12 Dallas restaurants perfect for special occasions

Attentive service and world-class seafood make Café Pacific a go-to for intimate anniversary dinners. | Credit: Café Pacific

Dallas is all about its special-occasion restaurants—they’re the city’s crown jewels, scattered throughout Downtown, Uptown, and the unassuming suburbs. 

Whether you’re celebrating a personal or professional win, an anniversary, or just the joy of making it through the year, Dallas’s neighborhood bistros, steakhouses, and growing number of luxe transplants from other cities can turn any meal into a special occasion. Read on for a guide to 12 stellar celebration restaurants to book in the city now.

Monarch (Downtown)

Filet mignon with summer squash at Monarch in Dallas

A celebration at Monarch is heavy on the wood-fired Italian delicacies. | Credit: Monarch

Dress up for this chic and celebration-ready Italian spot. It’s steered by chef and owner Danny Grant, who once led Chicago’s RIA to two MICHELIN-star status. At Monarch, he serves  wood-fired delicacies from the hearth. The pasta is housemade, the cocktails are expertly crafted, and diners get the best view of downtown in the city: Monarch is perched on the 49th floor of the National skyscraper and wrapped by windows for an occasion-worthy 360-degree look at Dallas.

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Café Pacific (Highland Park) 

This long-standing seafood spot is quaint, elegant, and a go-to for intimate anniversary dinners. Though celebration meals usually mean crab remoulade and grilled Texas Gulf red snapper, Café Pacific is also a hidden gem for excellent steak, like pepper-crusted prime filet. Beautiful service—attentive, but never stuffy—completes the flawless fine-dining experience. Don’t miss the restaurant’s signature dessert, a toasted pecan-encrusted ball of vanilla bean ice cream with housemade chocolate sauce and an almond tuile.

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The Saint – Dallas (Deep Ellum)

A striking oval-shaped bar and leather and velvet accents make up the interiors at The Saint in Dallas

The Saint is known for one of the most beautiful bars in Dallas. | Credit: The Saint

Just off Deep Ellum’s beaten path, this new Italian-inspired steakhouse aces the ambiance test, making it perfect for anniversaries or special romantic evenings. Mood lighting, cozy booths, jewel tones, and one of the most beautiful bars in Dallas set the sexy scene. As do sumptuous mains like dry-aged wagyu New York strip glazed with a silky béarnaise sauce. Bonus points for oyster and caviar hour (expect discounted apps, bubbles, and craft cocktails) which happens daily at the bar and lounge from 5 pm to 6 pm.

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Tei Tei Robata Bar (Henderson)

The menu at executive chef Katsutoshi Sakamoto’s intimate and authentic Japanese restaurant is an ode to robata, a precise way of grilling over natural oak charcoal. From okra to artichokes to whole squid—ingredients you wouldn’t necessarily think to throw on the grill— the food is surprising and delicious, fueling a unique experience for an extra-special night. The sushi also stands out, and so do six kinds of toast-friendly Japanese whisky.

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Kenny’s Wood Fired Grill (Addison)

Pan-seared Chilean sea bass with sun-dried tomato pesto crust at Kenny’s Wood Fired Grill in Dallas

This occasion-friendly bistro is known for creative seafood preparations. | Credit: Kenny’s Wood Fired Grill

Chef Kenny Bowers, owner of five popular Dallas restaurants, grills everything to perfection at this bustling, occasion-friendly bistro, including oysters, asparagus, and burgers. Thanks to warm hospitality, a solid wine list, and a willingness to prepare any dish to your specs, Kenny’s draws plenty of revelers. The most famous part of the menu is the seafood, and the wood-grilled redfish, served with crab, shrimp, and creamy spinach is a must. The motto at this celebratory culinary staple? “Every day’s a holiday and every meal’s a feast.”

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Pangea Restaurant and Bar (Garland)

At chef Kevin Ashade’s sophisticated Garland restaurant, made for group celebrations or special date nights, even the sides stand out. Case in point: crowds can’t get enough of the collard greens stewed in African spices with smoked turkey. The kitchen is a pro at shareable Cajun standbys like seafood gumbo and blackened catfish, plus international treats like jerk-roasted lamb shank. Ashade won “Beat Bobby Flay” with a coq au vin recipe in 2016, and lucky for you and your big night out, that’s on the menu, too.

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Baboush (West Village)

A teal bowl with vegetable couscous with carrots, zucchini, raisins, and fennel at Baboush in Dallas

Shareable Lebanese and Moroccan dishes are the draw at this group-friendly celebration spot. | Credit: Baboush

Dreamy cushions and lanterns add a transportive vibe to your night out at this Lebanese and Moroccan spot. Baboush is the brainchild of restaurateur Yaser Khalaf (of Darna Euro-Mediterranean Market in Plano) and just as great for early-in-the-game dates as it is for an easygoing birthday celebration. The restaurant is adored for kebabs and tagines, though the mezze platter gets special-occasion MVP status for having a little something for everyone. Share hummus, baba ganoush, and harissa labneh with friends, and be whisked away to the other side of the world. 

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Al Biernat’s (Oak Lawn) 

Restaurateur Al Biernat opened this Oak Lawn steakhouse in 1988, and it’s only gotten better throughout the years, earning all sorts of culinary cred. Known for celeb sightings, a super impressive wine list (at nearly 700 bottles, it’s one of the largest in Dallas), and world-class steak and seafood, the restaurant is a special-occasion classic. In addition to chophouse faithfuls, there are unique dishes like Japanese horseradish-crusted halibut. Don’t skip a pre-dinner drink at the bar, where a mesmerizing glass art-inspired painting spans the domed ceiling.

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Fearing’s (Uptown)

A tasseled white sculpture hangs from a ceiling mirror at Fearing’s in Dallas

Pops of royal blue add a regal feel to the interiors at Fearing’s in the Ritz-Carlton, Dallas. | Credit: Fearing’s

This Southwestern icon in the Ritz-Carlton pulls out all the celebration stops, from a pristine open kitchen to powerhouse chef Dean Fearing’s renowned tortilla soup. Fearing’s is known as a sought-after backdrop for popping the question, but it’s also a go-to for a birthday brunch with friends or a celebratory cocktail at the Rattlesnake Bar. The menu offers a mix of innovative dishes like achiote-glazed antelope served with a braised rabbit enchilada, plus locally inspired comfort foods. More likely than not, Fearing himself will pop by your table in his cowboy boots to say hi.

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Beverley’s (Knox/Henderson)

Dallasites head to this neighborhood gem for ringing in special occasions with small groups and don’t mind risking a wait (Beverley’s doesn’t take reservations). The cozy booth-lined space is locally loved for a comforting menu that shouts out owner Greg Katz’s Jewish heritage (schnitzel, latkes with caviar), along with American bistro classics, including lamb chops with lemony potatoes and a double cheeseburger that some rank the best in the city. If you’re drinking, consider Bev’s Espresso Martini—named after Katz’s mom—perked up with nutmeg and orange zest.

Javier’s Gourmet Mexicano (Oak Lawn) 

A Dallas staple since 1977, charming and old-timey Javier’s is the place to go for lively birthday gatherings and other milestone celebrations with friends. Sharing modern Mexican dishes in this always-hopping restaurant is a guaranteed good time. Familiar recipes get swanky flourishes: Nachos are topped with tenderloin and a panela and chorizo main is prepared tableside. And of course, there’s tequila and mezcal for days. If it’s your thing, grab a nightcap by the fireplace in the onsite cigar lounge.

Stillwell’s (Downtown)

Snuggle up in a secluded booth at this steakhouse on the seventh floor of Hôtel Swexan. At Stillwell’s, steaks are products of zero-waste beef, and the wine list is full of rare and exciting bottles, including a Bordeaux from 1900. The whole experience at Stillwell’s–named for rancher and sharp shooter Hallie Stillwell, a Texas icon–-feels lavish and celebratory, from the warm service to the rich leather interiors to the chocolate donut holes served with espresso foam and salted caramel. 

Tried them all? Check out other options here.

Diana Spechler is a novelist and essayist whose work appears in The New York Times, The Guardian, Washington Post, Harper’s, and elsewhere.