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Hidden Gem: The Derby Restaurant Dallas

Enjoy a meal at a garage with over 200 classic cars

Ferrari. McLaren. Rolls Royce. Row after row is classic car after class car, from Corvettes to Jags — and everything in between. 

This is The Shop Club, a social club for car lovers (and owners). Located in a large warehouse off John W. Carpenter Freeway, it's a place where they can store and wash their cars, where they can shoot pool and get a haircut, or, and the reason why I'm here, get a delicious meal. 

Inside The Shop Club is The Derby Restaurant, one of the most unique dining experiences in North Texas. 

"I love the visceral reaction people have here," Chef G Gregory Dishman tells me. Previously he was a chef for the Dallas Cowboys in Frisco, but now the Princetown resident is now the executive chef at the Derby. ("I wanted a house with a nice yard," Chef says about Princeton. "It's changed so much since I moved there four years ago.") At The Derby, the food leans classic Americana and comfort, but is deceptively straightforward and exceedingly well thought out. 

For example, the pork on the Cuban sandwich is slow-cooked for five days and then pulled. The meatloaf is made with wagyu. Chef Dishman didn't want to use ketchup with the meatloaf — he acknowledges that the iconic tomato condiment completes meatloaf, he doesn't like how it plates. What's more, he wanted a tinge more acidity. The solution? He created a bright, savory chutney. The result is one of the best meatloafs you can get in North Texas. 

"For me, calamari is a litmus test for a restaurant," says Chef Dishman. "We took a while to get our calamari to where it is — I'm really happy with it."

It's relaxing to eat a satisfying, delicious meal with a beer, and to look out at these cars. 

"There is something for everyone, even if you aren't a gearhead," Terese Beck, The Derby's general manager says. "These cars might remind you of your childhood. They are works of art." 

She's right. When Dan McKeithen, The Shop's general manager, gives us a tour of the garage, passing racks of classics, I see cars that remind me of my childhood — cars that I dreamed about as a kid. We pass a Ferrari 308, the car on Magnum P.I., and a car a friend's dad had in Italian yellow. It was the first Ferrari I had ever seen in real life, and the first one I rode in. And right here at The Shop is another one, in racing red. 

"It does feel like daycare, and I am taking care of these babies," says McKeithen, a car guy with restored 1968 and 1970 Mercury Cougars to prove it. "The other night I was here in the evening and Muddy Waters was playing. Just looking out at all these cars — it was incredible."

For more on The Shop, check the official site. You can visit The Derby, which is open to the public, at 9100 John W. Carpenter Freeway, Dallas. Tours of the garage are $15, but $10 if you eat at the restaurant. 

Hungry for more? Check out our dining guide.

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