The famous Cardi B chicken sandwich on the Invasion menu. (Photo from @eatinvasions on Instagram)

Invasion, a new indie restaurant specializing in fast, gourmet-quality food in Old East Dallas, has had an interesting first two months in business. The eatery continues to thrive in the thick of the pandemic, with raved-about menu options, such as a strawberry goat cheese-stuffed burger and quirky chicken sandwiches.

The eatery opened in March, the same week the City of Dallas ordered closures of dining rooms. This obstacle did not faze chef Airric Heidlelberg and his business partner Agon Raka, owner of Italian restaurant Galle Nero on Greenville Avenue.

When stay-at-home orders began on the restaurant’s opening day, Heidelberg and Raka decided to cook 200 meals with already-prepped food and give them to the homeless in downtown Dallas, the Dallas Morning News reported.

Since then, Heidelberg and Raka still donate 200 to 600 meals per week while continuing Invasion’s daily takeout specials. Invasion has partnered with local nonprofits tackling poverty, such as Human Impact and Being Every Door, along with Kids Save Dallas Restaurants and Serving Up Gratitude, which support local restaurants.

Chef Heidelberg and Raka and their meal donations. (Photo from @eatinvasions on Instagram)

Chef Heidelberg has a degree in nutrition with a background in personal training, and he has also garnered two bodybuilding titles — Mr. USA and Mr. Texas. In the past, he has cooked for motivational speaker Tony Robbins and former Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings.

At Invasion, Heidelberg uses his nutrition background to infuse his menu with healthy, hearty and halal dishes. He is part of a larger effort of black American chefs meeting the need for healthier food.

Even though Heidelberg isn’t Muslim, he incorporates halal beef into his cooking because he believes it cultivates a cleaner diet. No pork products are offered at Invasion, which has attracted the city’s Muslim community.

So far, the most popular dish on the menu is the Cardi B buttermilk-fried chicken sandwich with seasoned potato crisps on the side, the Dallas Morning News reported. An exciting addition to the sandwich is Invasion sauce, a Buffalo sauce with lemon sour cream.

Other dishes include a five-cheese mac and cheese, bruschetta, elote-style corn in a cup and wings with an array of sauce choices.

Invasion will also serve alcohol and open a patio, but social distancing measures have slowed the process of securing those additions.

Out of all Raka’s restaurants, Invasion has been the most challenging to start, he told the Dallas Morning News. “But we’re motivated,” he told the paper. “We believe in our product, and we believe in ourselves.”

Invasion is open from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday-Friday for lunch and 5-9p.m. for dinner. On Saturdays, the eatery has brunch hours from noon to 3 p.m.

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