Heatseeker: Eight New DFW Bars and Restaurants That Do (And Don't) Live Up to the Hype

From tiki bars like Pilikia (pictured) to cocktail "laboratories" to high-concept eateries, a lot is happening in the Dallas food scene — but not all of it is worth waiting in line to discover.EXPAND
From tiki bars like Pilikia (pictured) to cocktail "laboratories" to high-concept eateries, a lot is happening in the Dallas food scene — but not all of it is worth waiting in line to discover.
Kathy Tran

Dallas has a tendency to go a little nuts over the new and the now. This city has a serious reputation for what the industry calls the Fickle 500, an ever-evolving group of young diners and drinkers who hop-skip from one new place to the next, rarely spending time (or money) at any spot that's been around longer than six months.

If there's one thing the Fickle 500 loves — other than strategically placed selfie stations and themselves — it's talking up the hottest new thing. Local media, in turn, follows suit, and at times, we become a massive echo chamber yelling back and forth across the divide about what's "so hot right now."

But as our restaurant turnover has proven, just because something is popular now doesn't mean it has staying power. While we're always willing to give a new concept more than one shot as they work out the kinks, it's inevitable that some of the hottest  spots are just not worth the trouble, which often involves long waits and high prices. Here are our thoughts on a few of the most talked-up new joints in Dallas right now.

The hot spots that live up to the hype:

Brontosaurus bone-smoked short rib with Parmesan mash and roasted asparagus at Smoky Rose.
Brontosaurus bone-smoked short rib with Parmesan mash and roasted asparagus at Smoky Rose.
Kathy Tran/Courtesy of Smoky Rose

Smoky Rose
8602 Garland Road (East Dallas)
By far one of the year's most anticipated newcomers, Smoky Rose opened in a gorgeous space across from the arboretum with a chef-driven smokehouse concept and a gorgeous garden patio that's finally available for al fresco diners. With chef David "Spoon" Gauthier running the kitchen, it has plenty of smoked meats. Dinner brings "more chef-inspired dishes, more composed dishes," Gauthier says. "A lot of stuff at night comes off the smoker, inspired by a lot of that heavy smoke, then I add smooth mashed potatoes and a demi-glace, then we have this nice dish."

The verdict: It's hard to nail it when you've got your feet placed firmly in two different worlds — in this case, a smokehouse that doubles as an elegant dining experience — but Smoky Rose pulls it off.

Fried soy-ginger-glazed chicken with rice and Texas toast at Chicken Moto.
Fried soy-ginger-glazed chicken with rice and Texas toast at Chicken Moto.
Taylor Danser

Chicken Moto
2069 N. Central Expressway, Richardson
The team behind Bbbop Seoul Kitchen launched a new eatery in the suburbs last month, and the menu is built around Bbbop's most popular dish: Korean fried chicken. The Bbbop team upped the ante by melding Korean flavors with Texas influences, a fun mix that is front-and-center in dishes like Korean elotes and soy-ginger fried chicken served on Texas toast.

The verdict: We may be overwhelmed by fried chicken right now, but Chicken Moto successfully elevated the concept and gave DFW something new.

Hide, a new Deep Ellum "cocktail laboratory," has a few tricks up its sleeve.
Hide, a new Deep Ellum "cocktail laboratory," has a few tricks up its sleeve.
Kathy Tran

Hide
2816 Elm St.
This new "cocktail laboratory" uses hidden technology like roto-vaporizers, lasers and centrifuges to make "cocktails clarified." While much of the technology at Hide has already been in use at places like FT33 and Filament, Hide built its theme around it, creating cocktails like an elegant flash-carbonated gin and tonic served in a Champagne flute.

The verdict: At first, the idea seemed dubiously gimmicky, but Hide quickly proved that its cocktails, while untraditional, are filled with flavor. Gimmick or no, these are some excellent drinks.

Sujuk “pies,” ultra-thin-crust Lebanese pizzas with toppings like akawi, a briney Palestinian cheese, at Zatar.
Sujuk “pies,” ultra-thin-crust Lebanese pizzas with toppings like akawi, a briney Palestinian cheese, at Zatar.
Kathy Tran

Zatar Lebanese Tapas & Bar
2825 Commerce St.
This new Deep Ellum restaurant ditches the word “Mediterranean” and presents a menu of foods that are difficult to find in DFW, like a Lebanese cheese board,  sambousek (described on the menu as “empanadas filled with spiced minced beef") and paper-thin cigar-shaped pastries stuffed with feta and akawi. The cocktail menu is equally interesting with ingredients like rose water, oregano and Metaxa, a Greek liqueur.

The verdict: Zatar has great energy, an excellent Lebanese wine list, hookah and a fresh take on Lebanese food, which makes it stand out big-time in the ever-trendy Deep Ellum restaurant scene. With plenty of sharing plates, it's a great place for groups. If you're tired of the same-old same-old in Dallas dining, Zatar will shake you out of your dining doldrums.



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