The grilled "beach cheese" on a stick at Meridian comes with hot honey and oregano. (Courtesy of Meridian)
You can't miss the fried shrimp and grits at Roots Southern Table. (Courtesy)
The banh mi pizza at Neony Pizza Works is a lemongrass sausage, cucumber, pickled carrot, mozzarella, and cilantro aioli dream. (Photo by Megan Ziots)
The Icelandic hot dog at Rye Dallas is a must-try starter. (Courtesy)
Dakota's Steakhouse reopened this year with a new owner and chef. (Courtesy)
A must-try at National Anthem is the Rigatoni Alla Vodka. (Photo by Megan Ziots)
At Suburban Yacht Club in Plano, chef Brian Luscher is emitting SoCal vibes. (Courtesy)
Another must-try dish at La Mina is the Puerco con Chile.
At Monarch, you must order the short rib bolognese. (Courtesy)
The Candelabra is a must-try dessert at Apothecary. (Photo by Megan Ziots)
Not many dishes are memorable enough to crave months after that first taste. But every now and then, you find something on a menu that truly stands out. With as many new Dallas restaurants as I’ve been fortunate to try in 2021 (and there have been a lot), a few precious bites made a lasting, mouthwatering impression.
From delicious pastas (I love pasta) to unique creations you may have never seen in Dallas, these are 10 standout dishes — in no particular order — from restaurants that opened in Dallas this year.
Banh Mi Pizza at Neony Pizza Works
Just opened in Oak Cliff’s TyPo building, this new spot from Alex Ham is offering an elusive pie no other Dallas spot has managed to nail down: the banh mi pizza. A 72-hour dough is baked with mozzarella, lemongrass sausage, sliced cucumber, and pickled carrot, but the house cilantro aioli really makes the pizza.
Vodka Rigatoni at National Anthem
This new restaurant in the East Quarter from chef Nick Badovinus offers an assortment of Americana dishes, but my favorite had to be the rigatoni alla vodka. Made with charred tomato, Aleppo, gremolata, garlic, and topped with creamed ricotta, it’s a must-try Dallas pasta dish.
Icelandic Hot Dog at Rye
There is so much to explore at this new Lower Greenville spot, but an absolute stand-out is the Icelandic hot dog. It’s a single Rosewood Ranch Wagyu beef dog with Icelandic sweet mustard, topped with fried shallot and served on rugbrød, which is a rye bread baked in Iceland by burying in a pot near a geyser. You’ll wish they made a bigger size, or that you had ordered three more.
Beach Cheese at Meridian
This new Brazilian restaurant from chef Junior Borges offers many stunning dishes, but if we had to pick one thing to try right away, it’s the beach cheese. Inspired by Borges’ childhood, a stick of cheese is served on a small, personal grill, hovering above fresh rosemary. But beware, it has a spicy kick. It’s topped with hot honey, oregano, and lime.
Fried Shrimp and Grits at Roots Southern Table
At chef Tiffany Derry’s nationally-recognized new spot in Farmers Branch, there are also a ton of great stand-out dishes. However, one dish stuck with me: the fried shrimp and grits made with jalapeño cheese grits a sausage tomato stew. A closer runner-up that must be mentioned is the cast-iron cornbread with smoked salted butter and apple cranberry preserves.
Short Rib Agnolotti at Dakota’s Steakhouse
With a new owner and chef comes new dishes. After shuttering in 2020, this iconic underground steakhouse was brought back to life this year by Meredith McEneny and chef Ji Kang (Sloane’s Corner). A crazy good dish chef Kang brought onto the menu is the short rib agnolotti. It’s topped with Bordelaise, cherries, and aged parmesan and completely melts in your mouth.
Puerco Con Chile at La Mina
This new Village Dallas restaurant is serving up authentic regional Mexican cuisine in a speakeasy-like space in The Drey hotel. One dish I cannot stop thinking about is the Puerco Con Chile — braised pork shoulder with Guajillo, Chile de Arbol, Pasilla, and Poblano, along with Mayocoba and Rosada beans.
Baja Beer Battered Fish Tacos at Suburban Yacht Club
Head to Suburban Yacht Club in Plano for some of the best fish tacos you’ve ever had. Chef Brian Luscher’s new SoCal boardwalk spot at Granite Park is home to some of the best beachy cocktails and coastally-inspired dishes. A must-try is the Baja beer battered fish tacos, which are topped with Napa slaw, lime crema, avocado, and microgreens. They are fresh, crunchy, and flavorful — especially paired with a refreshing hibiscus Paloma.
Short Rib Bolognese at Monarch
If you’re taking the trip up to the 49th floor of The National building, don’t miss ordering the short rib bolognese. An indulgent Casarecce pasta with hazelnut and a hefty dollop of ricotta, this dish is the best thing on the Monarch menu.
Candelabra at Apothecary
One of the coolest (and tastiest) things I tried this year was the Candelabra dessert-slash-masterpiece at Lower Greenville’s Apothecary. Served (and lit) in an actual candlestick holder, the dessert is three cakes of angostura bitter chocolate, Clover Club (raspberry-forward), and piña colada flavors. Everything — apart from the candelabra — is edible, including the wicks made from hemp.