The July edition of Where to Eat, our monthly column recommending the best restaurants to try, has a distinct underground theme. These five restaurants are not the same-old same-old. For one reason or another, each one of them has an unexpected aspect, whether it’s a hipster lounge, a restaurant that opened quietly, or a destination for wine and dessert.
Here’s the latest edition of Where to Eat right now:
Ellen’s Casa Linda
East Dallas’ Casa Linda neighborhood is the newest outpost for this beloved all-day restaurant that started out in downtown Dallas’ West End. Ellen’s newest location is at 1152 N. Bucker Blvd., in a new-build space that was originally slated to become a location of the Snooze an AM Eatery chain, where owners Joe Groves, Russell Mertz, and Andrew Chooljian look forward to recreating Ellen’s home-cooking cuisine, all-day hours, diligent service, and comfortable atmosphere. They’re known for meatloaf, chicken-fried steak, and breakfast/brunch with dishes such as shrimp & grits and a “pancake pot pie” featuring pancakes layered with sausage gravy, bacon, sausage, hash browns, scrambled eggs, and cheddar cheese. With their menu and customer-friendly hours, they’re poised to fill the vacancy left by two neighborhood departures: Barbec’s, the breakfast spot on Garland Road, and the iconic Highland Park Cafeteria, both of which closed in 2020.
Kate Weiser Chocolate
Chocolate shop at Trinity Groves has effected an expansion with a place to sit down and have desserts and wine on site. Desserts include Strawberries & Cream with angel food cake, vanilla rice pudding, lemon madeleines, strawberries, & guava; Chocolate & Peanut Butter with devil’s food cake, salted caramel brownies, cinnamon marshmallow cream, cocoa nib crumble, & peanut butter cremeux; and fondue with waffle bites and fruits. There are also cookies, brownies, and a quartet of frozen desserts such as frozen vanilla cheesecake on a stick, dipped in 72% Valrhona chocolate. The wine selection includes three reds, two whites, and one rosé, $8 to $15 per glass.
New hipster hot spot in the former Dallas Grilled Cheese Co. in Oak Cliff is from David Grover and Kate Siamro, who own Spinster Records, the vinyl record store in Bishop Arts. It’s a restaurant and lounge where the walls are lined with vinyl records, and sultry music is always a backdrop, with some nights dedicated to mellow record-listening lounge style, and other nights for dancing. Their food & drink menu is concise, with fun cocktails and a small selection of tapas-style bites. “Ya Voy” is the brightest drink they serve, boasting a tropical blue hue, with vodka, Uruapan Charanda, Combier Blue Curaçao, and Passion Fruit Foam. One of their favorite healthy options is the Et Tu, Brute, featuring charred Romaine and crumbled parmesan, lightly dressed in a house caesar — perfect with a martini.
Renny’s, a Maguire’s Bar & Grill
New restaurant in the former Slater’s 50/50 (and onetime Rockfish Grill) at Preston-Forest is from powerhouse Dallas restaurateur Mark Maguire, who’s doing a spinoff of Maguire’s, his longtime North Dallas restaurant, featuring American dishes with modern twists. It’s a scaled-down menu but with a diverse offering, with something in every category, from appetizers to salads to entrees to sandwiches. For regulars, he’s still offering signatures like the meatloaf and Thai beef salad but he’s also busting out Angus burgers, spicy Korean meatballs, blackened shrimp tacos, tomato & feta dip with a focaccia skillet, tuna with soba noodles & Asian slaw, and a Southwest chicken Cobb with black beans, corn, tomato, avocado, & tortilla chips.
New Tex-Mex restaurant is opening on July 24 with prime views of Dallas’ Katy Trail. Located at 3100 McKinnon St. #G100, it’s another concept from Harwood Hospitality Group (Dolce Riviera, Elephant East, Happiest Hour, Harwood Arms, Magnolias: Sous Le Pont, Marie Gabrielle Restaurant and Gardens, Mercat Bistro, Poco Fiasco, Saint Ann Restaurant & Bar, Te Deseo, and The Grove at Harwood) – but this time Tex-Mex, with frozen drinks, expansive patio, weekend brunch on Saturday and Sunday, and “relaxed West Texas” as its inspiration. The menu created by Harwood Hospitality VP Taylor Kearney includes five cheese queso, empanadas, fajitas, cheese enchiladas, a cheeseburger, and praise be, a non-meat item: Marinated Watermelon Salad with arugula, peanuts, avocado, pico de gallo, and tajin vinaigrette. They’ll have margaritas in many options such as blueberry basil, blood orange coconut, and frozen creamsicle margarita. Note: Opens on July 24.