Watching a neighborhood hub or beloved dining spot close always hurts. In 2020, it’s a searing stab in the gut. So I asked D staffers which closures pained them this year. Beyond what bummed us out, we know that business owners and their staff put so much blood, sweat, and tears into their restaurants and bars. To them, we say thank you for all you’ve given Dallas over the years.
Pour One Out for the Bars
“Tradewinds Social Club, the 52-year-old bar way down Davis in Oak Cliff, always felt like it was in a precariously comfortable position. It was far enough away from Bishop Arts to be a neighborhood bar that didn’t have to chase trends, housed in a building I can’t imagine is structurally sound enough to hold anything else. Development hadn’t caught up to this part of the street, meaning I was always less worried about its future than something like the Grapevine Bar, which feels like Harlan Crow’s Old Parkland will decide to eat it at any moment. It felt stable, even if it was never really that busy. Until coronavirus shuttered bars completely.
Tradewinds was special for plenty of reasons: an easy, quiet place to grab a cold beer with a friend one night, a place to see live techno the next. We’d go to Tradewinds after Thanksgiving at a friend’s house. It was home to the weekly performance art show known as Avant to Leave This Planet, programming that struggled to find a home at bars in Lower Greenville and Deep Ellum. It was the type of place that made a city interesting, a unique gathering spot for locals and creatives. Its bartenders had a warmth that made you feel guilty if you hadn’t popped by in a few months. (Sorry, Justin.) Its demise came quickly; the landlord sold the place and didn’t renew the lease, making their best bet to bring in some money during a pandemic. But with it goes another piece of Dallas I fear we won’t get back: the humble bar that was a home for anyone who was as welcoming and curious as those who ran it, just as it had been for more than half a century.” —Matt Goodman
“Any place that not only survives but is the spot for a decade, gets major kudos. That’s why Black Swan Saloon’s closure is a jab in this cocktail-loving heart. Bartender-owner Gabe Sanchez did something singular in Dallas’ craft cocktail scene, but most of all, he created a haven for booze hounds to be themselves. Great cocktails without the pretension is not an easy balance to strike. Deep Ellum doesn’t want for watering holes, but Black Swan was a bird of another feather.” —Rosin Saez
The Solid Standbys
“When my wife and I first moved to Dallas from Columbus in 2004, I didn’t have a job and we didn’t have any friends. So every Sunday we would head to White Rock Lake for a long walk followed by brunch at Barbec’s. We’d scrounge up a few coins to buy the Sunday paper and bypass the line to grab a couple of seats at the counter. We came from the hallowed land of Bob Evans, where the biscuits are hexagonal and made of buttermilk. We had arrived in a strange new world, where the biscuits were square and made of beer. The servers kept our coffee cups and the bowl of creamers full, and they brought extra servings of that weird and wonderful salsa full of carrots to slather on our egg-white omelets. In no time at all, it felt like home.” —Kathy Wise
“Sadly, Café Izmir’s downtown location on Ervay Street has closed for good. Its big lunch crowd evaporated after all of the employees in the office towers began working remotely. Downtown residents kept it going, until the restaurant suffered significant damage during the protests. I live across the street, and I’d visit nearly weekly for its amazing hummus, saffron chicken kabobs, dolmas, and other Mediterranean treats. Friends and I would always share the restaurant’s “special dessert”—cake, baklava, Frangelico, vanilla ice cream, and strawberries. Heavenly. Thankfully, the location on Greenville is still open for takeout. But I really miss the eclectic, neighborly vibe of the downtown venue. I also am brokenhearted that Ascension in Thanksgiving Tower has closed. No more of its incredible, fruit-laden chia seed pudding for breakfast. Some other locations in Dallas remain open, but for car-free people like me, they’re not within walking distance.” —Christine Perez
“Nazca Kitchen is one that comes to mind. It was a great little spot in Lake Highlands before there were many great spots in Lake Highlands. They preceded last the new places in The Hill and unfortunately COVID did them in.” —Jessica Otte
Bygone Burgers and Barbecue
“I still have no idea what a Char Bar is, but I loved this spot anyways. From the Greek paintings and art on the wall to the set of brothers running the cash register and cooking, Melios Bros Char Bar was the home of many an early breakfast with friends. The brothers never seemed too happy to see you, and you always wondered about that gyro at the end of the menu, but the consistency of the place was always a comfort. It was an anachronism in its own time, as such an old-school place literally adjacent to one of the most innovative and quickly changing restaurant areas in Dallas. It was fun to step inside and back in time!” —Will Maddox
“I think the single biggest closure we’ve gotten a lot of mail about is Peggy Sue BBQ. The Park Cities institution was felled by the perfect storm of sidewalk work that hampered customer access to the building and the pandemic closures. It’s always a bit of a bear to find parking in Snider Plaza, but it’s even harder to provide things like curbside service when you don’t, you know, have access to your curb. Some of the recipes and favorites have migrated over to nearby New York Sub, where the proprietor Andrew Kelly is offering Peggy Sue’s Market.” —Bethany Erickson
“My husband and I loved Off-Site Kitchen burgers! We would always take our out-of-town friends there if they wanted a great burger.” —Rachel Gill
Goodbye, Old Classics
“The Grape is a storied restaurant that will be and has been mourned much better elsewhere, but I want to focus on the burger, which to this day is the best I have ever had. We don’t really have the budget to be a regular at any fine dining place, but the Sunday and Monday only burgers at The Grape were a bit more affordable and were the centerpiece of many a double date and group dinner there. The twisty, dark restaurant full of alcoves and arches gave you the feeling of being a wine cellar or grotto, and the staff didn’t judge us for rolling in on burger night, probably underdressed for the occasion. The tables were packed so close together that it makes my COVID mind anxious, but it will be missed greatly!” —WM (Editor’s note: The Grape closed prior to the pandemic.)
“I was sad to see Dakota’s close. Dakota’s was the place my team and I went to celebrate anything—including the departure of our interns every semester. It was a staple for downtown and all of us looking for something special and unique. I will miss their macaroni and cheese.” —Bianca Montes
The Headington Company’s Slew of Closures
It was at the very start of COVID many moons ago, but let’s not forget the sweeping layoffs at more than a dozen Headington properties that never came back online in 2020. Aside from Commissary and CBD Provisions, almost all of the downtown eateries shuttered for good. Some hope Midnight Rambler returns. Mirador has turned to private events only.
Other 2020 Closures We’ve Covered on SideDish
In Uptown, Casa Komali and The Common Table closed well before mandated dining room shutdowns.
The lights went out at the Fitzhugh Avenue El Bolero quickly, quietly.
Remember when Wolfgang Puck’s Five Sixty closed?
After an electric run as a pop-up then acclaimed restaurant, Salaryman closed as chef Justin Holt announced his acute lymphoblastic leukemia. As a follow-up must-read, check out how the chef community has rallied around one of their own.
Speaking of little dining institutions, Crossroads Diner shuttered after celebrating its 10th anniversary.