After closing their doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the iconic subterranean restaurant in downtown Dallas, Dakota’s Steakhouse, is reopening under new ownership. This July, Meredith McEneny is resurrecting the restaurant’s three-decade-long history and legacy.
Dakota’s Steakhouse, the storied underground staple of Downtown dining, is revived by Meredith McEneny, the new sole owner who recently assumed controlling interest. Many Dallasites are familiar with the McEneny name due to her husband, Tim McEneny, a local restauranteur with years of hospitality experience under his belt.
“For the past 10 years, I’ve supported Tim with accounting and payroll duties for his companies. I thought it time to get involved in this industry wearing a different hat. I saw the closing of Dakota’s as an opportunity to do just that. I remember celebrating special occasions at Dakota’s when I attended SMU, and so many of us have made fond memories in the underground restaurant dating back decades,” says sole owner Meredith McEneny. “Tim put a lot of time and effort into Dakota’s when he was involved prior to 2020, and I hope to not let all of that go to waste. I’m excited to bring back a treasured place where we can return to lots of laughter, good times and great food.”
Tim McEneny has notably created many Dallas concepts such as Jalisco Norte, obar, Dish Preston Hollow, Front Room Tavern, and Cedar Grove. Most recently, in late 2019, he opened Sloane’s Corner, named after the McEneny’s youngest daughter, Sloane, and in 2020 launched Pizza Leila, a ghost kitchen for Sicilian-style pizza, named after their eldest daughter, Leila. Though Meredith recently gained ownership of Dakota’s Steakhouse, Tim was hired by Lincoln Property Corporation in 2009 as managing partner.
“I’m so proud that Meredith has decided to venture into the hospitality world and will bring Dakota’s back to life,” raves Tim McEneny. “We’re truly a restaurateur family now with me, Meredith, and even our daughters having restaurants with their monikers.”
Dakota’s Steakhouse has been a downtown Dallas dining icon for over 37 years. Dakota’s unique underground location has a fascinating backstory that lent to its unique history—once occupied by the First Dallas Baptist Church, a clause in the deed prohibited any future owner from selling alcohol on former church grounds. When the property company bought the space, they were determined to have a restaurant anchor their international headquarters. A loophole was discovered – “on the grounds” does not include “below ground,” so the land was excavated, and the restaurant was born.
Descend 18 feet underground in a canopied glass elevator, accessed from street level, for a culinary experience unlike any other. The American steakhouse offers an expansive 1,800 square foot subterranean courtyard allowing patrons to dine al fresco and enjoy a New Orleans-inspired exterior space. This cool oasis is complete with a 20 foot, 5-tiered granite water wall, multi-tiered landscaping, lava rock fire pit, and black granite bar. Dakota’s below-ground patio has long been considered one of the city’s most romantic dining spots.
From black and white photographs, to the hand-cut Italian Carrera marble, dark-wood paneling, and New Orleans-inspired gas lamps, McEneny intends on saving the restaurant’s historic dining room and patio. The female restauranteur plans to invest substantially in a complete overhaul of the kitchen before the scheduled opening in July. Customers can expect Dakota’s same classic culinary approach, being that the best steaks come from the best cut and quality from renowned beef purveyors, Allen Brothers.
Patrons will enjoy dining on dry-aged, corn and grain-fed USDA Prime steaks such as a 10-ounce filet mignon to a 14-ounce New York strip or 32-ounce Dry-Aged Tomahawk. Not to be missed is the seafood selection featuring seafood towers, oysters, and lobster tails imported fresh from Boston and Portland.
Dakota’s Steakhouse is located at 600 North Akard St., Dallas, Texas 75201. Dakota’s Steakhouse plans to reopen in July 2021.