Chef Misti Norris decorated her East Dallas restaurant Petra and the Beast with foraged plants and her own bright artwork.

Chef Misti Norris decorated her East Dallas restaurant Petra and the Beast with foraged plants and her own bright artwork.

Louis DeLuca/Staff Photographer

This is a tough town for independent chefs. So it was especially gratifying to see Misti Norris' Petra and the Beast named one of Esquire's best new restaurants in America for 2018. 

Just four months ago, we broke the news that Petra would go from being a popup to a permanent fixture on the Dallas dining scene, and noted that Petra was following in the footsteps of some of the country's most influential restaurants, which also began as popups. Now Norris is beginning to get the national recognition she — not to mention, Dallas — deserves.

After earning notice as a sous chef at FT33, Norris left her job as chef at Small Brewpub and started Petra without the benefit of a deep-pocketed partner or the security of working for an restaurant owner. She took over a bare-bones, 1930s filling station and decorated it with foraged branches, dried herbs and her own brightly painted artwork. Table centerpieces are the bleached white bones of the pig she used to make the charcuterie. Her menu is posted on a chalkboard. Wine is strictly BYOB. And each meticulously composed, complex dish is served in a paper takeout container. 

Like us, Jeff Gordinier, Esquire's food and drinks editor, also singled out Norris' crispy chicken hearts ($10), perhaps her most surprising dish. She marinates the hearts in sake lees, batters and deep fries them, then layers them on a tiny chive pancake with peppermint pistou, fresh farm cheese, and kale leaves, for a kind of Korean-Southern-fried taco.

Gordinier called her food "Narnian." But as we know from our interview back in August, there are more fantastical things ahead. 

What's Happening on GuideLive