How I Did It: The Best New Restaurants in Dallas 2014

I’ve received several emails from readers who want to know why certain restaurants didn’t make the list and one that asked me to explain my methodology. Let's get to it.

Casa Rubia. (Photography by Kevin Marple)
Casa Rubia. (Photography by Kevin Marple)
Bret Redman

The December issue of D Magazine is on the newsstands and online. The cover story is Best New Restaurants of 2014. I’ve received several emails from readers who want to know why certain restaurants didn’t make the list and one that asked me to explain my methodology.

We feature a roundup of the Best New Restaurants on the cover every December. It makes sense on the newsstand, but in the reality, I have to turn my copy in by mid-October. Therefore, I can’t include restaurants that opened too close to October 1. In short, my real-time restaurant calendar is October to October.

Each year I spend the first week of October eating at all of the restaurants under consideration. I have a crew of diners who live outside of Dallas, and they fly in for the dining frenzy. We eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner until I get a feel how the restaurants play against each other. Some rise; others sink. I like testing them all within the same time period. Especially since some of them have been open longer than others.

This year I included Hataka Ramen in my top ten. I debated whether or not to include this tiny spot in Addison. I fear they may not be able to handle a rush in business. I urge you to tread softly on them. Their ramen takes 12 hours to make. When it’s gone, it’s gone.

Picking the restaurant of the year wasn’t easy. Going into the final round, I had Gemma, Knife, and Casa Rubia ranked equally. I think John Tesar’s menu is edgy and ambitious, but the service did not match the caliber of the cuisine. Casa Rubia was barely beaten by the exquisite food, service, atmosphere, wine list, and graciousness of Gemma. That was a tough call. Group dining at Casa Rubia is a joy. Two-tops have a harder time sampling the menu.

One observation: I am concerned about rising prices: $100 steaks and $55 pasta dishes are almost the norm. Upscale comfort food that averages $100 per person is not comforting to me.

I love putting this issue together. It’s a grind on my intestinal tract, but I feel proud when the issue hits my desk and I see Kevin Marple’s gorgeous photography beside my words. I’d love to “hear” what you think.

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