Unofficial Guide: Fancy Mexican and Crafted Cocktails in Dallas
By Matthew Rudy
See and Be Seen
On one of my very first Golf Digest trips to Dallas, we finished a long day of shooting with Top 50 Teacher Randy Smith at Royal Oaks Country Club and were starting to think about dinner. Randy invited us to join him at Javier's, a Mexican place owned by a Royal Oaks member.
We sat down in what can only be described as a luxury conquistador's grotto, with big, comfortable chairs, vintage photographs and giant mounted grizzly bear. A tuxedo-clad waiter immediately brought some hand-made chips and a collection of small bowls filled with salsas and dips. One of the people at our table gouged a scoop out of one of the bowls, stuffed the chip in his mouth and proclaimed it to be the best dip he ever ate. "What is it?" he asked. "Butter," said the waiter.
It was just the start of the evening's arterial indignities. Javier's signature dish is the spectacular filete cantinflas--a beef tenderloin filet stuffed with cheese and more seasoned butter and topped with a brown chile sauce. Assuming you've been successfully defibbed, you can retire to the adjacent cigar bar and watch seemingly all of Dallas' helmet-haired 30-something ladies try to angle themselves over to where Tony Romo and Random Cowboy No. 2 are standing.
Dallas has no shortage of cheap and reliable places to drink a $2 Bud Light draft and watch a game on a fleet of big screens. But sometimes you want to wear something over that t-shirt and get a drink made on purpose, by an adult. Bar Smyth fancies itself as the modern iteration of a private 1920s speakeasy. You need a reservation (and some guidance on how to find the unmarked entrance) to get in the door, and the retro-chic space only fits 50 people. Nobody will hand you a leather-bound cocktail menu, and you won't elbow up to the bar to place your order. Each table has its own dedicated bartender, and you put yourself in his or her hands. Get quizzed on your preferences and wait for a meticulously crafted cocktail to come back. Even New York City doesn't have as many interpretations of Manhattan. It's all an experiment. Go with it.