There’s no disputing that pairing food and drinks is a hot trend right now. Just pick a night of the week and you’re likely to find a beer or whiskey dinner at one of your favorite restaurants. But these events can often be expensive and what happens when your vegetarian or gluten-free friends want to tag along?
When you’re into the mood for something more casual but no less refined, stop by one of these five Dallas restaurants that serve unique bites and beverages begging to be mixed and matched.
Nickel and Rye
The crowd pleaser here is the antipasto board. Think it sounds generic? Think again. The restaurant serves it with five items of your choice or as “the kitchen sink,” which means one of everything. Meat, cheese and jam options include balsamic brisket, roasted garlic aioli and Spanish chorizo. Nickel and Rye prides itself on the bacon marmalade, which is made in-house. The Maple Bacon Manhattan, made with bacon-infused bourbon, maple syrup and Margerum Amaro, pairs the best with this appetizer, according to general manager Mike Hamilton. If that’s not up your alley, just ask the bartender to whip you up something special on the fly.
You can also head there on Wednesdays for Boards & Bottles, featuring bottles of wine and cheeseboards for half-off. They even provide board games for you to play!
Wine and cheese are way too overdone as a pairing, at least according to this local spot that offers a whiskey charcuterie board. The board comes with three whiskeys from High West distillery, three meats and three different cheeses. Offerings rotate depending on what chef Mike Espicha chooses from local vendors, but spirits at the moment include American Prairie bourbon, Rendezvous Rye and Midwinter Night Dram. The board costs $49 and can feed two to three people.
Social House Uptown
This place is full of unique eats and southern hospitality. The restaurant takes normal dishes, like calamari, and raises them to a whole new level. The buffalo-fried calamari, which comes with blue cheese to quell the spiciness, is one of its best sellers. If you like spicy dishes you should also try out the Angry Shrimp, which is well seasoned and cooked with jalapenos. Need something to cool your palate? Try one of the bar’s 100 draft beers. According to director of operations, Mehdi Tazi, the calamari specifically pairs well with brews like Alaskan Amber, Real Ale Fireman’s #4 and a Blanche de Bruxelles. And don’t forget to check out the backyard-style patio, which includes giant Connect Four and Jenga.
Three words: lollipop corn dogs. If you’re into the classic fair favorite you can get it here year-round, but it’s definitely bumped up a notch. Eureka chefs use Polish sausage and serve it with a spicy porter mustard. In my opinion this goes best paired with a beer, and Eureka is known for carrying rare premium craft beers as well as whiskey. I also like eating this with a Moscow Mule, which bartenders prepare with homemade ginger syrup.
Clark Food and Wine Co.
If you’re looking for something interesting with an upscale atmosphere, then Clark’s is the place to go. The restaurant recently won CultureMap’s Tastemaker Best New Restaurant of 2015. The menu offers a wide variety of dishes, like the wild mushroom mousse and pimento cheese dip, but one of the crowd favorites is the roasted bone marrow crostini, which comes topped with anchovies and truffle salt. Chef Randall Warder says this dish is best paired with a signature cocktail, the Texas Shandy, which has TX Whiskey, ginger, lime, agave and Bock beer.
Karlie Morris is a senior at Southern Methodist University studying fashion media and journalism.