Victory Plaza has seen many restaurant and bar concepts come and go, but none seemed to succeed. They were convenient, but not worth braving the crowds during events one wasn’t attending to patronize. …….. until a new HERO came to save the day.
The newest concept from Matt Ragan and 8020 Concepts, the people behind HG Sply Co., Gung Ho, and more, give us all something to love. Sports fans have giant televisions to watch their events with fellow fans and proximity to AAC. Foodies have a thoughtful menu with scratch items just like Mom used to make. And the boozehounds have a menu of unexpectedly thoughtful cocktails—some takes on classics and some originals.
Bottom line: it’s a huge place.
With a capacity of 1,100 and 610 seats with six bars and up to 20 bartenders working at a time, you’d expect a churn-and-burn, high volume restaurant/bar cutting corners and cutting costs—but that’s not so with HERO. Ragan and his team have ensured that everything is done quickly and efficiently but without lowering quality … at all. Think scratch food, fresh and local ingredients when possible, zero additives, and juices squeezed fresh daily.
The staff in HERO is stacked with all-stars. You’ll see familiar faces from concepts past and others that you thought gave up the stick. One of my favorites you’ll see is our favorite bartender past from Vickery Park, Chris Young, running around making sure everything is done right behind the six bars, but always with a smile.
While the popularity of this new spot has made it a destination and caused a bit of a wait from time to time, there’s plenty of space to go around. They host a full dining room, the aforementioned SIX BARS, a large patio, and even more standing room for watching games on their GINORMOUS SCREEN … and a small 90s-themed arcade.
The dedication to making everything just that much better extends event to the simplest parts of their cocktails. Ragan’s goal was to give is bartenders the ability to make a craft cocktail in under 45 seconds, and he sure as shit did it. He standardized four cocktail bases and put them on draft, cutting prep time and the opportunity for inconsistency, and ultimately price for both HERO and the guest, all while maintaining the integrity of his menu and the ingredients used. They employ one employee whose entire job is to prepare the fruit and juices for their cocktails.
A perfect example of Ragan’s desire for consistency and quality is their house-made tonic. And if you know anything about making tonic, then you know it can be a dangerous game. It’s made with cinchona bark, which can help medicinally, if used responsibly, and it can do damage if not. He wanted to ensure it was done right, so he did it.
Their frozen drinks are even made with the most care and consideration of ingredients. Their Miami Vice, a strawberry daiquiri and piña colada swirl, happens to be a new favorite cocktail in Dallas … because 100º days are real and it’s f**king delicious. What makes it so good? They make their own coconut rum, strawberry cordial, AND coconut cream. The coconut cream in itself is culinary science at its best—they use Ticaloid 210 S, a natural stabilizer made from seaweed, to keep it emulsified. Why this? Why no shortcuts? Because they don’t do that. Ragan needed to find something that would emulsify fat in alcohol (coconut is a “fat”), but also work in cold temperatures and with alcohol, and the T210s is the only element that does all three. See? NO SHORTCUTS.
As with many of Dallas’s restaurants, the menu can be slightly daunting. So, I asked Matt what his “Go-To” items were, and he didn’t disappoint. He gave us his ideal days—both “healthy” and “cheat”. So here we go:
– Salty Dawg ($11, vodka, Aperol, grapefruit juice, simple, lemon, candied citrus salt rim) & Cucumber Collins ($11, vodka, cucumber, lime mint cordial, soda)
– Smoky Carrot Hummus ($14, fresh veggies & grilled pita bread) & roasted Chicken Wings ($14, tossed in chimichurri, pecorino, fresno chiles)
– 14oz Miami Vice ($14, strawberry daiquiri + piña colada swirl)
– Calamari Lettuce Wraps ($14, pickled ginger, herbs, bibb lettuce), Crab Rangoon Dip ($14, served with wonton chips), & Parmesan Kale Dip
Here’s the bottom line: don’t write this place off. Yes, it’s huge and crowded when there’s a game, but it’s WORTH IT. It’s even more worth the effort of braving Victory Park when there’s not a game or concert. It’s the HERO we wanted, and really, it’s the one we all needed.
3090 Olive Street, #b110 (Victory Park)
Su-Th: 11am to midnight
F: 11am to LATE
Sa: 11am to LATE