Dallas Restaurants: What Do We Need?

What restaurant would Major Tony Nelson and Jeannie do in Dallas?
What kind of restaurant would Major Tony Nelson and Jeannie do in Dallas?

I was having a conversation with a “highly educated” person the other night and he said, “Dallas really needs a great burger place.” I was stunned. When I asked him what places he liked, he reeled off spots—Chips, Goff’s, Neighborhood Services—that were in his neighborhood. I asked him if he ever went out of his way to discover or try new places and he admitted that he didn’t really. He has now been downgraded to “somewhat intelligent.”  I mean talk about closed minded. (They don’t even melt the cheese at Goff’s.)

The inside-the-loop-outside-the-loop foodie argument drives me nuts. There is great food all over this area if you are willing to drive. But if you had one restaurant wish, what would you like to see in Dallas? I know what I want, it’s a fleet of these, STAT. Your turn.


  • I want a restaurant solely dedicated to spicy food….

    wasabi, sriracha, habaneros, curry, red pepper, anything!

    I request extra spicy everywhere but my taste buds just will not dance.

  • Well, I may not be impartial but I think Dallas needs a Buttons. Award winning upscale comfort food and old school music. We have many many guests traveling from Dallas to Fort Worth but that is a long drive.

    But then again, I am an owner of Buttons so it is not surprising I am intent on bringing this restaurant, with its focus on diversity and harmony,to more cities.

  • PotNet

    I’ll take a good Malaysian restaurant.

  • Matt

    We need an antipasto restaurant – just wine and nibbly things. The way Tarrantinos used to let you order different cheeses, breads, olives, capers, mushrooms, meats.

  • MP

    Some decent Mexican food would be nice.

  • tb

    Not wishing for a particular type of food, but for a restaurant setting: cafes/sidewalk cafes that open onto the street, especially in the Arts District. Sure it’s hot here, but if they can even do it in cold Montreal, we can do it here.

  • Jason


    I looked at your website and I love your concept! Are you seriously thinking of opening a Dallas Buttons? If so, what part of the city are you looking at? I think an Uptown location would be fantastic for you. We have Tillman’s, The Porch, Screen Door- but none of them are located in Uptown…

  • dallasboiler

    I think that Dallas has a bit of a hole in Chinese fine dining.

    There are a lot of lower-end places here, and we’ve got a pretty good spectrum when it comes to Vietnamese, Thai and Asian Fusion; but we don’t have a nicer place dedicated to Chinese. I never had the opportunity to go, but I heard that Citizen was the last to fill this sort of niche several years ago.

  • pjohnson

    We have some great pizza places now, but I would still like to import Punch pizza from Minnesota.

  • I think we need vegetarian fine dining! There are some really great vegetarian/vegan restaurants in Dallas, but they don’t come with a nice wine list or a fine dining environment. I’m also talking the type of vegetarian food you don’t need to be vegetarian to enjoy. I do know there are some nice places that have vegetarian options… but you try going to Nick and Sam’s and just ordering vegetables…

  • DallasDude

    We have soulfood and jazz already in Dallas. It’s called Brooklyns. Always room for more!


  • Seven

    No one else will agree with me, but I’d love to have a St. Louis pizza place in Dallas. The Imo’s outpost was too soon taken from us, and the couple of places I’m aware of are far away.

  • luniz

    Something cutting edge, even moreso than Samar.

    For Plano I need about 9 restaurant wishes.

  • shelbyg75

    5th Street Pizza in Allen is pretty good for St Louis style pizza 🙂 Not sure if Allen is too far for ya 🙂

  • Seven

    @shelbyg75: like a trek to the Arctic circle.

    I have heard good things about it though and have it on my list to try someday when I’m up in Collin County and hungry! Thanks.

  • the_sneeb
  • Shane

    We need more regional Mexican moreso than the taquerias. A nice Peubla, Oaxacan, or even Yucatecan style restaurant would be awesome. There are some great refined Mexican eateries popping up in LA and I am envious of the ones in Mexico City.

    With the number of Jewish in the community we need several (like 10) solid delis who can make their own cold cuts in house.

    Need more regional Indian. I know of a Kerala influenced place (Kerala Kitchen in Carrollton) and the rest are a blend of North and South. A nice Indian restaurant who educates as it pushes the limits would be nice. I have seen some of the menus from London and we are missing out here.

    I like the idea of a spice influenced restaurant. I am a chile head myself so I am sure that would go over well.

    We need a place like Salumi in Seattle. We have the cheese producers starting up but not any cured meats to round out a picnic

    More authentic Thai places. We have a good number of Vietnamese but I can think of one or two (Jasmine Thai in Plano and Royal Thai in Dallas) that offer some authentic dishes. We need a Jitlada which is in LA.

    A good solid vegetarian place (non-curry) would be nice too. Spiral is good and Bliss is getting there. Here is a list from Bon Appetit

    We also desperately need to payoff/hijack/kidnap a pitmaster from Smitty’s or Louie Mueller’s in Central Texas. Listen to the specs he needs for a smoker, build it and have him runt the place. We should have a world class BBQ restaurant in this city.

    Food Trailers like in Austin/Portland

  • George

    I’d love to see a great late-night coffee+dessert place … Great coffee and to-die-for sorts of desserts. A destination place. The sort of place that after dinner and a movie, you want to extend the date. The sort of place that has such great chocolate that your girlfriend will adore you forever. The sort of place that when your wife is pregnant, you just know where you can go to get the most perfect cheesecake. Intimate, cozy, perfect service, open at least until 12am and at least on Fri and Sat.

  • Chris

    In And Out burger

  • Me

    I agree with George. I’d also like to see a real NYC-type diner.

  • I’d like to see an In-N-Out Burger in Dallas, but then there’d be no reason to go to Southern California…

  • Worzel Gummidge

    Molecular gastronomy
    Malaysian (one for each type of ethnic food there).

  • CBS

    why not a decent wine bistro? One that truly focuses on wine and food pairings and pushes out quality in both at reasonable prices (flights and small plates preferred). Alas, I dream.

  • TM

    I second the diner idea. And good authentic Chinese.

  • WB

    More good dim sum options!

  • kellyk

    I am always saying we need a better sea food selection…there are loads of upscale places but I want something like Awe Shucks on steriods – huge place, long tables, casual with all you can eat (decent) lobster and crab year around – oh and lobster roll options, lobster boil facilities, I could go crazy or move to Maine.

  • Meaders

    I want a great reasonably priced Italian restaurant and I will drive as far as necessary to get there.

  • shelbyg75

    A few things I wish we could find here:
    1. Gino’s East
    2. Portillo’s
    3. Indiana style pork tenderloin sandwich
    4. Coney dogs (like Coney I-lander in Tulsa)
    5. I agree with George on the Dessert place!

    I’m sure I’ll think of more…

  • Ross

    @Meaders – Vapiano’s in Mockingbird station has pretty good food at a reasonable price. Tony’s on NW HWY is cheap and has awesome food, but alas my wife found a roach in her to-go order and now she won’t return.

  • George

    Please, Phil Romano, go to Vence, France, and learn everything about pizza from Le Pecheur du Soleil (fisher of the sun). Brick-oven made, thinnest crust ever, and most fantastic toppings ever. They claim 1000 different varieties of pizza. http://www.pecheurdesoleil.com/page2_en.html
    From this web page: Chile with beans and chocolate, Zinzin with Roquefort, tiger and shark pizza.

  • pjohnson

    Kidnapping a pitmaster is a fantastic idea. I am tired of explaining to visitors from out of state that Texas BBQ does not mean Dallas as our places suffer in comparison.

  • Ross

    Sorry @meaders, what I meant to say was fly to a small town in the South of France. Otherwise you are outta’ luck.

  • Margaret

    I love the Coney Islander in Tulsa!

  • Cindy

    I wish for:(1) a Cincinnati chili place, like Skyline, and (2) Donato’s Pizza

  • Johnny Stecchino

    A real Italian trattoria…and please commenters, don’t even try… there ain’t none in these parts –

  • luniz

    Yea I’m changing my wish to a central Texas style BBQ place that’s consistently good. It’s embarassing to have to tell out of towners that there isn’t any decent que here.

  • Shane

    Do we have an affordable destination restaurant (i.e. In-n-Out in LA, Ted Drews in St Louis, Pat’s or Geno’s in Philly, Gray’s Papaya in NYC, The Varsity in Atlanta, etc.)? We might need one of those to get people to come here for food first.

  • Laura

    Dallasboiler is right – there’s no decent Chinese here. I mean, yeah, you have your typical take-out stuff, but what’s one step up from that. PF Changs? Pass.

  • MP

    that is true luniz, we do need top notch Q.

  • On A Rant

    Yes, let’s all copy the uniqueness of other places, because that’s what will keep them unique.

    I happen to believe there is plenty of great Chinese in “Chinatown” on Greenville in Richardson. It is in no way one step up from PF Changs.

    Barbecue, c’mon everyone has a favorite style, and what we have here is Dallas Barbecue. Does a Sonny B’s or even a Dickey’s stay in business for so long because they serve barbecue people hate? It may just not be what you want, maybe you’re more of a Memphis-style barbecue style person. Well then GO TO MEMPHIS and get your thang on.

    We’ve had several great upscale Italian restaurants, and they’ve never seemed to catch on with a large enough, consistent crowd to either 1) keep food standards high, or 2) stay open. And Phil Romano can serve whatever kind of pizza he wants, it’s his restaurant. Somebody must be liking it, because his places are rocking.

    Imagine the people of New Orleans sitting around, bemoaning that the Creole/French/Indian/Caribbean thing is just so boring, what they really need, really, is a good Chinese place.

    Before everyone begins complaining about what we don’t have, how about appreciating what we do (luniz, please for a change)? And the uniqueness of WHAT we have. Dallas food – now what does that mean to you?

  • laurak

    I would like Ippudo and Shake Shack to open locations here. And some good Italian at a decent price-point.

    I also agree with the idea of getting a good pitmaster here in Dallas. After eating Central Texas barbeque, I can no longer recommend any place in Dallas to visitors.

  • You need to try Mr. Wok for Chinese.

  • Shane

    What about Jeng Chi for hand made dumplings

    Little Sichuan in Plano for Sichuan style that will blow PF Chains out of the water. Ask for items off the white board that are seasonal dishes.

    Kirin Court for just some nice all around non-Americanized fare and good dim sum.

    Last but not least First Chinese BBQ or Golden Joy BBQ for Chinese style BBQ pork or duck.

    If you are a cheap skate like I am go to King’s Noodles and have the Zha Jieng Mein and some cold boiled peanuts for less than $8

    We have plenty Chinese in Dallas.

  • PF

    Mr. Wok and all of the places Shane mentions are outside my traffic flow – any suggestions for something closer in to downtown (Park Cities, Lakewood or Uptown)

  • On A Rant

    See others know, Jeng Chi – aka “Number 19” (the sign outside only has their suite number). Classic.

    And tonight I dined at Popolo’s our own little Dallas “Californitalian” neighborhood spot. Delicious.

  • DallasDude

    Shane took almost every word out of my mouth. I eat at Kirin a few times a week. And King’s once in a while. And all the others periodically. I also adore the all day and all night dim sum and other great dishes at the place that formerly occupied Kirin’s location. That is Hong Kong Royal in Carrollton. I love dim sum there late nights. They also sell crispy duck to go by the pound and red roast bbq pork.

    Just down the street are the tiny biryani and curry houses, too. I had a large plate of chicken biryani for less than 3 bucks at one of the places. It was a dive, and it was incredible.

    The reason many of us contribute to these type of blogs and places like Chow, is to keep these places thriving. We enjoy them, but wish for others to enjoy as well to make sure they are still there on our next visit.

  • Danielle

    We need more good seafood. Not high end, but some really good fish and chips. Also more icecream 🙂

  • Chuck

    Absolutely positively a Central Texas caliber BBQ place. I just drove down to Lockhart this weekend to get my BBQ fix.

  • pjohnson

    To Quote “Barbecue, c’mon everyone has a favorite style, and what we have here is Dallas Barbecue. Does a Sonny B’s or even a ****ey’s stay in business for so long because they serve barbecue people hate?”

    McDonalds has stayed in business a long time too and I never argue that they serve the best hamburgers in the world. I also don’t want Memphis BBQ I want BBQ equivalent to what they serve in Central Texas.

  • Bobby Ewing

    @PF: Get outside your “traffic flow”…and then you will enjoy super alternatives. Great Indian and Asian exist north, great BBQ to the east (perhaps a bit far), great soul to the south, etc.

    And I am laughing that in the posting by On A Rant, the name Dickey’s BBQ was turned to asterisks as a “naughty” word.

  • tom

    Bring back Il Sorrento…………

  • Cellarmaster

    Please NO food trailers(except for Hat Creek Burgers OMG! they could be the burger spot that Dallas needs- Nancy take note!). I’ve eaten at every one of them in Austin and don’t understand why anyone with a palate would waste their money(I even gave the cupcake and the crepe place a second chance to no avail). I did give them all a chance at least. I do intend on trying the new Gourmet Pudding place that popped up on S Congress..I’ll report back soon.

    Indian and portuguese for sure.

    More upscale Peruvian food..( I know, I know I loved Alo, has it re opened btw???) I want more, and dedicated peruvian(read: don’t throw in mexican food to pacify the masses).

    I do wish Dallas enjoyed amazing Italian. I still dream of Salve and Il Mulino’s food. I know they had their respective faults but OH MY they both had amazing food…

    Yes to regional mexican..It’s hard enough to find decent homemade tortillas(corn especially), much less anything other than bland/from a jar mole. And the coastal dishes forget about it..

    Didn’t the Anatole have a five star Chinese restaurant back in the day? I remember hearing stories of Chinese decadence..we need a modern version of that..

    OOPS! My One: Amazing Northern Italian complete with All Italian fixings.*sipping my Barbera dreaming of Sharon Hage at Salve…aw 🙁 *