Culinary Tour of HARWOOD District

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Dolce Riviera - Cosmopolitan BiancoIt’s true that Dallasites love to eat out more than most, so it’s also lucky that the city is home to many truly amazing restaurants. In the HARWOOD District alone, there are seven unique spots that are dishing out everything from a quick nibble to a multi-course gourmet meal.

Read on to learn about the fantastic dining options at HARWOOD, but be warned if you’re doing so on an empty stomach.

Dolce Riviera
Cuisine: Coastal Italian
The vibe: Inspired by Italy’s Cote d’Azur, this upscale new eatery has glamorous la dolce vita-era touches and most of the decor is imported from France and Italy. That’s both inside the soothing dining room and enchanting lounge — which are dressed in ombre ocean tones and studded with seafaring antiques — and outside on the patio, which is surrounded by waving palm trees and rippling fountains.
What to order: Seafood is an obvious menu standout (the Branzino Alla Griglia and Tonno al Sesamo, especially), but don’t overlook the pastas. They are all made in-house in the special pasta room that was built into the restaurant’s design.
In-the-know info: The impressive wine display wall isn’t just for show. Many rare and impeccable wines populate the wine list, and a selection of authentic aperitifs will prep you for the meal ahead.

Mercat Bistro
Cuisine: Contemporary European
The vibe: Like being in a Parisian cafe, complete with the vintage light fixtures, intimate tables, and sense of history. Sit in the newly added Rococo Pavilion to enjoy people-watching outside while remaining sheltered from the weather. There’s live music twice a week, as guitarist Joel Pipkin strums everything from jazz to flamenco.
What to order: During the day, this is the neighborhood’s go-to spot for fresh pastries (made in-house), creamy quiches, and sophisticated salads, along with carefully crafted coffees. At night, things get a little more decadent with a chic cocktail menu (try the Rose Gold & Bubbles) and a Monday-Wednesday specialty you won’t want to miss: tagliatelle pasta flamed tableside in a cheese wheel.
In-the-know info: Order coffee or tea prepared in the Syphon, an antique-looking contraption that uses science to heat and steep the drink perfectly while also putting on a show for the table.

Happiest Hour
Cuisine: Burgers and beer
The vibe: Happiest Hour is officially the busiest bar in Texas (the sheer number of credit card transactions serves as proof), but it’s laid out to feel anything but crowded. The numerous patios and decks afford some of the best views in Dallas, with three huge bars serving the multiple floors. Outside you’ll find the fourth bar, which is adorably one of the smallest in Dallas and serves the young professionals, concert-goers, and sports fans that have spilled out onto the lawn.
What to order: The stacked burgers are wonderfully over the top and pair perfectly with the loaded cheddar waffle fries, but there are also lighter options such as salads, fish tacos, and lettuce wraps on the menu. More than 50 beers are on tap, along with a few wines, and don’t forget about #ButFirstBrunch on the weekends.
In-the-know info: Get your ‘Gram ready. Besides the stunning views out over downtown, there are several places inside, such as the light bulb sign and the massive concrete hideaway booths, where you will definitely want to stop, pose, and tag.

The Grove at Harwood
Cuisine: Craft tacos and boozy snow cones
The vibe: It’s like hanging out in your own backyard, if your yard also had a taco truck, volleyball and bocce ball courts, hammocks, a bar, and was full of attractive people.
What to order: Tacos. Obviously. You may remember seeing the bright red Taco Truck touring through the HARWOOD District last summer or parked at the Dallas Arts District’s Fall Block Party, but once the weather warms it’s parked at The Grove, serving up the ideal portable snack. There are also more than 10 different kinds of adult snow cones (another round of Drunken Smurfs, anyone?).
In-the-know info: Dogs are absolutely welcome as long as they are leashed and you pick up after them.

Saint Ann Restaurant & Bar
Cuisine: Southwest-inspired American
The vibe: The building is a historic Dallas landmark, having opened in 1927 as the city’s first school for Hispanic children. You can celebrate the 90-year-old building by admiring the Our Lady of Guadalupe mural outside and the original foundation that’s preserved under the glass floor. The Ann & Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Museum houses an impressive collection of samurai armor and artifacts upstairs, and admission is free. And don’t forget about that patio, which many insist offers the best garden setting in Dallas.
What to order: The 12-Hour Cochinita — crispy pork belly with pickled pineapple-radish salad and black bean sauce — and the explosion of color and flavor that is the Southwestern Salad.
In-the-know info: The Samurai Cocktail is inspired by the museum upstairs, and mixes Woodford Reserve bourbon whiskey, blood orange, and bitters. Sip it while enjoying the live music that plays three times a week or take your cocktail upstairs for the after-hours cocktail tour at the Samurai Collection.

Magnolias: Sous Le Pont
Cuisine: Elevated coffee shop
The vibe: Bring a laptop, coworker, friend, good book — the relaxed cafe is popular both for getting a little work done and simply enjoying the fun and funky baristas’ latest creations.
What to order: Just like you never know which of Dallas’ top creatives you’ll see sipping a latte beneath Ro2 Art’s latest installation, the beverage menu at Magnolias is always changing. The friendly staff flexes their artistic muscles by inventing delicious coffee drinks, all of which complement the takeaway selection of sandwiches, juices, and local chocolates.
In-the-know info: Browse boutique retail goods such as vegan leather clutches and artisan soaps, which only add to the organic, grassroots feel of the place. Order extra caffeine for the new Late Night Open Mic series, which puts undiscovered talents in the spotlight from 5:30-8 pm on the last Thursday of every month.

Marie Gabrielle Restaurant & Gardens
Cuisine: Casual American + fine dining
The vibe: Long a sought-after event venue, Marie Gabrielle has now opened its sculpted gardens to the public for two different dining experiences. The grab-and-go side feeds hundreds of hungry professionals who office nearby, while the elegant sit-down restaurant is all white tablecloths and flattering lighting. But both sides get to enjoy the gardens, water features, and epic instrumental music that pours out of the hidden speakers.
What to order: Depends on which experience you’re after. Many an office power lunch has been greatly improved by the Cajun shrimp with cheesy grits or the build-your-own sandwich and salad bar on the to-go side, while the seared Atlantic salmon or hazelnut chicken pairs especially well with a glass of wine for a fancy midday meal in the fine dining area.
In-the-know info: The fine dining restaurant is still often rented out for private events, so be sure to call ahead to ensure reservations. The more casual eatery rotates daily and weekly specials for soup, pizza, and entrees — check the website to get the most up-to-date offerings.