoke to us," he says. "We like to be in areas with good restaurants and Bishop Arts has a great food & beverage scene. And the space itself is exactly what we were looking for, with 40 seats inside and 40 outside."

Executive chef Matt Foley attended the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, worked at two-Michelin-starred Marea, and was corporate chef at fast-casual restaurant group DIG, before joining Parched, where he oversees the menus at Hole in the Wall and Isla & Co.

Brunch is served daily until 4 pm and includes:

  • Brekkie Roll
  • Smoked Salmon Benedict
  • Brioche French Toast
  • Isla & Co. Burger
  • Grilled Chicken Sandwich with cheddar and charred broccoli pesto

Dinner dishes include:

  • Spicy Shrimp Vodka Rigatoni
  • Fish & Chips
  • Pork Sausage Rolls
  • Thai Green Vegetable Curry
  • Half Chicken with seasonal roasted vegetables

Isla & Co. has a specialty coffee program inspired by Australia's hardcore coffee culture, serving Hole in the Wall Espresso with two house blends suitable for espresso or drip, originating from Ethiopia and the Americas, and roasted in Denver. Need the world atlas again!

Their bar program includes a wine list focused on natural and organic wines, plus craft beer and signature cocktails like the Espresso Martini (Tito's vodka, Mr. Black coffee liqueur, espresso), Wizard of Aus (Starward Whiskey, lemon juice, sugar, egg white, Shiraz wine float), Isla Old Fashioned (bourbon, Amaro Montenegro, Eucalyptus bitters), and The Taipan (Hiatus Tequila, spicy pepper, yuzu, agave, and shiso).

All beverages including mimosas and bloody marys are served from brunch through to dusk.

Isla & Co. is also slated to open locations in Atlanta, South Beach, and West Palm Beach later this year.

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

DFW's dismal ranking among best places to live leads this week's 5 most-read 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 list here.

1. Dallas-Fort Worth no longer a top 100 place to live, declares U.S. News & World Report. Dallas-Fort Worth has fallen from grace in a closely watched annual report of the best places to live in the U.S. The Metroplex appears at a dismal No. 113 (out of 150) in U.S. News & World Report's Best Places to Live ranking for 2023-2024. Last year, DFW landed at No. 32; it was No. 37 in 2021. Here's (sort of) why it plummeted in the rankings.

2. Sliders restaurant from Detroit shimmies onto Dallas' Greenville Ave. A slider concept from the Great Lakes State is expanding to Texas, and that includes a high-profile location in Dallas: Called Savvy Sliders, it's a young fast-casual concept founded in Flint, Michigan, and it will open its first Dallas restaurant at 4818 Greenville Ave., in the space recently vacated by vegan chicken restaurant Project Pollo.

3. New lagoon-waterpark with lazy river dives into Dallas-Fort Worth. A long-awaited waterpark in Cedar Hill is debuting Memorial Day weekend with two of Texas' favorite splashy attractions: a lagoon and lazy river. The Lagoon at Virginia Weaver Park will open Saturday, May 27 after more than a year in development.

4. Happy Hippie Brewing to bring peace, love, and beer to new HQ in Richardson. A craft beer brewery is opening a splendid new facility in Richardson: Happy Hippie Brewing Company, a small brewery specializing in Belgian-style beers, is opening an an 11,000-square-foot brewery and taproom at 500 Lockwood Dr., in the Lockwood area within the city's evolving CORE District.

5. Asian restaurant Howard Wang's shutters location in Uptown Dallas. A Chinese restaurant in Uptown Dallas closed: Howard Wang's Uptown Grill, one in a family-owned chain, closed its location at 3223 Lemmon Ave. #103, with the final day of service on May 21. The restaurant had been at that location for 12 years.

21 North Texas museums offer free admission to military families this summer

Giving Back

Nearly two dozen Dallas-Fort Worth museums are honoring active duty military personnel and their families with free admission through the Blue Star Museums initiative, May 20-September 4, 2023.

Established by the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families, and the U.S. Department of Defense, the Blue Star Museums program annually provides military families free access to 2,000 museums nationwide throughout the summer. The program begins yearly on Armed Forces Day in May and ends on Labor Day.

Free admission is extended to personnel currently serving in the U.S Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard (including those in the Reserve), and all National Guardsman. Members of the U.S. Public Health Commissioned Corps and NOAA Commissioned Corps are also included in the program.

Those who qualify can use their military ID to bring up to five family members - including relatives of those currently deployed. More information about qualifications can be found here.

There is no limit on the number of participating museums that qualifying families may visit. Admission for non-active military veterans, however, is not included.

According to the National Endowment for the Arts website, the initiative was created to help "improve the quality of life for active duty military families" with a specific focus on children. The site states 2 million have had a parent deployed since 2001.

"Blue Star Museums was created to show support for military families who have faced multiple deployments and the challenges of reintegration," the organizers say. "This program offers these families a chance to visit museums this summer when many will have limited resources and limited time to be together."

In Dallas-Fort Worth, participating institutions include well-known art, science, and history museums, as well as smaller museums outside the city limits. Here's a look at all the museums in North Texas that are participating in the Blue Star Museums initiative this year.

In Dallas:

In Fort Worth:

In Garland:

In Irving:

In Mesquite:

In Cleburne:

In Krum:

In Sanger:

More information about Blue Star Museums and a full list of participants can be found on arts.gov.

These are the 7 best most intriguing hot dogs in Dallas right now

Hot Dog News

Editor's Note: In prior stories, CultureMap contributor Lila Levy has sussed out the top bagels in Dallas, and tried pretty much every lavender latte in town. Now she's ready to offer her take on that summertime classic: hot dogs.

Portillo's hot dogs
portillo's hot dogs


Hot dogs are the quintessential summer food and an item that nearly everyone loves. They're simple, flavorful, easy to make at home, and affordable if you dine out.

Some cities like Chicago have a long-standing tradition with hot dogs, and while Dallas is not Windy-City-level quiet yet, we've seen an influx of some exciting new hot dog concepts come to town, joining a few locals who've been dishing out memorable hot dogs all along.

Here's the 7 most interesting hot dogs you can find in Dallas-Fort Worth:

Portillo’s in the Colony, Chicago-style hot dog, $4.50
Chicago-based fast casual brand known for its hot dogs and other favorite Chicago fare, has expanded to Texas, with its first restaurant in The Colony, which opened in January 2023. Chicago-style hot dogs are my favorite kind, and Portillo's does it right. Their basic hot dog comes with "everything": mustard, relish, celery salt, chopped onions, sliced tomato, pickle, and sport peppers on a steamed poppy seed bun. I loved the condiments, especially the peppers and relish. My companion thought the bun was too soft, but it was fine for me. Their hot dogs have a snappy casing with a robust tangy flavor.

Hunky'sHunky Dog, $4.25
Cedar Springs pioneer has been serving hamburgers, fries, and malts, since 1984. They're known for their burgers but they also do a trio of hot dogs including the classic "Hunky Dog," a hefty quarter-pounder with relish, onions, and mustard. I've been here before and know it's best to ask for the hot dog to be grilled extra, to give it that additional "burnt hot dog" cookout flavor. At $4.25, it's a bargain and their presentation is cool: They split the hot dog down the middle and place the onions and relish on top, and they toast the edges of their bun.

Fletcher's Original Corny DogsMake Mine Texan, $10
No story on hot dogs is complete without Fletcher's, famed purveyor of the classic corny dog. You used to have to wait for the State Fair of Texas to get them, but now that they have a food truck, you can find them camped at venues such as the Dallas Arboretum, and they're also at Klyde Warren Park Tuesdays-Sundays. They've expanded their lineup of flavors so I ordered their most recent invention: Called Make Mine Texan, it's a hot dog made of beef and brisket, with smoke seasoning that adds a heartier Texas flavor.

Dog Haus in RichardsonTooo Chi, $8
California hot dog chain takes a gourmet approach with jumbo hot dogs, veggie dogs, vegan sausages, and 40+ toppings including some you might not expect, such as arugula. I ordered the Tooo Chi, their version of the Chicago hot dog, which they brag is a hormone- and antibiotic-free beef hot dog, with tomato, pickle, neon-green pickle relish, mustard, diced onions, sport peppers, and celery salt. Their cooking added a nice char that emphasized the grilled flavor. It made me nostalgic to the days when my parents would grill hot dogs in the summer outside. Their point of distinction is their bread: sweet rich King's Hawaiian rolls, which they butter and grill, for a nice contrast of soft roll and crisp edges.

Angry DogAngry Dog, $8.95
Deep Ellum staple had hot dogs on the menu long before hot dogs became the foodie sensation they are today, and they offer a simple plain hot dog on a bun as a nod to those humble days. But everyone gets the signature Angry Dog: a kosher dog, split in half and grilled, placed on a toasted open-faced bun, then topped with chili, grilled red onions, mustard, and shredded cheddar cheese. It's more of a chili casserole than a hot dog, a knife-and-fork kind of deal where the bun gets soggy underneath the mountain of toppings, and you almost lose track of the hot dog. But unbeatable for a hangover cure or a big cheat meal.

Globe Life Field, Ballpark hot dog, $7
In recent years, the Texas Rangers' food service division has been jazzing up its ballpark menu, introducing new items, some of them crazy like the Boomstick 2-foot-long hot dog. I stick to the basic ballpark hot dog, with the only option being that you can get grilled onions at no additional charge. It's a standard six-inch hot dog, with self-serve mustard, ketchup, and relish, on a soft, nondescript bun, with a nice snap, the prototypical hot dog you eat while cheering on the hometown team.

Frank Seoul, Potato hot dog, $5.49
Korean hot dogs, also known as Korean corn dogs, are a Korean street food that started showing up in Dallas a few years ago, via Korean-born chains such as Two Hands and K-Town. Frank Seoul was one of the first and has locations in Carrollton and Frisco. Their specialty is hot dogs coated in a batter and deep-fried, like a corny dog but with a batter made from flour or rice flour, and additional ingredients such as the coating of diced potatoes in the potato hot dog that I ordered. They have a wild variety like a "cream cheese dog" — literally cream cheese on a stick &mdash and prices are all $6 or less.

This is not the place for a hot dog purist. The hot dog itself was lackluster, but the "shell" of crispy fried potatoes was magnificent, like a wonderful hash brown, and great on its own, didn't need the mustard I added a bit.