Nov 30 2017
Priya Krishna
5 Minutes to read
Welcome to the Dallas Catering and Restaurant Scene

Dallas has been long-celebrated as a land of steakhouses and barbecue spots. But these days, the Dallas catering scene is packed with options and locals are tipping their hats to a little bit of everything. Some chefs are tackling lighter and more creative versions of old favorites while others are playing on the growing international influence. Even fried chicken has taken a starring role on menus as a fierce competitor to the Texas traditions of smoked pork and thick cuts of beef. Here’s a list of the hottest trends in Dallas’s catering and restaurant scene and where to find them.

Poke bowl with tuna and vegetables over rice.

Poke

Poke bowls have left foodies from California to New York in an absolute craze. Traditional poke is marinated raw fish mixed with vegetables and umami-based sauces, served over rice. Picture satisfying your craving with a deconstructed sushi roll in the convenience of a bowl. From Dallas catering joints to specialty shops, the quintessential Hawaiian dish is now popping up on menus all over Texas. “We see a trend toward people wanting true food, and making clean and organic choices,” says Marc Mattox, managing partner of Poke Bop. “Poke fills that void with fast, fresh, on-demand deliciousness.” The best place to try it is at one of the hottest poke spots in town:

Tuna Poke at Texas Catering (Dallas)
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This Dallas catering outfit, whose owners have put in a combined 60-plus years in the business, pushed aside cheeseburger sliders and the Tex-Mex buffet to make room for poke on the menu. Served on crusty crostini, their poke is made of simple sliced tuna topped with ginger and scallions.

Poke Bop Classic Bowl at Poke Bop (Dallas)
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A favorite among the many dedicated poke joints that have opened in Dallas in the past year, Poke Bop pairs big flavors with nutritious ingredients, calling itself a “healthy indulgence”. The Classic Bowl comes with ahi tuna marinated alongside seaweed, cucumber, daikon radish seeds, sesame oil, sesame seeds, and soy sauce. The Green Tea Rice base adds a surprisingly pleasant, floral kick.

Grain bowl with fresh vegetables over quinoa.

Grain Bowls

Diners in the Dallas restaurant scene are looking for gluten-free and vegetable options that are more than just side dishes. Grain bowls are one-pot wonders of everything you need for a well-balanced meal: grain, vegetables, protein and a dressing. They’re the perfect middle ground between a salad and a sandwich — more filling than the former, but lighter than the latter—  and the combination options are endless. Since they’re healthy and filling, they make a good option for a client meeting or a lunch & learn. Here are two of the most popular grain bowls in the city:

Power Grain Bowl at Zoe’s Kitchen (Dallas)

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Zoe’s Kitchen is a longtime favorite for healthy, on-the-go fare inspired by the fresh herb and olive oil-doused Mediterranean cuisine. The restaurant’s catering menu includes a Greek-themed grain bowl, with lentils, quinoa, and farro, house-made tzatziki, feta, cucumber, and dill. Want a little extra? Top your bowl with spicy harissa-coated salmon, or lamb kafta.

Build-Your-Own Grain Bowl Boxed Lunch at Grabbagreen (Dallas)
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A relative newcomer with a focus on speedy, gluten- and GMO-free food, Grabbagreen has quickly taken the Dallas catering scene by storm. One of its smartest lunch options is the Build-Your-Own Grain Bowl Boxed Lunch, which lets customers choose between grains like quinoa noodles and brown rice, plus a protein and a wide array of toppings like carrots, kale, pistachios, red cabbage, and black beans.

Asian vermicelli noodle bowl topped with shrimp and fresh vegetables.

Versatile Noodle Bowls

Another byproduct of the Dallas restaurant scene’s collective obsession with bowl-based meals: noodles are making a big comeback. And it’s not the greasy Lo Mein eaten out of a takeout container — restaurants are serving up refined, flavorful noodle dishes that draw inspiration from all corners of the globe. “Noodles are seen to be this complementary component to most dishes in the world,” says Kevin Luong, owner of the Vietnamese spot, Urban Caphe. “They are so versatile — whether in soups, served as a dried noodle, or stir-fried.” Don’t miss these noodle dishes with their specialty sauces and inventive toppings:

Japanese Steak & Chile Ramen at Pei Wei (Frisco)
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Pei Wei has long been a go-to for Asian food made with whole, preservative-free ingredients. Lately, the chain has been stepping up its noodle game, offering options that go beyond Chow Mein. The most interesting is the Japanese Steak & Chile Ramen, with an egg noodle base and wok-seared steak tossed in spicy Japanese sauce.

Build-Your-Own Vermicelli Bowl at Urban Caphe (Dallas)

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Continuing on in the build-your-own trend, Urban Caphe’s bowl involves a base of the popular thin rice noodle, vermicelli, plus toppings like lemongrass-fried tofu, 5-spice glazed pork, and freshly grilled shrimp. Luong decided to double down on noodles because they are the ideal canvas for unique ingredients and customization. “We have taken extra care in molding our noodle soups and adding different levels of spice, so the customer has the ability to dictate their own version,” he says.

Korean beef tacos with cucumbers and red onion.

Creative Tacos

With it’s proximity to the southern border, Dallas has always regarded its tacos as a dining staple. Taquerias are a surefire bet for catering traditional tacos and tex-mex. But chefs at all kinds of Dallas caterers and restaurants are getting into the taco game and adding eclectic twists like barbecue, raw fish, even gator. Check out these festive tacos with surprising flavors:

Tacos at ssahm BBQ (Dallas)
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Tacos get a Korean twist at ssahm BBQ — the edgy fusion food truck blending flavors from Asia and the American Southwest. Choose between chicken, beef, pork, or tofu, all barbecued Korean-style, then topped with spicy mayo, Korean salsa roja, and a sesame soy vinaigrette salad.

Gator Tacos at Spice Rack  (Burleson)
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Gator is something of a southern tradition, thanks to the reptile’s abundance in the region — and the meat tastes great stuffed inside Spice Rack’s signature tacos. The gator meat soaks up the flavors of the coleslaw, the restaurant’s famous house sauce, pico de gallo, and cilantro perfectly.

Fried chicken tenders in a paper bowl.

Fried Chicken

Move over, smoked meat because it turns out Texans love fried chicken. For ages, chicken was positioned as the boring, healthier answer to beef. But Dallas caterers and restaurants are spicing up their recipes, doting on their chicken with hearty brines and mouth-watering fry. Here are some places in the Dallas restaurant scene where you can find satisfy your craving:

Chicken Tenders at Super Chix (Dallas)
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Cater a platter of up to 100 tenders at Dallas’s Super Chix, a no-frills chicken joint launched in 2014 that takes its bird very seriously. The highlight of the meal is the assortment of sauces that come with your order, including cucumber dill ranch, sweet and smoky, and a fiery Nashville hot sauce.

Love Me Tender Platter at Whistle Britches (Dallas)
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The cleverly named Love Me Tender Platter is a signature offering at Whistle Britches, a southern, home-style Dallas catering outfit specializing in crispy chicken and fluffy biscuits in the heart of Dallas, founded in 2016. Choose between classic sauces like buffalo and honey mustard, and round out your order with a gallon of sweet tea for a down home meal.  

Key Takeaways
  • Though Dallas’s restaurant scene has long been known for its meat-centric fare, health food is on the rise in a big way.
  • Classic catering dishes like tacos and noodles are also getting creative, international-inspired upgrades by Dallas chefs.
  • In spite of all the healthy food making its way into the city, fried chicken will likely remain a Dallas institution.

Looking for catering in Dallas? Check out our list of the 10 Best Dallas Caterers:

Read here

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Written by:

Priya Krishna

Priya Krishna is a food writer, and the author of the college-centric cookbook, Ultimate Dining Hall Hacks. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @PKgourmet

Posted in: Trends in FoodNeed to Know

Tagged with: American, Dallas, Healthy, Mexican, Salads, TX