The inspiration for this list of Dallas' newest, most notable restaurants began with the high-end, schmancy spots. As lists often do. But how often do you make reservations at Dallas' most revered French restaurant? How often do you have your boss' permission to spend $500 at a steakhouse?
"Sometimes" is one answer. And for those moments, scroll to the bottom of this list.
For all the other moments, like when you want to taste-test a quarter-pound of brisket at a backyard bar, start at the top. Here are seven notable, new restaurants in Dallas that you mustn't miss, no matter the occasion.
Shake Shack in Preston Hollow
You can find Shake Shack in Uptown Dallas and in Plano. So who cares about Shake Shack No. 3? You should: This burger joint might just be closer to your home than the others. If it isn't, it might mean that your Shake Shack is less crowded now that people aren't driving from all over creation to try their simple cheeseburgers and crinkle-cut fries. There might be better burgers in town, but this billion-dollar business' food does tend to be worth the hype.
Shake Shack: 6025 Royal Lane, Dallas.
Ferris Wheelers Backyard and BBQ in the Design District
Think of this new Design District barbecue joint and bar as a combination of Katy Trail Ice House in Uptown and Truck Yard on Lower Greenville. The best seats are out back, on the picnic tables, where slightly tacky yard signs prove you don't have to dress up to feel cool here. But keep your cool card handy, because you might have to valet park if it's a busy day. The restaurant is named Ferris Wheelers because of the operating Ferris wheel in the backyard, and it's worth a spin. But don't miss the reason you came: for barbecue from pitmaster Doug Pickering, who quit his Wall Street job to smoke meat. Get the brisket and turkey and eat both with your hands.
Ferris Wheelers: 1950 Market Center Blvd., Dallas.
Up on Knox in Uptown
Chefs Melody Bishop and Dennis Kelley are quietly stirring up something great up on Knox. It's called Up on Knox, and it's the newest menu the husband-wife duo have worked up since they both left Lark on the Park in Dallas -- one, laid off; the other followed. The restaurant, which is dinner only, can be pricey ($122 caviar, if you like) or moderate to high-end ($19 burger, $32 salmon). You might not have read much about Up on Knox, but the secret's already out in Park Cities.
Up on Knox: 3230 Knox St., Dallas.
Jalisco Norte on Oak Lawn Avenue
Chef Jose Meza, who has lived in Spain, Belgium, Denmark and Mexico, moved to the U.S. to be executive chef at new restaurant Jalisco Norte in Dallas. The menu is Mexican, not Tex-Mex, and the cocktails look exciting. Read more about the restaurant here.
Jalisco Norte: 3858 Oaklawn Ave., Dallas.
Sachet in Highland Park
Speaking of husband-wife power couples, Stephen Rogers and Allison Yoder are two you'll want to dine with. They opened New American restaurant Gemma on Henderson Avenue several years ago and have now followed up with a Mediterranean restaurant called Sachet. Start with meze such as olives dressed in herbs and citrus, or yellow beets atop red beet hummus. Then meander into pasta, seafood or meat that have some Moroccan, French, Greek and Italian pizzazz. Sneak a photo, stealthily, at Sachet; you'll be the envy of your foodie friends.
Sachet: 4270 Oak Lawn Ave., Dallas.
Al Biernat's in Addison
Talk about a change. If you visited the Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steak House on Spring Valley Road in Addison in the past, it was a dark and formal place, where you were either somebody important or wanted to be. It's still good if you're an aspiring (or actual) VIP if you visit the new steakhouse in its place, D-FW's second Al Biernat's. But this new spot is more inviting. All that dark brown wood paneling is gone, replaced with white walls, black accents and giant windows so you can see all the sparkly people inside. Fans of the original Al Biernat's in Dallas will be happy to learn that Al himself is greeting guests at the new place, like it's a nightly soiree in his giant living room. Most of the menu favorites like steaks, veal osso bucco and Chilean sea bass are there. If you're north of Dallas and looking for a fancy spot to impress someone, Al Biernat's it is.
Al Biernat's: 5251 Spring Valley Road, Dallas (Addison area).
The French Room in downtown Dallas
Few places offer the glitz and glam of storybook Dallas luxury like the French Room does. Or did, rather: The treasured restaurant closed for renovations in 2016, and gourmands all over Dallas kept fingers crossed that it would reopen and offer the same delights in the 105-year-old, renovated Adolphus Hotel. The new space has been open barely three weeks, but Tony Cournia, general manager of food & beverage operations at the Adolphus Hotel, said last year that words like warm, gracious, intuitive and interactive describe the reinvented room. Go get a taste for yourself if it's similar to the revered restaurant you remember. Men, wear jackets; women, wear cocktail attire.
The French Room: inside the Adolphus Hotel at 1321 Commerce St., Dallas.
What about these other spots?
A handful of notable restaurants are opening in Dallas soon or have just (and we mean just) opened. Make note of these ones, too:
Zoli's: The former Oak Cliff pizza joint is hopping to Addison. Opened Nov. 3.
Commissary: This coffee shop and bakery on Main Street in downtown Dallas supplies restaurants like Mirador with bread and other baked goods, hence its name, the commissary. But you can go there, too, for quick bites and drinks. Opened Nov. 6.
Bullion: The high-end French restaurant from revered chef Bruno Davaillon (formerly of the Mansion) has been hosting VIP parties with attendees such as Kameron Westcott of the Real Housewives of Dallas; opening is imminent.
Malibu Poke: It's an answer to the hottest food trend in Dallas right now, poke bowls, from a killer team -- Matt McCallister (of fine-dining restaurant FT33) and Jon Alexis (of TJ's Seafood Market and Grill). It opens "soon." We're interested.
Restaurants inside the Statler Hotel in downtown Dallas: The fleet of six restaurants and bars opened quietly. See the full list here.