Eating My Way Through Dallas (Coffee, Brunch, Cocktails, Dinner and Dessert with emma's thing)
I've lived in Dallas proper (i.e. not in the suburbs with the 'rents) since graduating college in 2009. Depending on what day it is, I'm either embarrassed that I've only ever lived in Dallas or I own it. The truth is, staying here was never the plan. Since graduating, I've been moving to Chicago, Denver, maybe New York, okay definitely not New York, Chicago, Chicago, Portland, Seattle, Chicago, New York, no no not New York, and Chicago. Alas, here we are — my two, perfectly average size seven feet planted firmly in Dallas' soil for the foreseeable future.
A lot has changed over the past eight years. I've seen neighborhoods fall apart, neighborhoods come up, and all the restaurants/bars/ice cream shops in-between. Dallas is known for its extensive menu of places to dine, sip, and indulge, which can be extremely overwhelming. Some days, I want to try it all. Other days, I have no interest in straying from my list of go-tos I've so carefully crafted over the years. I'm proud of that list. In fact, I'm so proud, that I employed my best friend (yes, the brilliant WhitBit snapped every photo you're about to see) to help me take you all on a virtual, image-filled journey of emma's thing Dallas, meal-by-meal.
First THING'S FIRST: COFFEE AT HOUNDSTOOTH
I was resistant to the Henderson Ave. Houndstooth for a while. I'm not sure why. It never did anything to me but just be there. Perhaps it's because its predecessor, Pearl Cup, left little to be desired in terms of delicious coffee and, subsequently, a strong, bitter, and somewhat burnt taste in my mouth. However, because I live an exact 12-minute brisk power walk away, I inevitably strolled into Houndstooth during one of Cece and I's morning walks and boy, am I glad I did. Houndstooth shtick is simple, no gimmicks. Its offering is minimal because they understand that the only way to be about coffee is straightforward. Inside, the interior boasts the same casual coolness — understated with just enough quirk to remind you you're most assuredly in an independent coffee shop. It's ideal for the much sought after but rarely executed "coffee date" or to use as your office-away-from-home by spreading your notebooks and laptop from one end of their rustic wooden tables to the other. Oh, and the coffee is perfect. A latte with almond milk and vanilla is my usual, and they nail it every time. Plus, they partner with Tacodeli each morning to offer up delicious, portable breakfast along with your delicious, portable coffee.
I love that I can pop-in and pop-out with Cece on a weekday morning walk and be on our merry way with delicious joe.
Dallas is famous for its ever-growing list of options for boozy brunching. As much I love loading up on carafes of what's sure to be Sunday's regrets, sometimes you just need an authentic, straightforward, diner brunch complete with squeeze bottles of condiments, simple drip coffee, and a wait staff with the perfect balance of heartfelt sass. Enter: Jonathon's Diner. Don't get it twisted with the original Jonathon's, though. This Jonathon's (formerly known as Kessler Park Eating House until very recently) is related to the OG Jonathon's, yes, but they couldn't be more different. Jonathon's Diner is like the cool, v chill older sister who's done trying to impress anyone and is most comfortable in small, intimate groups, listening to good music and drinking ice cold Miller High life, whereas the OG Jonathon's is the socialite little sis, president of her sorority, and does everything for the 'gram. Jonathon's Diner has the type of hearty brunch offerings dreams are made of (chicken and waffles with tabasco gravy, the Country Benedict, and The Kure are a few personal favorites) and, like its sister, offers a DIY Bloody Mary bar.
Load that sucker up with an array of hot sauces, crudité (most of which is pickled), and spices, then get to work on whatever feast you've ordered. I just love this brunch spot. From the diner vibes to the crowd itself, it goes hard in the best way.
This is the sexiest bar in Dallas as far as I'm concerned. Self-described as a cozy cocktail and spirits den, Jettison's ambience and way with liquid makes it the perfect spot to grab a pre-dinner drink (or two) (or three and end up not going to dinner because you don't want to leave). Tucked away in Sylvan30's up-and-coming strip of restaurants and cocktail spots, the mood is set the second you set foot in the door. Its dark lighting and classy interior makes it feel like a hidden gem of a bar you just discovered, no matter how many times you've been already.
The drinks are absolutely killer. Of course, Jettison offers an extensive menu of hand-crafted cocktails they've meticulously concocted but, like any real-deal cocktail spot, they're up for creating a custom from-scratch libation if nothing on the menu tickles your fancy (which I highly doubt happens often here). This go-round, I sipped on their margarita with grapefuit-infused tequila and followed it up with a cinnamon-forward Old Fashioned (I asked for lots of cinnamon, and the bartender literally burnt a stick of cinnamon, let it fog up the entire glass, then poured my drink. Unreal). Their focus is strictly alcohol, so don't go looking for any bar bites here but do half-stumble over to Cibo Divino when you're ready to eat to enjoy absolutely delicious Italian food in a charming Italian pseudo-market (get the rigatoni and thank me later).
Do you love Thai food? Do you love great drinks? Do you love friendly, enjoyable dining experiences? Then get to The Mint on Oak Lawn for dinner, like, yesterday. I am incredibly fortunate to know Whitney for many reasons (one being that she took ALL of these pictures), but the leading contender is that her husband just so happens to be the General Manager of The Mint. Therefore, Whitney and I have spent the better part of our 7-year friendship within those four walls, dining and sipping on some of the best food and drink Dallas has to offer. It's Thai food done so right, and cocktails done even righter (just go with it). My usual is Pad Kee Mo Woon Sen (that's drunken noodles with glass noodles instead of the big, wide noodle because I have to compromise with myself however I can), the GM's signature Fall Fashioned cocktail and, just to show my basicness, their brownie and ice cream for dessert (BECAUSE IT'S SO INCREDIBLE).
The Mint will forever have the biggest, warmest place in my heart and stomach. Chances are we'll run into each other if you decide to dine there after reading this, so be sure to say hi to Whitney and me if you see us! Unless we look like we're in deep conversation (tends to happen during our Mint nights) — then maybe wait a beat.
THE BEST FOR LAST: DESSERT AT TCBY
I could've chosen a fancy place for dessert with gorgeous offerings and aesthetically pleasing plating, but this is my very real culinary tour of Dallas and TCBY frozen yogurt in Lakewood is my very real #1 pick for dessert in this town. When I discovered it had a drive-thru, I spent the majority of that summer in that line, shoeless and with Cece in the passenger's seat. White chocolate mousse Froyo with sprinkles has been my order since I was 16, but every once in a while, I'll throw a curve ball and get a kid's shiver (the perfect size when you want to indulge but don't want to hate yourself too much) with white chocolate mousse and Oreos. But no matter what you order here, you can't go wrong because it's all delectably delicious.
That's my Dallas, culinarily-speaking. So next week, when your family is in town and driving you crazy, try to escape with or without them to one of these spots to switch up your routine a bit. You won't be disappointed with anywhere on this list and, if you are, I don't want to hear it.