My inbox is filling with an endless string of Thanksgiving Day press releases — announcements with restaurant menus, pies for takeout and other holiday eats. It’s a reminder that the greatest food holiday is almost here and also that another year is coming to a close.
This year felt slow to me, but there were a number of gems that opened that should remain on any epicurean’s radar well into the New Year. Some of them will continue to sculpt Dallas’ culinary landscape, either with new locations or ever-evolving menus. Here are this year’s most notable openings, so far.
1. Small (pictured above)
The biggest opening, for me, was Small Brewpub in Oak Cliff, which actually opened at the very end of last year. From house-brewed oddities, to plates that embrace obscure charcuterie and animal parts, no other restaurant has brought so many new creations to Dallas. The restaurant received national attention with a nod from Bon Appétit magazine and almost surely will gain more of the spotlight in the coming year.
Don’t miss: The funky, wild yeast-fermented beers and the charcuterie plate.
This modern-day soda fountain will make you a kid again with creative drinks, outstanding desserts and a menu of classic American staples that will take you back to your roots. This Greenville Avenue newcomer puts the fun back in dining with a light-hearted approach to our all-time favorites.
Don’t miss: The rotating list of ice cream sundaes that pay homage to local personalities. Some of the creations seem strange, at first, but all of them are delicious.
Tim Byres could have made a carbon copy of his first Smoke restaurant when he added a second location in Plano. Instead, he turned the volume up to 11, installing a massive hearth that lets him harness the power of wood flames.
Don’t miss: The Eisenhower steak, cooked directly on coals. It looks burnt to a crisp but it’s not, and the swipe of a blade reveals crimson red meat and funky aged-beef flavors.
4. Luscher’s Red Hots
Brian Luscher broke away from his longstanding tenure at The Grape, turning over the kitchen so he could have a little fun. The results are a casual, counter-service restaurant with some of the best blue-collar eats this city has to offer. Come here to get a taste of Chicago envisioned in the Texas style.
Don’t miss: The hot dog, stupid! And if you don’t give it the respect it’s due, the Uncle Herky burger will put you in a headlock.
5. Campestre Chula Vista
You’ll have to drive to Fort Worth for now, but the folks behind Campestre Chula Vista are headed to Deep Ellum next year. Not that you should wait. Their casual but refined take on Mexican home cooking is more than worth the drive.
Don’t miss: Anything wrapped in one of their handmade tortillas — especially the goat.
6. Ten Ramen
Every passing week brings cooler temperatures this time of year, making a hot bowl of ramen look progressively more attractive. Hands down, the best place to enjoy the Japanese noodle soup in Dallas is at Ten Ramen, where bowls are made with care and served at a stand-up counter.
Don’t miss: The seasonal specials. Don’t order your favorite without checking in on that day’s new creation.
7. Cafe Momentum
Dallasites don’t have to chase pop-up guru Chad Houser around Dallas as much these days, now that he’s found a permanent home downtown. Cafe Momentum couples exemplary dining with a social mission, helping at-risk youths build a foundation for their futures while helping you build a bigger waistline.
Don’t miss: The fried chicken that’s kissed with a hint of smoke.
If you think the surge of Southern restaurants overtaking the city are all the same, get to Rapscallion as quickly as you can. Sure, there are collards, mac and cheese and other staples, but the menu is packed with surprising flavors and ingredients.
Don’t miss: The mala fried chicken. An order belongs on every table.
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Uchi dropped on Dallas like a bomb, with a massive dining room and a reputation for impeccably refined modern Japanese cooking. With locations in Austin and Houston, the restaurant was well known before it arrived in Dallas. The latest location upholds its reputation.
Don’t miss: Happy hour. You can get all of the flavors of Uchi for a song, in one of the best deals in town.
10. Off-Site Kitchen
True, this Trinity Groves burger stand has been known to Dallasites for years now, but the new location changes the experience significantly and is worth a mention. Burgers are easy to come by in Dallas, but burgers like these juicy little numbers are rare.
Don’t miss: The burgers. All of them.