Restaurant Talk: Whitehall Exchange and Emporium Pies

Whitehall Exchange opened in February, and I tried it a couple of times back then but never went back. Then the Dallas Observer awarded the tavern “best sliders” in its most recent “best of” issue.

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Sliders must be on the menus of at least half the bars in Dallas, right? So we had to try them.

The Korean BBQ sliders ($12) are perfectly seasoned and juicy, served with refrigerator pickles and that orange mayonnaise-y stuff there. It doesn’t taste like McDonald’s secret sauce or thousand island dressing, though. When you spread a little bit on the tiny burger with a few of those pickles, it tastes more like the climax of a K-drama, where the handsome rich guy finally confesses his undying love for the clumsy nerd girl, and she tells him it’s too late because she’s already over him. It is that good. Nerd validation good.

We also tried the spicy sausage flat bread (aka pizza) with sweet mascarpone ($12). Sweet gooey Italian cheese, it was good. The crust is very thin and crispy, the sausage is spicy but not hot, and the contrast of the cheese makes it so right.

This meal is one of the best I’ve eaten in a restaurant for a while. But it wasn’t over yet. We walked down the street to Emporium Pies for dessert.

The interior of this hip little pie shop is so cute, you feel like you’re in a TV show about a pie shop on the CW. You almost expect a poignant life lesson to come from one of those adorable pie bakers in their twee aprons and headscarves.

What comes instead is really good pie. We tried buttermilk, which comes close to the buttermilk-pie dragon I’ve been chasing since my first hit in the back of a Uvalde, Texas antique mall in the 90s, and a lemon pie with a gingersnap crust. The slices are $5 each, and just order anything. You can’t go wrong.

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  • We stopped by Emporium Pies Sunday after lunch at Hunky’s, and my wife’s comment was: “How can a place selling $5 pieces of pie make any money, especially with their cool carryout basket and fork (both are some kind of wood)?” We were in the place for about 10 minutes, waiting on our order to be served up, and during that time 12 people came in and ordered $5 pieces of pie; this was around 1:30 p.m. I’m sure it’s not always this busy, but there’s definitely a following. And the pie is great, too.

  • Emporium Pies was good, but I think they put so much effort into being cute and Portlandy (I don’t know why, but I don’t think of country, I think of Portland) that they forgot about good ol’ customer service and Texas friendliness. Every customer should leave with a hearty good-bye and thank you from one of the cute, head-scarfed pie makers.

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