Restaurants bring new options to the gayborhood

RICH LOPEZ | Staff writer

In the last few months, a number of restaurants have opened their doors in or around the gayborhood. More options for lunch dinner and drinks are never a bad thing. So what’s new in the Oak Lawn restaurant landscape? Glad you asked.

The food scene has seen a small explosion in the area with a spectrum of restaurants and even a French bakery for those necessary carb overloads. Make a date with these new nearby spots.

In the ’hood

Enoteca Italia
3102 Oak Lawn Ave., Ste. 116
Located in the Centrum building, this Italian cuisine restaurant is a mix of upscale and homey, and it is Chef Alban Besiri’s first solo outing. The interior reads both trendy and welcoming, combining both modern and classic elements. Touted as contemporary and affordable, the restaurant currently features dinner service and weekend brunch. The restaurant recently announced lunch service on Fridays.
The menu offers both traditional and elevated Italian favorites, such as its pecorino veal meatball starters and its mascarpone polenta and ragu for the table. Find comfort in its pasta dishes of spaghetti bolognese and lobster fettuccine, but explore deeper flavors in Besiri’s orecchiette salsiccia — a plate of rigatoni and pork salsiccia with roasted sweet red onions and oven-roasted red bell peppers to enhance the overall taste. The restaurant also serves main entrees, seafood and a small selection of pizzas. Great for date night or a family dinner.

Mondo Pizza and Co.
4436 Lemmon Ave.
This new spot may change up your pizza nights. This fast-casual joint mixes “sassy, globally-inspired flavor and ingredient combinations” for some next-level slices. Sure, it has its Lemmon Ave. Loaded Pepperoni pizza for traditionalists. But more adventurous types may find its menu curious and interesting, with its burrata and pickled pear pizza or its West Bank pizza made with za’atar spice, fresh mozzarella, arugula, artichokes, grape tomatoes, cucumber, kalamata olives, feta cheese, lemon and olive oil vinaigrette.
You can always build your own and grab a side of cheesy bread as well.

Village Baking Co. Boulangerie
3218 Oak Lawn Ave.
If we ever needed an excuse to sound faux fancy, this is it. Just saying “boulangerie” out loud makes you feel continental, but you only have to head over to Oak Lawn, across from Snooze and Parigi, for this taste of European-inspired baked goods. The fourth location of Village Baking Co. serves up freshly-made croissants, breads and rolls on the daily. What makes the difference here is the yeast-leavened dough with added ingredients that add just a little bit more to the texture and flavor. Grab a morning snack with coffee, a sandwich for lunch or even a patisserie selection for your sweet tooth.

Down the street

1617 Hi Line Drive
The buzz has been going on a while for this new Design District dining spot. The NYC-based hospitality group Major Food Group opened this fifth location at the end of March. Its reputation stems from its first location in Greenwich Village as well as its menu of flavorful red-sauced dishes. The website doesn’t yet include Dallas information, but based on its New York location, the menu is understated in design but with elegant dishes to be served. Lunch, dinner, wine and cocktails are all featured menus on the site.

The Mexican
1401 Turtle Creek Blvd.
Googling this restaurant can be a challenge. Tip: Search “The Mexican Dallas” and that will get you there (or, you know, see the website above). This Design District spot was opened in early March by Roberto Gonzalez Alcala and Chef Rodrigo Lomeli. The menu is inspired by Alcala’s passion for true Mexican fare and offers a fascinating menu of grilled dishes, seafood, tacos, enchiladas and more — but with more complex, heritage flavors not seen in the more familiar Tex-Mex cuisine. The restaurant also features an eclectic tequila wall and tasting table, a cigar lounge and multi-level, picturesque outdoor patios.

Wits Steakhouse
1628 Oak Lawn Ave. Ste. 110
Dallas isn’t short on steakhouses, but this Design District spot brings some new flavor profiles to the table. Wits opened in December and has since then been introducing South African-inspired dishes to its patrons. Located in the former Oak restaurant space, Wits is open for dinner only, serving South African beef jerky or biltong, Oyster Rockefeller and Wagyu meatballs for starters, with entrees such as New Zealand Lamb Rack, the chicken dish South African braai, lobster dumplings and even a sushi menu.

Coming soon

Casa Rosa
5622 Lemmon Ave.
This takeover of the old El Fenix building has been big news. This former Park Cities Tex-Mex favorite is slated to open this month. The space is under renovation, with plans to bring its original murals to the space as well as a pink-colored ambiance in homage to the owners’s old family homes. Revived by its original owner, Gilbert Cuellar, the restaurant morphed into Cantina Laredo and then ultimately closed in 2013 where Trader Joe’s is now is at Inwood Village. Folks can now discover — or rediscover — its classic menu of enchiladas, fajitas, rice and beans plus some potential new items.