Chef Nick Badovinus' National Anthem has opened in the East Quarter. (Courtesy of East Quarter)
Nick Badovinus' latest concept National Anthem serves All-American eats in the East Quarter. (Photo by Megan Ziots)
A must-try at National Anthem is the Rigatoni Alla Vodka. (Photo by Megan Ziots)
Another great dish is the Low Country Pork Chop at National Anthem. (Photo by Megan Ziots)
Don't leave National Anthem without trying the butterscotch creme brulee. (Photo by Megan Ziots)
New restaurant National Anthem has brought the people to downtown Dallas’ newly revitalized East Quarter. The nearby Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit — housed inside of the former Masonic Temple — started luring Dallasites to the area this summer with its Starry Night projections and Instagrammable backdrops, but the new all-American spot from prolific restauranteur and chef Nick Badovinus (Neighborhood Services, Town Hearth) is the first major restaurant to open in the East Quarter. Known for his elaborate decor, Badovinus injects the space with over-the-top Americana (a giant U.S. flag, a massive motorcycle) to match National Anthem’s classic dishes.
Having taken over the former historic, pie-shaped Magnolia oil building off of Commerce street, National Anthem’s exterior space is inherently cool and undoubtedly a draw for history buffs. The interior is divided into two areas: the main dining room and the bar area with several high-top tables. A two-sided neon sign reading “Cold Liquor Beer” — formerly hung in Badovinus’ shuttered restaurants Off-Site Kitchen and Tried and True — hangs between the two rooms.
On a recent Saturday night, the new space was packed. Patrons could barely find a space at the bar, and others began sitting at a small, outdoor patio out front. Both the drink and food menus are massive, so it takes some time to narrow things down if you don’t know what you’re looking for.
There are tons of wine options on the National Anthem menu, including a section called “The Funky Bunch” offering a selection of small production sips. The cocktail menu keeps it simple with the classic Aperol spritz, whiskey sour, and Old Fashioned. The Division Bell makes for a good mezcal drink. There are also a few vodka hi-balls made with Haku and high-compression soda. The Every Rose Has Its Thorn is a refreshing mix of hibiscus and lemon flavors with raspberries on top.
As for bites, make sure to try the Lil’ Thigh Guys — three fried chicken sliders topped with buffalo sauce, burnt honey mustard coleslaw, and white bbq sauce. Another must-try is the rigatoni alla vodka with Aleppo and creamed ricotta.
Of course, a classic burger (a Badovinus specialty) can also be found on the menu. There’s a riff on the Reuban sandwich, and a “raw-ish” bar for oysters, cold-smoked salmon on toast, and steak tartare. If you’re feeling more adventurous, check out the Bar Harbor Mussels Diablo or Shrimp Sizzle. Lastly, a great option is the Low Country Pork Chop with succotash and burnt honey mustard coleslaw.
National Anthem even has several dessert options, from a butterscotch creme brulee to sour cream apple pie. For those of age, there’s an alcoholic root beer float with pineapple rum cream.