clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile
A table with lots of decor holds a silver tray with a flat iron steak covered in onions, to its right is a plate with a smothered steak, and above and to the left is a bowl of salad.
Dig into plates of Wagyu beef at Komodo.
Ashley Estave

Celeb Favorite Komodo Arrives in Dallas With Miami Nightlife Cachet

Its impossibly cool and connected co-owner is determined to win the hearts of Dallasites

A Miami nightlife staple has made its way to Dallas. Komodo, which is now open in the Epic, a mixed-use building that may or may not be in Deep Ellum, marries Asian cuisine with electronic and pop music.

Komodo is part of a small galaxy of “clubstaurants” developed by David Grutman and Chris Cuomo’s Groot Hospitality. In Miami, Groot owns the original Komodo, Swan, the Key Club, Papi Steak, and Strawberry Moon, which multi-platinum music producer Pharrell Williams is a partner in. And then there’s Gekkō, which Grutman co-owns Puerto Rican rapper Bad Bunny. Grutman is partnering with Williams again to open a resort near the Bahamas called Somewhere Else.

David Grutman and Bad Bunny pose on a step and repeat with a wall of palm leaves behind them.
David Grutman and Bad Bunny.
Alexander Tamargo/Getty Images

As Grutman’s resume may suggest, music plays a big role in his restaurants. “We love when people are singing along to the songs or grooving around,” says Grutman. “We like to create energy in our restaurants, but not to the level where you can’t have a conversation with someone, because that’s not a great experience.”

Of course, Komodo’s opening doesn’t come without controversy. With the influx of high-end restaurants by out-of-towners into the Epic, including La Neta y Cocina (with Mark Wahlberg at it’s opening) and Harper’s, some critics say these lounge-style eateries are pushing out local businesses and increasing rent in the neighborhood. The former no-man’s land just north of the Good Latimer Expressway and east of Downtown has seen its reputation established by no-holds-barred party joint Bottled Blonde and all its controversies in the past handful of years. Meanwhile, the Deep Ellum Foundation is pushing to get established local restaurants into the neighborhood, and to broaden the boundaries of where Deep Ellum starts and ends just a little.

A restaurant interior with light wood topped tables, grey furniture, and red accent walls and decor.
Catch a vibe inside Komodo Dallas.
Alex Gonzalez

“I like to think of [the Epic] as the ‘in-between area’ of Downtown Dallas and Deep Ellum,” says Grutman. “We’re not too much in the mix of things, but we’re part of the community. And I think it’s cool, because it’s an emerging area.”

One of Komodo’s Texas-exclusive cocktails is the Pretty Fly for a Cacti, a spin on a spicy margarita, flavored with Sriracha that is served in a festive, ceramic cactus. As for starters, the moneybag dumplings are a lush arrangement of four orange dumplings stuffed with pork, shrimp, tobiko, and sealed off with gold leaf. And a star on the starters menus is the lemon pepper quail, an exclusive to the Dallas location. The lemon pepper quail is coated with a crispy crunchy shell with a light wasabi flavoring, as well as a side of habanero honey.

A pair of cactus-shaped glasses hold heaping ice, dragonfruit garnish, and a cocktail.
One of Komodo’s exclusive Dallas menu items, Pretty Fly for a Cacti.
Ashley Estave
A plate of roast duck is on the left, and to the right is a bamboo container with pancakes. A sauce sits between.
Roast duck with cucumber, scallion, pancakes, and hoisin at Komodo.
Ashley Estave

Grutman wants Komodo Dallas to offer “a more robust steak program.” The restaurant has partnered with Wagyu Excelente Beef out of Midlothian to offer four different Texas wagyu steak plates, as well as a Japanese wagyu.

But the highlight of Komodo is most certainly the crispy-skinned roast duck It comes served with a stack of thin pancakes, so you can easily stuff each of these sheets with tender meat, as well as the cucumber, scallion, and housemade hoisin sauce.

There are vibrant red lights throughout the space, artsy floral patterns on the walls and metallic orbs on the ceiling, giving it a festive atmosphere. During a recent visit, the upstairs lounge was under construction but appears as though it will be spacious enough for customers to dance and order cocktails with light bites. Upon its opening, Grutman plans to host local musicians for live performances, as well as DJ sets. While there may be some skepticism from a certain cohort of Dallasites about a clubstaurant in this neighborhood, Grutman’s Komodo promises to add to, not take away from, the area’s character.

A restaurant interior with poured concrete flooers, large booths with grey and white backing, light wooden table tops, and red accents on the columns throughout.
Komodo is open in Deep Ellum.
Alex Gonzalez

“We care about the community and not just being some outside brand that just happens to be a transplant,” says Grutman. “We really embrace the fact that we’re in Dallas, and this is our new home.”

Dallas Restaurant News Brief

Olive Oil in Coffee? Starbucks’ Oleato Has Hit DFW

Dallas Restaurant News Brief

Dallas and Fort Worth Left the James Beard Awards With Zero Medals

The Next Frontier in Sustainability at Restaurant Beatrice Comes From the Gulf

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Eater Dallas newsletter

The freshest news from the local food world