This week the 50 Most Interesting Restaurants I compiled over the summer leading up to our Best of Dallas 2015 issue were bundled together in a cover story that makes Dallas look like a pretty great dining city. There are enough restaurants to keep diners going for months without hitting a single dud or getting bored with ordering the same meat and two sides. But the list also illuminates a weakness in our local dining culture, and I hope more restaurateurs have the courage to tackle it.
Dallas needs more thought-provoking ethnic restaurants. For the most part, what we already have seems to fit into two categories. There are ethnic restaurants that cater to ethnic families, deal hunters and chowhounds, and then there are ethnic restaurants that cater to everyone else. There are also restaurants that straddle these two categories, but they are very rare. Those are the types of restaurants I think Dallas could use more of.
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Monkey King Noodle Co., Campestre Chula Vista and Bambu are three restaurants that are perfect examples of what I’m describing. The cooking these restaurants offer is both authentic and refined, and they cater to an all-inclusive class of diner that is on the hunt for great food, no matter where it originates. These restaurants have proved successful, and I think Dallas is ready for more of them.
How about an Indian restaurant that turns out scratch curries and freshly baked breads in a dining room that properly frames an intimate meal? How about a Vietnamese restaurant that turns out an elevated version of the menu you’d find at Dong Que or Saigon Block out in Richardson? How about a second Bambu in Deep Ellum that turns out equally delicious Thai cuisine without requiring a drive to outside the loop?
We may already be on our way. The folks behind Campestre Chula Vista have announced their intentions to open a restaurant in Deep Ellum, and Andrew Chen at Monkey King almost certainly has a few more tricks up his sleeve. Hopefully these coming concepts do well, and spur more ideas to bring ethnic dining out of the shadows and into the mainstream in Dallas.