The New York Times‘ “The Morning” newsletter has long been a part of my AM ritual, and while Texas occasionally earns a bullet point, Dallas itself is rarely mentioned. I don’t find that too surprising for my beloved — if slightly basic — city, but it does make it all the more exciting when Dallas-Fort Worth gets a shout-out, as it did on Monday, May 22, with a lower-third blurb called “Dallas Dining.”
Our city’s recent knack for attracting outposts from coastal restaurant groups, such as Carbone, STK, Crown Block, Pizzana, Sadelle’s, and the newly opened Komodo, has the good folks at the Times deeming Dallas, in a headline for an article published this morning, “The New Dubai.”
Dallas is big, and getting bigger — by the 2030s, it could become the third-largest city in the U.S. But without beaches, mountains or other natural attractions, it’s leaning into its high-end dining scene to entice residents. “It is like the U.S.’s version of Dubai,” said Julie Macklowe, whose whiskey sells for $400 a shot in some Dallas restaurants.
I’m on board for a little journalistic hyperbole when it’s harmless, even if the phrase “The Dubai of” tends to get thrown around a bit too much. And I’ve certainly enjoyed a cheeseburger on the RH rooftop or the excellent Peking Duck at our local spinoff of Miami’s Komodo. But the idea that Dallas is becoming known nationally for bringing in luxury chains rather than cultivating our own restaurants is, for lack of a better word, a bit of a bummer.
Culture gets made locally from exceptional independent concepts, of which Dallas has many examples (some quite luxe) from a diverse set of tastemakers. There’s Meridian, chef Junior Borges’ decadent ode to his native Brazil, or Sister from the design-minded team of Duro Hospitality — the Times did call out the Italian-ish spot as one of “America’s Best Restaurants” last fall, just as it did with Roots Southern Table the year before. We have the wildly creative Chef Regino Rojas (Revolver Taco Lounge and Purépecha) and Misti Norris (Petra and the Beast). I’m still trying to get a reservation at Lower Greenville’s Shoyo, whose master sushi chef, Shin Kondo, hailed from one of those aforementioned luxury chains (Nobu).
As the New York Times article notes, Dallas is rapidly growing with no signs of stopping. So there’s plenty of room for the Los Angeles and New York restaurant groups (seriously, Komodo’s Peking Duck is bomb, and the smoked salmon tower at Sadelle’s… *chef’s kiss*).
“Dallas is growing like crazy, and there’s insane demand from local and national groups, both restaurant and retail, to be here,” Highland Park Village managing director Stephen Summers told us while discussing the future of the Knox neighborhood last spring. “It’s a standalone destination. These locations don’t become available in the United States very often.”
That’s a good thing for imports both confirmed (like the billionaire-funded Catch) or rumored (Pastis). Still, as the city’s profile continues to rise, I hope the concepts that make Dallas unique don’t get lost in the noise or the pursuit of being named a “World-Class City.”
That being said, it’s an honor just to be recognized.