With January on the table, we're taking this time to check in with our crew of Fearless Foodies, to find out their forecasts for the restaurant landscape in Dallas-Fort Worth for 2013. They've polished their crystal balls, pulled on their prognosticating caps and switched on their trend-assessment computators.
What they can reveal: Overall, the scene looks delicious. Texas' restaurant industry is projected to lead the country in sales growth in 2013, according to the annual forecast by the National Restaurant Association.
Opening season has already begun with newcomers like Torchy's Tacos, Rodeo Goat, Stampede 66, Spoon, FT33, The Red Door, and Iron Spurs Bar and Grill all debuting within the past two months.
And guaranteeing that we won't go hungry, there are more openings on the books: Waters, Jon Bonnell's seafood spot; American F+B, the Fort Worth restaurant from Fireside Pie's Tristan Simon; Del Frisco's Grille, coming to Sundance Square; a second branch of the popular Deep Ellum pizzeria Cane Rosso, opening near White Rock Lake; Slow Bone, a barbecue joint opening in Dallas' Design District from Maple & Motor owner Jack Perkins; and barbecue again at Kenny's Smoke House, from Dallas chef Kenny Bowers.
To break things down, we devised a three-course meal of sorts: Five hot trends of 2013 are served up by dining critic and DFW.com contributor Teresa Gubbins; Eats Beat guru Bud Kennedy looks through the telescope and shares five of the most anticipated restaurant openings in North Texas; and contributing critic Malcolm Mayhew takes a skewed view of some 2012 trends that'll keep on rolling into the new year.
Without further ado, here's what you can look for in 2013.
By Teresa Gubbins, special to DFW.com
More than a bar, less than a full-blown restaurant, gastropubs originated in England, then emigrated across the pond, at places like the Spotted Pig in New York. Within the past couple of months, "gastropub" has become the touted cuisine for every other restaurant opening in Dallas-Fort Worth.
At Bowl & Barrel, the new upscale bowling alley at the Park Lane complex in Dallas, the menu was devised by chef Sharon Hage, formerly of York St. Tom Colicchio's Craft at the W Hotel was replaced by gastropub Cook Hall. Fort Worth has seen the recent openings of Brewed and Reservoir Bar, which hired seasoned chef Chad Burnett. Mockingbird Taproom, just opened at Mockingbird Station in Dallas, dubs itself a gastropub, and so does Savor, the restaurant slated to open in downtown Dallas' new Klyde Warren Park.
Gastropub is a combination of "gastronomy" and "pub," implying that the grub is better than regular bar food. Today's foodie wouldn't be caught dead eating plain ol' wings; instead, it's chicken and waffles at Reservoir, or Welsh rarebit at Cook Hall. But today's foodies don't have as much scratch as they used to, and that gets to the real appeal of the gastropub: It has some of the cachet of fine dining, but at a cheaper price.
Eat your vegetables
Vegetarian dining has become easier thanks to restaurants such as Spiral Diner (in Fort Worth and Dallas) and Be Raw in Dallas' Preston Center, as well as food trucks such as Good Karma Kitchen and the new Bombay Street Food, who all offer full menus without meat, dairy or eggs. But vegetables will loom this year even at nonvegetarian restaurants, according to a survey from Technomic, a research company in Chicago.
New reports about the negative effects of red-meat consumption have diners gravitating toward other options, at the same time that they've cultivated an interest in fresh, local produce. Going meatless is also a practical solution to the fact that animal protein keeps getting more expensive.
We'll see greenery everywhere, from the entrée salads at Snappy Salads in Dallas, soon to open a branch in Southlake, to the innovative kale salad at Woodshed Smokehouse. Meanwhile, places such as Sundown at Granada and Libertine Bar put meatless options right next to meat dishes, helping make vegan dining a mainstream choice.
Remember when "vegetarian" used to be a foreign thing? These days, we all know someone who eats that way -- maybe we do, too.
In the coffee world, there's a movement known as the third wave, in which the purveyor approaches coffee with an artisanal eye. He procures the beans more carefully. He roasts them more lovingly. He acquires a deluxe machine to make the drinks, spending nearly as much as what you paid for your car. When he serves you your latte or cappuccino, it boasts a heady coffee aroma and is topped by "latte art" -- a fanciful flower or whimsical shape created with careful drizzles of foamed milk.
Dallas-Fort Worth had some early hints of a third wave at shops like Pearl Cup on Henderson, Crooked Tree in Uptown, Cultivar Coffee in East Dallas and Avoca in Fort Worth. But 2013 is the year the third wave will hit DFW hard. Shops that have just opened or are about to include Brewed in Fort Worth, Seven Mile Coffee Co. in Denton and Ascension in Dallas' Design District. Coming this spring will be Houndstooth from Austin and Mudsmith from Barcadia owner Brooke Humphries.
A new appreciation for South American food is taking place nationally, as Americans get more familiar with cuisines from the South. They've done Mexican, they've done Cuban, and now the big continent south of us is their next area to explore.
Locally, two new examples have opened within the past few weeks. Joyce & Gigi's Kitchen is a mother-and-daughter spot near downtown Dallas that specializes in dishes from Bolivia, Argentina, Brazil, Peru and Chile, such as empanadas and the slow-cooked stew known as feijoada. Gigliola "Gigi" Aguilera -- who worked at Fearing's, Five Sixty and the Stoneleigh -- is the daughter, and Joyce is her mother.
At Nazca Kitchen, on Walnut Hill Lane in Northeast Dallas, the menu will cover cuisine from Peru, Venezuela and Brazil, such as the dish known as the acai bowl, with pureed acai, granola and sliced fruit, or the Venezuelan perico, which is like a burrito, and comes filled with eggs, onion, peppers and tomatoes. It will also do coffee -- two trends in one.
Dallas-Fort Worth has always had its share of nothing-fancy Gulf-style Cajun fish shacks, where you can get po' boys, hush puppies and shrimp, either fried or peel 'n' eat. But we've had precious few places that treat seafood with the same seriousness with which we treat our steaks.
Two chefs aim to rectify that. In Dallas, it's Top Chef: Seattle contestant John Tesar, whose new seafood palace Spoon combines what he learned working for New York fish-master Rick Moonen with his five-star experience at the Mansion on Turtle Creek.
In Fort Worth, it's local treasure Jon Bonnell, who will open Waters, Bonnell's Fine Coastal Cuisine in the old Bailey's space in the West Seventh district. His goal is to bring a high-end seafood place to Fort Worth, a niche he finds sorely lacking. He'll feature oyster shooters, and his fish will be sustainable and eco-friendly.