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Eating #DallasBig at The Rustic Dallas Texas - Backyard

Eating #DallasBig at The Rustic Dallas Texas

by Mary Chong
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Oak, hickory, cherry, pecan and cows are in a bar.

No, this isn’t an attempt at a joke. This is what greets you in the entryway of The Rustic in Dallas Texas. All good signs that they mean smoky business when it comes to Texas barbecue.

In a large warehouse space with polished cement floors, industrial style tables, a giant bar area and a backyard concert stage this restaurant screams “Friday Night Party” spot. There are a reported 40 beers on tap, 30 of them local craft beers, as well as local spirits and wines.

Eating #DallasBig at The Rustic Dallas Texas

Today isn’t a Friday though. It’s a Sunday night, and the place is packed – so much so that there was a line up at the door and there isn’t even a free concert on!

TIP: Travelling through Texas? There are 2 other The Rustic locations — San Antonio and Houston

A backyard concert stage in a barbecue restaurant

Do what??

Yes, we are in Dallas Texas after all and Dallas is known for doing it BIG. They even have signs all over the city proclaiming it!

Eating #DallasBig at The Rustic Dallas Texas by Calculated Traveller

If you are a fan of country music then you’ll already be familiar with one of the original The Rustic Dallas owners — Pat Green, a local Texan, regularly performs here in what they call “Pat’s Backyard”.

With big trees, picnic tables, fire pits and patio lanterns strung through the trees this looks like a great place to kick back, and hang out for a while.

But we aren’t here for the live music show — we’re here for food from The Rustic Kitchen. Everything is made daily from scratch and features Gulf seafood and local produce and local ranch-raised beef.


Here’s what we ate at The Rustic Dallas Texas

The home-style meals on the Rustic Dallas menu are mostly what you would call “Tex Mex” but I say it has an authentic Texas twist to it courtesy of all the farm-to-table ingredients. (I’ve heard they have the best brunch in Dallas)

Eating #DallasBig at The Rustic Dallas Texas - Calf Fries

Calf Fries with Buttermilk Dip
Calf fries = bull testicles

Yep, you read that correctly.

When in Rome – or in this case Texas…. You have to do as the locals. So calf fries it is.

They were surprisingly delicious, and I’m not bull sh*tting you! AND no they didn’t taste like chicken!

Eating #DallasBig at The Rustic Dallas Texas - Cactus Fritters

Cactus Fritters
Cactus – beer battered and served with red buffalo ketchup

Again, another first-time experience for me, but I wasn’t a fan of the cactus fritters. The flavour was bright and fresh, but texturally it was a bit jelly-like – similar to if you had deep-fried kiwi.

Eating #DallasBig at The Rustic Dallas Texas - Onion-y Rings

4 Napkin Onion-y Rings
Pile of extra crispy rings over our signature onion-y dip

Go big or go home!

Remember when I said that Dallas does it BIG – well upon reading the description the 6 of us ordered two plates thinking “4 onion RINGS per plate”. Nope. In reality, it’s four whole onions per plate!

Eating #DallasBig at The Rustic Dallas Texas - Texas Quail

Texas Quail
Molasses brined Bandera quail served with a side of chipotle-pecan sauce, “bright slaw” (cole slaw) and tortillas

The quail was very flavorful, tasty, smoky and tender – it was fabulous.

The pecan sauce was tasty but a bit dry and not creamy as I expected since it’s called a sauce. The slaw was also dry and not creamy enough for my taste.

The entire dish though was a bit confusing to eat. I wasn’t sure just how to do it. Do I pull the meat off and place it on the tortilla with the sauce and coleslaw?? I apologise for my ignorance here, but I didn’t have a clue.

Eating #DallasBig at The Rustic Dallas Texas - Gulf Shrimp

Gulf Shrimp
half-dozen large, sweet shrimp marinated with earthy achiote & fresh citrus

Eating #DallasBig at The Rustic Dallas Texas - Wood Grilled Turkey Sandwich

Wood Grilled Turkey
Texas gouda, smoked ham, slaw and apple butter on a baguette served with smoke salt chips and pickle trio

Eating #DallasBig at The Rustic Dallas Texas - Peanut Butter Pie

Peanut Butter Pie
Crum crust with peanut butter cream, fudge chocolate layer, Spanish peanuts and warm bittersweet chocolate sauce

Large enough to share and very satisfying

Eating #DallasBig at The Rustic Dallas Texas by Calculated Traveller

The Rustic – Kitchen – Backyard – Bar – Music Venue

Sure it was a bit loud and echoing inside, but the atmosphere is part of the ambience. I’d love to come back and sit for a while, listen to some country music under the stars, eat some more quail and have a local beer with some good friends – and that’s no bull.


The Rustic Dallas

3656 Howell Street, Dallas, Texas 75204

Members of the military and uniformed police officers, firefighters and paramedics receive 25% off food, every day.

Travel assistance provided by Visit Dallas and Texas Tourism. As always, all opinions are entirely my own.

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Sue Reddel August 4, 2015 - 12:19 pm

When you say BIG you’re not kidding. I’d love to try that cactus fritters and the quail. Looks like to lot of great food choices and entertainment to boot. Good times!

Vicky and Buddy August 2, 2015 - 11:56 pm

Ah Texas… everything really is bigger there. I lived in San Antonio for a few years and made it up to Dallas a couple of times. I liked the city a lot. If I ever go back, I’ll try out The Rustic. I especially like the military discount! ;)

Elena August 2, 2015 - 10:29 pm

Okay, now I am hungry! What beautiful photos that literally made my mouth water -and I am not usually a fan of fried anything…but sheesh, plate after plate – I think I could have sacrificed myself just this once! :)

Carol Colborn August 2, 2015 - 12:59 pm

Lived in Temple, Texas for 2 years and this brings back fond memories of Texan food. Rustic looks like a great place to go for bbq and cactus fritters! Thanks.

Wandering Carol August 2, 2015 - 11:35 am

I’ll take the cactus fritters over the testicles, thanks. And I’ll have the oak-flavoured barbecue. Sounds like fun place so I’ll keep it in my mind when I make it to Texas!

Natalie August 2, 2015 - 2:44 am

Looks like an awesome place! Loved the concept of the concert in the garden :)
Calf fries, nope tks! But that turkey… hummm !

Karilyn August 2, 2015 - 12:26 am

I was raised in Dallas and haven’t heard of this! I will have to check it out on my next visit home. it looks absolutely fantastic! Glad to come across this.

Anne Klien ( MeAnne) August 1, 2015 - 5:23 pm

Oh wow those food looks so yummy.. it makes me feel hungry

Brianna August 1, 2015 - 2:11 pm

Everything looks amazing! Were you a little hesitant to take the first bite of calf fries?

Mary Chong August 1, 2015 - 8:19 pm

Truthfully even though they were already bite sized I had to cut the first one in half to see what it looked like inside before I could take the first bite ha-ha….

sue June 25, 2015 - 10:03 am

What a great article – would love to go there (and no to the calf fries as well) :)

jane canapini June 25, 2015 - 9:25 am

Yeah, no. No to bull’s balls, Mary. I draw the line at anything ‘internal organ-related’ or genitalia! Bull-y for you, though! :)

Mary Chong July 10, 2015 - 4:13 pm

You always make me laugh Jane. The thought of calf fries does make people cringe but mind over matter I say and I’m adventurous when it comes to food.


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