Across Elm Street from the building I work in is Stone Street Plaza, a pedestrian mall-type feature that was repurposed out of a street that was just one block long. Though best known for the awful “Eye” sculpture foisted upon downtown by the purveyor of the Joule Hotel, Stone Street Plaza is also home to several restaurants, making team lunches easy. I’ve already reviewed Tex-Mex establishment Sol Irlandes Mexican Chop House, but today’s lunch would take us to The Woolworth Restaurant and Cocktail Bar.
The Woolworth Restaurant and Cocktail Bar
- 1520 Elm Street, Suite 201, Dallas, TX
- Hours: Monday 11 am-2 pm; Tuesday-Thursday 11 am-midnight; Friday 11 am-2 am; Saturday 10 am-2 pm (brunch) and 2:30 pm-2 am (dinner)
- Price: $10-20 per person, no alcohol
Directions: the restaurant is actually tucked halfway between Main and Elm, but it’s MUCH easier to get there using Elm Street, located between Ervay and Akard. From IH-30, take the Elm Street exit, head west, and Stone Street Plaza is on the left. From US 75 north, exit Good-Latimer (left-hand exit), continue south to Elm Street, turn right, and follow directions above. If coming in from the west, take the Commerce Street exit off of either IH-35E (north or southbound) or IH-30 eastbound, continue east to Ervay, turn left, then immediately left again on Elm. You can park in the “Tower Garage” next door to Thanksgiving Tower, but it’s kind of ghetto for what they charge to park there. There are several surface lots and garages farther east on Commerce and Elm. If riding DART, get off at St. Paul Station, head one block west along the tracks, then south on Ervay, then west again on Elm (< 5 minute walk).
Date of Visit: February 13, 2015
Like many other businesses in this quarter of downtown, The Woolworth is tucked away in a historic building, this one the old F.W. Woolworth department store building built in 1913 (hence the name). The famous lunch counter of the old store became the downtown home of Dallas institution Campisi’s, but about halfway down to Main Street, up a sloping staircase to the second floor, sits The Woolworth. It’s a surprisingly low-key place, with the menu written in chalk above the cash register, and an open kitchen.
The dining room seems pretty cozy at first glance, but there’s actually plenty of room, and unlike too many other restaurants downtown, it’s actually reasonably quiet inside, even at noon. If you have a large party, you can also rent out the “Library Room”, a private room that can seat roughly 15-20 and is designed like, well, an old library.
Main dining room
Some comfy couches in the “Library Room”
Dining area in the Library Room
The menu changes seasonally, but consists of four primary categories: street tacos, Asian-style bowls, sandwiches, and salads, all with a unique take on traditional Texas ingredients (such as the pecan-smoked bacon). The most popular selection in the office seems to be the build-your-own bowls, but I had a very nice experience with the smoked chicken hoagie on my first visit here, so I decided to order it again.
It’s essentially a ginormous spicy fried chicken sandwich with a generous helping of cheese and pecan smoked bacon on a hoagie roll. I really enjoyed this dish the first time I had it, but it didn’t meet the mark this time. The bread was great, obviously fresh and nicely toasted, and the chicken had a nice, crunchy crust. But the meat, while tender enough, had an excessively smoky flavor. I like good smoky notes in my food, but in this case, it was unpleasant. Worse, the bacon was badly underdone, making it limp and barely edible. Which is too bad, because the pecan smoke gives it a nice, unique flavor. And although advertised as “spicy”, it really wasn’t, as I found myself reaching for the Tabasco. The fries were good, though, light, fresh, and crispy. Overall, I was disappointed, especially since I remembered being really good the first time. Service was generally fine, and quick given that we had about 10 people in our group. One member of our party didn’t receive their food, but the cashier came by and apologized, saying she had just forgotten to get that order in, and a replacement was brought quickly.
What you come to The Woolworth for more than the food are the cocktails, with wicked names like the Corpse Reviver and the Mule Kick. They’re pricey at $12 a pop ($8 during happy hour), but are quite highly regarded. If you’re looking to catch a sports game somewhere and want something a little more sophisticated, this might be your place.
Rating: 3 stars. This visit bordered dangerously on the “D” for “Dreadful”, but given that the food was much better the first time, I’ll chalk it up to a bad afternoon for the chef.