The restaurant business is a funny bird. While some local favorites couldn't endure the cost of the pandemic, other newbies are giving the market a try. Ghost kitchens are becoming more prevalent, which considering real estate prices seem like a smart option.
For starters, as reported by Nick Rallo in The Dallas Morning News, 20 Feet Seafood Joint in East Dallas has closed permanently, a victim of the pandemic. This one hurts. Chef and owner Marc Cassel has a colorful history in the Dallas food scene. He was part of the famed feed me/wine me at The Green Room years ago. In a 2013 interview with the Observer, Cassel talked about how having his own place was a longtime dream fulfilled.
The name 20 Feet was a reference to all his dogs. Cassel also had great taste in music. Like many other great local chefs, Cassel attributed his success to Stephan Pyles, and while in the kitchen at the Green Room made a dish called the yard bird for Eric Clapton, who was once a member of the Yardbirds. Cassel is a gem and we anxiously await his next move.
The wood-fired, modern Italian restaurant Monarch recently opened on the 49th floor of The National (400 N. Ervay) in downtown. Two-time Michelin-starred chef Danny Grant is at the helm. He's originally from New York but garnered his critical acclaim at RIA in Chicago. Monarch is open for dinner from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. On Fridays and Saturdays they’re open until 11 p.m. The dress is "business casual or better" and no T-shirts. No, not even a tuxedo T-shirt that says you’re all business but also there to party.
One floor up, the new sushi lounge Kessaku opened on March 24. Grant is also overseeing this luxury spot along with chef Hari Chan. “The menu centers around simple yet elegant nigiri, sashimi and rolls and a world-class collection of sake and Japanese Whiskey,” their website says.
Twilite, the live music venue and cocktail lounge in Deep Ellum with a great courtyard outback, has reopened after a long COVID nap.
J. Rae’s is a new bakery at The Pavillion on Lovers Lane. Owner Audrey Dixon grew up baking with her mom and is leaning on recipes from her aunt. J. Rae's has an assortment of cupcakes, cheesecakes, cake balls, cookies and seasonal pies. J. Rae’s is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday and is located at 5600 W. Lovers Lane, No. 143.
Zalat Pizza is opening a ghost kitchen in Arlington on April 5. This is the eleventh location for the spot, which was founded in Dallas by Khanh Nguyen back in 2015, serving things like the pho shizzle pizza, pineapple express and a housemade sauce that combines ranch dressing and Sriracha. The new Arlington location will be open for delivery only from 11 a.m. to 12 a.m. Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday.
April is National Grilled Cheese Month, something we can all put our full weight behind. The folks behind Sea Breeze Fish Market and Grill have launched a grilled cheese kitchen. The Plano Grilled Cheese Co., which is not affiliated with the Dallas Grilled Cheese Co., is a ghost kitchen, meaning they offer delivery only, via Favor. Part of the press release poses the question 'Why a grilled cheese restaurant?' and we’re like, no one ever needs to ask that question. We get why grilled cheese. Anyway, they have seven different grilled cheese sandwiches, including a couple of seafood options. The crab cake grilled cheese sandwich ($14) has white cheddar and a remoulade sauce served on buttery Texas toast. They also have soups, like smoked basil bisque and clam chowder.
Sarah’s Hot Chicken, another delivery-only spot, opened a second location in Lake Highlands. They’re owned by the same group that owns Fish City Grill. Per a statement from the company, “… Fish City Grill recognized that seafood isn’t the top choice among customers for a delivered meal. According to DoorDash, chicken is the No. 1 “food group” for delivery. And “hot” chicken has been a building trend over the past year.” Orders may be placed at Sarah’s Hot Chicken’s website, or through delivery partner DoorDash. Hours are 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sundays.
We previously talked about Dutch Bros. Coffee invading North Texas.
Remember Cake Bar’s vending machine where you can grab a fluffy slice of homemade cake with zero human interaction? Well, they’ve added another vending machine, this time for whole cakes. Every day, all day you can get a 5- or 8-inch round of their most popular flavors like Key lime, strawberry or old fashion chocolate. Cake Bar is located in Trinity Groves, 3011 Gulden Lane, Ste. 117.
Klyde Warren Park has a fun new feature. Nope, not the upgraded accouterments at the kiddie park. Rather a Mi Cocina’s pop-up bar, which is now open at the 5-acre deck every Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
In drive-thru Slurpee news, 7-Eleven is opening its first drive-thru concept at a new evolution (tester) store at Park and Abrams. It's connected to one of their Laredo Taco Co. restaurants, meaning you can get tacos and Slurpees without leaving the car. All told, there will be 30 beverages sold through the drive-thru. So, the big point here is you don’t have to go inside for a Slurpee.
Interesting side note here, the Laredo Taco side of this evolution store has frozen margaritas, and while it's not totally clear, I hope these are wine-based Slurpees. Because if that what's happening here, Mr. and Mrs. Eleven, CALL IT THAT! Then, we’d skip in.
The Ginger Man on Boll Street has been bulldozed, as first reported by The Dallas Morning News. We should have known something was up when their Facebook page was sending people to their Las Colinas location starting last October. Bummer.
Finally, bad news on Queso Beso, which just opened in December 2019 a stone’s throw from the giant eyeball downtown on Main Street. This cute queso-infused spot had happy hour vibes every hour. A representative for the company confirmed they have shuttered. No details were offered, but possibly they were a victim of all the complications of 2020. An unconfirmed report is that Uno Mas will move in.
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