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Depending on who you ask, the oldest restaurant in Dallas-Fort Worth might be the group of barbecue joints owned by the Bryan family. We all know Sonny Bryan’s Smokehouse, established in 1958 on Inwood Road in Dallas. But before Sonny’s place, his dad Red Bryan opened The Tin Shack in 1930. And before that, Sonny’s grandfather Elias Bryan started Bryan’s Smokehouse in 1910.
Sonny Bryan’s is “only” 64 years old in this list of North Texas restaurants that are 50 years and older. But its history goes back 112 years.
“It’s the joy of my life to be a part of this,” says Brent Harman, whose family bought the barbecue joint from the Bryans in 1989. He recently signed a nearly unheard-of lease — 45 years — to prove he intends to preserve Sonny Bryan’s history.
This Dallas Morning News series was created to share the stories and honor the legacies of Dallas-Fort Worth’s oldest restaurants. Over many months, dozens of interviews and hundreds of phone calls, we’ve pieced together a list of North Texas restaurants that are 50 years or older.
We found more than 80 restaurants that have been alive for a half-century or more in Dallas-Fort Worth. That’s incredible.
In a separate story about D-FW’s very oldest restaurants aged 75 years and up, we dig deeper into the history of these living institutions. We hope this list can serve as a tool for anyone seeking North Texas’ most storied restaurants, and we look forward to updating the story regularly.
In every interview, we asked for nuggets of wisdom from restaurateurs who had been in the business for decades.
“The secret is, you have to evolve a little bit,” Harman says about the 64-year-old Sonny Bryan’s.
“You just always try, you never stop,” says Lanny Lancarte, the CEO and president of 86-year-old Joe T. Garcia’s in Fort Worth. “I’d hate to see my grandmother and grandfather’s dream stop some day.”
“And it’s still fun,” he adds.
“It’s still a lot of fun.”
Editor’s note: We’ve combed through historical archives for months, but this list of oldest restaurants may not be complete. Do you know of a restaurant that is 50 years or older? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
What are the oldest restaurants in Dallas? Here’s the list:
El Fenix in Dallas
Chaf-In (formerly Chaf-Inn) Restaurant in Cleburne
Paris Coffee Shop in Fort Worth
Riscky’s in Fort Worth, first as a grocery store and deli, later as a barbecue joint
Carshon’s Delicatessen in Fort Worth
The Original Mexican Eats in Fort Worth
Bailey’s Bar-B-Que in Fort Worth
Joe T. Garcia’s in Fort Worth
Old Mill Inn in Dallas (temporarily closed)
El Chico in Dallas
Dickey’s Barbecue in Dallas
Roy Pope Grocery in Fort Worth
Sammie’s BBQ in Fort Worth
Circle Grill in Dallas
Kincaid’s Hamburgers in Fort Worth
Cattlemen’s Fort Worth Steak House
Ships Lounge in Dallas
Big State Fountain Grill in Irving
Ranchman’s Cafe in Ponder (temporarily closed)
Arthur’s Steakhouse in Addison
Campisi’s The Egyptian in Dallas
Dallas Tortilla & Tamale Factory
Goff’s Hamburgers in University Park
Keller’s Drive-In in Dallas
The Old Warsaw in Dallas
Burger House in University Park
Frosty Drive N in Denton
Stan’s Blue Note in Dallas
Eddlemon’s in Grand Prairie
Theo’s Drive-In in Grand Prairie
Tupinamba Cafe in Dallas
Margie’s Original Italian Kitchen in Fort Worth
Zodiac Room at Neiman Marcus in Dallas
Beef House in Garland
Cindi’s NY Deli; formerly Phil’s Delicatessen & Restaurant in Plano
Dunston’s Steakhouse, formerly Gene’s Wheel In in Dallas
Bill Smith’s Cafe in McKinney
Dairy-Ette in Dallas
Norma’s Cafe in Dallas
Pizza by Marco in Dallas; formerly My Family’s Pizza; presently Pizza Gianna
Al’s Hamburgers in Arlington
Candlelite Inn in Arlington
Del’s Charcoal Burgers in Richardson
Angelo’s BBQ in Fort Worth
The Malt Shop; formerly Spurlock’s Malt Shop in Anna
Pizza Inn in Dallas
Sonny Bryan’s Smokehouse in Dallas
Mesquite BBQ in Mesquite
The Depot Cafe in Frisco — first, a supermarket and later a restaurant
Kuby’s Sausage House and European Market in University Park
Antoine’s Foods in Dallas
Griff’s Hamburgers in Dallas
Ol’ South Pancake House in Fort Worth
Parkit Market in Dallas
Adair’s Saloon in Dallas
Charco Broiler in Dallas’ Oak Cliff
Hong Kong Restaurant in Dallas
Inwood Tavern in Dallas
Metro Diner in Dallas’ Oak Cliff
Hubbard’s Cubbard in Garland
Marshall’s Bar-B-Q in Dallas
Mermaid Bar at Neiman Marcus in Dallas
Angelo’s Spaghetti & Pizza House in Irving
Don Juan’s Romantic Mexican Food in Grand Prairie
Jimmy’s Food Store in Dallas
Pulido’s Mexican Restaurant in Fort Worth
Edelweiss in Fort Worth
Bartley’s Bar-B-Q in Grapevine
Mama’s Pizza in Fort Worth
Parton’s Pizza in Fort Worth
Pizza Getti in Dallas
Jesus BBQ in Fort Worth
Jim’s Pizza in McKinney
Joe’s Coffee Shop in Irving
Ojeda’s Restaurant in Dallas
Pyramid Restaurant at the Fairmont hotel in Dallas
Catfish Smith Foods To Go in Dallas
Celebration in Dallas
Mariano’s Mexican Cuisine y Cantina in Dallas
Zeke’s Fish & Chips in Fort Worth
John’s Cafe in Dallas
Dallas Morning News researcher Spencer Bevis contributed to this story.
Record Grill in Dallas
Wimpy’s Hamburgers in Dallas
Information provided by Dallas News