Dallas: Lower Greenville

Dallas has one of the best food scenes in the country, and the Lower Greenville urban pocket is one of the most diverse and tightly populated restaurant hoods. Whether it’s French pastries or Indian curries or the best craft beer in Texas you’re searching for, it’s probably hanging out on this street.

Sundown at Granada

Give me a Hammered Goat and a Sangiovese. That’s flatbread with goat cheese, drunken mushrooms, white truffle oil, rosemary, micro greens, and zip code honey ($15). Italian red.

As many ingredients as possible sourced locally, are non-GMO and organically-grown, with a few gluten free and vegan options thrown in. The bar tenders are friendly, the clientele a little granola. I talked to the botanist sitting next to me for an hour, me mostly about the area and him mostly about indoor plants. He couldn’t believe I ate so much pizza, he said. Who says that to a girl at a bar? People who get quoted on blogs.

Melios Bros Char Bar

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The uprightness of the blue house, the festive red and yellow lettering of the name “Melios Bros Char Bar,” make for a shiny Hansel and Gretel-esque appearance. There is a giant and very non-subliminal gyro poster in the front window beside the blue and white front door.

Posters of Greek isles hanging proudly in each corner of the white and blue diner. There are gyros burgers and fries. As I sat down, alone – the sole patron on a Friday night – the first Melios brother, a waif of an elderly man who says “thank you” two times fast, peered through the blinds watching passersby, dressed up and on their way to everywhere but the Char Bar. It broke my heart, even as I was digging in to my gyro and french fries.

It’s not a bad gyro. But mostly it’s just hard to own a restaurant, and there’s an unspoken status that comes with being one of the original establishments on Lower Greenville.

Crisp Salad Co.

It may look like the exterior of a crossfit gym, but that’s actually a little farther down the street at Social Mechanics. Melios Brother #1 waves at me as I pass by.

In here, it’s industrial with long communal tables, grey walls and a cute little typography logo. The line is set up much like a Snappy Salads concept. I had a summer special; veggie curry salad with spinach and quinoa. Heavy on the ginger, which I was not into.

Looking around, I noticed a potted plant in a high window. Crisp is right next door to the Char Bar. A sign – letters tacked just high enough to be visible from the window – made out the words, “Olympia Gyros.” I see what he did there.

Mudsmith

A coffee shop-bar combo with communal seating and interesting taxidermy on the walls. There is a bit of a grungy feel to the place; steamy pastry cases, bumper stickers on the bathroom walls. They have an exquisite espresso drink called The Contessa, which is made with two shots of espresso, a gratuitous amount of foam and a drizzle of honey.

One day after inspecting the crema on my Contessa, I spied a mysterious business card lying on the counter. Astrologer, it said.

A random guy sitting across the communal wooden table looked up at me. I took a small risk and told him I was a Libra. What followed was a life-defining horoscope.

He asked if I’d ever tracked my dreams, and we talked about my recurring nightmare, in which my teeth fall out.  He spoke slowly but not quietly, and told me that I’m a sensitive person, and that I have intense likes and dislikes and “willful obsessions.” However, he suspected that I am often indecisive about these intense gut feelings and obsessions. Then he asked me out to dinner. Oy.

Steel City Pops

Steel City has an avocado popsicle. It’s rich, buttery, and thick like a fudge pop.

I’m lactose intolerant, which cuts out creamy milk-based popsicles. But the word is that they do have popsicles like buttermilk (shoot me) and coffee (kill me twice) that are special.

Company Cafe

Dry.
Dry.

Here’s the thing about Company Cafe. The service is consistently slow, and it’s so healthy it hurts. The salad is a little too salad-y. The gluten-free cake is dry.

But, there’s a great ambiance, especially at night. The Katy Trail location closed, single tear, but on Greenville there’s a boho patio scene, good tunes and a clutch bar selection. The guacamole deserves a vouch. The beef short ribs are excellent.

HG Sply Co.

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Duck confit, sweet potato hash and brussels sprouts at H.G Sply Co. in Dallas, TX

No carbs on the menu, except, technically, you can still get fries, and healthy-ish sandwiches and burgers. The bar is excellent – local brews and hippy dippy drinks and cold-pressed juice. Bowls with shaved brussels sprouts and duck confit, sweet potatoes and grass-fed steak. On the pricier side, there’s stuff like a San Franciscan take on PEI mussels.

Wait, what? There’s a dessert, called the flourless chocolate cake, except it’s made with ground up coconut flour and coconut sugar, and cacao.

Remedy

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Retro, cutesy, girly. I remember nothing before the lemon pie, which was excellent, though not in the same league as Emporium Pies.  The menu is a fresh but heavy arrangement of modern homestyle Southern dishes, from fried bologna sandwiches to kale salads.

But if it’s a bar scene you seek, try the Single Wide next door to the coffee shop, or The Truck Yard for that matter.

Clark Food & Wine

Cozy, intimate space with plenty of smoked meats and fish that melts in your mouth served on charcuterie boards in half-pound increments. Flatbreads with said smoked meats on top. Good wine list and a respectable local beer selection. Not much to say by way of what might bring me back, but worth trying.

C’Viche

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Right next door to Clark and owned by the same chef. Latin-Mexican style tequila and street food bar with a selection of ceviche, street eats and full bar with tequila, rum cocktails and beer.

No atmosphere. Tacky neon beer signs on the walls. A little chilly. Less than half-full on a Friday night around six o’clock. Friendly service, though.

The shrimp in the Island Ceviche was fresh, and had a perfect texture, and was mixed with orange, lime, and coconut water with cucumber, pineapple, red onion and serrano pepper. The orange, which could be concerning for its sweetness, came in the form of a slice on the side and some juice in the mix. Herby relief of the basil and cilantro. Pretty good dish of raw fish for a landlocked city.

Rapscallion

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Rapscallion is Boulevardier’s (Bishop Arts) naughty little sibling. The menu blends global flavors, such as North African and Mexican, with Southern influences like hot rotisserie chicken and skillet cornbread.

You can usually judge a Southern restaurant by its fried pickles, so I was crushed to be served pickled and fried okra, my least favorite veggie, called “slimy” and “weird” by the Dallas Observer.

When I asked about the beer selection, the flustered waiter responded that he was only able to talk to me about wine, and we proceeded to try to define zinfandel. I don’t know what’s going on over at Rabbit Hole Brewing; the American brown ale was weirdly sour and grassy.

The beef short rib was served with a medley of summer vegetables in vinaigrette, mixed with hominy. But the meat, without a bone to fall off of, was less tender than I would’ve liked.

Uneducated service, hit or miss dishes. Take your chances, or just go to Boulevardier.

UPDATE: Full disclosure, I wrote this article a year ago and never went back. Hopefully things have changed over at Rapscallion – I wish them the best.

Dude, Sweet Chocolate 

The smell of chocolate inside the shop is warm and a little bit sultry. It smells so richly of chocolate and nothing but chocolate that it feels like you’re drowning in air that’s too thick to breathe.

Flower Child Truffle: Rosy, floral notes underneath sweet bitterness. A little pedestrian.

Another had chile spices in it, which burned on the tip of my tongue and slid down my throat like milk chocolate.

Then there’s Crack in a Box, nutty dark chocolate bark that gave me the stomach ache I deserved.

I could go on. Just go. Get it over with.

The Blind Butcher

 

Beer

Only when the waiter’s first words are, “We do meat and beer” are you ever in the right place.

When it comes to The Blind Butcher, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it all again. I am a fan. The duck pastrami egg rolls were crispy and flaky, stuffed with house-made sauerkraut and the marvelously briney duck pastrami. Served biting hot with a creamy, tangy white mustard on the side. Follow that with the bacon sauerkraut, or the chef’s choice sausage board that rotates nightly. This time it was a spicy, herby, Italian sausage and a cajun sausage of wild rice stuffed into pork casing, served with a fragrant and spicy salsa. Did someone say duck fat fries? I left that place with flakes of salt in my hair, I think.

The meat is hyper-locally sourced, sustainably raised and prepared like meat always has been – salted, brined, cured, smoked, and, sometimes, ground and stuffed into casings made out of other meats.

Of course, The Blind Butcher is also known for its impressive craft beer selection, as in 24 drafts and over 50 bottles representing the best of micro-brewing in Dallas and internationally. I always go for the Velvet Hammer.

Village Baking Co.

The original French bakery location is on University, and it’s different. Stuffier, as in the stifling yeasty smell of bread and a line of people out the door on their way to and from work. Here on Greenville, the space is a little roomier, if less intimate.

The croissants are coming for you. Almond, chocolate, and spinach and feta. This large coconut macaroon wants to eat you:

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I’ve written about the sandwiches before. Everything is really all about the bread, and Village Baking Co. is changing the way Dallas shops and eats, if only on a very small scale. So do as the French do and pick up a freshly baked baguette on the way to or from work.

Sammich

Shivas Indian Grill

A cozy brass adorned entryway leads to a quiet and intimate dining room with stiff white tablecloths. The menu hits all the standard Indian bases – samosas, lentil soups and naan bread, rice, curry, et cetera. The vindaloo with lamb was a little thicker than what I’m used to, more of a ketchup-like consistency, especially when you don’t get it very spicy. It’s ridiculously expensive for Indian food, so I’d be hard pressed to fall in love with this place.

Qariah Lebanese Cafe

Falafels: check. Hummus: check. Shawarma: check. A casual hookah bar and patio scene serving Dallas’ most underrated Lebanese food, in my opinion.

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