For a royal escape from the chaos of the pandemic, Royal 38 allows guests to sip quirky, fun cocktails on a spacious patio in The Union in Uptown. From the founders of HIDE — which has recently relocated from Deep Ellum to Lower Greenville — Royal 38 boasts a cocktail-focused menu simple and festive, fruity and bold, alcoholic and non-alcoholic.
The restaurant spans across 4,000 square feet, the inside containing a long bar, raised booth seating and socially distanced tables.
“The owners of [The Union] approached us and were really adamant about us opening this space in this plaza,” co-owner Scott Jenkins says. “We didn’t have plans of expanding so quickly, but when the opportunity presented itself, we did our research and realized that it was a good opportunity, and we wanted to do something special.”
When creating the menu for Royal 38, Jenkins wanted something that both the cocktail buffs and the sober sort could enjoy.
The beach body cocktail
“I was very focused on creating nonalcoholic cocktails that are gonna have low ABV, so that people can come in, enjoy themselves, have a few and be safe,” Jenkins says.
Some of the non-alcoholic cocktails include the no-jito, made with mineral water, lime, sugar and mint ($10). If you want to step it up a bit, the beach body, made with vodka, passionfruit, blended juice and clarified banana red bitters is sweet and refreshing ($13).
As a lover of vermouth, Jenkins has incorporated this spirit in many of Royal 38’s cocktails, including the poco-loco, made with tequila, mezcal, Oaxacan rum, Cardamaro, Spanish vermouth, Pasubio Vino Amaro and Angostura bitters ($15).
For the menu, Royal 38 worked with Seattle’s Scott Gilkey. Jenkins wanted the menu to boast Americanized versions of food from all parts of the world.
“We wanted to have global cuisine,” Jenkins says. “Just kind of unpretentious, really well-made and delicious food. I know everybody kind of says that, but we picked things that we liked.”
The royal trio
If you’re wanting to keep things light, the royal trio makes for a great appetizer: A spicy nut mix comes with chili citrus olives and Royal 38’s house-made Cheez-Its ($9).
A heartier appetizer is the chilisauced ribs, an Asian-inspired plate of baby back ribs bathed in a house-made Thai chili sauce ($14). Perhaps their signature app will end up being the lobster corn fritters, made with white cornmeal, corn, sweet pepper and a remoulade dipping sauce ($14).
Lobster corn fritters
Truthfully, the appetizers are filling enough on their own, but if you manage to have room for an entree after munching on snacks, Royal 38 has a menu full of plates such as chicken enchiladas ($16) and prime New York strip ($34).
Saturdays and Sundays, guests can try brunch, with savory items like the lobster Benedict with potato, poached eggs, lemon hollandaise and fried capers ($17) and sweet treats like the stuffed French toast with brioche, vanilla cream anglaise, bananas Foster syrup and fresh berries ($12).
“We want everybody here,” Jenkins says. “We are truly grateful that people are coming in.”
Royal 38, 2301 N. Akard St., No. 210. Open 4 p.m. to midnight Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday; 11 a.m. to midnight Sunday; and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday for brunch.