Ten Essential Places to Eat and Drink near American Airlines Center

Heading to American Airlines Center at Victory Park for a Mavericks game, a Dallas Stars match up or perhaps a concert? Then chances are good that you’re going to want to do some eating and drinking before the big event. And if the idea of snacking on over-priced junk food doesn’t cut it, then you’re in luck as some of the city’s prime eating destinations are within walking distance (or a 5-minute car ride) from the Center.

Within Victory Park, you’ll find Moroccan cuisine at Medina Oven & Bar, wood-fired pizzas at Olivella's Neo Pizza Napoletana, and all-day breakfasts, burgers, Tex-Mex and pretty much anything you might be craving at BuzzBrews Kitchen.

A little further down the road in the Harwood District lies Happiest Hour, a popular hot spot boasting upscale bar bites, cocktails and amazing skyline views. There’s also Saint Ann, a trendy eatery with modern American fare and a fabulous patio to boot. And next to Saint Ann is Mercat Bistro, a casual restaurant showcasing French-European classics like duck confit and steak frites.

In the mood for a fiesta? Then Meso Maya, a colorful, sprawling downtown cantina should fit the bill. Or perhaps a swanky surf and turf dinner is more your style? Then look no further than Ocean Prime, located in Uptown.

And for those who may be interested in taking the light rail to the AAC, it’s a straight shot from Ellen's Southern Kitchen and Bar in the Historic West End. Another reason to make Ellen’s your go-to place before the event is that this place rocks when it comes to Southern-style cooking.

Keep reading to find out about more places to hit up around the AAC. Pro tip: Try to reserve in advance if you are stretched for time.

Ocean Prime-Dallas
Photo courtesy of Ocean Prime


If you want to take your pre-event dinner up a level, you couldn't pick a better place to go than Ocean Prime, a sprawling surf 'n' turf spot located a half-mile from the AAC in Uptown's Rosewood Court. From the ultra-swish surrounds (think modern American supper club: rich woods, black leather banquettes, mood lighting, a waterfall wall and patio fire pits) to the service and the offerings, everything is top-notch and with a high price tag to match. Fortunately, those who aren't on expense accounts can take advantage of a theater menu ($55 for two-courses–served Monday-Friday from 4 to 6 p.m.) which includes a starter and 8-ounce filet with choice of surf and sides. For something more casual, the restaurant's lounge features upscale bar bites– like blackened fish tacos, sliders, sushi and shellfish. Even better, come during happy hour (weekdays from 4-7 p.m.) when you can score small plates and sushi for $5 off.

Victory Park
Buzzbrews Kitchen
Photo courtesy of Megan Estep Belmore


An extensive beverage list of brews, lattes, craft beer and wine, plus a stellar food menu that includes everything from omelets to burgers, steaks and fish, makes Buzzbrews a better-than-average coffee house. And as far as handy locations go, this place is a hop, skip and a jump away from the AAC. Which means, you can eat, drink, pay your bill and walk back to the center in 10 minutes or less. But it's not only the location that's handy, the hours are too. The restaurant is open 24/7, so you can stop in for some solid eats before or after the show. Did we mention that they serve all day breakfasts and offer daily happy hour food specials? Better still, most everything on the menu is priced under $15.

Ellen's Southern Kitchen and Bar
Photo courtesy of Ellen's Southern Kitchen and Bar


This favorite West End eatery is a classic for big plates of hearty comfort-food standards, ranging from fried chicken and chicken fried steak to sandwiches, salads and burgers. But by far, the thing Ellen's is most famous for is its grits (after all, the restaurants motto is "Grits Rule"). You'll find cheesy Cajun shrimp grits, deep fried grits, and even eggs Benedict grits. And what's not to like about a restaurant that serves breakfast at all hours of the day? And not only is this place easy on the wallet ($20 or less), you can also park and ride the Dart light-rail orange line straight to Victory Park.

Moxie's Grill & Bar
Photo courtesy of Moxie's Grill & Bar


This popular Canadian export has taken Dallas by storm since it recently set up its first stateside location in Uptown's Crescent Court, which happens to be a mere 5-minute drive (or 15-minute walk) from the AAC. Best of all, you can stop in here both before or after the event since it stays open until midnight during the week and 2 a.m. on weekends. As far as the menu goes, there's something for everyone here, from sushi cones, nachos and Korean fried cauliflower to Thai red curry bowls, beef vindaloo, burgers, tacos and steaks. And yes, they also churn out a killer rendition of poutine. Don't sleep on the bar's eclectic selection of house cocktails, whiskies or Canadian brews. Try to hit this place after 9 p.m. when you can score a Moscow Mule for only $8.

Happiest Hour
Photo courtesy of Happiest Hour


Home to Dallas' largest rooftop terrace, this massive restaurant-bar has it all: killer skyline views; back yard games, solid bites (think: nacho towers, artisan sandwiches, flatbreads, steaks and crab mac & cheese) and a stellar beverage list that includes family-style cocktails, wines on tap and over fifty selections of beer. Not to mention, this spot is within stumbling distance of the AAC (a 10-minute walk) and stays open until midnight during the week and 2 a.m. on weekends. Another reason to come? It offers complimentary valet parking (hint, a free place to park during the event)–which gives you a good excuse to stop by for a quick drink or bite both before and after the game.

Meso Maya Downtown
Photo courtesy of Meso Maya


We can't think of a better way to kick start the night than downing top-shelf margaritas and Mexican fare at this festive cantina. Located at the edge of downtown (only a ten-minute walk to the AAC), Meso Maya draws its inspiration from the cuisine of interior Mexico, which means you'll find everything from mole poblano enchiladas to achiote-rubbed white bass, cochinita pibil and adobo marinated brisket tacos. Speaking of tacos, there's a taco-to-go window (La Ventana) adjacent to the restaurant that serves burritos, quesadillas, salads and tacos loaded with everything from chunks of braised pork to beef tongue. Whatever you choose, you haven't lived until you've had one of the chef's avocado margaritas. Trust us.

Mercat Bistro
Photo courtesy of Mercat Bistro Facebook


Just steps from Saint Ann's, this laid-back bistro is a go-to spot any time of the day, but it's an especially good option to consider when you're looking for a reliably good meal before an event at the AAC. And though it bills itself as a European contemporary bistro–everything about Mercat– from the menu items scrawled across the mirrors over the bar to the snug marble tabletops and charming retro decor, is decidedly and gloriously Gallic. Kick the night off with a bit of steak tartare or merguez sausage with fried polenta, then consider moving on to moule frites or coq au vin. And then, if you're like us, you won't leave here without dessert. Best pick? The shooter tray, which comes with shots of tiramisu, chocolate mousse, lemon curd custard and white chocolate panna cotta.

Saint Ann Restaurant and Bar
Photo courtesy of Saint Ann Restaurant and Bar


Anchoring the ground floor of a renovated circa-1927 school house, Saint Ann is arguably one of Dallas' most popular places to hang out. Sure, it churns out a terrific lineup of modern American fare (crab cakes, hickory smoked short rib flatbread, chicken fried rib eye, roasted scallops and grilled quail) and the libations (specialty cocktails, wine flights, craft beer) aren't too shabby either. But the biggest draw here is the patio. And a stunning patio it is, complete with lush greenery, fire pits, life size chess sets and twinkling lights. It's about as close to an oasis as you can get while still being smack dab in the middle of the city. Speaking of close, the restaurant happens to be an easy 9-minute jaunt away from the AAC. Try to swing by for happy hour during the week, between 4 and 6:30 p.m., when apps, cocktails, beer and wine can be had for $3–$6.

Victory Park
Medina Oven & Bar
Photo courtesy of Medina Oven & Bar


Moroccan-Mediterranean cuisine is what's going down at Medina Oven, a sexy, dimly lit spot tucked away in the urban area of Victory Park. The menu is filled with everything from dips, filo cigars and wood-fired pizzas (think kefta, caramelized onions and mozzarella) to brochettes, pastillas and tagines. And we haven't even gotten to the desserts. The orange blossom créme brulée is to die for. Ditto for the chocolate cake. Don't skip the booze options either. The caramel-fig martini (Grey Goose, fresh lemon, roasted fig & caramel swirl) is calling your name. Fair warning: Make a reservation before you go, this place is extremely popular.

Olivella's Neo Pizza Napoletana
Photo courtesy of Olivella's Neo Pizza Napoletana


Sure, Olivella's is right around the corner from American Airlines Center, but that's just part of the reason to come, the other is that this place turns out seriously good pizza. In fact, these wood-fired orbs are so heavenly that Food Network star Rachael Ray declared them "The most incredible pizzas you'll ever eat." What makes the pizzas here so good are the stellar crusts, which come in a thin and chewy Neapolitan style or in an ultra-thin and crispy Roman style. Regardless of which crust you choose, you can't go wrong with any of the house specialty pies. And the goods don't stop with pizza, there's everything from charcuterie platters and risotto cakes to artisanal salads, rustic sandwiches and house-made pastas. You'll probably want to save space for dessert, the Nutella mouse is phenomenal.


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