Best New Restaurant (2003)
There are a lot of good things that can be said about Local, the tiny boutique restaurant that opened in the heart of Deep Ellum in the historic Boyd Hotel, one-time stopover for Bonnie and Clyde, Huddie "Leadbelly" Ledbetter and Blind Lemon Jefferson. One of them is the Sluree, a blend of Rotari, an Italian sparkling wine, and scoops of house-made grapefruit-rosemary sorbet that quickly melt into the fizz. The Sluree is a good source of vitamin C as long as you don't fortify yourself into blurred vision. Another is the small collection of imaginative salads equipped with things like fried pears, oven-baked Roma tomatoes and strips of skillet-fried prosciutto. The cheeseburger is hearty and bursting with flavor, the fried chicken flits like a cloud and the fish is provocatively simple, letting the natural fish flavors blaze a path across the tongue (the footprint of chef Tracy Miller is ever so slight, yet undeniably shrewd). But perhaps the best thing that can be said of this restaurant is that it has no ambition to be anything other than what it is: a distinctly Dallas restaurant that bubbled up organically from the inner city's pavement. This is no New York or L.A. or Chicago wannabe posing. It just is what it is. To this spirit is stapled a tiny, eclectic and thought-provoking wine list and deliciously clean and crisp design lines (even wool shag carpet) by hotel designer and co-owner Alice Cottrell. Plans for an outdoor courtyard and wine lounge only assure that the luster deepens, carving another notch in the short bedpost of culinary experiences tasted through a distinctly Dallas prism.