With all the hubbub in recent months about Trinity Groves and the rapidly growing Design District, it's important to remember that Dallas' thriving dining scene means that restaurants are opening up all over the city, not in just one concentrated area. Outside of these up-and-coming spots, a new dining district is starting to take shape along Maple Avenue.
CultureMap reported yesterday that a $3.5 million dollar Crow Holdings development called the Maple Avenue Dining District is expected to include two pretty exciting additions to the restaurant scene alongside apartments and a restoration of the Old Parkland campus. In addition to 18th & Vine, a Kansas City-style barbecue joint that was announced last year, storied restaurateur Julian Barsotti will also open an Italian restaurant in the new Dining District.
Barsotti, owner of beloved Highland Park restaurant Nonna, will open a "Roman tavern" in conjunction with the minds behind The Dram on Henderson Avenue. 18th & Vine will open as soon as "spring 2015," but the yet-unnamed Barsotti-backed tavern will not open until later in summer. Either way, there will soon be a handful of new dining options in an area that has been sorely lacking in recent years.
Roman taverns are among the world's oldest drinking establishments, which likely means that you'll see plenty of Old World inspiration in Barsotti's newest concept. You are not, however, likely to see the rampant prostitution, gambling and other sordid activity that was commonplace in Roman days. Or maybe you will. It's too soon to tell.
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Of course, what this means for less spit-shined Maple Avenue locales -- namely the Grapevine and Windmill bars, two of Dallas' best dives -- remains to be seen. We have a guess.
Fortunately, as with other Crow properties, there will be plenty of green space built into the plans for this new development, and what seems like a genuine attempt to preserve the character of the neighborhood's old buildings and surrounding trees. The development will also offer self-parking, a sort of unicorn in this new world of valet-dominated Dallas restaurants.
It will be months before the Maple Avenue Dining District is able to really make an impact on the local dining scene, but all signs are pointing in a positive direction. 18th & Vine has already announced that they will offer burnt ends daily, a true gift from the meat gods. Julian Barsotti's Nonna has also been roundly praised as one of Dallas' best Italian establishments, which bodes well for a more casual concept.