Dallas does restaurants and dining well – like really well – and there's always something new on the horizon. After a tough year that saw many of our favorites close for good (we'll miss you, Gung Ho!) this list gives us all a bit of hope for many great meals and healthy, happy memories in 2021.
Inside the new Thompson Hotel in Downtown Dallas is Catbird, a modern restaurant with a standout cocktail menu and amazing views. Its menu includes plenty of small plates to share with your best friends, or stop by for a French 75, as the restaurant is serving up some fantastic cocktails. And obviously, a trip to the terrace is a must – there's lounge seating available and fire pits to keep warm.
Chimalma Taco Bar
Tasked with bringing modern Mexican food to Downtown Dallas, Chimalma opened late last fall. The menu plays tribute to dishes traditionally found in the family's native Guadalajara, Mexico pueblo. Entrée standouts are the raspadas, a crunchy fried tortilla topped with braised pork, cabbage and house made salsa. Pair it with a cocktail – we liked the Old Fashioned Mexico, a Latin take on the classic cocktail.
Dahlia Bar & Bistro
All. The Vibes. It feels like a casual neighborhood car with a twist, thanks to its Southern European inspired menu and cocktail garden. If the restaurant's tagged photos on Instagram are any indication, the waffle board (perfect for two people to share) is a good place to start.
After getting its start in 2007 in Turin, Italy, Eataly now boasts more than three dozen outposts around the world. This location is the first in Texas and will offer three restaurants, a market full of various oils, meats, olives, coffee, chocolates and more, plus an extensive wine collection. Find it inside NorthPark Center.
Elm & Good
Fancied as an upscale American tavern, Elm & Good brings new options to Deep Ellum. Find it inside the Pittman Hotel, the latest hotel in the area and one with a storied legacy dating back to the 1910s. It's ideal for breakfast before you head out to explore the neighborhood or make it a nightcap with a Paloma on the way back up to your room.
Encina is new to Oak Cliff, taking over the corner space previously occupied by Bolsa, and focuses on seasonality and fresh ingredients, while offering an "uncomplicated yet adventurous menu." Stop by for weekend brunch or dinner and feast on items like goat tacos, twig flatbread and confit turkey hash.
The moment you walk through the doors of Harwood Arms, you are immediately transported to The British Isles into your favorite period piece. The dark woods and dim lights create the perfect ambiance for those Anglophiles seeking and missing a quaint pub abroad. While here, a Black & Tan is obligatory, and it's the best thing to wash down a Fishwhich, a fish sandwich that will keep you coming back time and time again.
A Fort Worth favorite made its way to Dallas, and thanks to a great location right by Love Field Airport it can easily be your first stop for food on your way into the city upon touch down. Texas Monthly named it a Top 50 BBQ joint and it's easy to see why – the pork ribs, bacon burnt ends and twice baked potato salad are just a few of the menu's must haves.
Nine at The National
While Catbird is the reason to head Downtown for the evening, Nine at The National is the reason to stop by while the sun is still out. Located one floor down (on the ninth floor, in fact) from Catbird inside the Thompson Hotel, Nine offers weekend brunch and weekday breakfast options.
Palmer's Hot Chicken
Tucked in a shopping center at the corner of Mockingbird and Abrams, Palmer's is another fun addition to East Dallas. A covered patio provides good space for social distancing, and lots of big windows let air flow nicely into the main dining area. From there, you know the drill: three heat levels in the form of fried chicken and tenders with plenty of tasty sides. Our top recommendation? The Big Dark (two thighs and leg quarters) with fried honey glazed Brussels sprouts and cheesy grits.
Rise & Thyme
Another addition to Downtown, Rise & Thyme is great for a breakfast on the go. But you might want to hang out, because it's right on the edge of the AT&T Discovery District and there's plenty to see while you're in the area. If you're around for lunch, hunker down with the turkey club and do some people watching from the patio.
Son of a Butcher
A solid choice for a family outing, Son of a Butcher is easy to spot – just look for the cute patio set up across the street from the Trader Joe's along Greenville Avenue. The retro slider bar's menu also includes beer and boozy shakes (we're a fan of the blueberry cobbler shake – yum!), as well as some delightful waffle fries and cheese curds. And there's plenty of local touches, like the mural outside created by students from Booker T. Washington High School for Performing and Visual Arts.
The Second Floor at The Exchange
The Second Floor is all about twos: two chefs and two restaurant concepts live under one roof on the second floor of The Exchange Hall, a yet-to-open food hall in the heart of the AT&T Discovery District. The patio has incredible views of the district and the movement along Commerce Street, and there are plenty of heaters to enjoy a meal outdoors.
There's a new patio option in Deep Ellum and this one comes to us in a space formerly used a services station. Brought to us by the fine folks that own two of the best dive bars in Dallas, Double Wide and Single Wide, Thunderbird hits the spot with its retro vibes and bright blue décor. It's easy on the wallet too – most beers are $5 and under and there are plenty of apps under $10.
Toller Patio calls itself the most colorful and dog-friendly patio in Dallas, and they are definitely on the right path with that description. There's plenty of space to spread out and bonus: the patio is heated! The menu features a smores kit ($10) that's great for a chilly night, or stop by for Happy Hour weekdays 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Yardbird, located near Klyde Warren Park, has been open the longest out of any place we've included on this list, but it's iconic enough to still be mentioned. The popular Southern-themed restaurant adds another strong contender to the Dallas brunch scene thanks to dishes like Maine lobster benedict, fried green tomato BLT, and its classic chicken, watermelon and waffles.
Adding a casual spot to the lineup of restaurants at Highland Park Village, Yo! Lobster brings a proper lobster roll alongside soups, salads and shellfish dishes. Call ahead for takeout, or stop by for a daily Happy Hour 4-6 p.m.