The weather is awful again, but cloudy days and cold air give us an excuse to soothe ourselves with the same foods we swore we put down with New Year's resolutions. Hearty, rich cooking is the stuff we crave, and we should indulge in it while we can. Spring is a lot closer than you think, and a whole slew of restaurant openings are expected with warmer weather. Visit your old favorites while you can, because you'll soon be distracted.
Actually, a few new restaurants have already started to creep their way into this list. Here's where to eat in Dallas, now:
Proof + Pantry (pictured above) The hype surrounding Michael Martensen's fiasco with the Dallas Morning News is receding, but the dining room is as packed as ever. I stopped in recently to grab a snack and the bar was packed, the tables were filled and I was forced to wait longer than my stomach would endure. Not that I minded much: It gave me an excuse to check out another favorite restaurant I haven't visited in a while, which brings us to ...
Gemma At the least, you deserve some time at the bar with a warm cup of tea and a chocolate-y pine nut tart. You could pull this sort of hit and run any given night, but if you have more time, you really ought to stay for a proper dinner. This little Henderson Avenue gem is still going strong and in addition to a positive review here, the DMN recently anointed the place restaurant of the year.
Front Room With Michael Elhert behind the pass, Front Room has really settled in. Not only is the Park Cities hotel restaurant good enough to keep hotel guests on the property, it's good enough to bring Dallas diners in. I'm trying to imagine what it's like to have Elhert's burger delivered to your room every evening. If I could afford the nightly rate, I'd consider moving in.
Blind Butcher Think you've gotten to know Blind Butcher? You may want to revisit that notion, as some recent menu updates have given the place a new spin. The kitchen here is in a constant state of flux, but one thing is always present: meat. Start with charcuterie boards, continue with the sausages and wrap things up with a meat pie, washing every bite down with a solid selection of beer.
Casa Rubia If there's one good reason to go to Trinity Groves it's Casa Rubia. Don't miss the octopus, or the charcuterie board, or the roast chicken breast. Actually, make sure you bring enough friends so you can really explore and put a solid dent in the entire menu. And if you can get off work in time, check out their happy hour featuring free tapas with every drink order. It's one of the best deals in Dallas.
Remedy I don't know if this place can actually cure your ailments, but I'm positive it can make you feel a whole lot better about them. Remedy is the sort of restaurant that will take you back to all those nostalgic food memories of your youth, and then violently smash them to bits. Rememeber your favorite slice of coconut cream pie? You're about to forget it.
Knife This is the most tentative of my ten picks, if only because John Tesar will likely close the popular steakhouse after he takes a job at Off-Site Kitchen and then announces his new line of branded kitchen equipment. If Tesar is in the restaurant, eat with enthusiasm. If he's somewhere else, proceed with caution. But if you haven't eaten at Knife, you really should experience it.
Monkey King Noodle Co. This Deep Ellum takeout has customers buzzing about every time I drive by it. Customers stand at the window ordering food, and the stand on the street slurping from cups of noodles. If you have a canine friend, you might bring it along with you. Soup bones have been handed out in the past, and dogs deserve to eat well, too.
Small Oak Cliff is going crazy for this place. Small takes the old brewpub model and turns it on its head, with inventive beers and an adventurous kitchen. Not ready for chicken feet? OK, have another beer. Still not ready for chicken feet? OK, maybe that's just not your thing, but there are plenty of other dishes to get excited for, too.
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Stock and Barrel If you haven't visited chef Jon Stevens new restaurant in Oak Cliff you've been missing out on some of the best American cooking in Dallas. It's not often you'll find a restaurant of this caliber with meatloaf on the menu, but there it is, freshly seared and covered in a delicious green peppercorn sauce that will have you set down the ketchup forever.