Lucky you! Some rich relative of yours — maybe an uncle, or your little brother who got that job at Google, or long-lost cousins who feel bad about neglecting their family — is visiting Dallas for the holidays, and wants to treat you to a lavish dinner. Where to take them?
We’re here to help. This guide will enable you to extract maximum luxury out of your night with boring old Uncle Ben, and it will tell you exactly which restaurant is perfect for which relative.
1. Champagne and more at Bistro 31. Your older sister Rachel may have come back from her study abroad in France with an unbearably snobby attitude about wine, but she also came back with a convenient habit of spending far too much on it. Bistro 31, an absurdly elegant dining room in Highland Park Village, is the perfect place for Rachel to buy you too many drinks. They have eight Champagnes by the glass, for one thing, leading all the way up to a $49 glass of Dom Perignon. Some foie gras and raw oysters will be all the accompaniment you need; pop by the lounge upstairs and you might spot a Real Housewife.
2. Steak dinner at Knife. Your parents have had a banner year running the family business, but they’re still just meat-and-potatoes country folk at heart. So maybe you should show them steak like they’ve never had before, with a dry-aged rib-eye at Knife. Oh, and the bacon tasting, of course. When you were a kid, your parents said the magic word was “please.” But now, as an adult, the whole family can agree that the magic words are “bacon tasting.”
3. An evening at Lucia. Now that he’s retired, your dad is spending all his days on Facebook, sharing fake news stories, posting pictures of the car he’s restoring and awkwardly commenting on all your friends’ statuses. Maybe it’s time to put his social media obsession to good use. Have him stalk Lucia, the famously hard-to-get-into Italian restaurant in Bishop Arts. When a last-minute cancellation leaves tables open, they post the news on Facebook, and it’s first-claimed-first-served. Dad will be hitting refresh every 45 seconds anyway, so why not use his habit to score some of the city’s best pasta?
4. Dinner at Wayward Sons. Your cousins from Palo Alto are big in the tech industry, ardent Alice Waters foodies and 100 percent vegetarian. They’re coming into town and asking where to take you, but they’re worried Dallas is going to be nothing but steakhouses. So surprise those cousins by introducing them to Wayward Sons, with its remarkable skill for cooking ultra-fresh vegetables and herbs, some from its own garden. A cup of vegan beet chili is a great winter starter, the ever-changing housemade pasta is always great and the enormous vegetable charcuterie, pictured above, can make a satisfying meal of its own.
5. John Tesar’s private Spoon pop-up dinners. Ever since Aunt Liz came back from that summer stay on the coast in Maine, where she swears she saw Stephen King in line at Dunkin’ Donuts, she won’t shut up about fresh seafood and lobster. So take her to the Spoon pop-ups, just 16 diners each in undisclosed private locations; some of them even feature the local-legend “Feast of the Seven Fishes” menu. Maybe that will finally shut her up about how she can’t get a decent fish dinner in Texas. Oh, and she’s seen every single season of Top Chef, and she thinks that fella John Tesar is super cute. It’s those glasses. Adorkable!
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6. A sushi feast at Shiawase. Ever since you started having an affair with Rodrigo, the office’s dashing older senior account exec, it’s been the best four months of your life. But keeping the whole business secret, at home and at work, is a bit of a hassle, right? So, for a quick, romantic pre-Christmas dinner, maybe drive up to Allen, because nobody you know ever goes to Allen. They all think it’s an outlet mall. Ha! Shiawase is opulent, ridiculously swanky (those huge chandeliers) and has truly enormous, addicting specialty sushi rolls. Those rolls cost up to $17. But Rodrigo is so generous, and he can tell the folks in accounting that it was a client meeting ... (Note: The Observer is not condoning this behavior. Well, maybe a little.)
7. Gourmet chocolate crawl. After your sister Wanda's cupcake business took off and she lost herself in lucrative bowls of buttercream frosting, she’s gotten harder and harder to impress. But you know the trick: a citywide crawl, starting in Bishop Arts at Dude, Sweet Chocolate and CocoAndre. Then it’s on to Kate Weiser and her hand-painted edible artwork. The last stop is Chocolate Secrets, one of Dallas’ original great chocolatiers, a live jazz spot on weekends and the place to be if you want a good glass of wine with your truffles. Which you do.