To the west of downtown Dallas, a sleek new architectural wonder has popped up to carry Dallasites across the Trinity River in style. In 2012, the Santiago Calatrava-designed Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge officially opened and changed the skyline of Dallas with it’s giant, gleaming white arch.
For years, the Trinity River was something of a blight on the city. Due to pollution and poor management, it inspired a desperate plugging of the nose rather than excitement over the possibilities offered by having a large waterway so close to the city. But an initiative—the Trinity River Corrider Project—has been working to reclaim the river and revive the areas surrounding it.
Now, in a town with multiple neighborhoods competing to take the title of trendiest hotspot, the buzzword on everyone’s lips is Trinity Groves. At the western base of the bridge on the south side of the river, a new development has popped up that is designed to be both a living and retail space, but is quickly becoming a foodie paradise.
There are several standout restaurants already in residence. Casa Rubia leads the pack with its ever-changing Spanish tapas menu that’s the brainchild of chef Omar Flores. It is joined by specialty joints like Hofman Hots—an ode to hot dogs, from the classic to the crazy—and Potato Flats, an exploration of all things baked potato. Cuisines from around the world are featured in restaurants that serve everything from Moroccan and Chinese to eats that are a little more common in Dallas—BBQ and tacos. Plus, there’s a brewery (Four Corners Brewing Company), a craft beer bar (LUCK), and several spots catering to those with a sweet tooth.
As if the established restaurants weren’t exciting enough, the brains (and money) behind the development are attempting to turn the area into an innovative hub for culture and new ideas. This currently translates into the food incubator Kitchen LTO (“Limited Time Only”). Budding chefs, or those with a new idea they want to try, can present their creations in a Shark Tank-style competition before a judging panel and the public for the chance to helm the restaurant for a four-month stint. With Kitchen LTO changing chefs and menus every four months, there’s always something new try in the neighborhood, as well as a supportive spot for emerging talent to gain a foothold in the food-obsessed city.
While the Trinity Groves food scene is one of the highlights of the Trinity River revival, the river and natural areas surrounding it have also received a much needed sprucing. Kayak rentals are available in select areas along the river and provide a fun family activity and amazing views of the city (although it’s still not a great idea to deliberately take a dip). Another fun outdoor activity: a visit to the Trinity River Audubon Center, a former illegal dump site approximately eight minutes from downtown Dallas that has been cleaned up and turned into a 120-acre retreat from city life, complete with hiking trails and nature classes.
Trinity Groves—and the larger Trinity River Project—is still a work in progress. But, already, a space that was once a rundown, warehouse-filled no man’s land is starting to take shape as the hottest new area in the city. Hearing the excited buzz, it’s pretty clear: there’s something special going on here.
Image: Trinity Groves