Restaurants / Closings

Iconic Underground Downtown Dallas Restaurant Shutters After 36 Years

Dakota's Steakhouse (AKA That Cool Restaurant With the Elevator and Waterfall) Has Closed

BY // 05.22.20

The iconic underground restaurant at San Jacinto and North Akard streets has shuttered for good after a 36-year run in downtown Dallas: Dakota’s Steakhouse. The spot was truly unique — you had to take a glass elevator down from the street to access the American restaurant, its a 20-foot waterfall view, and New Orleans-style, al fresco feel.

I spent years driving by the romantic spot as a kid in the car with my parents, and then walked by the elevator entrance every day during an internship for D Magazine. It always looked so secretive and special — there aren’t a ton of subterranean courtyards you can peer into in Dallas.

Dakota’s Steakhouse
(Courtesy of Dakota’s Steakhouse)

Opened in 1984, Dakota’s has become a classic Dallas dining spot, originally situated underground due to the location’s former owners (the First Dallas Baptist Church) forbidding any future occupants to sell alcohol on the grounds. An excavation offered a workaround, and Dakota has been open (and serving alcohol) 18-feet below street level for over 30 years.

Dakota’s now joins a tragic list of other iconic Dallas spots that have closed their doors during the pandemic. CultureMap first reported that the staff was notified of the closure on May 19. Chef Pete Harrison had overseen the kitchen for the past five years. He told the Dallas outlet that the restaurant started the year off better than they ever had.

Dakota’s Steakhouses was primarily known for their USDA Prime steaks from Allen Brothers, and served up everything from filet mignon to New York strip and ribeye. They also had a great seafood selection with celebration-worthy dishes like seafood towers and oysters. But for many, it was more about the atmosphere. The restaurant had a beautiful wine room for special events.

What will become of the iconic underground space? It’s hard to make guesses for a post-corona world right now, but hopefully something just as special.

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