Colleague Brian Reinhart recently put together the Observer’s “Dallas-Area Chefs and Industry Insiders Vote on Their Favorite Restaurants,” where he went on, apparently along with the entire industry, to feloniously underrate Fearing’s restaurant at the Ritz-Carlton.
Brian revealed in his examination of the results that only one person in the large field of voters had listed Fearing’s in his top 10, and that the voter was a freelancer.
Bub, I’m a mere freelancer because my day job is suing people and institutions for doing bad things, and I’d sue Brian for food critic malpractice if there were any money in it.
The closest thing we have in Dallas to a native cuisine is the Southwest dishes of Dean Fearing and Stephan Pyles, and with Pyles stepping back from the kitchen, that leaves Fearing’s as the absolute best example of the most important cuisine in Dallas. As someone who has sampled the best Santa Fe and Bobby Flay have to offer in the genre, I would say Fearing’s is actually the best in the country.
As to the chefs among my fellow voters — Huh?! My editor pointed out that the Fearing’s omission was a result of having such an unprecedented number of new and wonderful places. She’s almost certainly right, and we are so blessed to be living in today’s Dallas food scene. I remember just 20 years ago when everyone’s top-10 lists included Chili’s.
But that’s just not a good enough excuse, chefs. You want people to start leaving your place off best-of lists just because you’ve been open 10 years? You ought to get a medal and combat pay for being open 10 years.
And speaking of keeping wonderful concepts open, we’re all going to need to order takeout and delivery a bunch of times over the next … uh, how long are we doing this?
So I called all the places in the reported top 10 restaurants, according to the industry, which came to 14 places because of ties, and Fearing’s because everyone is wrong but me, which is the working title of my autobiography.
What I learned from talking to chefs, GMs and front-of-house folks is that restaurants are taking a variety of approaches and have wide variance in preparedness levels. I heard a lot of optimism, and some of it was even convincing. I would also like to keep a running list of how other restaurants are handling takeout and delivery. Please send those via any social media to @philiptkingston.
Here are examples of how restaurants are handling this season. Of course, most restaurants are adapting as best they can. Follow your favorites on social media to see what they’re specifically offering.
At the most-prepared end of the preparedness spectrum, take a look at Jose’s website. When you visit the first time, you’ll get a pop-up window leading you to a great explanation of how they’re handling the shutdown. Call in an order, and you can pick it up in the valet line an hour later, or you can order home delivery. Jose will keep all its employees working by putting them on delivery duty. “We started looking at the possibility of a shutdown last week and finalized everything Saturday and Sunday so that we could just flip a switch,” general manager Victor Rojas says. Jose is offering a smaller shutdown menu, with expanded options coming soon.
There will be a similar model at the celebrated Petra and the Beast. With only eight employees, they want to keep their team together. “Chef Misti (Norris) is creating a comfort menu and returning to her roots with Cajun dishes,” general manager Nicole Gossling says. Employees will deliver within a 5-mile radius.
On the other end of the spectrum, I found chef Jackson Tran of Cosmo’s, who will be meeting with management this week to “see if it is in our best interest to offer takeout.” He could hardly be blamed for not having plans in place with the very short notice provided by City Hall and a confusing statement that left bars with good food programs unsure if they were even eligible to offer takeout.
Most everyone else was in the middle of the spectrum. Salaryman was in a meeting about this topic when I called, but they called back with a fully baked plan. You can now call ahead for curbside pickup of soups delivered cold so the noodles don’t get gross. Salaryman has never done takeout because of concerns about quality and will be happy when they can quit doing it. But for now, it’s about surviving. Credit card only. If you want to wait until regular service resumes so you can get the full Salaryman experience, they’re offering $120 gift cards for $100. Watch for updates on social.
Lucia (and sister Macellaio) emailed their lists offering curbside pickup for Tuesday night. Chef David Uygur said they would shut down Wednesday and concentrate on offering an expanded menu this weekend. Potential shutdown bright side: Lucia has been one of the hardest tables to get for its whole existence. Now you can try it without a reservation.
Of the top 10, there has already been one casualty. I am sorry as hell to report that Sachet has closed its doors for now.
Here’s everything else I learned:
Consensus best-joint-in-town Mot Hai Ba is doing curbside and free delivery in a 3-mile radius. It’s also available on Favor and Caviar.
Khao Noodle Shop now has curbside takeout available and deliveries are expected to start Friday.
Ka-Tip Thai Street Food has always had takeout and continues its complimentary delivery to Farmers Market apartments. Other deliveries are by Favor. Alex Dinsmore said orders are coming in, and they even had a mini lunch rush on Tuesday.
Revolver Taco Lounge: “We are taking to go orders at 214-272-7163 and serve through our pick up window,” writes James Beard semifinalist chef Regino Rojas.
Zoli’s is open regular hours but only for takeout, curbside and delivery via Uber Eats.
Jimmy’s Food Store is open for groceries on its normal schedule. The only difference is that its deliriously good sandwiches will have to leave the store with you.
Slow Bone is business as usual, except you can’t eat it there. Go through the line and go home. Pre-order on the website.
And Fearing’s is taking to-go orders at 214-922-4848.
Again, now is the time to support all our restaurants. Check in on ones you want through their social media feeds.
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