Welcome to SideDish’s weekly dispatch of need-to-know News Bites, from quiet closures to opening updates and everything in between, including coronavirus-related intel.
After 8 Months, Tulum Is Back
With a new chef in tow, the Highland Park restaurant named for the Yucatan destination city will reopen November 4. Tulum has remained closed since the beginning of the pandemic but has since installed a new chef to lead its next chapter. Chef José Meza took over the kitchen from Nico Sanchez this fall and has been developing a new vision for the Tulum menu. The Mexico-born chef’s deep culinary credentials include stints in San Sebastian, Spain and Noma in Cpoenhagen (two of world’s gastronomic epicenters for modern cuisine), training under renowned chef Enrique Olvera, and working at some Mexico’s fine dining hot spots. Most recently he helmed the kitchen at Jalisco Norte in Oak Lawn.
Meza’s talents at Jalisco Norte shone particularly in his elegant tamales, complex sauce work, and his keen way with vegetables (that beautiful nopal salad!). You can read more about his background in the Jalisco Norte review by D restaurant critic Eve Hill-Agnus. All that to say: Meza has much skill and much promise, but ultimately Jalisco Norte perhaps succumbed to the regular diner’s prosaic palate. That’s what makes his approach and execution at Tulum especially interesting to watch: Will we see more of Meza’s ambition and innovative dishes here? We shall report back on his cochinita pibil–style Yucatan pork, flat iron steak, and octopus dishes.
OAK’D Enlivens The Old Town Shopping Center
If there were ever a time to lean even more on comfort, then let barbecue be that smokey support. OAK’D, named for the Texas post oak wood that fuels the restaurant’s custom barbecue pits, will bring wagyu beef brisket, southern-style sides, and a strong pastry game to 5500 Greenville Avenue, suite 1300. Find smoked meats, housemade pastries and pies courtesy pastry chef Cessy Mendoza (formerly of Nobu, Abacus, and Georgie) on opening day: November 6 for lunch only to start, with dinner starting November 13. Grab a seat on the patio, near a firepit, and wear the stretchy pants.
Parking Requirements Relief and an Update on Parklets
Last week, the Dallas City Council passed a resolution that helps ease parking requirements for restaurants. Typically restaurants have to provide one parking space per 100-200 square feet of usable space like dining rooms and patio seating. With reduced capacity, outdoor dining has been key for restaurants to survive by appealing to those who feel safer eating in an open-air environment. As the Dallas Observer reported, “The Dallas City Council approved a resolution Wednesday temporarily authorizing covered, unenclosed patio areas to to be allowed at restaurants and bars without required parking.” The move is temporary and will expire next April unless the council decides to renew the resolution, which will require additional community engagement.
The Observer also noted a little update on parklets. Remember when D broke the temporary parklet story back in May? A quick refresher: parklets are typically in a parking space two that offer extra outdoor seating or a shrunken dining area. Some are more elaborate than others. The pilot program that the City Council launched this year proposed much more modest parklets that could be packed away during off-hours. Now, the city will begin standardizing parklet designs and offering construction grants of up to $150,000. So far, 16 have been approved, says the Observer, with seven pending. Many of them are for food establishments that would benefit from the outdoor area. North Oak Cliff Council member Chad West, a longtime parklet proponent, still hopes to make the parklet program permanent. We may know more in December when the item is on the transportation committee agenda.
Restaurants Are Optimistic Yet Cautious About Potential Unrest
Many businesses aren’t anticipating unrest following this week’s election results, but opportunists have come to parts of Deep Ellum and downtown Dallas before—back in May when some protests over police brutality turned violent. This time restaurants want to be ready. Read more on this report on SideDish.