The Nodding Donkey Kitchen is not your typical adults-focused restaurant. Created with a family audience in mind, the restaurant caters to individuals interested in taking their family out for a meal or who want to enjoy a night out with friends.

The Nodding Donkey Kitchen recently opened at the corner of Greenville Avenue and SMU Boulevard. Owned by experienced restaurateur Tony Winkler and his partner, Chef Jon Calabrese, the new venture combines the best of their already successful locations in Dallas’ Uptown neighborhood.

At the Nodding Donkey Kitchen, hungry patrons will find the elegant food styling of Uptown’s State & Allen Restaurant and Lounge, an American grill concept featuring all-natural ingredients and homemade breads, combined with the upbeat, fun neighborhood bar feel of the Nodding Donkey Uptown, which earned a D Magazine’s Readers Choice award.

“Our entire philosophy revolves around quality,” Winkler said. “The food is fantastic, and we offer a variety that delights our customers, in a clean, fresh and friendly environment.”

With homemade food, a lovely patio and a kid-friendly environment (and menu), the restaurant makes for a true family affair.

At the Nodding Donkey Kitchen, there is no such word as “no,” Winkler said. The restaurant’s chef and manager pride themselves on listening to customers, making the rounds to ask for feedback and ensure that every meal is savored to the last bite.


A focus on detail is obvious almost immediately upon entering the restaurant. Tables specially designed by Winkler safeguard against annoying rocking motions that might disturb a diner. Bathrooms are cleaned every hour.

The attention to detail becomes even more evident in the kitchen. Every item is made from scratch, from pizza dough and dressings to French fries and hamburger buns. Nothing is processed, and the only item kept on ice is fish, which is flown in for freshness.

“The menu is exciting, and we offer the variety to satisfy a food connoisseur, a casual diner and their kids – all at the same table. A family can enjoy the patio atmosphere with kids in tow, or a couple can savor a fantastic dinner alone or with friends,” Winkler said.

For example, Mom might choose seared sesame tuna atop a bed of fresh Napa cabbage, carrot, jicama and cilantro, served with miso-peanut sauce and a glass of quality white wine. Dad can sink his teeth into a bison burger with crispy onions, blue cheese crumbles and homemade barbecue sauce, placed on a homemade bun and served with a side of fresh-cut fries. He might finish the meal with a glass of vintage Scotch. The kids can choose from friendly fare such as made from scratch pizza, grilled fish or chicken strips.

In addition to salads, burgers, sandwiches and pizza, bistro-style offerings can tempt even the most discerning palate. “Try the tomato-braised chicken with mushroom ravioli, spooned with a sage brown-butter sauce and pine nuts at the bargain price of $15,” suggested Winkler. “For just $18, enjoy Pork Au Poivre, a 12oz pork chop served with sweet potato fries, broccolini and cognac pepper cream. I’ll put our bistro items up against any other restaurant in Dallas, but we offer them at a better price,” Winkler said.

For the ultimate weekend feast The Nodding Donkey Kitchen offers a brunch menu from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. For a limited time, the restaurant is offering a free brunch when you buy a brunch (see coupon).

Brunch starts with the $5 Bloody Mary Bar, featuring okra, a variety of spices, and fresh-stuffed olives. You can make your own concoction, or direct a bartender until he creates the perfect drink for your tastes. In September, the restaurant will launch a Champagne Bar with a variety of fresh-squeezed juices as well.

Popular brunch selections include Chicken and Waffles with whipped butter and maple syrup, and Bananas Foster Pancakes with whipped cream, nuts, rum caramel sauce and bacon. More than a dozen other offerings round out the brunch menu, for tastes ranging from light and healthy to meat and potatoes.

“We make our own fresh biscuits and whip up homemade Hollandaise sauce right in the kitchen,” Winkler said. “Parents have a friendly brunch spot where they can enjoy a nice drink, yet there’s still a kid’s menu to keep life simple and easy. It’s a brunch you’ll want to come back and enjoy again week after week.”

Come in this Saturday or Sunday for Brunch with your family. Click HERE for your coupon for a free brunch (with another brunch purchase). The Nodding Donkey Kitchen is at 5600 SMU Boulevard, #120 near the southwest corner of Greenville and SMU Boulevard.

The Nodding Donkey Kitchen & Sports Saloon
5600 SMU Blvd.
Dallas, TX 75206


Click here for The Nodding Donkey Kitchen Menu

Mon-Fri 11am-2am
Sat-Sun 9am-2am


Start with a business-minded chef who puts customer service first. Add an artistic, creative genius who takes even the simplest dishes to a new level of delicious. The result – a combination of fine dining and an atmosphere everyone in the family will enjoy.

Nodding Donkey Kitchen, located at the corner of Greenville Avenue and SMU Boulevard, turns the typical sports bar menu on its head, thanks to the food styling of chef-owner Jon Calbrese and chef Joey Ryholt. This talented pair has created a menu to attract everyone from the couple enjoying a date night to the young family, with bistro items, gourmet burgers, homemade pizza and more.

When Calbrese became weary of a job in healthcare consulting a dozen years ago he decided to follow his passion and attend the Art Institute of Dallas for Culinary Arts. There he graduated at the top of his class before taking a job at upscale The Grape restaurant under chef Brian Luscher, who Calbrese calls his mentor.

For the last eight years, Calbrese has created and overseen the menu at the Nodding Donkey Kitchen’s sister restaurants, which include Uptown’s State & Allen Restaurant and Lounge and The Nodding Donkey.

Three years ago, he added Ryholt to the team, and the Nodding Donkey benefited from the culinary tag-team with experience nurtured not only in Dallas, but also in the cutting-edge kitchens of Houston and New Orleans.

“Joey has one of the best conceptual minds in cooking that I’ve ever seen,” Calbrese said. “He can open a pantry, pull out a few ingredients and create something that belongs in a high-end bistro. He eats, drinks and breathes cooking, and he’s not afraid to try anything.”

The result is a flavor-packed menu that puts a fresh, flavorful twist on even the simplest of pub fare. For example, the chefs deconstructed a buffalo chicken sandwich to create a fanciful buffalo chicken salad. Ryholt starts with grilled chicken, which he brushes with honey, butter and homemade buffalo sauce. This is placed on a bed of Romaine lettuce garnished with pine nuts. [Click here for the Bistro Menu]

“This is high-end food that appeals to the general population, and at a price almost anyone can afford,” Calbrese said. “Our customers will come back time and again to enjoy the specials Joey creates.”

On the more creative side of the menu, customers can find bistro-style food such as Savory Chicken Roulade, which features chicken breast filled with olives and wild mushrooms and served with a thyme-mushroom sauce and risotto cake. The market catch might feature redfish and seasonal vegetables, garnished with gourmet oils and parsnip puree.

For the sports fanatics crowd, the menu includes pizza with homemade crust and sauces. In addition to standard pizza toppings, the savory Texican Pizza features smoked brisket, sweet pickled jalapenos, goat cheese and pickled red onions.

“We make everything from scratch, upgrading standard sports bar food and making it better,” Calbrese said. “This means taking great care with sauces, grinding our own meat and processing our own chicken. And every item – whether it’s a gourmet offering from the bistro side of the menu or a simple burger – is made with great care. It’s all in the details.”

With football season coming up, Nodding Donkey Kitchen offers a delicious, grownup place to watch the game, said Tony Winkler, co-owner of the restaurant.

“We’ve got three viewing sections in the bar area, or you can check the score from the dining room,” Winkler said. “Our excellent menu and clean bathrooms provide an atmosphere where women can enjoy watching football with their men, too. We offer delicious wines, great martinis and good food.”

Even the chicken wings are upscale. The chef smokes them, before flash-freezing, deep-frying and serving with homemade sauce.

“Until you’ve watched a football game while enjoying our menu, you haven’t had the ultimate sports experience,” Winkler said.

Come in this month for a 2 for 1 special on any Bistro item from the menu. The Nodding Donkey Kitchen is at 5600 SMU Boulevard, #120 near the southwest corner of Greenville and SMU Boulevard.

The Nodding Donkey Kitchen
5600 SMU Blvd.
Dallas, TX 75206


Mon-Fri 11am-2am
Sat-Sun 9am-2am