1. Velvet Taco. Chicken tikka, shrimp ’n’ grits, Nashville hot chicken, fish and chips, chicken and waffles, Monte Cristo. These are just a few of the dishes that inspired chef Grant Morgan at Velvet Taco. The late-night spot proved any dish can be turned into a taco. Except maybe soup. But it wouldn’t be surprising if he made that work, too. He put grits in a taco for goodness sake.
2. José. This restaurant, which is a neighborhood favorite to local celebrities such as Laura Bush and Rick Carlisle, but not many know about the tequila table. Tequila tables pair a tequila with your entrée to ameliorate flavors, just like pairing wine. The tequila table concept is popular in Guadalajara, an area of Mexico that inspires the José staff.
3. Civil Pour. This restaurant’s concept is simple: craft beer, fresh coffee, workspace and good vibes. It is the neighborhood’s answer to Austin-based Halcyon with an emphasis on locally made goods.
4. The Mercury. Check out our neighborhood’s second home. Much of the staff has worked here 15 years or more. Regulars come two to four times a week and are like family. They don’t make reservations. They just show up and get squeezed in, even if it’s busy.
5. Becks Prime. There’s a place in Preston Hollow that serves a steak worthy of fine china in a drive-thru. Becks Prime was never meant to be just another fast food joint. The owners wanted to create a place where you could get quality food to-go. Pick up a house ground, mesquite grilled burger without leaving your car.
6. Penne Pomodoro. Alberto Lombardi is the man behind many popular restaurants in Dallas like Taverna, Sangria, Toulouse and the old Lombardi’s restaurant in the West End. When he wanted to close Lombardi’s and get back to something quaint and family friendly, he opened Penne Pomodoro. Lombardi wanted to get back to what General Manager Toni Stephenson called the “warm and fuzzy.”
7. Midici Italian Kitchen. It’s college game day at MidiCi Italian Kitchen, but instead of traditional nachos, you get the dish with an Italian twist: pita bread smothered in locally produced cheese and homemade marinara sauce. What’s Italian for “yum” – “gnam, gnam”? The restaurant is in Preston Hollow Village, across from Orangetheory, but regulars know they can expect four screens, a wood- burning stove for pizza and an inventive menu.
8. Gabriela & Sofia’s Tex Mex. The tables at Gabriela & Sofia’s Tex Mex are packed, and insiders know to order brisket tacos, guacamole made table-side and the jalapeño margarita. Writer Michael Hiller featured this restaurant as one of the best Tex-Mex restaurants in Dallas for a story in USA Today.
9. Suze. Don’t be surprised if chef and owner Gilbert C. Garza stops by with a mysterious treat. Crispy nopalito tempura is one of the delicacies at Suze, which was featured on the cover of Bon Appetit’s “Great Neighborhood Restaurants” in 2002 and USA Today’s “10 great places for a down-to-earth meal” in 2003. The restaurant is entering its 20th year.
10. Il Bracco. Two California guys are serving up some of the best Italian food in the neighborhood, and they have plans to expand. Owner and chef Robert Quick, who attended the Culinary Institute of America in Napa, and Matt Gottlieb, chief operating officer, share a background at Hillstone Restaurant Group. They opened Il Bracco on May 20.
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