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What We Want to See More of in Dallas Dining for 2024

What needs to change for the hospitality industry in 2024? Where is there room to grow? Some thoughts from the folks who know a lot about it

A woman cuts into a piece of mozzarella cheese in a bowl. Around her on the table are plates of bread and meat, pasta, other plates, and flowers.
Eating locally was big on the wish list.
Kathy Tran
Courtney E. Smith is the editor of Eater Dallas. She's a journalist of 20 years who was born and raised in Texas, with bylines in Pitchfork, Wired, Esquire, Yahoo!, Salon, Refinery29, and more. When she's not writing about food, she co-hosts the podcast Songs My Ex Ruined.

As 2024 begins, we asked some leading chefs, restaurateurs, and local food writers what they want to see more of from the city’s food scene in the coming year. They offered a lot of support for locally owned restaurants, along with respect for front of house staff and safety and stability in the industry. Read on for all their wishes for 2024 in Dallas hospitality.

Elias Pope of UNCO Hospitality Group:

“Growth, simple as that.”

Jennie Kelley of Fond:

“My biggest hope is that our beautiful city continues to grow and flourish in the culinary world. I am born and raised in Dallas but have travelled extensively all over the world, thanks to being a founding member of the Polyphonic Spree. There is no reason that we can’t be as formidable a city as Austin or even L.A. One of my favorite compliments to receive at Fond is when people say, ‘I don’t feel like I’m in Dallas, I feel like I’m on vacation somewhere!’ To which we all say, ‘Yet you are, you’re right in the heart of Downtown!’”

Brian Reinhart of D magazine:

“I hope the industry is able to find business models that work, whether they’re outside-the-box (like Birdie’s in Austin), no-tipping (like Lucia), supper clubs, or dual-format (casual lunch, formal dinner). A lot of cities around the country are experimenting with new ways of designing and building restaurant businesses, and as Dallas struggles under the weight of investor-driven real estate prices, we’re going to need to learn from them, quickly.”

Amy McCarthy of Eater:

“As always, I hope that the industry continues to become more equitable and safe for everyone who works in it. And that none of my favorite places close.”

Benji Homsey of Duro Hospitality:

“My biggest hope is to see the industry continue to grow the way it has over the past few years, including 2023. It is really exciting to see bigger national restaurant groups like Major Food Group, Harwood Hospitality, etc. turn their attention to this market. The restaurant industry in Dallas has quickly elevated to one of the most interesting and dynamic markets in the country. My hope is that this continues — it’s so great for the city.”

Nataly Keomoungkhoun of D magazine:

“Everything is so much harder for a small business than for a chain, and a lot of really wonderful smaller restaurants closed this past year. My hope is that in 2024, Dallas diners lean into locally-owned restaurants that have more to offer the city’s dining scene. We can shape our dining scene, little by little, if we work on it together.”

Leigh Hutchinson of Via Triozzi:

“I hope Dallas will support the locally owned and operated spots in our city. I firmly believe we are the backbone of the food scene here; we’re what defines the scene and makes it special.”

DeQuilla Henderson, Eater Dallas contributor and Da Food Baddie:

“Prices. With the economy, pricing will be the key to keep patronage. Going to the grocery store is somehow less expensive than one dining meal out. Offering discounts, special priced menus, and rewards in my opinion is the way to keep customers in and on top of the fluctuating economy.”

Terance Jenkins of Restaurant Beatrice:

“More restaurants sign up for our government-funded commercial composting program. We would love to see city governments provide more green options for businesses. Ultimately, for the industry to do better and be better.”

Didi Paterno, Eater Dallas contributor:

“I hope that for Dallas specifically, is to go beyond getting popular name brands or chains from outside the state or country. There’s a lot of local talent, resources and diversity that can be supported and showcased.”

Kevin Gray, Eater Dallas contributor:

“I want to see more homegrown neighborhood restaurants and fewer out-of-town interlopers. It’s fun to think that Dallas is on the collective radar of restaurateurs and groups from NYC, Miami and Vegas, but we have — and need to preserve — our own identity, not just replicate what’s happening elsewhere. And I hope the dining public will reward the concepts that are taking risks to give us new, fresh ideas (think Petra and the Beast, Rye and Revolver’s Purepecha Room), so that more chefs will be encouraged to try something new.”

Andy Pham of Le Rêve Gelato & Patisserie:

“I hope to continue seeing people who are passionate about a certain thing bring forward their craft and showcase their culinary love and introduce it to Dallas. I think the Dallas food scene has changed a lot from what it was 10 years ago, but COVID definitely took a toll on many small businesses, especially restaurants. There are many similar things that are readily found in Dallas, when there is something new, unique, and can tell the story of a passion, it truly excites me.”

Rachel Pinn, Eater contributor:

“I’m honestly ready for ghost kitchens and food halls to exit the building. It ends up costing the customer more and none of them taste better than ordering straight from, or just visiting, a restaurant.”

Jill Bates of Sugar & Sage Bakery:

“I would love for those that can to support local businesses and farmers. Support our front of house staff. Be kind! Treat us like we are in your house. Bring back patience and understanding. We are bringing it back too!”