DID YOU KNOW
XOXO’s Champagne bell is Tik Tok famous, but it doesn’t actually function. Don’t worry. There’s plenty of bubbly. The drink menu includes the F Boy, which is initially sweet, then turns sour.
“Everything needs to make somebody feel happy, even if that’s just the name of the drink,” Lagios says.
XOXO Dining Room is unapologetically Instagramable. There are oversized Champagne buckets, pink crushed-velvet booths with Champagne bells, crystal-beaded trees and art-déco chandeliers. The backdrop is hot pink.
When managing partner Maria Lagios told her partners she wanted a bright pink dining room, they weren’t so sure. But one viral Tik Tok video later, the restaurant has steady traffic despite a soft open, limited capacity and a pandemic.
“People have come in because of that video, even from San Antonio and further,” Lagios says. “It’s shocking to me.”
A Dallas food-industry mainstay, Lagios noticed a dearth of upscale restaurants and bars catering to women. XOXO is owned by a woman and managed by women. She originally intended the dining room to be a girls’ night out spot for 25- to 45-year-old women.
“In reality, that’s really not the case because the venue was designed for everyone,” Lagios says.
Everyone over the age of 21, that is. The restaurant hosts a DJ Thursday through Sunday in the pink dining room. Everyone from girl gangs to couples comes for a night out. The 22,000-square-foot space also includes Mr. X, a members-only speakeasy.
“I wanted to create something that had a different energy than a normal restaurant,” Lagios says. “I want it to be an experience. I want you to be impressed by everything.”
Lagios was inspired by millennial-pink spots, such as London’s Sketch and Deep Ellum’s Petal Pushers. A Dallas artist painted the building’s hot pink exterior mural and the dark graffitied bathrooms. Another artist hand-painted the layered palm print mural that anchors the pink room.
“The vibe is just uplifting,” says Lagios, who worked on the look with design firm Duncan and Duncan.
While XOXO is for rosé Champagne and selfies, Mr. X is for scotch and burlesque. Hidden by a bookshelf and accessed by a phone number, the room features tufted red booths, peacock wallpaper and vintage art.
“Some women may not like this dining room,” Lagios says. “It’s visually girly, but the speakeasy is not. It’s cool and clean.”
A third dining area is being created from the building’s original patio and pool. The garden will feature the same pink velvet booths and the “Press for Champagne” button. The hope is to quickly complete the remodel and offer coronavirus-friendly open-air seating.
“We still haven’t even perfected our service and our menu,” Lagios says. “We’re getting closer and closer. The demand especially from social media, is pushing us faster to do that.”
Curated by executive chef Zach Warner, the evolving menu features shareable options, such as arancini with truffle and a vegetarian “impossible” meatballs
pasta dish with semolina, broccolini and Parmesan. Designed for diverse appeal, entrees range from an “unwedged” salad to a 22-ounce ribeye for $70. A newly added shareable is a grilled avocado dish with crème fraiche, pomegranate and trout roe.
“I think the food gets a little overshadowed sometimes by how beautiful the venue is,” Lagios says. “We went all out when it comes to the kitchen. The menu is very eclectic, but it’s kind of just a play on classics that people love.”
The restaurant is operating on limited hours with service starting at 6 p.m. As coronavirus-related restrictions lift, the plan is to expand the hours and host an official grand opening. Located on the edge of Deep Ellum, XOXO is meant to draw people into the neighborhood.
“I love the neighborhood so much,” Lagios says. “It’s somewhat of an artsy feeling already here, and I love that we’ve been able to fit into that and bring something fresh, new and exciting.”
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