The Design District: Eating Your Way Through Dallas' Trendiest Dining Hub

The Dallas Design District has long been known for its industrial warehouses and interior design showrooms. But it's only recently that the area has transformed into a magnet for foodies, boasting an ever evolving lineup of top-notch restaurants, eateries and pubs.

For elevated pub grub and a solid selection of brews, hit the Meddlesome Moth and Wheelhouse. Speaking of good grub, the Rodeo Goat cranks out burgers loaded with everything from candied bacon to brisket chili. And if brisket tantalizes your taste buds, then you're in for a treat at The Slow Bone 

For those craving something more cutting-edge, head over to Oak, where you'll find an array of dazzling creations in an equally dazzling space.

And when it comes to dazzling, SER Steak & Spirits is the place to go for over-the-top steaks and spectacular views of the city. 

If these spots are tantalizing your taste buds, then feast your eyes on the other dining picks that you should be checking out now in the Dallas Design District. 


El Bolero
Photo courtesy of El Bolero

This contemporary Mexican restaurant, named after Mexico's omnipresent street-side shoe shiners, aims to take diners on a South of the Border journey-- not only through its cuisine, but also with its decor, which includes everything from custom carved wooden doors to hand-crafted mosaic walls depicting Mexican artists like Frida Kahlo. Expect to find dishes like carnitas and fajitas, along with elevated regional classics-- ranging from aguachile de camaron (a traditional coastal Mexican ceviche) to Cochinita Pibil (a slow roasted pork dish from the Yucatan). Not to be missed are the restaurant's mezcal laden libations, which can best be had on the oasis-like patio that boasts views of downtown Dallas.

Recommended for Dallas Design District's Best Restaurants because: El Bolero is where to go for creative Mexican food and cocktails.

Ilene's expert tip: El Bolero offers awesome daily happy hours with specials on bar food and drinks, weekdays from 3-6 p.m.

Read more about El Bolero →

Pakpao Thai
Photo courtesy of Ilene Jacobs

Don't expect to find your usual bout of sates and curries at this popular Thai restaurant. Instead, plan on satiating your palate with a menu of elevated Southeast Asian fare, much of which has been constructed by Food Network's celebrity chef, Jet Tila. The colorful, contemporary decor filled with pakpao kites-- provides a semi-open kitchen for diners to watch Tila's team as they turn out dishes like short rib massaman curry and Tila's signature pineapple fried rice. Pakpao also whips up a stellar weekend brunch. Tuck in on Saturday or Sunday morning for dishes like Thai omelets and Thai tea French toast with coconut cream. Speaking of Sundays, did we mention that kids can eat free here all day?

Recommended for Dallas Design District's Best Restaurants because: Pakpao Thai is one of Dallas' most trendy Asian eateries.

Ilene's expert tip: Pakpao offers $5 bar bites and cocktails during Happy Hour from 3-6 p.m. – Monday through Friday.

Read more about Pakpao Thai →

The Slow Bone
Photo courtesy of The Slow Bone

Not only can Jack Perkins flip a mean patty at his iconic Dallas burger spot-- Maple and Motor, he can also smoke up some killer barbecue at his cafeteria-style (lunch-only) diner, which fired up the Design District in 2013. Recycled church hymn boards display the meats and sides of the day, which run the gamut from hickory-smoked chicken and fall-off-the-bone ribs to sides like jalapeno mac and cheese, sweet potato casserole and fried okra. But if you really want to experience Texas barbecue at its best, go for the brisket, it's a melt-in-your-mouth black bark crusted heap of deliciousness. Just make sure to save room for dessert, the cornbread pudding is insanely good.

Recommended for Dallas Design District's Best Restaurants because: The Slow Bone is one of Dallas' best barbecue joints.

Ilene's expert tip: Try to come here early, the place is notorious for having long lines and items frequently sell out before the scheduled closing time.

Read more about The Slow Bone →

Photo courtesy of Oak

When Oak opened in 2012, not only did it receive rave reviews from the local press, it also earned a nod from Bon Appétit Magazine for being one of the Top 50 Best New Restaurants in the country. Along with a polished decor and inviting ambiance, the kitchen turns out a terrific, seasonal array of dishes, ranging from buttermilk fried quail to charred hamachi collar with pickled mango, tandoori branzino and kobe tenderloin steaks. And they don't slack off when it comes to drinks either. Cocktails are made with hand squeezed juices, fresh fruit and herbs and house made syrups, plus there's around forty selections of wine by the glass as well as premium champagne offered in flights. Not-to-missed are desserts like strawberry brown butter cake and anything chocolate. Keep an eye out for wine and bourbon pairing dinners too.

Recommended for Dallas Design District's Best Restaurants because: Oak is known as one the city's best fine dining destinations.

Ilene's expert tip: Oak offers half-priced cocktails during happy hour–Mon-Fri 4:30-6:30 p.m.

Read more about Oak →

Photo courtesy of Wheelhouse

This sleek, indoor/outdoor gastropub is all about housemade sausages, burgers and small plates that cover everything from steak tartare to grilled shrimp tacos. It's one of a trio of eateries (along with Sassata and grab-and-go concept Go Go) within a 10,000-square-foot complex which includes a covered pavilion anchored by artist Daniel Arsham's 18-foot-tall sculpture Moving Figure. And since it's a pub, expect to find a curated list of whiskeys, 20 + beers on draft, wine and specialty cocktails as well as an ample number of flat screens tuned into whatever games the crowd wants to watch. Another reason to come? There's brunch on offer every Saturday and Sunday until 4 in the afternoon. Meaning that you don't have to wake up early to get your fill of shrimp & grits, chorizo chilaquiles and blueberry pancakes.

Recommended for Dallas Design District's Best Restaurants because: Wheelhouse is the perfect place to go for a casual meal or late-night bite.

Ilene's expert tip: Keep an eye on Facebook for food/drink specials and events. Wheelhouse offers complimentary valet parking.

Read more about Wheelhouse →

Sassetta Dallas
Photo courtesy of Sassetta Dallas

Ultra-thin crust pizzas, homemade pastas and a selection of small plates rule at this casual-chic Design District hot spot. It's the "Italian by way of California" sibling restaurant to Wheelhouse and Go Go (all owned by Headington Companies) and also shares the same outdoor pavilion. As far as the menu goes, expect to find everything from salumi to crudos to ragu Bolognese, goat cheese agnolotti–and the crowd fave– burnt honey pizza. To drink, there's Italian cocktails, draft beer and an extensive selection of Italian wines. The prices are easy on the wallet (food selections are all under $20) and the restaurant offers fast-casual breakfast and lunch, too.

Recommended for Dallas Design District's Best Restaurants because: Excellent and reasonably priced Italian food in a lively setting, what's not to love?

Ilene's expert tip: Sassetta takes a limited number of online bookings in order to accommodate walk-in guests. There's also bar seating available on a first come, first served.

Read more about Sassetta Dallas →

Rodeo Goat Ice House
Photo courtesy of Rodeo Goat

This Fort Worth based burger and beer emporium (by the same people behind the Meddlesome Moth) is known for pushing the burger boundaries by tricking out its patties with an array of unique accoutrements. The menu features around sixteen burgers with toppings that run the gamut from candied bacon and grilled peaches to brisket chili, corn chips and fried eggs. Be sure to order one of the crazy cocktails offered here, like the one made with moonshine and tang. Though the place is always bustling, diners can still find plenty of spots to hunker down with their burgers: either inside at communal tables or in a beer garden that has a prime view of the Trinity Strand Trail.

Recommended for Dallas Design District's Best Restaurants because: Rodeo Goat dishes out the most unique and savory burgers in the DFW metroplex.

Ilene's expert tip: The Goat offers happy hour from 4-7 p.m. Mon-Fri, and five beer buckets for the price of four all the time.

Read more about Rodeo Goat Ice House →

The Meddlesome Moth
Photo courtesy of Meddlesome Moth

The district started becoming known as foodie destination in 2010 when this popular gastropub flew in offering a solid lineup of brews,(over 100 global varieties) and a menu full of gourmet grub. Food-wise, you'll find a unique assortment of dishes that range from Prince Edward Island mussels, prepared four different ways-- to bacon lollipops with maple hollandaise, beef bone marrow with salsa verde and rabbit pot pie. Not only is the menu eclectic, but the decor is as well. The handsomely decked out space, located in a former tile showroom, features floors made from a hodgepodge of tile samples (leftover from its previous occupant) as well as a triage of stained glass windows depicting Jerry Lee Lewis, Chuck Berry, and Elvis. In addition to the massive, and we mean massive-- selection of beer, the Moth also serves wine and craft cocktails.

Recommended for Dallas Design District's Best Restaurants because: The Meddlesome Moth is arguably the best gastropub in Dallas and offers an incredible selection of brews and bites.

Ilene's expert tip: There's always some type of event going on, from new beers being tapped to pairing dinners and daily specials. Stay in-the-know by stalking the Moth's Facebook and Twitter feeds.

Read more about The Meddlesome Moth →

The Charles
Photo courtesy of The Charles

One of the Design District's most recent additions is The Charles, a renaissance-chic eatery featuring a lineup of housemade pastas and wood-fire-grilled fish and steak. Owners Chas Martin and Chef J Chastain use classic Italian fare as inspiration for the menu, but the dishes stray from the traditional. Expect to see the likes of risotto made with ancient grains (farro, quinoa, and kamut), fennel crusted pork chops and olive oil poached halibut with broccolini pesto. Must-haves include the wood-fired oysters, any of the grilled vegetables, and the ricotta gnudi with brown butter honey. Wine lovers take note: this is the only place in town where you can order Billecart-Salmon Champagne by the glass.

Recommended for Dallas Design District's Best Restaurants because: The Charles is a good place to go when you want reasonably priced, upscale food in a stunning setting.

Ilene's expert tip: Walk-ins are welcome but it's best to make a reservation. The restaurant also offers free valet parking.

Read more about The Charles →

SER Steak + Spirits
Photo courtesy of SER Steak + Spirits

With its location on the twenty-seventh floor of the Hilton Anatole hotel, the views from SER (pronounced sear) are, as you might expect, stunning. And if the views alone don't wow you, then the 26 oz prime porterhouse drenched in lemon-rosemary butter surely will. Carnivores can also find 45-day aged prime ribeyes served with tomato chutney and hollandaise, venison loins with vanilla bordelaise and Guinness braised-chocolate glazed wagyu ribs. Oenophiles will appreciate the 600-bottle wine menu, which comes listed on an iPad with a searchable database. Save space for desserts, there's a tres leches sponge cake calling your name.

Recommended for Dallas Design District's Best Restaurants because: SER is one of the city's most romantic dining spots with unbeatable views of the Dallas skyline.

Ilene's expert tip: SER offers food and drink specials during Happy Hour–Monday thru Friday from 5-6:30 p.m.. Be sure to park with the valet and have the restaurant validate your ticket.

Read more about SER Steak + Spirits →


Meet Ilene Jacobs

As a perpetual wanderer, foodie freak and wannabe chef, Ilene is always on the lookout for the best places to see, eat, drink and sleep. When she's not writing about the latest happenings in...  More About Ilene