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Go RIGHT NOW to Mirador, the new downtown Dallas restaurant that downtown Dallas has long needed


   

Nobody stumbles upon Mirador by accident. There’s no marquee, no directional signs, no labeled entrance to guide you to the unmarked penthouse space. To reach the restaurant, which is located on the top floor of a downtown mid-rise sandwiched between Elm and Main Streets, guests first enter through the substantial glass doors of luxury boutique Forty Five Ten.

Next, you must convince an attendant clutching an iPad  that you do, indeed, have a restaurant reservation (or that you’re planning to dine at the bar), then allow her to escort you to an elevator that will whisk you up to Mirador.

When the doors slide open, you’ll be greeted by two maniquens (dressed to the nines), a chest-high wall stacked with copies of an artsy cookbook (oddly, not Mirador’s) and, at least on my recent visit, no human in sight. But don’t give up.

Turn left, make your way down a short corridor and an actual, live person will greet you — by name — with genuine pleasure. “Welcome,” she’ll tell you. “We’re very glad you’re here.” Allow her to bring you a cocktail — a vodka, ginger and mint Mirador Mule perhaps, or maybe a classic French 75 — as you settle into Mirador’s mid-century modern decor and soft lighting. The bar has plenty of little alcoves for closing deals or canoodling, or maybe both at the same time. The lighting and the uptempo music are kept low but not too low. The dining room’s low-slung chairs could have been plucked from a den in the 1960s, its oversized pictures acquired from some SoHo gallery, the ceramic floor planks pried from a penthouse perched high above Central Park.

The restaurant might even seem kitschy if the cocktails weren’t so well-balanced and the service so attentive. All of that would fall flat, of course, if the kitchen didn’t rise to the occasion. Fortunately, you (and Mirador) are in good hands. Chefs Josh Sutcliff and Nilton “Junior” Borges, both veterans of restaurant FT33 and others, run the show. At Mirador, they’ve created a menu that melds Americans’ taste for big, bold flavors with Mediterranean ingredients and classic technique.

If it’s a moonlit night, sit outside on Mirador’s balcony, a catbird location that will make you feel utterly enveloped by the city. Start with toasted sourdough and house-made ricotta, whipped with fragrant olive oil into soft peaks then dressed with soft, gently marinated fruits and crunchy hazelnuts. Order a Bourbon & Clove (bourbon, pear, cloves) or maybe a glass of Brooks pinot blanc from the Willamette Valley. Follow with the orecchiette sauced with ripe red tomatoes and orange zest, maybe the slow-roasted pork belly with smoked char roe, sea beans and reduced whey, which tastes way better than it sounds and will have you wanting to return the next day for more. In the mood for something lighter? Sutcliff’s take on a chopped Caesar salad employs escarole, toasted breadcrumbs and fresh capers for snap, crackle and pop. Or go for the tuna crudo, an acqua pozza of ruby-red ahi tuna, tart gooseberries, ginger and lime juices, fresh herbs and toasted hazelnuts. The food here zings with plenty of bright citrus acidity and bold seasoning.

Mirador is exactly the kind of thoughtful, delicious, well-calibrated restaurant that downtown Dallas needs right now. It’s ideal for a first date, an intermezzo between counseling sessions or simply rekindling your love of good food. It’s also the easiest way to feel transported to another city without requiring an X-Ray and a pat-down.

Mirador is open for lunch Monday-Saturday and dinner Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.

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