There’s something to be said about a good meal: The wine is flowing, as is the conversation; the service is seamless, striking a balance between attentive and intuitive; the atmosphere complements both the cuisine and the concept; and the food itself provides more than just sustenance: It completes an experience that can be likened to a breathing work of art that’s not only memorable, but unforgettable and inspirational. And while there are endless places to find great food in North Texas, those that seem to effortlessly and continuously execute the fine-dining experience are harder to come by. These new restaurants are a few of the best in Dallas.
18th and Vine
In the land of Texas barbecue, Texas chili and and Texas steak, rumors circulating of a new collaborative concept of an upscale Kansas City-style barbecue restaurant helmed by husband-and-wife pitmaster duo Matt (a Kansas City native) and Kimi Dallman and Chef Scott Gottlich (of award-winning restaurant The Second Floor at the Westin Galleria) was met with mouthwatering curiosity and excitement. Fortunately, 18th and Vine has lived up to, and perhaps surpassed, the hype. For starters, the restaurant’s name comes from two cross streets in Kansas City that served as the capital of the jazz and barbecue scene of the 1930s and ‘40s, and the vibe is one not felt in other establishments around town. The food, from the barbecue pork belly and shrimp to the vegetarian-friendly cauliflower “steak,” is unforgettable. It reflects a perfect blend of the low-and-slow pitmaster technique and Gottlich’s understated but elegant touch. 4100 Maple Ave., 214.443.8335
Julia Pearl Southern Cuisine
The success of elevated comfort food concept in Plano, Julia Pearl Southern Cuisine, is a result of the culinary direction from former "Top Chef" contestant Tre Wilcox and Executive Chef Jermaine Brown. Here, the flavors and entrées are pleasantly familiar yet fresh and modern. Served in a rustic-yet-refined atmosphere, items like seafood gumbo, shrimp and grits and roasted redfish (served with a heaping side Southern hospitality, of course) will not disappoint. 2301 N. Central Expwy., Ste. 195, Plano, 972.422.1519
It had been a long time coming when Uchi finally arrived in Dallas. Chef Tyson Cole’s modern Asian concept had already given way to a similar second concept, Austin’s Uchiko, and a second location in Houston. It came as no surprise that the restaurant’s Dallas location was welcomed with open arms (and mouths), and far exceeded expectations. On the second floor of the Uchi building, the exclusive-to-Dallas Top Knot offers a bright, lively atmosphere to house Chef de Cuisine Angela Hernandez’s fun, fresh take on the Uchi aesthetic (think Berkshire pork ribs, hamachi crudo and hot-fried chicken buns). Brunch is not to be missed, with a spicy, sesame-topped baked egg dish (and hearty bloody mary) that’s worth a trip alone. 2817 Maple Ave., 214.855.1354
The stars of Chef Graham Dodds’ seasonally-inspired menu at Wayward Sons are the locally sourced produce from nearby and regional purveyors, and the innovative ways in which they are combined and presented. Dodds, former chef at longtime Henderson establishment Hibiscus, surprises diners with standout brunch entrées like the satisfyingly simple avocado toast, biscuits and gravy and cereal-crusted french toast. The small but mighty dinner menu is vegetarian-friendly, but also includes items such as crispy pork ribs, gulf shrimp ceviche and lamb brisket. 3525 Greenville Ave., 214.828.2888
Flora Street Café
From his humble West Texas beginnings to his ascent into culinary stardom with legendary Dallas restaurants Routh Street Café and Star Canyon, Stephan Pyles has held true to his Texas roots and drive to evolve and inspire. Hailed as a founding father of contemporary Southwestern cuisine, the James Beard Award-winning chef has a laundry list of accolades and accomplishments. His latest concept, however, could be considered Pyles’ magnum opus: A symphonic masterpiece that fuses his passion for the arts, culinary expertise and his belief in authentic food and its ability to bring people together.
Pyles’ modern perspective and detail-oriented nature,in addition to his interests in arts and culture, are apparent throughout the restaurant. Flora Street’s wine list, for example, has been two years in the making, while the handcrafted cocktails are a nod to the restaurant’s Arts District home. Furthermore, the interior of Flora Street Café is as much of an art gallery as it is a restaurant, with paintings and photographs, mixed-media works, a silk 3D tapestry and handblown glass lamps. Of course, anchoring the concept are Pyles’ plated artistic masterpieces. Pyles brought on fellow native Texan Ricardo “Ricchi” Sanchez, formerly Executive Pastry Chef at Nobu Las Vegas, to execute the des - sert menu, which features innovative pairings like fleur de sel chocolate mousse with parmesan snow and kettle corn, and Texas whiskey cake with bubble gum ice cream.
Also worth noting are the literary quotes that introduce each course menu. One in particular from Ralph Waldo Emerson seems to embody Flora Street’s sentiment, explaining how and why great artists, performers and chefs, do what they do: “Love of beauty is taste. The creation of beauty is art.” 2330 Flora St., Ste. 150, 214.580.7000