Among the brunch happenings in Bishop Arts on the weekends, there’s an affordable and perfectly good one going on at an establishment that has weathered construction around it along with a changing neighborhood.
Ten Bells Tavern is a must-go-to in the area. I’ve known this awhile, but for some reason only recently learned that the North Oak Cliff spot should be on your brunch rotation.
One solid reason for that is the bloody mary you can get for $3.25. You can also get a mimosa or a screwdriver for that price, but go with the first one. The mix is right, the spiciness aggressive and the alcohol perfectly strong.
You could put away two of those and probably feel any food tastes good, but you don’t need to here. You’ll see dishes come out to tables around you and find most of it looks good. Even the avocado toast looked like it’s worth ordering ($10). An English muffin is toasted and topped with guacamole or sliced avocado, sliced tomato, poached egg and an orange glaze. You can add bacon for $2 or smoked salmon for $5.
We went straightforward this time, as the gravy-topped items we saw around called to us. The biscuits and sausage gravy are plainly better than most in town, and with a full meal that costs $7 (that’s just a hair over $10 with the mandatory bloody mary), it should be a standard order. The gravy does need salt, and adding a bit does the trick. The consistency is just right, and the flavor well-adjusted. Turns out the biscuit in this dish is salted, making that gravy taste just about right. The biscuit itself, too, has the freshness you want in any bread and the consistency to uphold the glory that is gravy.
Admittedly staying a bit basic, we also went for the chicken and waffle but didn’t regret it a bit ($12). These are served all day every day, probably because they’re also better than other places’ executions. Yes, the white gravy here still needs salt, but the waffle stays crisp and offers a gentle sweetness to the composition that includes a juicy and crispy chicken breast. We were in no way expecting to rave about this chicken and end up fighting with forks over who gets the last bite, but there we were, having that exact experience on a Sunday morning.
And extra points go to the places that serve gravy on their chicken and waffles instead of simply syrup.
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It makes us eye the chicken-fried steak, which is labeled as “world-famous” on the menu ($12.50). The fried sirloin comes with mashed potatoes and black pepper gravy. Make it breakfast-appropriate with two eggs for $2.
We unfortunately missed Ten Bells owner Meri Dahlke's Facebook post earlier, which shared with the world that they would have gingerbread pancakes for the weekend. Us missing that was clearly a mistake, as these look pretty darn good.
Ten Bells is a lovely place to be, day or night. I’m unsure if it’s from the large patio, the friendly ownership or the cats who roam about the property, but it’s one that should be on your list.
Ten Bells Tavern, 232 W. 7th St. (Bishop Arts). Brunch served 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.