RESTAURANT OF THE YEAR

Bolsa

Its haute cuisine and hip vibe have pulled off the nearly impossible: people from Plano are now venturing to Oak Cliff.

Bolsa_1 photography by Kevin Hunter Marple

Oak Cliff’s Bolsa was not the first restaurant in Dallas to hit the locavore highway, but it is the finest example of the new spirit of dining here. In place of pretension, Bolsa offers honesty. The notion of using local ingredients isn’t a gimmick here; it’s a matter of practicality. The kitchen doesn’t have a freezer. Chef Graham Dodds is devoted to finding naturally raised organic ingredients from regional growers, ranchers, and fishermen. In his spare time, he makes honey from the beehives in his backyard.

The menu, which changes frequently, is short and sublime. There are noshes such as cheese, flatbreads, salads, and a small stable of market specials priced from $12 to $25. It’s a great place to pop in for a quick drink on your way home from work or a reason to drive all the way across town to enjoy a delicious, thoughtfully prepared meal in a laid-back but bustling dining room.

Bolsa_3 Braised Kobe beef cheeks, left, and fresh ingredients in use, right. photography by Kevin Hunter Marple
Bolsa_2 Co-owners Chris Zielke (left) and Christopher Jeffers (right), with chef Graham Dodds. photography by Kevin Hunter Marple

It’s easy to stay on a budget at Bolsa. You can split a unique $25 bottle of wine and a $12 bruschetta sampler and feel like you’ve savored fine dining. The platter contains three combinations that rotate seasonally, including: prosciutto and medjool dates; smoked salmon, crème fraîche, and capers; and Fuji apple, toasted pine nuts, and P’tit Basque, a wonderfully earthy French sheep’s milk cheese.

The restaurant is always crowded with an eclectic mix of diners. At the bar, medical workers in Converse sneakers sit next to Parkies in Jimmy Choos. An old hippie couple in matching Birkenstocks sips Lone Star on tap and splits a Twig and Branch flatbread with bitter wild arugula tossed with goat cheese and oven-roasted red grapes. Gays, straights, parents, teachers, young, and old all melt into one peace-love-and-Woodstock vibe.

Who would have ever guessed that a rundown auto garage on Davis Street in North Oak Cliff would morph into a mecca for all of Dallas? Hurry up and don’t mind the wait. Bolsa doesn’t take reservations. —Nancy Nichols

Get contact information for Bolsa.

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