Steak and Seafood | Chicago-Style Chophouse Atmosphere | Freshly Baked Popover Starters
While You're Waiting
While You're in the Neighborhood
Before: Select a predinner drink from the dizzying selection of draft beers at Flying Saucer (14999 Montfort Drive).
After: Head down the street to Pete’s Dueling Piano Bar (4980 Beltline Road) for a night of dancing to the ivory-tickling tunes of A-list pianists.
If You Can’t Make It, Try This: Kenny’s Burger Joint (1377 Legacy Drive, Suite 120, Frisco, TX), where the owners of Kenny's Wood Fired Grill shift the spotlight to handcrafted burgers.
The tradition of Sonny Bryan?s award-winning barbecue started more than a century ago on February 13, a date that would become circled on the calendar again and again throughout Bryan?s Barbecue history. February 13, 1910, marked the opening of Elias Bryan?s Oak Cliff restaurant, Bryan's Barbecue. Exactly 20 years later to the day, his eldest son, William ?Red? Jennings Bryan, launched his own restaurant. When February 13 rolled around again 28 years later, Elias? grandson, William "Sonny" Jennings Bryan Jr., and his wife, Joanne, opened another restaurant, the first Sonny Bryan?s Smokehouse.
Although a different Dallas family now manages multiple locations of the restaurant chain in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, the legendary barbecue lives on. Sonny Bryan's original barbecue sauce spices up its savory pulled meats and ribs, which have been devoured by famous entertainers, sports legends, and A-list celebrities alike. Sonny's seasoned chefs also cater heaps of smoked brisket and jalape?o sausage to parties and events.
Sonny Bryan's Smokehouse has been on the culinary radar since 1989, snapping up awards and publicity from Food Network, the Travel Channel?s Man V. Food Nation and 101 Tastiest Places to Chowdown, and Emeril Lagasse?s The Originals with Emeril. The modest joints have also earned some highbrow epicurean chops through a 2006 Zagat rating and a 2000 James Beard Foundation award for Culinary Excellence and Achievement.
Though chef Daniel Nemec specialized in classic French cuisine at the Texas Culinary Academy, his heart lies in the smokehouse. As the leader of Woodfire Kirby’s kitchen, he draws from his experiences growing up in Corpus Christi, where steaks and barbecue pepper the culinary landscape and are considered legal tender.
Nemec imbues hickory flavor in ribs, chops, and sirloin burgers, but demonstrates the wood’s versatility with a menu that also includes wood-fired soups and thin-crust pizzas. New york strip steaks and blue-ribbon fillets are cooked to a choice of six temperatures, including classic medium rare and charred-yet-red pittsburgh. Available raw, grilled, or poached, seafood showcases spices that range from asian to argentine to creole.
A private room welcomes up to 48 visitors with a high-definition TV and four banquet menus, and the dining room attracts nighttime guests with handcrafted cocktails and a buzz as vibrant as a birthday party inside a hornet nest.
For a no-holds-barred meat fest, carnivores with a serious appetite should look no further than Texas de Brazil. Overlooking the scenic Katy Trail, this Brazilian steakhouse is grandly outfitted with intricate iron chandeliers, huge gilded mirrors and white tablecloths, plus a stately wine room offering plenty of big reds to pair with all that protein. Flip your coaster to the green side and a procession of friendly servers parading around various cuts of meat like leg of lamb, Brazilian sausage, filet mignon and the ever-popular garlic-marinated top sirloin known as picanha will slice their wares directly onto your plate, until you cry uncle by turning your coaster to red. Surprisingly, vegetarians will find plenty to like here too, thanks to a high-end salad bar offering items like hearts of palm, thick steamed asparagus, grilled Portobellos, imported cheeses and even sushi.
Where to sit: Though the menu remains constant, where you sit will ultimately shape your dining experience. You’ll find white tablecloths and a formal ambiance in the Gallery, boisterous conversations and open-kitchen views in Dean’s Kitchen, or a Goldilocks-esque compromise between the two in the Sendero—a glass-enclosed chamber lit by an extravagant glass chandelier. When the weather obliges, you can also take your meal en plein air on the patio.
What to wear: After spending more than two decades at the uberformal Mansion on Turtle Creek, Chef Dean Fearing grew tired of dress codes, so he decided to do away with them—mostly. Dress jackets are expected in the stately Gallery, though you’re invited to roll up your sleeves and go haute-casual in Dean’s Kitchen. Despite the lax dress code, it’s wise to dress to impress, as you’ll be dining among guests that the New York Times described as “good looking” and “well-heeled.”
While You’re Waiting: Keep your eyes peeled for the man himself, Dean Fearing, who often roams the floor in his white chef’s coat, jeans, and brightly colored cowboy boots.
While You’re in the Neighborhood:
Before: Explore the collection at the Nasher Sculpture Center (2001 Flora Street), which sprawls across both an outdoor garden and a 55,000-square-foot indoor space.
After: Head out for drinks and dancing at Sambuca (2120 Mckinney Avenue), an upscale venue where each night’s live band is viewable inside or from the fishbowl-like patio.
A meal at Dakota’s begins with a downward trip in its elevator. That’s because the steakhouse resides where the First Dallas Baptist Church once sat, and a legally binding clause in the deed forbade future proprietors from selling alcohol on the former church grounds. But Dakota’s isn’t on church grounds—it’s beneath them. Step in at street level, and the canopied glass elevator descends 18 feet into the ground, passing the steakhouse’s legendary courtyard. The gurgle of water gushing over five tiers of granite, the glow of a lava-rock fire pit, and dark glimmer of a black granite bar make the 1,800-square-foot patio—which opens directly to the sky—one of Dallas’s most popular spots for lovebirds. Through French doors, the dining room promises comparably romantic evenings. Hand-cut Italian Carrera marble covers the floors, dark wood paneling hugs the walls, and New Orleans-inspired gas lamps throw a muted glow, and the occasional string of beads, around the room. With a setting so opulent, it speaks volumes about Chef Pete Harrison’s talent that Dakota’s menu leaves just as indelible an impression. Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper top USDA prime filet mignon, New York strip, and porterhouse steaks, which are aged a minimum of 28 days, and receive a final brush of butter before hitting the 1800-degree broiler. Maine lobster and Atlantic salmon also earn rave reviews, as do the specialty cocktails––wild tea white cosmos, cucumber basil martinis––that necessitated Dakota’s subterranean home.