Hooper Hospitality Concepts (HHC) — which runs a handful of popular restaurants in Las Vegas, including Locale Italian Kitchen and Luchador Mexican Kitchen + Cantina — entered the Dallas market for the first time. On May 11, the group opened The Saint, an Italian-inspired steakhouse located on the edge of the popular Deep Ellum neighborhood. The restaurant is situated on Gaston Avenue next to a string of high-volume restaurants and bars.
The Saint is the latest Dallas restaurant to open from an out-of-town group, with recent additions to the market including Las Vegas-based La Neta y Cocina, Blau + Associate’s Crown Block, an outpost of STK, and multiple restaurants from Major Food Group.
“We have had our eye on Dallas’s thriving food scene for a while now and have been waiting for the right real estate that we felt embodied the heart and soul of each of our concepts,” Andy Hooper, founder and CEO of Hooper Hospitality Concepts said. “Dallas is an incredible city with one of the most exciting and diverse culinary scenes in America right now, and we felt we could bring something unique and exciting to the landscape.”
Hooper also notes that Dallas is an attractive market for its proximity to top-of-the-line meat and produce, which can be sourced from local farms and ranches and incorporated into the Saint’s menu.
The 4,900-square-foot space can accommodate 120 guests across the dining room and bar, and a private dining room is available for parties up to 12 people. The restaurant was designed by Greg O’Neal of Philosophy Design, who also worked on Dallas concepts including Shinsei, Harper’s and The Finch. He imbued the space with a dark and moody design that embraces a “saints and sinners” motif.
To run the kitchen, HHC enlisted chef and Dallas native Jacob Williamson, whose resume includes stints at restaurants led by Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Stephan Pyles, and Wolfgang Puck. He also served as executive chef at Harper’s, the upscale Dallas restaurant from Milkshake Concepts.
Seasonality is a key focus for Williamson, who has built longstanding relationships with local farmers, ranchers and purveyors. The Saint’s menu offers a robust steak, meat and seafood selection, but Williamson has ensured there will be options for vegetarian and vegan guests.
Select dishes include a Texas Wagyu tomahawk chop with Calabrian chili compound butter and a prime beef filet with Barolo reduction. Steak enhancements include a gorgonzola ravioli, confit garlic, caramelized cipollini onions, a poached egg, and foie gras butter.
Other mains include braised Colorado lamb shank with mint salsa verde, Texas quail piccata, pan-seared diver scallops, branzino and pappardelle bolognese. Starters range from Maine lobster arancini and bluefin tuna crudo to whipped ricotta with chili crunch, honey and grilled bread.
The cocktail menu features 12 specialty cocktails, with most utilizing Italian and Texan spirits.
HHC isn’t popping into Texas for a one-and-done opening. The Saint is just the beginning of a local rollout plan that includes additional concepts in Texas. First up is Night Rooster, a modern Asian restaurant and bar opening in the Dallas Design District. The group is also planning an upscale outdoor restaurant called Meet Me Outside, which will open in Dallas as well as in Boerne, a town 30 miles outside of San Antonio.
“[Meet Me Outside] will offer an amazing outdoor dining experience that is reminiscent of a beachside restaurant in the French Riviera or Alys Beach,” Hooper said.
He also hints that a coffee concept called Good Neighbor will launch later this year in the San Antonio area.