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The Best New Restaurants in Dallas 2012

Which kitchens were the cream of this year's crop?
photography by Kevin Marple

photography by Kevin Marple


Like his good friend Guy Fieri, Tim Love has a celebrity-chef persona that can make you forget he’s a great chef. In fact, Love is probably the hottest celebrity chef in town, a regular on the Food Network, Good Morning America, Today, and more. He’s the official chef for the annual ACL Music Festival, and he competed this fall in The Next Iron Chef.

But The Woodshed Smokehouse proves that Love has cooking chops. He was tasked with creating a place on the banks of the Trinity River that would serve a wide range of customers—from joggers on the nearby bike trail to TCU students to gourmands seeking the latest culinary trend. That would be kale salad, and, of course, it’s on the menu, but done Love-style. The kale is “marinated” in salt until the stiff leaves turn weepy, then sprinkled with smoked pumpkin seeds, manchego, and spicy guanciale, an Italian-style bacon (also trendy).
Woodshed has a hip banh mi taco and ramen in a steamy hot pot, laden with chewy noodles, pulled pork, chiles, and poached quail egg.
But Woodshed’s true mission is its exploration of smoke, fire, and wood—exposing meats and vegetables to heat until they become soft and sublimely edible, while simultaneously summoning our caveman roots. It’s the same for a head of cauliflower, sprinkled with hot paprika and surprisingly meaty, and a massive beef shin, smoked for 16 hours, until it gets so tender that you can scoop up chunks with a house-made corn tortilla.

Love spotlights an animal of the day, unflinchingly, with the animal rotating on a spit that’s visible as soon as you walk in the front door. In a nod to the nose-to-tail trend of using the entire animal, he offers the fat drippings as an appetizer with tortillas and camp bread. The menu offers dishes big and small, as an entrée or to be shared, whether at the elbow-to-elbow community table in the bar or at a picnic table on the festive patio. All of the elements combine to make Woodshed feel like a tribal gathering.

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