Now that they have their checkbooks all sorted out, the boys are back in town and on Saturday night the Stars face off against the Edmonton Oilers. Or someone. I actually have no idea. When they traded Shane Churla, I bowed out gracefully (although he is still with the organization).
Regardless, we thought it was a good time to revisit our pregame meal options around the American Airlines Center. Victory Park has a handful of restaurants, a few of them good. We've also pulled a few from the perimeter, plus some new spots around downtown that are worth an excursion.
Ellen's Southern Kitchen in the West End. Where, you say? The W-E-S-T E-N-D. Yes, it's still there. Logistically, parking twice would make me crazy, but you can take public transit. What's that, you say? P-U-B ... OK. I'll stop with all the "jokes." The DART green and orange lines run to the West End every 30 minutes. Scott Reitz recently reviewed Ellen's and had some nice things to say about the chicken-fried steak. Here's a very handy guide to DART downtown.
Medina Oven and Wine Bar is a little gem at Victory Park. The small restaurant is owned by the same group that owns Baboush and Farnatchi, both of which are home to great Moroccan food. In addition to wood-fired pizzas, they have lamb, chicken, couscous; as well as some great dips and spreads -- smoked eggplant with garlic-saffron tomato confit and cilantro. The bar has some "sexy" cocktails, as well as wine.
New Places To Try If you're entertaining guests in from out of town and want to give them the full Dallas experience replete with sports at the AAC, then crack the whip and point your wagon toward Stampede 66, which is now Dallas' quintessential dining experience.
Chef Nico Sanchez opened a second location of Meso Maya near Klyde Warren Park, at 1611 McKinney Ave. The menu draws inspiration from native Mexican ingredients like maiz, cacao, chilies, squash and chayote. Don't let that scare you though. There's something for everyone, including a taco window in the courtyard, La Ventana.
Cook Hall is the new restaurant inside the W Hotel. Scott recently opined about it. The menu is a bit more "sports" friendly and not as fancy as its predecessor, but the prices aren't as fancy either. When pressed, Reitz said this would be his spot prior to an AAC event.
Sports Bars If it's a straight-up sports trip/night, well then ... where do we start? Evidently, The Owners Box in the Omni doesn't even have walls, just "televisions stacked on top of each other." And that just the beginning of the amenities. But, Scotts likes their wings, and he knows a wing when he sees one.
Kung Fu Saloon, a new fun sports-ish bar is full of retro arcade games, a prime spot to relive the glory days if your friends are in town for a game. Kung Fu has many local beers on draft and an adventurous menu, including The Dank.
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Draft Picks is a sports lounge on some serious 'roids. It's ripped. There's basically a movie screen in the middle of the place, and you'd be hard pressed to find a seat where you couldn't see at least two screens, if not three, at once. Plus, there are couches for lounging, a patio outside and big fat chicken pot pies. Casual Dinner
Neo Pizza is the sister restaurant of Olivella's in University Park. This corner spot has a nice patio and cozy interior. The menu has salads, sandwiches and not the typical line up of pizzas. It's a half-mile walk to the south entrance of the AAC, so huff it on over. Earn that pizza!
If a big fat bowl of queso or fajita nachos with a margarita is your pregame meal, then Luna de Noche will set you up. It's walking distance to the AAC, but usually isn't overblown by crowds.
Victory Tavern isn't a hardcore sports bar, which might be what you're after. TV's don't dominate the ambiance, but like socks, are there when you need them. The size of the crowd mimics the AAC, no bones about that. But it has slightly higher-end fare and valet parking is $10 on event nights, which is the same, if not less then parking lots, where they don't bring you your car.