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Restaurant Openings and Closings

Dakota’s Steakhouse Will Return to Downtown Dallas This July

After going under, the subterranean restaurant reemerges to serve steak again.
The Dakota's below street level courtyard.
Kevin Marple / Dakota's

At the end of last year we lamented the many restaurants and bars the pandemic took from us. One stinger of a closure was Dakota’s, which closed last May after 36 years. We were sad about it. (Particularly its underrated happy hour and communal bar nuts, the latter of which is almost certainly going to be a casualty of the pandemic.) D CEO editor Bianca Montes was especially bummed, remembering last December that “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.”

Well, the steakhouse staple is coming back.

Meredith McEneny is undertaking the underground eatery’s revival, which means renovating the kitchen and doing some serious updating. The iconic dining room and patio—five-tiered granite water fall and all—will retain its character and charm that y’all know and love. The 1,800-square-foot cove-like courtyard will again be the subterranean setting to celebrations and romantic date. (And, yes, the steaks will still be sourced from the Chicago-based, prime beef provider Allen Brothers.)

For all 2020 had wrought, for many diners who frequented this restaurant, this feels like a win. After the aforementioned kitchen overhaul, Dakota’s is slated to reopen in July.

This is McEneny’s first foray into the hospitality industry but she’s certainly no stranger to it; her husband, Tim McEneny, is behind familiar Dallas restaurants Jalisco Norte, Sloane’s Corner, and more. Meredith and Tim’s daughters (Sloane and Leila) have restaurants named for them: Sloane’s Corner, of course, and Pizza Leila, a ghost kitchen inside Sloane’s that serves up Sicilian-style pizza. The whole family, it seems, is officially in the restaurant business.

As a Dallas newcomer (yes, I’m still claiming ignorance!), I hadn’t yet learned the Dakota’s backstory. That it was formerly occupied by First Dallas Baptist Church once upon a time. And that, due to religious grounds (both the property and a clause in the deed), any future owner was prohibited from selling alcohol—on church grounds. So, as we’ve all concluded, this sent all the drinking below street level.

Cheers to loopholes that beget booze and steak. And welcome back, Dakota’s.