Bon Appetit just released its nominees for Best New Restaurant 2019, and Donny Sirisavath’s East Dallas gem, Khao Noodle, and Misti Norris’s ever-evolving Petra and the Beast are among them. Both have East Dallas in common, as well as self-funding, and funk. If there were ever an encapsulation of where our dining scene is going, it is this.
Last November, Norris’s charcuterie haven was among Esquire’s list of 20 restaurants of the year. Then, earlier this year, in quick succession, she was named among Food & Wine’s Best New Chefs and Khao Noodle landed on Eater’s list of 16 Best New Restaurants in America. (This, of course, was not the first time Norris was recognized for her talent, though it was a first for up-and-coming newcomer Sirisavath.) A small whirlwind of attention has settled on East Dallas and the food coming out of places that reflect a new kind of cooking, eating, and “dining,” an influx of courage and spunk.
“From a quirky hand-roll counter in Seattle to a Providence café making the flakiest baklava, these are the places we can’t stop thinking about,” the Bon Appetit editorial team trumpets about the list of 50. And where they see the best cooking in America right now is at Blood Bros. BBQ in Houston (“stellar Texas ’cue with Chinese and Vietnamese influences”), at Korean-influenced Atomix in New York, and at a place in St. Louis that slides out flatbreads from the Balkans.
Perhaps what they have in common is an animating spirit, captured in Sirisavath’s sense of his humble goal—“sharing our food, how we grew up eating, what we grew up eating.”
“The challenging part was understanding the Dallas palate,” he told me recently, “and trying to create a brand that people would understand. We don’t have the background of working in a kitchen and the dining industry,” he says of his team. “Creating a pop-up gave us a stage where we could start to be recognized by the Dallas community. How can we get our name out? Showcase Laotian food our way without diluting it?” These were the questions. We have answers. And we’re not the only ones to notice.
The final 10, whittled from 50, will be announced on September 17. Regardless, this is a moment for Dallas to shine in the national spotlight.