It’s well-known in hospitality that opening at the end of the year is less than ideal. And yet, this year brings a bouquet of grand holiday openings. What’s up with that? It’s been a year of construction delays because of continuing supply chain slowdowns, labor shortages in construction, and slow permitting from municipalities. In short, every space by every restauranteur we’ve spoken to in 2023 has taken longer than expected to open.
First up is Shodo, a sushi spot in the Design District that is open starting today, December 19. The menu features classic sushi and modern interpretations, according to a press release. Translated into dishes, that means bites including wagyu beef tataki sashimi made with a seared A5 Tataki, mango madai crudo with yellowtail, a bluefin tuna tower, the Shodo roll with lobster, A5 Wagyu, and a truffle scallion, and inari (sushi with sushi rice stuffed inside deep-fried tofu pockets).
Also tantalizing is Cenzo’s Pizza, which has been under construction since May 2022 and finally opens for lunch and dinner on December 19, according to an Instagram post. It’s inside a converted 100-year-old Mobil gas station in Winnetka Heights. Owner Chad Dolezal is a native Dallasiste who ran El Arbol, Troublemaker, and the Hightower in Austin. CultureMap Austin reports he moved back to town in 2019 to open a spin-off of the latter. Its menu is Neapolitan-style pies (with one New Haven option), Italian deli sandwiches, salads, and boards with a mix of mostly local beers and a few national faves. The wine list is brief but incredible for a pizza place in a gas station.
Then there’s Columbian Country Club, which will open on Ross Ave. in East Dallas on December 22. Owners Brian Rutt, Justin Kallhoff, and Jonathan Rosenberg, partners in Alice, the Asian-fusion restaurant which is just around the corner, were inspired to create it in honor of a 19th-century Jewish country club of the same name. The mission on its website is also “to capture the essence of New York City’s golden era and the timeless allure of the martini.” So, obviously, the martini menu rolls deep, with other classic cocktails and a curated array of Champagnes and wines featured. The bites also veer towards classic meets homey. There’s caviar served Texas style, a parmesan bagel, and Nonnie’s Doozie (a turkey pastrami sandwich on marbled rye).
Jack Ruby’s Saloon in the West End is new; things are soft this week, and it will host a grand opening on New Year’s Eve. The spot is owned by Joe Groves, the man behind Ellen’s in the same neighborhood, CultureMap Dallas reports. The idea is to address the lack of places to hear country bands play in Dallas proper (for the folks who are too chicken to head to Deep Ellum and check out Adair’s, presumably). It will feature live music most nights and serve lunch and dinner daily. The bar’s collection of whiskeys runs deep in honor of its namesake.
That’s a heaping helping of new options to check out before the new year hits.
Update: Tuesday, December 19, 2023: 3:43 p.m.: This article has been updated to reflect the location of Columbia Country Club.