by Steven Doyle
Generations have celebrated certain restaurants in Dallas, enjoying the cuisine that made Dallas strong and certainly has given it character. Today we pay homage to a select handful of these Dallas classics and hope you will continue to enjoy them as time honors them with continued success.
I recall some old favorites including Zeider Zee, The Beefeater, Prince of Burgers and Southern Kitchen. Perhaps you have some memories of restaurants that come to mind.
The Adolphus Hotel opened in 1912, with a restaurant and bar that followed in 1916. It was originally named the Bambooland Room, and eventually evolved into the French Room opened by the Anheuser-Bush family as the first posh hotel in Dallas, all in the Beaux Arts style.
Originally founded in 1918, El Fenix moved to McKinney Avenue in 1925. Powerful, inexpensive margaritas and beef enchiladas drew Dallasites to this mainstay in our history.
Local barbecue legend Sonny Bryan’s was founded way back in 1918, though the “original” Inwood location didn’t begin serving until 1958.
Steins Bakery is the oldest bakery in Dallas and was opened in 1940 by Otto and Julia Stein. The use of fantastic and wholesome ingredients and the vigilance to their unwavering original recipes, Steins is a time lapse back to a day of simplicity. Purchased by Otto & Julia Stein in the 1940’s, Stein’s bakery is one of the oldest bakeries in North Texas. Owedia and & Juan Alvarado, the current owners, are the second set of owners that were also employees of the bakery. When I hear Stein’s I immediately envision petit fours.
The Dairy-ette drive-in is the Dallas institution serving burgers, onions rings and house-made root beer in the same fashion since 1946. Think of how well that grill is seasoned. The joy sparked on each face tells the tale as each guest take their first bite of a burger of an era gone by.
Campisi’s original location hails back to 1946 and has been serving eager diners ever since. There was a day, and not all that long ago, when lines would form outside the restaurant telling passer-bys that the lasagna was piping hot and ready to serve. The iconic oval shaped pizzas have been devoured by generations.
The oldest family-owned Mexican restaurant in Texas, Tupinamba was first opened back in 1947. It’s moved several times, but still maintains it’s Tex Mex roots and the puffy taco.
When you say Old Warsaw you might think Lobster Thermidor and chocolate souffles enhanced only by the wine and strolling violinists. These are images that have progressed since 1948 and enjoyed by Texans in tall hats and fast talking attorneys willing to settle bets using oil wells as chips. A true slice of a time of elegance gone by yet still happening on Maple Avenue.
If you think of big biscuits, chicken fried steak and eggs and mile-high pie then you are possibly envisioning Dallas’ own Norma’s Cafe which opened in 1956 during a happy time of the Red Scare and bebopping teens with big hair. The original located near downtown in the white flight neighborhood of Oak Cliff on Highway 80 offered its guests a slice of Americana in the form of meatloaf and mashed potatoes and still does to this day.
Karl Kuby founded his Snider Plaza namesake Snider Plaza back in 1961, which has thrilled residents with a market, a restaurant counter, and even game processing.
Jimmy’s Food Store has been offering Italian staples since it originally opened its doors in the tiny Dallas Little Italy in 1966. This section of Dallas was once host to a slew of Italian immigrants who had shops lining the boulevard offering meat, flowers and baked goods. Jimmy’s offers much of what the Italian family might need today; a great selection of meats, pastas, sauces and the largest selection of Italian wine in the state. All this and the best sandwiches in Dallas still sold at their tiny deli in the back of the store.
One of our favorite Tex Mex restaurants is still Herrera’s, which continues to be family owned since opening its doors in 1972 on Maple Avenue where the Grapevine Bar now resides. The same recipes are being used from the complimentary bean soup and thick tortillas to the hefty beef enchiladas that still satisfy a craving.
The oldest continuous running Chinese restaurant in Dallas is Royal China which opened its doors in 1974. Now host to some of the best dumplings in North Texas, including our favorite soup dumpling, Royal China has this deserved distinction of being crowded during every meal service they are open.
The McKinney Avenue building that houses S&D Oyster Co. was originally built in the 1890’s as a grocery store. In 1976 Herb and Mary Kay Story turned it into a Louisiana-influenced seafood restaurant and still serve tasty oysters and seafood gumbo.