Where We’re Eating on Henderson

The Gin Mill's Patio is an inviting Spring destination. (Photo by Rich Vana)

The Gin Mill’s Patio is an inviting Spring destination. (Photo by Rich Vana)

Its rebirth is well documented and, if not complete, then at least fully underway, and as Henderson Avenue continues provide a home to restaurants, bars and coffee houses, it continues to expand its influence as a major aspect of Dallas’ culinary culture. As the prospect of another week rears its head, we take the Knox-Henderson exit off of 75 and head Southeast down Henderson, looking for a few stops for drinks of different types and a couple places to grab a bite.

Sissy’s Southern Kitchen

Yes, the fried chicken alone is worth the trip, but that’s not nearly the only reason to visit Lisa Garza’s Southern-inspired restaurant. Curry deviled eggs, chicken-fried flat-iron steak and squash puppies – those are hush puppies made with squash, of course – are all worth a taste. And a select list of house cocktails is always available from the bar in the front; rest assured that bourbon is represented.

Sissy's Fried Chicken and Sloppy Slaw. (Entree Dallas)

Sissy’s Fried Chicken and Sloppy Slaw. (Entree Dallas)

“It was important to me to be true to the culture that we’re representing. It’s my family’s culture; I feel a responsibility to protect it and be honest. When it comes to cuisine and restaurants, I’m a purist through and through. And I think that’s what people really want – they want an authentic experience, and they know when it is and they know when it’s not,” Garza says. “And I believe what keeps them coming back to a place and makes them want to spend time there is that it feels real – it doesn’t feel fabricated. This restaurant comes from within me and the whole time that we were building this, I had a vision and I tried to stick to that vision – when my friends come here from Mississippi or Kentucky or Alabama, I want them to come in here and say ‘I feel like I’m home.’

Grandma may have never made fried chicken quite like theirs, but get a cocktail and some fried chicken, and it’s hard not to feel at home at Sissy’s.

Veritas Wine Room

A wall of wine at Veritas Wine Room. (Photo by Rich Vana)

A wall of wine at Veritas Wine Room. (Photo by Rich Vana)

Accodring to Veritas co-owner Brooks Anderson, a proper description of Veritas would be vino pub. It’s a  phrase that may sound a little unusual, but it merits consideration. Yes, they have an impressive selection of wine that hovers around 350 (it changes frequently), but they also boast a beer list that could be the envy of many other pubs and bars in Dallas. More than 30 different varieties can be found at Veritas, most of which are crafted at smaller breweries from around the country. It’s the implementation of Brooks and his brother Bradley’s belief that while wine can often be intimidating, beer is frequently under appreciated.

“I think wine bar can be in some ways more of a negative term. We’re just an everyday bar that happens to carry great wine,” says Anderson, who started Veritas with his brother Bradley three years ago. “We thought there was a niche for a casual place where you could come in on a Tuesday afternoon, have a glass of wine or a nice beer and chat with some friends. We had a pretty good idea of where Henderson was headed, just thought that everything was right to do a vino pub.”

The phrase ‘vino pub’ may sound a little unusual, but that’s exactly what Veritas is. Yes, they have an impressive selection of wine that hovers around 350 (it changes frequently), but they also boast a beer list that could be the envy of many other pubs and bars in Dallas. More than 30 different varieties can be found at Veritas, most of which are crafted at smaller breweries from around the country. It’s the implementation of the brothers’ belief that while wine can often be intimidating, beer is frequently under appreciated. Really, they just want to provide a comfortable place to go with your friends and have a glass of wine or beer.

The Gin Mill

The Cioppino at Gin Mill – Fresh cod, jumbo shrimp, mussels & calamari in a spicy broth with tomatoes, wine & herbs. (Photo by Rich Vana)

The Cioppino at Gin Mill – Fresh cod, jumbo shrimp, mussels & calamari in a spicy broth with tomatoes, wine & herbs. (Photo by Rich Vana)

It’s not just a speakeasy feel that’s bringing people to The Gin Mill. Formerly known as Swig (with Gin Mill as the name of the separate, particularly speakeasy-feel bar area in the back), the whole restaurant has taken on the name, and it’s not just the customers looking for a drink or two who will find themselves satiated at the Kenny’s newest establishment. Taking their experience from their years at the helm of both The Dubliner and Capitol Pub, husband and wife duo Peter and Cheryl Kenny set out to develop a bar that had many facets without compromising its singular identity – no easy task for an establishment with two decidedly different dining and drinking areas and a mission to make food, drinks, and local sensibilities a focus.

Beers from around the world are available at Gin Mill, too but they make it a point to provide the local brews, as well. The cocktail selection is likewise well considered while still inventive – the It’s A Small World, Aperol (Stoli Oranj, aperol, orange, cranberry and Angostura) bitters is indeed a testament to a little whimsey, all while keeping the main focus on the bar as a whole.

“Everything on our menu is meant to go really well with beer or with a cocktail,” says Cheryl, also observing the Gin Mill’s modest wine menu, which includes options from Dallas’ Times Ten Cellars.

But if Gin Mill is a pub, then what of the speakeasy atmosphere? One step into the back bar area and the answer is evident.

“My feeling is that the front room is the urban-style pub, and then the back room is more like the late-night lounge with the speakeasy feel,” says Peter.

 

 

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