2018 was a banner year for new restaurants in Dallas. In particular, chefs put renewed effort into making their creativity accessible for wider audiences, at more reasonable price points. And Dallas' diversity was on full display, too. Our list of the year's best new restaurants includes French, Italian, Spanish, Sichuanese, Cantonese, Egyptian and Mexican foods.
In addition to the list below, some other noteworthy openings include Manna Pocha, a swanky Korean tavern in Carrollton; Gulabo's Brunch & BBQ, which despite its name is actually a Pakistani kebab restaurant just up the road from Manna Pocha; and new locations for LA Burger, La Salsa Verde and BBQ King. And a few new entrants have opened their doors very recently, including the Laotian kitchen at Khao Noodle Shop, a tiny Mexican spot in Bishop Arts called Coco's Fire & Ice and an extremely promising new casual space in Irving named Shawarma World.
1. Bullion400 S. Record St. (downtown Dallas)
The biggest and most hyped restaurant opening of 2018 is, so far, living up to its lofty expectations. At Bullion, chef Bruno Davaillon serves up stylish, superb twists on French classics, but the food is more intuitive and comforting than the impossibly swanky dining room might suggest. Look in particular for the daily specials, which change seasonally but might include a hearty bison stew, delicate cuts of rabbit or traditional seafood quenelles. A deep wine list and terrific bread basket helped propel Bullion to No. 7 on our Top 100 Restaurants ranking — and it could have been higher if not for industry rumors about shaky service, which definitely prioritizes VIPs over regular folk.
2. Petra and the Beast601 N. Haskell Ave. (Old East Dallas)
The best charcuterie program in Dallas — and the best BYOB experience within Dallas city limits — come at a restaurant in an old Sinclair gas station with a kitchen staff of two people. For most of 2018, Petra and the Beast called itself a long-term pop-up, as chef Misti Norris worked behind the scenes to give the establishment a more settled future. But after accolades from just about every media outlet in town, plus Esquire magazine, Petra and its adventurous noodle shapes are looking like an East Dallas institution. Sacchetti stuffed with kale and cheese, lasagnette topped with ragu or Asian-style noodle soup with giant pork meatballs and a chile pepper broth? You have to try them all. They might be gone next week.
3. Macellaio287 N. Bishop Ave. (Bishop Arts District)
No, this list isn't going to be all charcuterie. But Macellaio is a departure for David and Jennifer Uygur, the team behind beloved Bishop Arts landmark Lucia. At their new place, there's no pasta in sight — just cured meats, exquisite veggie-focused small plates and the occasional meaty main course, which betrays influences from not just Italy but the rest of the Mediterranean, too. Macellaio is bigger and lighter than Lucia, too, which means it may not be quite as romantic, but it's much easier to just pop in and have a snack or a cocktail. Dallas food industry insiders are already in love: According to our survey, they already think Macellaio is one of the city's top five restaurants.
4. Izkina2801 Elm St. (Deep Ellum)
Are you seeing what a stacked lineup of new restaurants 2018 had? Go back and look at that chef survey again. Four of the industry's top 10 favorite places to eat in the city opened this year or very late last year — and industry insiders are not trend-chasing influencers obsessed with the new. Alongside Bullion, Petra and the Beast and Macellaio, their top 10 also included Izkina, a Spanish tapas bar in Deep Ellum so tiny that chef Joel Orsini himself will probably bring his work to your table. Izkina is on the lower level of a youth hostel, and it has hostel-type quirks, like service that feels like you're asking someone in a dorm to please bring you food. But then the food arrives — fried tiny fish on toast, house-made pickled veggies, ultra-creamy goat cheese, voluptuous Sunday night paella specials — and you start to feel the magic happen.
5. Tasty House2901 N. Central Expressway, Plano
One of Plano's most interesting Sichuan restaurants is newcomer Tasty House, where the food is as exciting as the name and strip mall location is, well, not. Tuck into perfectly crispy fried "storm fish" sprinkled with peppers and onions, flavorful cumin chicken, addictingly garlicky fried string beans or snackable street-style skewers. And where else in town are you going to find sizzling pig brains?
6. Billy Can Can2386 Victory Park Lane (Victory Park)
Here's how we recently described Billy Can Can in conversation: It's like a tourist trap, except good. Just steps away from the American Airlines Center, Billy Can Can updates its old-timey saloon theme with modern trappings like an adventurous, affordable wine list and a schnitzel made from skate rather than land critters. From the cakey cornbread served in a skillet to the big bone-in pork chop, this saloon is better than its goofy name suggests, and a worthwhile place to take non-Texan guests who want a Dallas experience but like good food, too. If you have to sit at the communal table, don't fret: There's an ax buried in the middle for your amusement.
7. Mubrooka904 Audelia Road, Richardson
Dallas County's first Egyptian restaurant specializes in that country's street food, particularly ta'ameya (fava bean falafel) and koshari, the ultimate comfort food. If you like carbs and legumes, koshari will change your life: It's a mix of macaroni noodles, rice and lentils, topped with fried onions and garlicky hot sauce. The hospitality at Mubrooka, a small shop in Richardson, is as warm as the cooking.
8. Cabritos Los Cavazos10240 N. Walton Walker Blvd. (Northwest Dallas)
The Rio Grande Valley is a long, long drive south. But its embassy is at the corner of Loop 12 and Northwest Highway, where Cabritos Los Cavazos plants kid goats like flags hanging over the coals, waiting for customers to order big cuts of leg, shoulder and ribs. Order some goat meat, unwrap the good-quality tortillas, test out the excellent salsas and get to work building your own delicious tacos.
9. The Charles1632 Market Center Blvd. (Design District)
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After Bullion, the best new unapologetic high-end splurge restaurant to open in Dallas this year is The Charles, an Italian-ish Design District spot that buzzes with socialites begging to be people-watched. They're busy enjoying chef J. Chastain's inventive through-the-looking-glass view of Italian food, which involves such novelties as putting the sauce inside the pasta, making a specialty of meaty pot pies and piling roasted kale onto a pool of cool yogurt dip. The Charles isn't an affordable night out — especially with a bargain-barren wine list — but hey, they had to pay for the off-the-charts interior decorating budget somehow.
10. Little Kaiping4011 E. Renner Road, Richardson
In July, Fine China opened at the Statler Hotel downtown, with a hotshot young chef in Angela Hernandez, an opulent interior — including actual fine china on the walls — and a specialty in Cantonese-style roasted duck. But Fine China is being upstaged by an upstart in Richardson where the roasted duck is prepared to excellence in the hands of a chef, Kang Xu, who's been cooking Chinese barbecue for 30 years. The Kang family's establishment, Little Kaiping, makes a mean Peking duck platter, too, plus excellent flat noodles with black bean sauce.