Dallas' Trendy Design District Is On The Rise. Time To Get Familiar.
The once warehouse-only district that is the Dallas Design District has been around for some 50 years now. These days, though, the neighborhood is truly starting to blossom.
Between the addition of a dumpster pool toto this weekend's Dallas Design District Market and a handful of new eateries (including a new Sfuzzi, by-the-slice location set to open later this year) to future plans for more housing, this west-of-Downtown neighborhood is making all sorts of headlines this summer.
Good thing, too: Most locals tend to only visit the area during said District Market days or Gallery Walk events. But, now, with the opening of some of the following businesses, perhaps people will start flooding the District for more than the random daily tour.
I mean, hey, even DART is offering a new shuttle that will map its way through the District, following along the Stemmons Corridor and Hi Line Drive. So, clearly, this is a neighborhood on the come-up.
LYFE Kitchen (coming soon; location TBD).
LYFE (Love Your Food Every Day) Kitchen, ironically started by former McDonald's big wigs, is a restaurant business all about living the good life, eating the good food and serving to a happy community. For those living and visiting the Dallas Design District, loving their food every day is about to become entirely possible. Every food item on the menu at LYFE will max out at 600 calories (or less), but still packs a punch of flavorful awesomeness. The LYFE menu will cater to vegans, gluten-freeians and, yes, healthy carnivores (e.g. the unfried chicken dish).
Central Standard (coming soon to 1400 Hi Line Drive).
What the heck is a gastropub? Well, Dallas' Design District and the tenants in the 1400 Hi Line Apartments are about to find out. Central Standard, a new gastro sports pub, will be the latest out of the pockets of the same guys who popped up Boca Chica and Park Tavern (Restaurants America). Look for the opening of Central Standard this fall. We bet there will be craft beer involved.
FT33 (1617 Hi Line Drive).
The ever-growing “farm-to-table” restaurant concept thrives at FT33 (Fire Table 33). All of their menu items are seasonal food offerings, which almost guarantees absolute freshness. Basically, if the food isn't in season, it isn't on your plate. You couldn't count on FT33 to always have “that one thing” you always order, but that's a good thing. The menu can change as quickly as daily, depending on what's available to the chef at the farmer's market or through other local farm resources. Even the trout is line-caught daily. Still, local and fresh doesn't necessarily mean vegetarian — there are plenty of meat offerings to dig into and sometimes a vegan spread or two on the menu. The food is good, but it's also presented like fine art. If you thought your pizza from last night was Instagramable, you're in for a real treat here. Just remember to bring your wallet. Freshness ain't free.
Bowlounge (167 Turtle Creek Boulevard).
Now in the midst of quiet galleries and showrooms in the District, Bowlounge joins another new restaurant, FT33 and brings more attention to the strip. Bowlounge sprouted out of an old warehouse space, made nearly entirely of reclaimed, recycled, refinished and repurposed materials. It's no Bowl & Barrell; as Bowlounge embodies a very laid-back atmosphere. The food offered in the alley is notable, too — that of the ever-loved burger joint, Twisted Root. They've even got a selection of 30 beers on draught. But, no worries, it's not all craft beers. This is a bowling alley, after all.
The Food Boutique (2620 Cedar Springs Road).
The Food Boutique now serves as Design District residents' close-to-home small grocer, offering up fresh, pre-packaged food and small convenience items like tobacco, wine and beer. This really has been a gift to the Design District; folks Downtown and in the District have often talked about the lack of grocers in their areas. The Food Boutique is winning them all over now, and they've even offered up poolside delivery service this summer to boot.
Meddlesome Moth (1621 Oak Lawn Avenue).
Until some recent new restaurants additions, Meddlesome Moth was pretty much the spot in the Dallas Design District. And deservedly so. The Moth has an extensive beer menu (e.g. over 40 craft beers on draught) that almost swallows their food menu whole. Still, their tapas-style food offerings are solid and range from an avocado omelette and a rabbit pot pie to exquisite northeast oysters and damned near any other Dallas-specialized take on English pub food you could imagine.
Ascension Coffee (1621 Oak Lawn Avenue).
Here's the deal: Ascension's staff is obsessed with what they do. If you ask one of their baristas what's up, they'll gladly share with you their coffee bean sources, their relationships with the farmers they work with, and even divulge to you their favorite bean flavors and methods. Still, while they have been known to be serious about their coffee, they also serve wine and food here, too. Even better, the Ascension menu offers more than refrigerated daily-made sandwiches and snacks; patrons can satisfy their hunger with small and big plates alike, including a slow-roasted flank steak. So, kick back — or don't and go ahead and order that triple-shot of espresso — and help restore the bean.
Los Lupes (1400 North Riverfront Boulevard).
This 40-year-old, authentic Mexican restaurant is legit.. The menu is in Spanglish and they even serve specialty tacos filled with lengua (tongue). But fear not, Tex-Mexicans, there are still plenty of chimichangas and even some vegetarian dishes to go around. Hell, they even have chicken fried chicken in the “Americano” section of their menu. Los Lupes is also one of the dankier places to score breakfast tacos in Dallas. They're even cheaper than Rusty Taco, coming in at just $1.35 a pop.
Hickory House BBQ (600 South Riverfront Boulevard).
When it's affordable and it's been around since 1952, it's probably worth checking out — and that's certainly true int he case of Hickory House BBQ, which cooks its meats in a classic brick fire pit, so it's pretty much guaranteed to taste delicious. Honestly, this authentic and historic barbecue smokehouse is so serious, you'll reek of hickory smoke when you leave. Get the ribs, sit down in that well-loved booth, and enjoy a bit of history over some fresh barbecue. Or, just relax in your own comfortable vehicle; they even have car hops here, too. Oh, and they have happy hour every day but Sunday. Need we say more?
Fuel City Tacos (801 South Riverfront Boulevard).
Wait, what? It's right across the street from Hickory House BBQ? OK, listen: We won't blame you if you're headed out to try Hickory House BBQ and you take a sudden detour to Fuel City for some tacos instead. I mean, hell, they're open 24 hours a day. Fair warning, though: This place is the Real Deal Holyfield. And at $1.40 a taco, you can't really go wrong. Just be prepared to wait in a small line for your grub. Go hungry, bring cash (they don't accept credit card) and snack on some elotes if the line is too long.
Oak (1628 Oak Lawn Avenue).
If you've got the extra dimes in your wallet and a dime by your side, you'd do well to upgrade your evening dinner date to the gourmet experience at Oak. It's a place where you can go and know you're not going to get forgotten about in terms of water refills or complimentary bread, sure. But if you're only going for just those items and looking for a place to enjoy drinks and snacks, perhaps grab an appetizer somewhere else. The food at Oak is dreamy. Oak is where people dining out go to be truly pampered with beautifully served global cuisine and a more sophisticated atmosphere. This ain't no patio spot. It's also not exactly a hip and youthful dining location, either. But it's worth throwing on a nice blazer and dining out with old money for a night. And, hey, the valet is free, so there's that.
Pakpao (628 Oak Lawn Avenue, Suite 120).
Asian cuisine can be hit or miss. Sometimes it's the hole in the wall stop that's promising, and sometime's it is actually the sleeker, thoughtfully designed restaurant that brings out the big guns of flavor. Pakpao is the latter of the two, located right behind Oak (it's owned by the Oak owners, too), serving up Bangkok-inspired dishes in an urban atmosphere. Their classics, such as Pad Thai, are wonderful. Their more unexpected menu items, such as lamb lollipops or steamed musselsm are even better. Most of the main dishes are meant to be shared. But if you're not that hungry, try a spicy Thai Margarita (or Thai Tea if your'e not up for an alcoholic beverage).
Lula B's East (1010 North Riverfront Bolevard).
Unlike its Deep Ellum sister store, the Lula B's in the Design District has more furniture than knick-knacks. They still offer some vintage clothing, signs and more, sure, but this Lula B's on the East side is more of a goldmine for those on the move and in need a new coffee table, dresser or mid-century modern chair set for their new space. It's also a bit more affordable than the other, swanky, refinished vintage furniture stops in Dallas. So go find your groove in a perfectly used couch and spend the afternoon admiring beautiful used furniture you may or may not have a justifiable space for in your home.
Don's Used Photo Equipment (2731 Irving Boulevard).
Need some 120 film? How about an enlarger? If you're thinking about quitting your day job to fulfill your dreams as a professional photographer, Don's is your spot. And, for some, it's been the spot for over 14 years. Don's Used Photo Equipment is like the clean and organized Lula B's for photography gear. And, who knows? Maybe with some purchases from all that discounted equipment, you'll end up famously showing in one of the many Design District galleries.
1400 Hi Line Apartments (1400 Hi Line Drive).
The first luxury hi-rise in the Dallas Design District is also LEED-certified and ready to welcome you home to a beautiful view, y'all. The complex is in a hard-to-beat and event-pivotal location near the W Hotel and the American Airlines Center. That means a little higher rent (starting at just under $2,000), but it also means perks and plenty of easy-access events around. The Hi Line Apartments started to fill up last fall with residents, and now it's filling up with promising business ventures. For the tenants, things are looking good. They've already got their acre-large park on their rooftop, but now businesses like Sfuzzi are looking to set up in the lower dens of the building. FT33 is nearby and Central Standard, as mentioned, should be opening soon enough.