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DFW 2013: The year in dining

Posted 3:51pm on Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2013

With cronut crumbs on our chin and an empty beer growler on its side, we reflect on how dining treated us in 2013. It’s time to celebrate the hits, mourn the losses and get all misty over the delectable dishes we were lucky enough to taste.

As we cast our glance back, we’ll savor the local craft brews we sipped, the noodles we slurped. We’ll shudder over fads that went sour, shed a tear for restaurants that have left us, and lick our chops over what’s coming up on the dining scene in Dallas-Fort Worth. (And be sure to check out our Top 20 Best Bites in DFW, and say farewell to some eateries we lost in 2013.)

Hot ’hoods

Independently held, chef-driven restaurants surged all over, from the thriving Magnolia Avenue in Fort Worth to Greenville Avenue in Dallas, two of the most popular restaurant rows around. Magnolia saw the opening of indies such as craft beer-focused restaurant Bearded Lady and unpretentious Tina’s Cocina.

In Dallas, Greenville Avenue represents the city’s biggest transformation, from dicey bar strip to foodie destination. The street is home to the first Trader Joe’s in Dallas proper, as well as the city’s first Austin-style food truck park, called the Truck Yard. Exciting openings include the self-explanatory Dallas Beer Kitchen and HG Sply Co., a restaurant focused on the so-called paleo diet.

Downtown Fort Worth got a big boost, too, with back-to-back openings of showstoppers such as Del Frisco’s Grille, Little Red Wasp and the brand new Bird Café from Shannon Wynne, already making waves for its cutting-edge selection of beer. A Taco Diner is on the way.

Foodie trends

Brews ruled, with craft beer holding its own as one of the area’s most important and vibrant movements. New local breweries such as Fort Worth’s Martin House and Granbury’s Revolver quickly took over taps across town. Established breweries such as Rahr expanded their lineup with limited-edition and seasonal releases. For local beer drinkers, these are good times.

But coffee’s hotter than ever, too. Carefully crafted drinks are being poured at a slew of new spots, including Ascension Coffee in the Dallas Design District, Weekend Coffee at the Joule hotel in downtown Dallas and Sip Stir in Dallas’ West Village. Still to come: the arrival of Austin’s well-respected Houndstooth, opening on Henderson Avenue in Dallas in the spring.

Seafood surfaced as a rising trend, at fine-dining spots such as Waters from chef Jon Bonnell, Pacific Table from Felipe Armenta and Spoon in Dallas from the always colorful John Tesar.

A few big Asian concepts arrived: namely ramen, noodles, Korean fried chicken and pho. Hotly anticipated ramen joint Tanoshii is now open in Deep Ellum with waits on weekends. Also in Deep Ellum: Monkey King Noodle Co., where you can watch the noodles being made by hand behind a large showcase window.

A branch of Korean fried-chicken chain Bonchon opened on Greenville Avenue in Dallas and was so overwhelmed that it temporarily shut down the first week. As for pho, Dallas mini-chain Pho Is For Lovers expanded northward to Allen, while foodie find Mot Hai Ba serves its chef-tuned version of this steaming-hot soup in the old York Street space.

Coming soon

Fort Worth remains one of the most prosperous stories in the local dining scene, logging startups like Clay Pigeon, the new farm-to-table restaurant in the old Lambert’s space, along with bigger and better openings still to come.

Two of the most-talked-about coming-soons include Cane Rosso Fort Worth, the third branch of the award-winning mini-chain specializing in Neapolitan-style pizza, and AF&B, the new restaurant from Consilient, parent to the Fireside Pies pizza chain as well as CBD Provisions, which just opened in the Joule.

Hot and cold bites

Food trends that boomed in 2013: doughnuts, ramen, vegan, sunny-side eggs on top of everything, kale, craft beer, pork belly, Brussels sprouts, lobster rolls and flatbreads.

Food trends that dimmed in 2013: cronuts, tacos, deviled eggs, food trucks and burgers. Yes, another branch of Fred’s opened on Bluebonnet Circle, and burgers will never go away. But as a foodie phenomenon, it seems they’ve finally hit a plateau.

Also: Check out our list of the Top 20 Best Bites of DFW in 2013, and a farewell to some of the restaurants that left us this year.

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