Despite the trend’s long-running national popularity, the “elevated Southern food” concept does not seem to be slowing down anytime soon. Dallas is no exception—we do adore our fried chicken, pimento cheese, and biscuits. If there’s any doubt in your mind about this, just try to get a table at Ida Claire on a Friday night.
Southern belle Tupelo Honey, located at the rapidly growing Dallas Cowboys headquarters, The Star in Frisco, is now open. This 91-acre dining/shopping/entertainment campus is already home to Neighborhood Services, Cane Rosso, and Cow Tipping Creamery, with many more participants on the way (including the highly-anticipated José Andrés concept, Zaytinya).
Tupelo Honey is a small franchise based out of Asheville, North Carolina, with this Texas outpost captained by executive chef, Thomas Robey. This chef does bring some respectable restaurant credibility having honed his skills at James Beard award-winning restaurant, Commander’s Palace in New Orleans. This Tupelo Honey is the largest in the franchise’s fleet with both indoor and outdoor bars, two private meeting spaces for group events and meetings, a large covered patio, and a charcuterie and shellfish bar. Not surprising given its location, you’ll also find a Jumbotron broadcasting Dak and the boys in larger-than-life detail during every game.
I got a look inside the space recently and sampled some of their popular plates. I left satisfied, for the most part, and I imagine the restaurant will receive a warm reception from North Texas diners who are hungry for Tupelo Honey’s take on Southern staples.
Let’s take a look at the raw bar and charcuterie. Shellfish is flown in daily and you’ll find a respectable selection of oysters, clams, prawns, and mussels. We sampled the Tupelo Shellfish Tower—an impressive stack of iced sea nibbles: oysters, whole lobster, head-on prawns, king crab. For $65, this was an impressive array. Charcuterie boards are no slouches, either. Proteins feature some recognizable purveyors such as Benton’s ham, La Quercia prosciutto, Usinger’s bologna. Cheeses, similarly, include some reputable producers like Cowgirl Creamery, Beehive Cheese, Cypress Grove, to name a few. And there’s alligator sausage, for those so inclined.
A number of snacks and sharable plates graced the table next, Southern roots firmly implanted with a few interesting tweaks. The fist-sized Cathead Biscuits did not disappoint. You’re not going to not have biscuits at Southern eatery, and these suited us just fine. They’re hot, crumbly, and crunchy, and made ever better by the addition of house-made blueberry jam and whipped butter.
Their taco plate featured flavors I’ve never before witness between two tortillas—blackberry habanero pork with a peanut pico. Obligatory fried green tomatoes can be found here. The handheld bites come topped with goat cheese grits, basil, and roasted red pepper. I appreciated the ideas presented here, but overall found them under-seasoned with the tomato’s usual tart sweetness lost in the encroaching additives.
There was a pile of pimento cheese nachos. How do you say no to that? The chips are blanketed in a spicy pimento cheese that’s just soft enough to be successful here, with chorizo, black-eyed peas, salsa, sour cream, and jalapeños. These did not last long. Most successful was the Kickin’ Carolina Dip, a spin on traditional spinach dip with collards, melted cheese, pork cracklins, and Carolina reaper pepper dust. This is one to order again.
Of the mains offered up, the fried chicken is one of the more reliable choices. On the printed menu, the Honey Dusted Fried Chicken is given its own featurette within a bright gold box with ornate trim, likely to draw attention to one of their most successful dishes. $24 gets you a half-bird, brined for a full day, fried, and sprinkled with honey-laced seasoning salt, plus two sides. Similarly, there was an impressive take on the now ubiquitous chicken and waffles. Tupelo Honey’s version starts with sweet potato pancakes and tops with buttermilk fried chicken, apple cider bacon, spiced pecans, and runny eggs. Wrapping things up, we noshed on a burnt ends sandwich with a spicy smoked jalapeño barbecue sauce, whole fried redfish, and a vegetarian plate of Cheerwine glazed tofu on blue corn and coconut grits.
Like the most of the other occupants you’ll encounter at The Star, Tupelo Honey has done a bang-up job on the restaurant space itself. Clearly, no expense was spared. It’s large, but not overwhelming. It’s casual but feels classy. The outdoor space is beautifully designed with terrifically comfortable seating. You’ll probably want to stay for hours. And if you do, there’s plenty of worthy eats and drinks to keep you occupied.