There are few fields more dominated by good ol' boys than the steakhouse business. Thirty years ago, when Dee Lincoln co-founded the iconic steakhouse Del Frisco's, that was even more true. Fast forward to today and Lincoln is one of the most visible figures in Dallas' upscale dining scene, with a successful and growing steak and burger concept under her belt.
A few years ago, Lincoln decided that it was time to reinvigorate her decades-old brand by opening up a champagne and martini room at what was then called Cowboys Stadium. "When I made the decision to retire and move on, the Bubble Bar at the Stadium opened and I wanted to really grow the Dee Lincoln brand. I was making a big move after 30 years," explained Lincoln. "Before that I was in a non-compete, so I couldn't do steak if I wanted to."
Now that Lincoln can do steak, she's doing a damn fine job. Her Uptown and Plano locations of Dee Lincoln Steak & Burger Bar are slicked-up hybrids of a traditional steakhouse and a trendy burger bar. This isn't the kind of steakhouse where you're going to need a jacket and tie, but the beef is just as Prime. Lincoln sources the beef for her restaurant from Allen Brothers, a Chicago-based company that supplies steaks to many of the country's top steakhouses.
When Dee Lincoln thinks about the perfect steak, a 21-to-28 day wet-aged ribeye comes to mind. "I'm a big ribeye girl, but only if it's cooked on the right grill. I love all the foie gras add-ons and the compound butters and chimichurris, but I really just want that good beef flavor," she says. "My palate recognizes the complexity and flavor of dry-aged steak, but I just prefer the wet-aged prime ribeyes."
Alongside the traditional massive ribeyes and strip steaks, though, you'll find a lot of innovative cuts from Lincoln's young and creative chefs on her menus. "I didn't want to do the traditional steakhouse. I didn't want to do what everybody else is doing, even though I respect all my colleagues," she said. In some ways, this decision was driven by a growing clientele of young food obsessives who Lincoln wanted to "feel as good about eating a gourmet burger next to someone who's eating our all-prime steaks and a drinking a $200 bottle of wine."
And the burgers at Dee Lincoln's aren't run-of-the-mill in any way. Drawing inspiration from Umami Burger and Shake Shack in New York City and Hopdoddy in Austin, Lincoln set out to elevate the burger. "To be honest, the burgers weren't my main focus. I was all about the steaks. I was able to go around and look at all these burger bars like Umami and Shake Shack and figure out what would really resonate in Dallas." Most importantly, though, she had to figure out how to cut, grind, and season a burger that could stand up alongside a menu of prime steaks.
To do that, chefs Juliard Ishizuka and Andrew Powers used a little global influence. "We have a land and sea burger that brings back Louisiana flavors from my own personal background," Lincoln explains. "Our Cowboy Burger has a lot of Texas influence with the molasses and pepper jack. But we have things that are very different and outside the box, like the lamb burger that comes with feta and tandoori ketchup."
As far as the future is concerned, Lincoln has her eyes set on expansion. She didn't open up too much on any specific upcoming locations, but noted that she is looking at the rapid growth in the Dallas suburbs, especially Las Colinas and Southlake. Given Texas' statewide obsession with beef, the possibilities for growth seem just about endless.
— Amy McCarthy