Eat Up: our 100 best restaurants in 2022, a fresh new dozen

If one had to choose one word that best describes the restaurant scene over the past year, Whiplash would be a good choice. Last December, we slipped into a dark time with the COVID-19 pandemic. While on vacation, we struggled with the desire to see family, eat out, and meet friends in old haunts while potentially spreading the disease.

On January 11, the number of Texans hospitalized by the pandemic peaked as restaurants competed for mask warrants and social distancing. It was a precarious game to stay in business while keeping staff and clients healthy.

But January also brought the rollout of vaccines. A huge drive-thru clinic in Denton was run with “the efficiency of Chick-fil-A,” a comparison we could all understand. Just when it looked like there might be a light at the end of the tunnel, we learned that only winter storm Uri was heading our way. Restaurants have been frozen outside of what is traditionally one of the busiest restaurant days, Valentine’s Day, quickly followed Shrove Tuesday to boot. No electricity, no water – for some no customers – then when the freezing cold left, the pipes burst.

That week, Homewood chief Matt McCallister told his customers on Facebook he was offering soup rather than throwing it away, writing: “This week has been tough, hell for the past 11 months. were difficult. ”

The big thaw really started in March. Capacity restrictions have been lifted in restaurants and bars. Our collective desire to slip into a familiar wooden cabin for a margarita and a bowl of queso – or whatever – would no longer be suppressed. Dining out could arguably be our most basic form of personal care.

We can measure this craving in drinks; the Texas State Comptroller tracks alcohol sales month-to-month. In February, mixed drink receipts at Dallas restaurants and bars totaled $ 45.8 million; in March, that number jumped 61% to $ 73.7 million. Can reach $ 85.4 million. That month, Texas posted an all-time high for alcohol sales. The delta variant surged in August and September, but in October, the latest set of data available, alcohol sales peaked at $ 94 million.

But unforeseen things have crept in. Factionalism on vaccines and mask mandates. Inflation on now hard-to-obtain products like paper cups and take-out containers due to growls in global logistics. Chicken wings are so expensive that some restaurants have considered changing their menus. In addition, there is a labor shortage in the service sector, which was a problem before the pandemic, which made it difficult for some restaurants to operate at full capacity.

As recently as last week, Resident Taqueria canceled breakfast service because it couldn’t staff it. A sort of bidding war has broken out for pastry chefs and cooks. Dishwashers are earning an unprecedented base salary in 2019: $ 10 an hour according to ZipRecruiter, $ 12.60 according to InDeed.com.

But you can’t keep good okra. Chefs and restaurateurs were eager to get back to work. Despite all of its ups and downs, 2021 brought a flurry of new restaurants from a gang of heavyweights in the kitchen.

Among them was Tiffany Derry, the former Excellent chef longtime competitor and beloved local chef, who opened Roots Southern Table in June, her homage to the food she grew up eating. She had spent years looking for the right location and fine-tuning the concept.

“My partner Tom Foley and I know there is never a great time to start a new business, but I have to agree that opening a restaurant last summer amid the lingering challenges of the pandemic n It certainly wasn’t the perfect time, ”said Derry. But they adapted to the conditions of the pandemic with careful planning that included creating an outdoor dining design and installing an air oxidizer to fight the virus.

Click to enlarge Encina opened in the old Bolsa.  - ALISON MCLEAN

Encina opened in the old Bolsa.

Alison mclean

Derry says she believes the pandemic and the long lockdowns have fueled a growing need to bring us together. And she succeeded with a restaurant that is an ode to southern hospitality. In just a few short months, Roots garnered national recognition from the New York Times as one of the nation’s top 50 restaurants. And it came in at # 19 on Esquire’s Best New Restaurants in the Country.

Roots wasn’t the only grand opening this year. On a hot sunny June day, James Beard Award winning chefs Tyson Cole and pit master Aaron Franklin stood around a parking lot near their soon to be opening restaurant in East Dallas, Loro. They chatted with foodies, handed out steak samples, whetted appetites for their long-awaited opening.

Entire restaurant communities flourished: Chef Junior Borges opened Meridian in The Village, flanked by a host of more casual restaurants. AT&T Discovery District downtown has opened an upscale food court with more than a dozen local stalls. There is The Harwood District and Grandscape in The Colony. Flower Mound and Lewisville now have riverside restaurants.

Local restaurateur Nick Badovinus brings the new downtown east end to life with his National Anthem spot, in an old building that once housed the Observer’s offices. Deep Ellum is full of trendy places, like Hattie B’s Hot Chicken and Electric Shuffle, imported to the UK. Oh, and should we even be talking about all the hot chicken sandwiches that have perched in Dallas last year? It’s one after the other.

Sadly, with the surge of new venues, we’ve also lost some iconic spaces in Dallas this year: Cosmic Café, Wild About Harry’s, and Luna’s Tortillas y Hacienda all closed this year after decades of activity. Great American Hero, the bright sandwich shop on Lemmon Avenue for 47 years, will close at the end of December. We also lost one of the first to arrive on the local craft brewing scene, BrainDead Brewing, as well as Anvil Pub in Deep Ellum. Trinity Hall also bid farewell to the Irish this year.

All of this to say that while it’s a tough time for restaurants in Dallas, it’s also wonderful. A cornucopia of cultures, flavors and experiences is at your fingertips. This is what we hope this annual list of the top 100 restaurants is a guide to.

Click to enlarge Daily bread and homemade marbled butter at Meridian.  - ALISON MCLEAN

Daily bread and homemade marbled butter at Meridian.

Alison mclean

We’ve got 12 new spots this year – new to the list, not necessarily new to North Texas, although new to both in some cases – and you can find the full list, searchable by neighborhood and type in the Top 100 section. Restaurants. The new list has been updated with some great places falling for no other reason than we have found others that our food editors prefer. You will certainly disagree with some of our choices, but it’s cool: the friendly debates about the best restaurant are part of the fun of dining out.

While there are some shiny new places, there are plenty of decades-old mom and pop kitchens too, but for now, welcome these 12 additions to the fold, listed below and linked to the list by. alphabetical order.

Desi Quarter

Elm & Bon

Encina

Mediterranean cuisine Fattouche

Jonathon’s Dinner

Loro

Meridian

Milagro Taco Cantina

Vietnamese cuisine Ngon

South Roots Table

Thunderbird pies

Will call

(Taylor Adams and Chris Wolfgang contributed to this story.)


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