Dallas Dining Was Still Special in 2020

A few months ago, when it was relentlessly sunny and conference rooms were being held outside among cardinals and wildcats, I attended an editorial meeting with my colleagues at D Magazine in Kathy Wise’s backyard. It was time to talk about December.

The last edition of the year is usually the “Best New Restaurants” feature. But 2020 is not common. While we usually talked about the most exciting restaurant openings of the year, we really wanted – had to – rethink our approach because we didn’t dine the same way. Yet in a year of business challenges, so many brave souls brought Dallas new, exciting things to eat, from vegetable sausages (you’d see that at Graham Dodds Elm & Good) to a range of places selling Nashville hot Chicken. We didn’t want to let them go unnoticed.

Oh, we noticed.

We noticed pop-ups were blooming, taquerias waved Birria de Res, bagels were due for their fair and Detroit was finally getting a pizza representation. This is what Dallas’ Best New Bites is all about: nodding at the true determination and fiery determination it takes to do something new in 2020. The cover story is online today.

We also found that we are unable to film a huge restaurant feature the same way – hopping from place to place amid a pandemic. So we went back to Kathy’s backyard for our photo shoot (the real 2020 MVP, by the way). There I met D-photographer Elizabeth Lavin, Kathy and a small crew with Texas cheese and Sunchoke pie in tow. The people from Encina put the finishing touches on the dishes while co-owner Javier Garcia del Moral and chef Iñaki Beltrán, masked, handed out the paella and pinchos. Our meal menagerie was almost complete.

Between pickups and the chef-delivered bites, there was one last thing for the pizza part of the shoot: 8 mile pies. While Lavin was taking pictures of Bao from Krio, I drove to Plano, where 8 Mile Pies were stocked for his weekly popup at Neighborhood Goods. I sped up Central, flew to NG and watched two square pizzas bake – nothing but the freshest for our readers! – and zoomed it back in to Oak Cliff. If I were a pizza delivery boy, I would have expected a big tip. I will be content with your eyeballs for a beautifully crafted Best New Bites feature realized in an incredibly challenging year.

Read it and eat something new. There’s a lot out there.

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