“I thought it was a shame they closed their doors, being such an iconic restaurant in Dallas,” says McEneny, who has for years helped her husband in the restaurant business but stepped up to take on this project. “So we saw the opportunity and thought we would grab it and run with it. Having all of these phone calls and text messages come in about how excited diners are that we’re opening just made us feel that much better about our decision.”
The space underwent a major restoration and renovation over the past year; the dining room maintains the same classic New Orleans vibe as it did before, only finely polished. The patio and bar have been updated. But, the most significant changes were to the kitchen; all of the appliances were gutted and replaced.
“It was a 37-year-old kitchen,” Kang says, “we had to do some good investing into it.”
Another major change is the menu; in part, at least. Diners will still find steaks sourced from Allen Brothers, but Kang wanted to offer more options like seafood and pasta.
At a recent media preview dinner, we started the journey with one of their signature cocktails. The Backhanded Compliments is Dakota’s version of a French 75 made with Still Austin rye gin, Dolin blanc and lemon oil. A lighter, fruitier choice is the Paradise Found, made with Zephyr gin and prosecco, with touches of strawberry and lemon. For a fair mix of bold and sweet, we recommend the New York Nights, with A.D. Laws four-grain bourbon, red wine and clarified lemon. You can’t go wrong with their Hog’s Head Old Fashioned, made with “one month’s patience.” For red wine, try a glass from the award-winning vineyard Reddy on the Texas High Plains.
There are salads and soups, but why take up precious space when you can nibble appetizers like goat cheese en croute, Wagyu beef tartare and roasted bone marrow served with a side of braised oxtail and beet marmalade, reminiscent of a meaty jam? Thin slices of bread slathered with the buttery marrow and topped with the marmalade are magnificent.
As for main courses, Dakota’s diners will find the steakhouse’s classics, like their filet mignon, which is a must-have with the signature Dakota’s sauce (equally as good with the au poivre). Ribeye and Wagyu steaks are available at market price. Dakota’s beef Wellington is an eight-ounce filet with mushroom duxelles and prosciutto, wrapped in a crispy puff pastry.
There’s a cured hamachi crudo, oysters, a shellfish platter and a Dakota’s seafood platter that we didn’t see but would probably turn heads.
After a 16-month hiatus, Dakota’s return is one that is very much welcome in Dallas. With new leadership and the talented chef Kang, Dakota’s maintains the same character for which it’s known and loved and tastes better than ever.
“We just want this restaurant to create more and more memories within the Dallas community,” Kang says. “We’ve had people who came in here and got engaged and celebrated several occasions here. We'd love for their children and grandchildren to come here and make memories of their own.”
Dakota’s Steakhouse. 600 N. Akard St. (Downtown). Open for lunch 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Open for happy hour 4 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. Open for dinner 5 to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Closed Sunday.