At four thirty in the afternoon, the red, vertical Granada sign on Greenville Avenue makes a distinct and dramatic impression. The marquee below it advertises the upcoming musical acts – JJ Grey & Mofro/Galactic; The Smitereens; Tomahawk. The sign is a beacon that announces a consequential waypoint in the musical tour of Dallas, and a little over three years ago it saw musician and itinerant chef Patrick Stark walk through the doors. Now, it’s a waypoint in the culinary tour of Dallas, as well.
Stark, the Chef at Sundown at Granada since its opening last January, is the musically inclined, culinarily adventurous mind behind the menu at The Granada’s restaurant brother, and while the musical aspect of the venue may appeal to his auditory sensibilities, it’s his work in the kitchen that has gotten the new concept off the ground with both the music lovers and the neighborhood crowd alike.
“It’s the best of both worlds – you still appeal to those concertgoers that are looking for a show, but you’re also offering a service to the neighborhood, too – there are a lot of successful, health-conscious thirty-somethings with families,” says Stark, a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America. “If you mix the concertgoers with the developing neighborhood clientele, I think you’ll notice that it’s something that is really good for the street.”
In fact, the menu at Sundown is – inadvertently or not – a reflection of the diversity of cultures and personalities that can adorn Greenville through the week and weekend nights. There’s Southwestern chili right next to the Mediterranean Plate on the menu, and those looking for a vegetarian wrap will be as accommodated as someone seeking a more protein-intensive surf and turf (Grass-fed sirloin with Gulf shrimp). It’s a menu that Stark believes can appeal to everyone. It’s a good fit for Stark, who has cooked all over the country and even the world, stopping for stints in Europe and Mexico.
“I jokingly coined it an equal opportunity menu, but really, that’s the best way to describe what it is. We don’t discriminate against omnivores, carnivores, vegans or vegetarians. We’ve diversified it by putting some global flavors in there – curries, Thai peanut sobas, and then you’ll find hamburgers and flatbreads. You’ll find something that will appease everyone who comes in, from the pickiest eater to the person who wants to try something a little different,” he says. “We’re constantly delving into different ingredients, and really try to use everything we can locally, but there’s only so much you can grow in Texas in the summer.”
The laid-back, dark-wooded atmosphere at The Sundown is, during the daytime, brightly lit by the large windows at the front of the restaurant, and the outdoor seating – both sidewalk level and rooftop patio – is abundant and comfortable, assuming the weather is cooperating. The playlist winds through Robert Earl Keen and David Bowie with equal ease, and the large, mirrored bar at the front is the first feature to invite the thirsty patron inside. Not to mention, plans to get live music rolling nightly are underway – a fitting proposition, considering The Granada’s influence, and that the restaurant is the brainchild of Granda owner/operator Mike Schoder.
And, of course, there are the drinks. Bartenders – rather, Craft Drink Makers – Josh Hendrix and Casey Willis deliver thoughtful concoctions at a good clip, and a wide assortment of draft beers that ranges from local craft to international brand can be found by those just looking for a pint.
It’s an unpretentious restaurant on a culturally diverse street, and even aside from the atmosphere and menu, Sundown seeks to make itself accessible from a monetary perspective. Most dishes run from around $8-$12, and the most expensive dish – the aforementioned Surf and Turf – can be had for around $20.
“Today, you can hardly go to McDonald’s and get a meal that fills you up with a drink for eight or nine dollars, but here, you can get a burger made with Chisolm Trail beef, hand-cut sweet potato fries and a drink for under ten,” Stark observes. “We are providing a great value along with great food and great atmosphere. We want people to feel comfortable and welcome, and we want them to feel like they can come back any time.”
Patrick Stark may have been lured in by the Granada, but it’s a different kind of scene he’s helping to create at the spot next door. Yes, the red Granada sign may be a waypoint marker for those seeking a little musical enlightenment, but take a few more steps down the sidewalk, and you’ll find yourself a strong dose of culinary culture. You’ll find the two happily go hand in hand.