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Actor Brad Hawkins Digs Into the Dallas Dining Scene

In addition to starring in "Boyhood," Hawkins owns a local restaurant, the Chopshop Sports Garage; here he dishes on the 'Big D' dining scene.

Brad Hawkins is equally at home in front of a camera as he is hosting at his new restaurant. Where magazine sat down with the Dallas native to talk about his favorite places to hang out.

Did you know when you auditioned for “Boyhood” what type of film it was going to be and how long filming would take?

No, absolutely not! Between the audition process, pre-production and the voice-over work afterwards, it stretched out to four years, but it was actually three on camera. I went down to Austin and met with [director] Richard Linklater who told me about Jim, the character he was creating. There was never a script. Every year we would get together and create the scenes.

What a wild experience.

Yeah, quite an accomplishment: small indie film, $4-million budget, over 12 years—no one’s ever done that, no one will ever attempt anything like that; it’s really cinematic history. Rick is known for his style. He’s always been that organic screenplay writer. People who appreciate filmmaking and appreciate his work know that he’s going to crank out something fantastic.

It was intriguing when this opportunity to interview you came along because not only are you an actor from Dallas but you also own a restaurant here. So you are kind of our Texas expert for people who might be visiting for the first time.

I’m a “Texpert.” Did we just coin a new phrase? [Laughs]

So tell us about some of your favorite places to eat in Dallas.

Kenichi is my go-to spot for sushi, absolutely. If I’m looking for a great burger it would be Twisted Root on Commerce Street. For barbecue, I’m old school and I’m going to go with Dickey’s, that’s my spot. Right next to it is Velvet Taco—fantastic tacos. Let’s see here, signature cocktails and craft cocktails, I’m going to go with Black Swan Saloon, and for me, the best lounge is Truth & Alibi, both in Deep Ellum.

Chopshop burger
A juicy burger from Hawkins’ Chopshop Sports Garage. (Courtesy Brad Hawkins)

What are your favorite places for live music?

I’d say Trees. Clint and Whitney Barlow reopened that and it’s really made a comeback. In my mind that was the pebble in the water. After that lots of other places started to open up. Across the street at Black Swan Saloon, owner and awardwinning bartender Gabe Sanchez was the next one on board, then it seemed like everything on that street started to fly. Now it’s the Deep Ellum that I remember. There’s music in the street like there used to be, and I’m really proud of everybody down there in bringing that back. Good stuff.

What are some of your favorite places to hang out?

I love the Bishop Arts District. It’s really laid-back, it’s not pretentious; they’ve got great food, great craft-beer selections. A lot of the breweries are on that side of town. Everything is just so organic, natural and open-air and the people there are so relaxed. Klyde Warren Park I think was probably one of the smartest developments in the last 10 years in Dallas. Everybody can go there, bring their dog, bring their kids. There is always going to be music of some kind out there. I think it was one of the things the city needed the most to bring everyone together.

You’re from Carrollton and that’s where you opened your restaurant, the Chopshop.

That’s right, the Chopshop Sports Garage. One of my partners, Sean Clavir, came up with the idea, and he and I built it along with partner Josh Babb. In fact, it was Sean who gave me my first break in the biz at the old Ghostbar. We opened last October and we probably have the best burgers in North Dallas. Everything is fresh, nothing’s frozen out of the bag. We serve an Angus-beef, big-mouth burger—a big, fantastic, colossal burger. We even stamp it; the Chopshop has a brand and we brand every bun with our signature marker. Chef Bodhi [Durant] created a fantastic menu for us. He wasn’t going to just phone it in on this menu just because we’re a sports bar. He said, if we’re going to do it, we’re going to make food people are going to talk about.

Describe the bar.

I love it because it’s a mechanic-themed sports bar so it’s got vintage car hoods hanging over the bar and big, roll-up garage doors; so we open it up and it’s an inside-outside bar. The centerpiece is the front end of an actual Mac Truck— you got the grill, the headlights. A friend of ours converted that into a craft-beer dispenser, so you got 15 beers on tap that are all coming out of the front of that grill. Once we got really creative and put a 180-decibel truck horn behind the grill and every time the Cowboys would score we hit that horn!

Deep Ellum Brewing
Hawkins is a big fan of Deep Ellum Brewing Company. (©Kimberly Davis)

What beers do you serve?

We’ve got all kinds of beers on tap—Four Corners, Shiner, Deep Ellum (we’re a big fan of Deep Ellum Brewing Company). We really promote local beer, local craft brewers. We’re huge fans of Texas craft beer makers.

What events do you have planned for the summer?

This is our first summer and we’re really excited to see what happens. We’ll take advantage of the good weather, open up that patio and do some car shows and live music and see people really having fun.

How did the idea to have car shows come about?

That happened really organically. We have this huge parking lot next to the Venetian Cinemas and some people approached us about doing some car shows here. What started out as 30 cars turned into 40, 50, 60. This summer it’s going to be crazy; everybody can come out and see these beautiful cars.

Thank you for taking the time to talk with us and be our ‘Texpert’.

[Laughs] Any time. There’s so much going on in Dallas. If you’re not getting into something it’s because you’re not leaving your house. Get out and explore, there’s plenty to do.