There are some years that are better for restaurants than others. In 2014, we saw explosive growth as restaurants of all kinds opened all over Dallas. Many of the city's restaurateurs have been very lucky this year as they took risks and opened restaurants in locations that seemed tricky, if not downright impossible. (See: VH Oak Cliff, Henry's Majestic)
Undoubtedly, more good restaurants have opened than closed this year, which can only mean good things for the Dallas dining scene as we head into 2015. Still, some very notable spots closed up shop, from beloved dive bars to fancy fine dining, and we're going to miss them.
Driftwood (above) The closure of one of Dallas' few fine seafood restaurants is the latest of the year. Citing "plumbing problems," the restaurant closed about six weeks ago, but only decided that the Bishop Arts location would shutter for good this week. The owners plan to relocate the restaurant to a more upscale space, but no word yet on when Driftwood will reopen. We'll miss those quality-but-cheap $1 oyster nights and hope that Chef Kyle McClelland brings more seafood to the menu at Proof + Pantry in the meantime.
Deep Ellum is in desperate need of fine food, and 2015 may be the year of its restaurant renaissance. Earlier this year, upscale Vietnamese restaurant Lemongrass closed to make room for (yet another) bar on Elm Street. Now, if you're down in Deep Ellum for a show, you're pretty much limited to burgers, donuts, and booze as dinner options. Not that those are terrible choices, but Lemongrass was the kind of place you could impress your date at before moshing for a couple of hours at Club Dada.
North Dallas is another area of town that could use a little more restaurant variety than its usual offerings of fast food, chain restaurants, and expensive steak and seafood houses. For more than six years, Afghan Grill was that variety, providing some of the city's only Afghani food and doing it remarkably well. We'll miss the mixed grill, those delicious samosas, and kebab platters the most. On the bright side, there is still Nora, the restaurant's more upscale sister on Greenville Avenue.
Belly & Trumpet
This restaurant closing came as a shock to many. Under the helm of Chef Brian Zenner, Belly & Trumpet earned four stars from The Dallas Morning News, and rave reviews from the city's other dining critics. It appears, though, that the restaurant just couldn't drum up enough business to keep its doors open, which many attribute to the restaurant's out-of-place location in Uptown. The space is currently being reconcepted into a restaurant that is more suited to the clientele of the neighborhood, and you can bet that it's going to be replaced with a bar. Fortunately, you can still find Zenner's nuanced cooking at Belly & Trumpet's sister restaurant in the Design District, Oak.
Korean-style wings were a relatively new arrival to Dallas proper, especially in Bonchon's lively sports bar setting. The concept barely survived for seven months, much to our food critic's dismay. Reitz loved the restaurant's crispy and spicy Korean fried chicken, and has since been less-than-impressed by its replacement, Ashwood Bar and Kitchen. There are still technically wings on the menu, but they don't resemble their burn-your-face-off predecessors in any meaningful ways. Bonchon, you will be missed.
Hacienda on Henderson Long before Henderson Avenue was littered with more restaurants than anyone ever thought possible, Hacienda on Henderson was jam-packed most nights. Tex-Mex is obviously one of the most popular cuisines in Dallas, and the awesome patio and drink specials at Hacienda certainly didn't hurt. The addition of a vegan menu gave the restaurant a boost in 2013, but apparently not enough to keep up with rising rents and property values in one of Dallas' most popular restaurant districts.
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Club Schmitz Expansion has been the enemy of many of Dallas' restaurants, and Club Schmitz had a big RaceTrac redevelopment to contend with. The convenience store chain bought the land that housed the landmark bar and burger joint for almost seven decades, leaving the owners with a (presumably) hefty payday and opportunity to open a new concept somewhere else in Dallas. Losing a 68-year-old restaurant in Dallas is always painful, especially one that made burgers that were as good as Club Schmitz.
India West Excellent Indian food is also hard to come across in Dallas proper, and you can forget about any upscale options. Diners loved the food at India West, giving it rave reviews on Yelp!, but the critics weren't as satisfied, which may have led to its demise. Still, India West could have used a little extra time to grow and improve on their framework, which was inarguably solid. If you miss those incredible samosas, you can always go to Kebab-n-Kurry in Richardson for a fix that's maybe even better.