The Dearly Departed Restaurants of Dallas

Keep Dallas Observer Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Dallas and help keep the future of Dallas Observer free.

Two years.

Two years, one month and 23 days, to be specific. That's how long it's been since my favorite neighborhood restaurant closed. Oh, sure; others have stepped in to capably fill the void. But nothing will ever quite measure up to the restaurant that's dearly departed.

It happens to everyone, eventually: You find a restaurant or bar that feels like yours. It may not even be the menu that keeps you coming back for more. Maybe it's the only joint you've found that serves Scotch eggs. Or the bar within stumbling distance from your apartment with the killer patio.

But one day, without warning you or even consulting you on the matter, it shuts its doors. And there you are, you poor sap, having to DRIVE to a bar with a mediocre patio. They don't even keep your favorite beer on tap. Bastards.

For me, the place was CHIC Barcelona. Formerly nestled in a strip center on the northwest corner of Preston and Forest, it was my everything. Date night? CHIC. Friends in town? CHIC. Carry-out? CHIC. We made a great team, CHIC and I.

Not everyone shared my enthusiasm. When my husband pronounced the rotisserie chicken "good, but not great," I took the insult personally, and decided that his palate just wasn't as refined as mine. If he'd only try the shot glass of gazpacho, he'd be converted. I was sure of it.

I had noticed that not only was there never a wait for a table, the dining room was never even full. That didn't detract from my shock and grief when CHIC's owners announced that the restaurant would close its doors. This was impossible. Where else could I sit outside on a cool Dallas night with pitchers of sangria and tapas?

Your dearly departed love is no doubt different. It's probably not on this list. That doesn't mean we don't feel your pain, and that we don't want to hear all about it over a glass of wine and a profane comment below. We do. We really do.

Two years later, I still haven't found a suitable replacement. I still sneer at the restaurant that moved in after tearing down CHIC's brightly tiled facade before replacing it with a more sedate entrance. I still carry a torch for the beef carpaccio. -- Amy Franklin

Metro Diner Before the management at Baylor Medical Center got greedy and decided to turn everything in the area into a parking lot, the city's best dumpy diner sat at the intersection of Gaston and Hall. The burgers were greasy, the tater tots were to die for, and every drunk person in East Dallas had a story to tell about something crazy happening in one of those torn vinyl booths.

See also: The Final Day at the Metro Diner

The best part of Metro Diner, though, was the wait staff. These ladies were fast, hospitable, and always had something hilarious to say to one of the cooks who was taking too damn long to get those eggs up. I went with my boyfriend to the Gaston Metro Diner a few days before they closed, and the waitress who served us coffee and tots damn near made us cry. She'd worked in the location for 14 years, and said that she'd practically raised her son inside the wood-paneled walls. She didn't really get sad about the joint closing until she had to tell her son, who was devastated.

You can still go to the Metro Diner in Southeast Dallas, but it just isn't the same. RIP. -- Amy McCarthy

Tried and True How can you not miss the extensive whiskey list and vinyl collection at Tried and True? Formerly part of Nick Badovinus' Neighborhood Services group, he turned the tavern into a down home bar, complete with a pool table and shuffle board, sandwiched between Capitol Pub and J. Black's on Henderson Avenue. Without straying far from the previous food menu, he provided a spot to kick back, sip on a bourbon (neat, of course), and dream of the 70s while a record spun on the player. There's surely not another bathroom I'll miss more than theirs. -- Cody Neathery

BD's Mongolian BBQ For years after my friend Chris moved to California, he and I ate at BD's every time he came into town. The first thing we noticed about BD's Mongolian BBQ was that nobody was ever there. For some reason, that was something we loved. It became a tradition: Maybe it was the man who used huge metal cutting blades to chop up your order on a giant, ring-shaped flat top. Or that there was a line of sauces and raw meats to pour into a bowl, and then Edward Scissor Hands cooked the whole bowl for you. Really, it was a weird, out-of-character-for-a-Plano shopping center spot that I'm pretty sure Chris and I provided the sole revenue. It was weird and awesome, and we always, always had a good time and a laugh. -- Nick Rallo

Urban Bistro Urban Bistro, I miss you. Yes, I can eat at another Avner Samuel's establishment, I suppose, but Urban Bistro I could afford, mostly because my then-boss was one of the owners so I could eat free. I could've easily made a meal of the Moroccan Beef Cigars if I could grow up and not giggle like a third grade boy while ordering them. I once ordered the red snapper for two and realized its face was still attached, necessitating a makeshift hood before it's beheading at the table. (I'm squeamish). But mostly I miss the casual vibe that meant my Payless shoes and my Lous Vitton (thanks, lazy counterfeit bag maker) purse didn't stand out when I wanted to grab a drink and a quick nosh. -- Bethany Anderson

Pearl Cup Independent coffee mecca Pearl Cup closed its Henderson Avenue doors last December, so suddenly that we didn't even have time to say good-bye. And by say good-bye, I mean trade my firstborn for that ultra-secret Pearl Latte recipe.

Sure there are still other locations -- one in Richardson and two in downtown Dallas. But the original always stood out for its funky urban ambiance that catered to everyone from suit-and-tie commuters to mustachioed design geeks, all with little in common but the need for a good buzz. Taking its place this spring is Austin-based Houndstooth Coffee. Time will have to tell if it can fill the Pearl Latte-shaped hole in our hearts. -- Jenni Hanley

Hacienda on Henderson Nowhere else in Dallas were you guaranteed a wait-free spot at the brunch table. Even if the service was spotty, the bloody marys were strong and the breakfast tacos were edible. And on a nice day, there was always plenty of room on the sunny patio. It bore no pretense and I will forever miss those cheap happy-hour margaritas. -- Lauren Smart

Manny's Icehouse Grill My family gets into the "Well, where do you want to eat?" competition as if it's an Olympic sport. There are an infinite number of complex thrusts and parries you can throw at your opponent as you suggest places in the hopes of ultimately going to a place that's on your personal favorites list.

The game, however, never started up when the old Icehouse Grill in Frisco was on the tip of someone's epee. It was always an agreeable choice. Unlike its Mexican namesake just up the road on Main Street, the original Icehouse had a much more eclectic menu, with a touch of invention like flatbread nachos alongside the usual pub style fare. Their star attraction was their juicy, succulent ribs, stacked like Lincoln logs in the shape of a towering monument to the gods of slowly cured protein.

These days, the new Manny's is the official home of the Mexican fare that made it a local favorite. It's good enough, but it still stands as a sullen reminder of the unique greatness that once rolled out of there one plate at a time. -- Danny Gallagher

West End Pub West End Pub wasn't the fanciest bar. It wasn't even that good. The service could be inattentive, business types from the hotel across the street could be found drowning their sorrows there whatever time of day, and you would often be moved to make way for an acoustic singer-songwriter so he could play to the three other people in the bar from the specific table you were sitting at. The "famous" chicken salad was presumably only famous among circles that venerated bad chicken salad.

It did, however, have a few very important things going for it. One, it was the only decent bar in the godforsaken Bermuda Triangle of chain restaurants and empty buildings that is the modern West End. Two, alcohol there was extraordinarily cheap. You could order 32oz of cocktail for $6.50, if you knew the right things to ask. This resulted, more than once, in getting so outrageously shitfaced that the constantly flashing "Play Virtual Golf For $1.50 An Attempt!" machine looked tempting.

It also made a perfect House of Blues staging area. For the cost of one giant can of HOB Miller Lite, you could get 64 ounces of liquor. It was, frankly, the deal of the century, and I mourn the passing of West End Pub simply because it immediately made attending House of Blues all the more painful. Pre-gaming will never be the same again. -- Gavin Cleaver

Crystal's Pizza Crystal's Pizza closed about a year ago. Since then, we sucked at the Olympics, the Pope cussed, and every child has had his dreams individually shattered in front of his own Clockwork-Orange-forced-opened eyes. Life is awful. I long for the weird movie room, the skee-ball that never gave out enough tickets and the shimmering glitter signage of the pizza palace of my youth. Now, all we have is fucking Chuck E. Blows, which has somehow managed to devolve from crapstick all the way to dump house. Crystal's Pizza, we loved you. -- Alice Laussade

Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Observer community and help support independent local journalism in Dallas.


Join the Observer community and help support independent local journalism in Dallas.