It would be so easy to write a traditional restaurant review for The Market at Bonton Farms. If the delicious dishes and instagrammable decor weren’t enough to drive hoards of Dallas foodies through its doors, the baby goats (yes, you read that correctly) would surely seal the deal. At first glance, one might even think they had been transported to Chip and Joanna’s beloved town of Waco. But Magnolia, this is not, and The Market at Bonton Farms is a far cry from a regular Dallas brunch spot. Because Bonton is not your ordinary neighborhood.
Its nickname in the 1940’s and 50’s after WWII was “Bomb Town” — not for a homophonous reason, but because white residents bombed the homes of black families who moved north, sending them back south to the “undesirable” flood-prone Bonton.
buildingcommunityWORKSHOP produced a documentary about Bonton, and I highly recommend watching it if you are unfamiliar with the neighborhood’s story.
Numerous reports and news articles have addressed the growing racial wealth gap in Dallas, notably between the Northern and Southern sectors. It seems shocking (for some) to read in fine print, but the current state of Dallas’ economic, racial, and social disparity is neither accidental or new. It was intentionally created and supported by years of discriminatory housing policies, segregation, racial violence, and disinvestment.
Growing up in Southlake, I never worried about access to healthy food options. Our biggest dilemma was deciding whether to go to Smoothie King, Jamba Juice, or one of the four Starbucks locations within a two-mile radius for a quick, nutritious breakfast. We had grocery stores aplenty- Tom Thumb, Albertsons, Kroger, Central Market, and Sprouts. It was a wonder they all managed to stay in business with so much competition.
I hadn’t heard the term “food desert” until recent years, when I started working in communities like Red Bird and Pleasant Grove. Bonton is located in one such food desert. According to the Bonton Farms website, “63% of its residents do not have access to personal transportation and the nearest grocery store is a 3-hour round-trip bus ride away.”
These stats weighed on my heart while I ate lunch in the beautiful new market. With each bite of Hoppin’ John, I thought about what a privilege the meals I’ve eaten in my 32 years of life have been.
I took a walk around the property afterward. Although I’m sure I seemed out of my element in my suede Chelsea boots – navigating carefully around goat droppings – the team made me feel so welcomed. One of the Bonton Farms employees shared his personal story as he gave me a tour of the farm. I thought about the words painted on the walls of the restaurant:
“When you visit the Market at Bonton Farms, you’ll either be with old friends or new friends because there are no strangers here. You’ll encounter people needing help, people getting help and people willing to help. So whether you are just hungry or hungry to make a difference, we saved a place at the table just for you.”
I don’t know what it was exactly that initially drew me to the market, but I think maybe in some way, I fell into all of the categories listed.
I took photos knowing I wanted to write a post about Bonton Farms, but was unsure of how to describe it best. Passing by the rows of produce on my way back to the car, it hit me– this is a place to grow.
Bonton Farms and its newly-opened market offer so much more than high-quality, healthy food to the community. They have created job opportunities, second chances, and a place at the table for everyone. The restaurant is located at 6915 Bexar St, Dallas, TX 75215. Visit their website for hours and info. Say “hi” to Lucy the goat for me, if you visit!
Utopia Weiner says
Really delightful and well written article about a magical place in Dallas.
Stephanie Drenka says
Thanks so much for reading! We’re lucky to have a place like this in our city.
I went there last week for the first time. Your pictures truly tell the story. I had a biscuit with the honey butter and it was yummy. I also had the fried green tomato with pimiento cheese sandwich which was different from anything else I have ever had in sandwich making history! It was wonderful. It was a fun , interesting and learning experience going to Bonton Farms.