The March edition of Where to Eat, our monthly feature recommending best restaurants in Dallas to check out, gives love to a meal that needs it: lunch.
Lunch has been on the skids since the pandemic, when COVID-shy workers stopped going into the office. Along came the work-from-home trend, and it was goodbye to lunch. Restaurants saw their lunch business, which kept many afloat, evaporate overnight.
In good news, that trend is starting to reverse. According to security company Kastle Systems, which monitors the work-from-home trend weekly, office workers are returning to the workplace. A recent survey of 10 of the largest cities in the U.S. found that office occupancy is at its highest level since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Whether you’re a worker back in the office or still doing the WFH thing, it’s time to get out and grab a bite at those restaurants putting out mid-day spreads.
Here are eight great places in Dallas for lunch:
Best salad: Bread Zeppelin
This Dallas-based chain takes an ingenious approach to salad, that lunchtime staple, by packaging it in an edible container: a crusty, artisan baguette which gets hollowed out and stuffed with your customized chopped salad drawn from 40 ingredient options. Or choose one of their signature selections such as the Shanhai with mixed greens, carrot, almonds, currants, Chinese noodles, Mandarin oranges, and choice of tofu or chicken in a carrot-ginger-lime dressing. The bread sops up just enough of the dressing but doesn’t get soggy. It’s portable, eco-friendly, and really good. They have six DFW locations including the original in Irving and one in downtown Dallas, and there’s another opening later this year in Knox Park Village.
Best healthy bowl: Buddha Bowl at Modern Market
Healthy bowls make for a handy lunch, and none is more ubiquitous than the classic Buddha bowl, with its perfectly balanced combination of grains, veggies, and protein; Veganuary
says the name was coined by Martha Stewart. The one at Modern Market is awesome, popular enough to inspire knockoff recipes on the internet. It features warm rice & quinoa, spicy roasted broccoli, carrot, citrus cabbage slaw, peanut, cilantro in peanut-mango sauce, topped with thick slices of sesame-glazed tofu that have the perfect creamy and dense texture. It’s only $11.45 and Modern Market — which has five locations in DFW including one at Preston Hollow Village — makes lunch easy with its fast-casual ordering style and casual cosmopolitan atmosphere.
Best lunch with a buzzy chef: Parigi Restaurant
Oak Lawn restaurant from owner Janice Provost has always been a classic, and always a great destination for lunch. But for those who need an excuse, there’s a new chef in the kitchen: Joel Orsini, who has earned acclaim in kitchens such asxxx, and who is turning out seasonally driven dishes such as a stunning pasta featuring leek top cavatelli, Hakuri turnips, baby carrots, sugar & snow peas, and confit chicken thighs. There’s
also Parigi’s reliable assortment of incredible salads, sandwiches, and risotto, and great wine by the glass.
Pasta with turnips, carrots, and snow peas from Parigi.Parigi
Best lunch buffet: DiMassi’s
The lunch buffet was in peril during the fearful days of the pandemic, but that’s all behind us — to the great relief of fans of this Mediterranean buffet concept, first founded in Houston in 1992, now with four DFW
locations in Richardson, Grapevine, Irving, and Plano. Their menu of Mediterranean and middle-Eastern favorites includes four kinds of hummus, warm puffy pita bread in both plain and whole wheat versions, beautifully grilled vegetables, meats, and seafood, stuffed grape leaves, salads, and desserts like baklava. Some buffets are about excess, but this is a place where it’s simply a variety of items, excellently prepared.
Best Indian lunch in Irving: Our Place
Irving’s vibrant Indian community makes it one of the best places to find Indian food, with a bounty of restaurants. That includes this popular classic that’s been dishing out all kinds of Indian cuisine — from north Indian and south Indian to Moghlai and Indo-Chinese — since 2005. They’re proud of their time-tested skills with cooking Tandoori-style in a clay oven, and also their signature lunch buffet, served every day, with more than 40 items including a full salad bar, veggies, Halal meats, seafood, breads, desserts, and ice cream.
Best lunch for a work group: Terry Black’s BBQ
Who’d have ever thought we’d feel nostalgic about the work-group lunch expedition? But it’s one of those benchmarks of office normalcy, of life as it was pre-pandemic. Barbecue joints are a popular choice for so many reasons. You go through a line and pay for your own so there’s no hassle over who’s picking up the check. The food’s all ready. You can get a sandwich or meat or just a side if meat’s not your thing. Terry Black’s, the Austin-based family chain that opened a location in Deep Ellum in 2019, is centrally located, has plenty of seating, and menu options from burgers to home cooking to Tex-Mex to sandwiches.
Best Tex-Mex combo lunch: El Jordan Cafe in Bishop Arts
This small no-frills longtime Tex-Mex right in the thick of things dates back to the days before Bishop Arts was an Arts District, when rent was still cheap, serving as a reminder of the neighborhood’s original charm. It’s also a reminder of the cheap and funky Tex-Mex joints that were once common but have faded away, where you
can get a combo plate with taco and enchilada for $7.50 or a BLT for $4.50. They’re not open past lunch but they are open for breakfast with migas, omelets, pancakes, and a breakfast special with eggs, bacon or sausage, and pancakes for $5.50.
Best for ladies-who-lunch: Cafe Pacific
Bless the ladies who lunch, making their valuable contribution to the restaurant lunch scene (and hopefully tipping more generously than the reputation that precedes them). Ground zero for this set is Highland Park Village, a neighborhood which surely boasts a higher per capita ratio of this diner category than other less fortunate parts of DFW. HPV has multiple dining options these days, but the longtime classic is Cafe Pacific, whose entree salads, French dip sandwiches, grilled seafood, elegant atmosphere, and doting service make it a favorite for the likes of Yvonne Crum, the one-time flight attendant, effervescent bold-faced name, and a gracious lady if there ever was one.