The Oak cliff restaurant scene in 1961

Screen shot 2014-07-22 at 11.29.35 PM
via Flickr

Our neighborhood is home to a five-star restaurant, Lucia, along with many other highly regarded restaurants and foodie hotspots. Note the line down the block outside Emporium Pies on about any night of the week, and marvel that our neighborhood is a dining destination.

In 1961, dining out was not as common. And the Dallas palate was not what it is today. In an August 1961 Dallas News column headlined “Oak Cliff hath charms,” writer Helen Bullock points to the Torch of Acropolis as the height of dining in Oak Cliff. Better known as The Torch, at 3620 W. Davis, it was owned and operated by the Semos family for decades.

Screen shot 2014-07-23 at 12.25.54 AMBullock describes the menu: “It features such delicacies as souflaki — marinated filet chunks broiled and served hot on a sword; which was the main dish of warriors and peaceful shepherds of the Orient 2,000 years ago — and pilaf, a Greek rice dish.”

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She then lists the other notable restaurants in Oak Cliff: “Tupinamba in Stevens Park Shopping Center; the Gaston Cafeteria in the Sanger-Harris Shopping Center; the Old South Steak House at 2456 West Kiest; El Chico at 110 West Davis; El Fenix at 120 East Colorado and, next door, Youngblood’s Fried Chicken at 126 East Colorado; Naler’s Country Kitchen at 2504 West Davis, and, in an unmarked home near downtown Dallas, Anna’s Boarding House, which offers a spectacular variety of home cooked dishes — all you can eat — for $1.

Oak Cliff native Lee T. Potter of North Edgefield is quoted saying that most people in Oak Cliff prefer to eat at home.

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Victor H. Semos, who was born in Greece, opened the Torch in 1948 after 30 years managing a restaurant called the Jefferson Hotel Coffee Shop. The restaurant cost $150,000 to build and comprised more than 4,000 square feet. The Greek restaurant was a neighborhood favorite until it closed in 1970 after a fire. The Texas Archive of the Moving Image has this video of firefighters working the blaze.

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  • Smokey

    I was a busboy at Tupinamba in the 60’s. Very nice family to work for. I recall three locations at that time. Northwest Hwy, Ft. Worth Ave and the last one I went to was at Forest Lane and the Toll Rd. Butch Benevidez operated the Old Ft.Worth Ave. location for many years during the 70’s.

  • Pingback: Would you buy a Torch of the Acropolis menu for $135? | Oak Cliff()

  • Rachel Stone

    Yes, I saw your story about Tupinamba yesterday! I was wondering if at one time there were several, or if they have moved around that much

  • Teresa Gubbins

    Thank you for spelling “palate” correctly LOL. This is a cool item for many reasons, including the phone number/exchange with the FE instead of 33. Also interesting that Tupinamba – which is on the brain because of the news that it’s moving from its current location on Inwood where it was for 18 years!! – was, at one time, also in the Stevens Park Shopping Center?