By Steven Doyle
Under the reins of Chef Eric DiStefano Ocho Kitchen and Cocktails has morphed into a fantastic take on the New Mexico plate. His staff roasts fresh Anaheim chiles each day to create these full flavored dishes not too unlike he does at his restaurants in Santa Fe. I made it out to the new restaurant located in Preston Center at Northwest Highway to check out a few of the new menu items up for grabs.
Dallas loves their queso, but I have never been one to order the stuff. It is usually laden with Velveta-style cheese and is a pretty bad turn off. However the queso at Ocho is made with velvety cream sauce with cheese, pico, and chorizo. The ample bowl is served with house made triangles of thick grilled pita-style bread and a load of, again house-made, chips. These chips are thick rounds of delicious fried masa freshly ground each day from corn. A lighter dish is the tequila-lime grilled shrimp served over quinoa. Quinoa is a trend you will see on plates across the city in 2013, so better buck up and enjoy. The stuff is loaded with flavor and a colorful palate to behold. The Baja Fish Tacos may seem ordinary by now, but these babies are a huge plate of taco mess that is difficult to plow through with a single fist. These might be a great first course to share, or for a single very hungry person to enjoy on your own.
The Blue Corn Enchiladas are served in a smallish searing dish arriving bubbling over with cheese and served with your favorite meat stuffing. There is a fried egg option for those wanting even more flavor, if that is even possible.
There are some tried and true dishes available, like the fajitas, which can be ordered with the usual choices of beef or chicken, but Ocho has a wonderful fish option that will make your plate sing. The Monkfish tacos are sublime. Monkfish is considered poor man’s lobster and has the taste and consistency of the crustacean. Check out Ocho each day, or Sunday for Brunch action. Thursday nights the upstairs loft becomes hot action replete with a DJ and some of the most attractive people in Dallas. Ocho Kitchen and Bar | 8411 Preston Rd, Dallas | 214-217-0888.
Restaurant News Bites
The guys behind the very new Bowl and Barrel, an upscale bowling alley/ bar/ cool restaurant, have opened another bar on Ross Avenue across from Three Sheets. The Sunset Lounge is sparsely outfitted, has a small bar menu and serves up some insanely cool drinks. Dominating the drink menu are some throwbacks to the early 1970’s Tiki movement. Get blown away by the Zombie (limit two) which is made with fresh juices and 151 rum for the start to a fantastic evening. If you are new to the place perhaps happy hour is the best way to begin this adventure. All food and drinks are $3 before 7pm.
These same cats will be opening a new venue in Uptown Dallas just across from West Village where the old golfing range sat. The new venue is called the Rustic, and will be a massive music venue. Look for Rustic to open late spring. These same guys are also working a hush-hush dog park in the same area that will boast a bar and people food. Word is it will be a membership situation, so consider this a country club for pups.
What’s Your Favorite Restaurant?
Something I get asked daily is what my favorite restaurant is in Dallas. This changes weekly depending on what is new and exciting, but the current list includes Stephan Pyles new breeding ground Stampede 66 located in downtown Dallas, and Mesa Veracruz in Oak Cliff. Both are rather inexpensive but fun and serve up food their own special way. At Stampede try the chili that they can on site or one of the many taco combinations. This is a destination restaurant for the masses.