If you live in Dallas, you've probably heard about Stephen Pyles. Chef Pyles is a bonafide Texan celebrity with an impressive career. By "impressive," I'm referring to his 22 restaurants, spanning throughout five cities, and his experience cooking for big names like Jimmy Carter and Queen Elizabeth II. So, it was no surprise that when the founding father of Southwestern cuisine opened Flora Street Café back in June 2017, the restaurant immediately became the hottest seat in town. 

Inspired by his Texas roots and a history of experimenting with Southwestern flavors, Chef Pyles serves what he calls "Elevated Texan Cuisine" in Flora Street's modern, swanky space in the heart of Dallas' Arts District. Reservations are hard to come by, but thankfully my parents and I were able to score a table over spring break. Here are ten reasons why my experience at Flora Street Café is one I will never forget.

1. The Location

Mia Hirsch

Situated directly across from the massive Winspear Opera House and the legendary Meyerson Symphony Center, Flora Street Café does anything but fade into the background. Surrounded by floor-to-ceiling windows, passers by are enticed by the restaurant's intriguing interior (a piece of art in and of itself). Diners at Flora Street are just blocks away from the cant-miss food trucks and performances at Klyde Warren Park and the famous artwork featured in the Nasher Sculpture Garden.

2. The Atmosphere 

Mia Hirsch

For an upscale dining experience, the atmosphere at Flora Street isn't what you'd expect. Stepping into the restaurant, I was relieved to see a slightly casual dress code (nice black jeans were fine) and a sprawling open kitchen surrounded by a marbled bar where diners could view all the action. My suggestion? Take a breath and relax as the warm light of blown-glass chandeliers guides you to your table. Marvel at the enormous jewel-toned silk 3D tapestry that covers the far wall. Close your eyes and listen to the chopping and grinding and flambéing that all flow from the kitchen to create a culinary song. Don't keep your eyes closed for too long, though because you definitely won't want to miss the artistry of the food you're about to experience. 

3. The Cuisine 

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With a menu separated into four sections featuring a raw bar, first course, main entrée and tasting menu, choosing what to eat at Flora Street Café is like choosing which flavor of Halo Top Ice Cream to buy — it's really hard. So we decided to make things a little easier and let the chef pick for us by going with the 10 course tasting menu. But we didn't miss out on marveling at the main course entrées and raw bar items ordered to other tables, each crafted with a uniquely Texan element and presented on a specially selected plate collected by Chef Pyles himself. 

4. The Tasting Menu 

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The constantly evolving tasting menu features a variety of dishes ranging from bite-size delicacies to melt-in-your-mouth main courses. Everything might be bigger in Texas, but thankfully each course was small enough that I was able to comfortably enjoy the entire meal. Highlights for me included the spiced baby beets topped with endive and yogurt meringue sorbet (served cold to create a refreshing flavor), one-bite mint-papaya spheres that release a surprising burst of juicy liquid (pictured above), crispy H. V. F. duck wing garnished with finger lime caviar and XO Guajillo sauce, and finally Broken Arrow Ranch Venison (above) complemented by mole rojo, spring peas, asparagus and truffle. While it's true that the tasting menu is a pricier option, I would highly recommend it to anyone looking to step outside their comfort zone for a truly memorable experience. 

5. The Service

Mia Hirsch

Part of what made our dinner so spectacular was the impeccable service of the entire Flora Street team, especially our server, Sommelier Peter Creedon, and Chef de Cuisine Peter Barlow. Our server ensured that we were comfortable at every stage of our experience and offered interesting factoids about the specially-sourced plates and abstract ingredients when we asked. Sommelier Peter Creedon spoke eloquently about the origin of our wines and Chef Barlow greeted us during our meal to discuss the inspiration behind the cuisine and its preparation.

6. The Drinks

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In addition to sampling the superb tasting menu, my mother and I opted to add wine pairings to our meal. Assisted by Sommelier Peter Creedon, we were taken on a red, white and rosé journey through Spain, Austria, Germany, California, France, Italy and Portugal. Each wine was specially chosen to complement a specific dish on our tasting menu and highlight smaller, responsibly-produced wineries, so each one offered a different flavor and experience. My personal favorite was August Keller's 2015 Rosé "Saignee" from Rheingau, Germany. When the final dessert wine was too bitter for my taste, our accommodating waiter brought me a different wine to try (I love this place). 

7. The Dessert 

Mia Hirsch

Another great thing about the tasting menu? Not one, but two desserts. The first was a Sicillian Pistachio Mousse complemented by citrus textures, lemon-thyme curd and passion fruit sorbet. This dish was served on a bright orange plate which amplified the multitude of colors arranged around the edge, and the mousse balanced the citrus flavors perfectly.

Next up? Raspberry Black Forest Gateau with Hazelnut Feuilletine and Chocolate Atole Sauce (above). Basically, it's a rich chocolate layer cake filled and coated in a raspberry cream and topped with spirals of rhubarb with a Spanish chocolate sauce on the side. This dessert was a perfectly sweet way to end the evening.

8. The Extras 

Just when I thought I could happily slip into my food coma, our beloved server reentered with a mysterious box. Inside were an exotic selection of bite-size and hand-painted chocolate truffles. He also came bearing take-home gifts: spiced candied pecans which were so good they didn't even last our car ride home (#sorrynotsorry). Oh, and did I mention the complementary bread service? All crafted in house with a Nixtimal machine that makes corn masa, we were each served a spicy jalapeño muffin, a spiced walnut loaf and a sourdough twist. Talk about feeling full.  

9. The Bragging Rights 

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Trust me when I say that the photos of Flora Street Café and its cuisine alone will have your friends and family wishing they were you. Not to mention, snagging one of the most coveted tables in town? Major props. Your parents will be impressed, your friends will be amazed, and you will be smug and satisfied. Just don't forget to actually enjoy the food and the experience after you snap all your Insta-worthy photos. 

10. The Unforgettable Experience 

Mia Hirsch

I can honestly say that I will never forget my night at Flora Street Café. Now, I'm going to be honest: I'm a shameless foodie and was dying to try this restaurant since it's debut. But I really cannot imagine anyone (food-obsessed or food-indifferent) not relishing their experience here. The thought and effort put into every aspect of the restaurant from the atmosphere to the plating is exquisite, and it's beauty makes you pause to consider "Food as Theater," which is the central concept behind Flora Street Café. I can't wait for my next visit to the restaurant, but for now I'd love some more of those spiced candied pecans.