Best of Dallas — 2015 Guide
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Food & Drinks

Best New Restaurant

Café Momentum

When you dine out, how often do you receive a bonus side of feel-good? Chad Houser’s Café Momentum has been a long time coming, and now that the official restaurant is open, diners don’t have to chase pop-up events from neighborhood to neighborhood. Café Momentum employs at-risk, non-violent youths, giving them solid training and a chance to earn an honest living. Diners get ricotta gnocchi with rapini and sage from one of the most inspiring culinary teams Dallas has to offer.

1510 Pacific Ave., 214-303-1234,

Readers’ Pick: Braindead Brewing

2625 Main St., 214-749-0600,

Best Chef

Misti Norris, Small Brewpub

This town needed a shake-up. Not only has Dallas’ dining scene been overrun with meat and potatoes, but the most notable chefs have often been men. Enter Misti Norris, whose kitchen at Small Brewpub is turning out the most innovative bar food Dallas has ever seen. While folks at watering holes down the road nibble on chicken wings, Norris’ customers dine on chicken feet. Her charcuterie, condiments and even the vinegar are made on-site, and the results are as delicious as they are interesting. Don’t miss this chance to see where Dallas’ dining scene could be headed.

333 W. Jefferson Blvd., 972-863-1594,

Readers’ Pick: Stephan Pyles

Stephan Pyles Restaurant, 1807 Ross Ave., No. 200, 214-580-7000; San Salvaje, 2100 Ross Ave., 214-922-9922; Stampede 66, 1717 McKinney Ave., 214-550-6966

Best Food Truck

Easy Slider

For the longest time, the term slider was reserved for thin-pattied mini-burgers you could down in one bite. They were bready and dry and only slightly better than the alternative of having no burgers at all. Then Easy Slider came around and the slider was turned on its head. Forget nickel-thin meat patties and picture meatballs instead. Now dream up every flavor combination you think even remotely belongs on a burger and know that Easy Slider has likely tackled those dreams already. Combine juicy burgers with interesting flavors, then put them on wheels, and you’ve got the best food truck in town.

5624 Sears St., 214-668-1910, Readers’ Pick: Easy Slider

Best Barbecue Restaurant

Cattleack Barbeque

With so much focus placed on brisket in matters of Texas barbecue, it’s easy to forget there are other cuts of meat that benefit from some time in a hot, smoky environment. A perfectly smoked sausage, for instance, is a thing of true beauty, especially when the links are expertly prepared. Cattleack Barbecue has excellent brisket for sure, but the links coming out of that kitchen are works of art. Plump and rarely collapsed or wrinkly, these sausages retain their fat and ooze with moisture when your teeth pop through the snappy wrapper.

13628 Gamma Road, 972-805-0999,

Readers’ Pick: Pecan Lodge

2702 Main St., 214-748-8900,

Best Place for Breakfast

CBD Provisions

A morning trip to CBD Provisions is worth it for the oatmeal alone. Each bowl is topped with nuts, drizzled with sorghum and finished with a dollop of crème fraiche. You’ll never be able to go back to Quaker again, and all of the morning options here are good enough to make you want to open up your newspaper, blow off work and put in an extended breakfast session. The eggs are expertly cooked and the coarsely ground sausage is made in-house. There’s also a baker toiling away: The biscuits, breads and other baked goods are on point.

1530 Main St., 214-261-4500,

Readers’ Pick: Cindi’s NY Delicatessen

Various locations,

Best Burger Restaurant


The buns for the burgers are baked on-site daily and the meat is ground on-site several times more. If the burger component can be produced on-site, at Hopdoddy it probably is, and still the finished burgers somehow cost less than $7. No wonder there’s a line out the door. Add in a good beer selection with plenty of local taps, and milkshakes with booze in them, and Hopdoddy is a perfect little paradise of vice. Lines are never fun, but know that this one moves fast — it’s a constant churn of burger lovers seeking the ultimate in burger satisfaction.

3227 McKinney Ave., No. 102, 214-871-2337, and two other locations,

Readers’ Pick: Twisted Root Burger Co.

2615 Commerce St., 214-741-7668, and various locations,

Best Chicken-Fried Steak

Babe’s Chicken Dinner House

The undisputed heavyweight champion of fried mountains of meat, Babe’s has been serving plates of golden brown and delicious things in the Dallas area for decades. If you want a chicken-fried steak that is guaranteed never to disappoint, Babe’s is your place if only because they plate up orders by the hundreds every day. That much practice has to have a positive effect, and here it’s realized in a CFS that is crisp, just salty enough and never oily despite a lengthy baptism in bubbling fat.

104 N. Oak St., Roanoke, 817-491-2900, and various other locations,

Readers’ Pick: Ozona Grill & Bar

4615 Greenville Ave., 214-265-9105,

Best Chinese Restaurant

Mr. Wok

You can drop by Mr. Wok without any notice and have a delicious Chinese food experience. Your stomach will be much better served, however, if you remember to call and make a reservation in advance — a move that grants access to more prized items on the menu. Call one day ahead to order Peking duck with skin so crisp it rivals kettle-cooked potato chips. And if you can firm up your dinner plans two days ahead, it’s worth your time to order the beggars chicken. Wrapped up in dry, tough bread, the dish resembles a rugby ball more than dinner, but get a crack at what’s inside that boule and you’ll be forced to rethink the humble bird forever.

2600 14th St., Plano, 972-881-1888, Readers’ Pick: Monkey King Noodle Co.

3014 Main St., 469-206-3658,

Best Coffee Shop

Murray Street

Remember when a cup of coffee was just a cup of coffee, and a coffee shop was just a quaint, quirky place to get such a cup? Murray Street keeps things simple in an environment where tattooed, mustachioed coffee geeks obsess over the floral notes in a singleorigin, organic, Costa Rican cup of java. Just want a coffee? This is where you come to get your pick-me-up, served by the nicest staff you could hope for. Want a mocha-spicedlatte with soy-whatever? Yeah, you can get that here too. And they won’t even call you high maintenance for placing the order.

103 Murray St., 214-655-2808,

Readers’ Pick: Mudsmith Coffee

2114 Greenville Ave., 214-370-9535,

Best Diner

John’s Cafe

Sure, the sign says cafe, but the burgers, gyros, shortstack pancakes and other breakfast plates scream diner all the way. John’s has been plating up the classics for more than 40 years now, and the place has loads more character than the 24-hour chain diners that blanket the Dallas area. John’s doesn’t forget the little things: There are philodendrons hanging from the ceiling and fresh flowers on every table. Fresh flowers, plus two eggs over-easy with bacon and hash browns: Where else can you find that?

1733 Greenville Ave., 214 874-0800,

Readers’ Pick: Norma’s Cafe

1123 W. Davis St. and various locations,

Best Hot Dog

Luscher’s Red Hots

Do you have trouble getting out of bed on Saturday mornings? If you do, Luscher’s Red Hots could be the greatest enhancement the Dallas culinary scene has experienced in ages. Before Luscher’s, the only way to get the best hot dog in Dallas was to visit the White Rock Local Market on Saturday mornings. If you slept in past noon, you had to wait seven days for your next chance at an expertly crafted tube steak. At Luscher’s Red Hots you can get a hot dog seven days a week. And if a dog doesn’t pad out your square edges sufficiently, you can always follow it up with an Italian beef.

2653 Commerce St., 214-434-1006,

Readers’ Pick: Angry Dog

2726 Commerce St., 214-741-4406,

Best Indian Restaurant


Indian restaurants lend themselves to communal dining. Bringing friends with you to places like Mughlai is the only way to sample a little of everything the kitchen has to offer. With a table of six or more, you can share several curries and rice dishes, and breads to soak them up with, at a table laid out like a banquet. Mughlai can help you take a simple ethnic dining experience and turn it into a grand event (that’s still surprisingly affordable). Just remember to save room for some rice pudding and kulfi.

5301 Alpha Road, No. 14, 972-392-7786

Readers’ Pick: India Palace Restaurant and Bar

12817 Preston Road, No. 105, 972-392-0190,

Best Fried Chicken


Fried chicken doesn’t have to be served at a picnic in the park with a side of potato salad and sweet tea. Sometimes fried chicken with a little more character is in order. Sometimes you want crispy fried chicken drizzled with a sweet, spicy glaze and served with pickled daikon and kimchi. And screw iced tea. Quench your thirst with a massive plastic bottle of Hite beer. If you want fried chicken that talks back while you eat it, head over to Bbbop and order some yard bird fried in a rice-flour batter. It’s got a serious crunch.

2023 Greenville Ave., 469-941-4297,

Readers’ Pick: Babe’s Chicken Dinner House

Various locations,

Best Italian Restaurant


A reservation at Lucia has been a difficult score for more than four years now. One reason? While chef David Uygur presides over Dallas’ very best Italian cooking, there’s more to Lucia’s allure than what is on the plates as they cross the pass. The walls of this Oak Cliff restaurant enclose a tiny dining room that exudes as much charm as that perfectly cooked pork chop exudes glistening juice. Lucia embodies romance, even if you’re dining alone. Just sit at the bar and engage the cooks working across from you. The night will pass more quickly than you’d like.

408 W. 8th St., No. 101, 214-948-4998,

Readers’ Pick: Campisi’s

Various locations,

Best Kids Restaurant

Cane Rosso

Nothing says kid-friendly dining more than pizzas and a patio, which Cane Rosso has in spades across multiple locations. Throw in a third “P” for prosecco and you’ve got the makings of a relaxed family evening that won’t break the bank — not to mention there’s rumor of buried treasure in the garden at the Lakewood location. Order a few pizzas, wrap things up with some of the best sugar-dusted doughnuts in Dallas and wait for the kids to sugar crash. Your Friday night is complete.

7328 Gaston Ave., No. 100, 214-660-3644; 2612 Commerce St., No. 101, 214-741-1188;

Readers’ Pick: Magic Time Machine

5003 Belt Line Road, 972-980-1903,

Best Pizza Restaurant


Order a Neapolitan pizza of your choice and make sure to request that it stays in the oven till it’s extra crispy. You’ll be well on your way to enjoying the best pizza served in Dallas. The crust here has integrity and stands up to toppings without going limp. You can even fold one of the tiny slices and it will stand at attention. With three locations (the newest is in Victory Park), you shouldn’t have to travel far for perfection. Just make sure you dine in; great pizza seldom travels well.

6465 E. Mockingbird Lane, No. 525, 469-730-2626; 2340 Victory Park Lane; 3406 McFarlin Blvd.;

Readers’ Pick: Il Cane Rosso

2612 Commerce St., No. 101, 214-1188; 7328 Gaston Ave., 214-660-3644;

Best Sandwich Restaurant

Bolsa Mercado

Stand at the counter at Bolsa Mercado and you’ll be filled with a sense of potential. The mercado serves as a commissary of sorts for next-door neighbor Bolsa, and there’s housesmoked turkey and house-cured pastrami up for grabs. These are the building blocks of great sandwiches, flanked by some equally impressive sides if you order correctly. You can’t go wrong picking from their case of croissants, macarons and other goods from the best bakeries in Dallas. Grab a seat at the communal table inside or on the patio and start brainstorming excuses for not returning to work.

634 W. Davis St., 214-942-0451, bolsa-mercado

Readers’ Pick: Jimmy’s Food Store

4901 Bryan St., 214-823-6180,

Best Sushi Restaurant

Uchi Dallas

Dallas had to wait years for Uchi to make its way to Dallas, but now that the Maple Avenue location is open for business, the wait has proved worth it. The Austin-based Japanese restaurant, which has received multiple nods from the James Beard Foundation, offers a new spin on sushi that’s filled with creativity. The best part about Uchi, though, is that you don’t have to spend a fin and a tail to eat well here. Every day from 5-6:30 p.m., a happy hour special will fill you to the gills without breaking the bank.

2817 Maple Ave., 214-855-5454,

Readers’ Pick: Deep Sushi 2624 Elm St. 214-651-1177,

Best Seafood Restaurant

20 Feet Seafood Joint

20 Feet has been a great place to get a lobster roll since it opened in 2013, but the recent addition of a covered patio complete with climate control makes this East Dallas seafood shack a great place to pass some time. The restaurant is BYOB, which can save you some money, and the staff is quick to supply a bucket of ice for whatever bottled vice you show up with. Add some fried clams, a few dozen freshly shucked oysters and end the evening with a slice of Key lime pie, and you’ve got the makings of a mini beach-side vacation without the four-hour drive.

1160 Peavy Road, 972-707-7442,

Readers’ Pick: St. Pete’s Dancing Marlin

2730 Commerce St., 214-698-1511,

Best Turkish Restaurant

Zeytin Mediterranean Grill

Zeytin is a Turkish restaurant in disguise. It wears the unassuming mask of a generic suburban Mediterranean lunch buffet, with hummus and chicken for all. Come at dinner time, though, and you’ll find Zeytin executes thoughtful interpretations of Turkish standards. The borek appetizer, a pastry of feta and parsley, is light and fluffy even though it still sizzles from the fryer. Grilled chicken atop smoky eggplant purée is more melt-inyour- mouth juicy than grilled chicken has ever been. Oh, and that unassuming lunch buffet? With seconds-inducing vegetarian options such as roasted cauliflower, baba ghanoush and bulgur (fine-grained wheat with tomatoes and parsley), Zeytin has one of the healthiest, freshest and all-around best buffets in Dallas.

114 E. John Carpenter Freeway, Suite 100, Irving, 972-887-2000,

Best Treehouse Bar

Truck Yard

OK, OK. So maybe there’s only one treehouse bar in Dallas, but it’s still the best. At this adult playground with a laid-back atmosphere, you can kick back with a beer, a mighty fine cheesesteak and even buy snacks for the squirrels. From this bird’s-eye vantage point, the people-watching is especially good. The Truck Yard is packed on weekends, so your timing is going to have to be just right to snag a spot here. They don’t take reservations per se, but if you’re really determined, you can rent the whole treehouse for 3 hours at $1,500. It’ll hold 40 people before the party really crashes.

5624 Sears St., 469-500-0139,

Best Steakhouse


When Graham Dodds arrived at Hibiscus, the old-school steakhouse got an infusion of youth and integrity. The local food movement that’s guided Dodd’s cooking in several kitchens around Dallas upgraded the ingredient sourcing and his creative takes on classic dishes brought a thoughtful update to much of the menu. Come here for a perfectly cooked, locally sourced steak. Sit at the bar if you’re feeling social — Hibiscus has one of the liveliest bar scenes on Henderson Avenue. You’ll also have access to one of the better whiskey selections in the city.

2927 N. Henderson Ave., 214-827-2927,

Readers’ Pick: Bob’s Steak & Chop House

Various locations,

Best Sunday Brunch


With plates like duck confit with farm eggs, and a massive burger, Boulevardier is also in the running for brunch most likely to induce an afternoon nap. Even the steak and eggs here features a 14-ounce rib eye, and the plates are always filling. But after a weekend of excess, some Sunday slumber is often just what the doctor ordered. Don’t pass up the cocktail list — consider it part of the medicinal properties of a great brunch — and prepare to walk out the door with your mind set on spending some quality time with your couch.

408 N. Bishop Ave., No. 108, 214-942-1828,

Readers’ Pick: Mattito’s

3102 Oak Lawn Ave., 214-526-8181,

Best Taqueria

El Come Taco

Every few months something else seems to improve at this East Dallas taqueria, and if the killer paint job, stylish tables and massive projection-screen TV weren’t enough, El Come Taco recently earned a license to sell alcohol. Not that there was anything wrong with a fizzy bottle of Topo Chico paired with your suadero, but an ice-cold cerveza is a taco’s perfect foil. El Come Taco also deals in tacos other taquerias can’t be bothered to serve. Grasshoppers, ant eggs and calf brains all may sound like a challenge, but they’re delicious. And without owner Luis Villalva, you wouldn’t have the opportunity to even try them here in Dallas.

2513 N. Fitzhugh Ave., 214-821-3738

Readers’ Pick: Fuel City

801 S. Riverfront Blvd., 214-426-0011,

Best Tex-Mex


It was a sad day when news broke that Herrera’s on Maple Avenue would close. Tearyeyed customers streamed out of the restaurant wondering where they’d go for their beloved sour cream enchiladas. Herrera’s had moved plenty of times, but this go around there was no new location on the horizon. Now that the Tex-Mex restaurant is all settled in on Sylvan Avenue, it’s hard to understand why anyone was ever concerned. Sour cream enchiladas abound, along with fajitas, refried beans and a list of combination plates that fills an entire page. The new restaurant has a massive patio, an expansive dining room and the most charm since the very first Herrera’s occupied a tiny nine-table spot back in 1984.

3311 Sylvan Ave., 214-954-7180,

Best Thai Restaurant


Kyla and Angel Phomsavanh might very well be the hardest-working couple in the entire restaurant industry. If their Thai restaurant Sakhuu is open, one or both of them are likely working inside, whether during lunch service, dinner service or the late evening hours when the kitchen needs cleaning. The hard work pays off, though, with a staff that is just as diligent and an atmosphere that is so welcoming you may forget that you’re in a restaurant and not your imaginary Thai grandmother’s living room. Don’t start a meal without the stuffed chicken wings, a feat of culinary engineering that results in an addic-tive snack. Then dig into a selection of Thai classics such as papaya salad and larb gai that will leave your belly filled and your mouth aflame.

4801 Bryan St., No. 100, 214-828-9300,

Readers’ Pick: Royal Thai

5500 Greenville Ave., No. 608, 214-691-3555

Best Vegetarian or Vegan

Afrah Mediterranean Restaurant and Pastries

The best vegetarian meals are based on dishes that are inherently, you know, vegetarian. A mushy, flavorless veggie burger will never stand a chance against a bowl of hummus and some grilled eggplant with freshly baked flatbread. Afrah is a treasuretrove for vegetarian diners, with dishes such as tabbouleh and baba ganoush that are as healthy as they are delicious. What’s better is vegetarian dinners can welcome their carnivorous friends without putting them in a bind, because there’s plenty of chicken, lamb and fish, too. A new, expanded location in Richardson diminishes your wait for a table but the vegetarian delicacies are as good as ever.

314 E. Main St., Richardson, 972-234-9898; 3351 Regent Blvd., No. 140, Irving, 469-420-9197;

Readers’ Pick: Cosmic Cafe

2912 Oak Lawn Ave., 214-521-6157,

Best Salsa

Urban Taco

It surely rubs some diners the wrong way that Urban Taco charges for the snack most Tex- Mex restaurants give away with enthusiasm. But as soon as the chips and salsa land on the table, you quickly learn that you get what you pay for. The chips are sturdy, well seasoned and not greasy, and the salsa arrives in threes from a rotation that seems to offer endless variety. Be careful when your server asks how spicy you’d like your selection to be. A few (including one that tastes as if it were made exclusively with habanero peppers) pack a serious burn.

3411 McKinney Ave., 214-922-7080,

Readers’ Pick: Gloria’s

Various locations,

Best Margarita

Joyce and Gigi’s

Margaritas made with lime juice and mixes can be had at nearly every restaurant around Dallas. What makes the drink at Joyce and Gigi’s special is the same thing that makes every drink at their bar stand out — freshly squeezed juices from fruits you may or may not have heard of. For the margarita, cherimoya is in play, lending unique apple, banana and sometimes pineapple flavors that balance out the tartness of lime juice, in a refreshing take on a classic you thought you knew all too well.

1623 N. Hall St., 469-334-0799,

Readers’ Pick: Gloria’s

Various locations,

Best Bakery


People who really love bread secretly harbor fantasies that everyone is just like them, that everyone wakes up each morning craving a perfect croissant and wouldn’t think of coming home without a freshly baked baguette in tow. Bread people are weird like that, but they’re onto something, because drinking wine and chewing on the tough, crusty end of a baguette is one of the best ways to spend your time after a long day at work. Pick yours up at Boulangerie; it’s your best shot at being surrounded by fellow bread heads. If you’ve got a sweet tooth there’s plenty of pastry, too. Grab a coffee, a tart and a pain au chocolat and enjoy a sugary overload.

1921 Greenville Ave., 214-821-3477,

Readers’ Pick: (Tie) Society Bakery, Village Baking Co.

Society Bakery, 3610 Greenville Ave., 214-827- 1411; 7777 Forest Lane, 972-566-7558; Village Baking Co., 5531 E. University Blvd., 214-951-9077,

Best Icy Treat Shop

Steel City Pops

You can’t deny the line streaming out the door of Steel City Pops. It’s long, and it’s always present, turning the corner past the patio out front, leading down the sidewalk and sometimes around the block. The pops coming out of this small storefront take paletas to places they’ve never been in terms of flavor, using ingredients including tea, corn, buttermilk, avocados and jalepeños. If that sounds too adventurous you can get something simple like mango, strawberry or lemonade, but no matter what flavor you choose, your pop will always have a velvety consistency that’s unrivaled.

2012 Greenville Ave., 972-807-9062,

Readers’ Pick: Steel City Pops

Best Desserts


Sitting at the bar at Remedy is like taking a trip through time and space. The old-school soda fountain serves up egg creams and other freshly mixed sodas and desserts that could easily make a whole meal. If you’re in the mood for ice cream, check out the sundaes made from dairy that’s churned on-site. The flavor combinations are all original creations and many pay tribute to local food personalities. There’s also pie, including a coconut cream that redefines the genre, and if you’re feeling gluttonous, you can have it served with more of that ice cream.

2010 Greenville Ave., 469-294-4012,

Best Farmers Market

Good Local Market

White Rock Local Market is all grown up these days, with three major markets in the Dallas area on both Saturday and Sunday. What started off as a small, homespun alternative to the massive market downtown has become one of the best collections of local farmers and producers in the DFW area. Good Local Market stands out because of its commitment to local farmers who grow and sell their own food, and a shopping trip there leaves customers with a sense they’ve made some small difference while learning the exact provenance of their food.

972-379-7097, Readers’ Pick: Dallas Farmers Market 1010 S. Pearl Expressway, 214-664-9110

Best Ramen

Ten Ramen

Nobody in Dallas makes ramen better than the team of cooks at Ten. The subject is not even up for debate. They deliver hot bowls of soup on the fly, filled with perfectly cooked noodles and fresh garnishes that truly elevate your ramen experience. What’s better is the whole restaurant is built around authenticity. It’s standing-room-only, so you’ll have to slurp on your feet, and the menu focuses on what’s important, which is ramen and little else. You’ll be in and out the door in 20 minutes flat, and bowls of soup start at $10 for the fastest, cheapest, most delicious meal in Dallas.

1818 Sylvan Ave., Suite 100, 972-803-4400

Best Bloody Mary

The Grape

The bloody mary is a powerful elixir. One glass of this vodka-toting liquid salad can render a hangover cured and change an entire afternoon. Even a bad bloody mary can be restorative if you’re desperate enough, and a good one can be a thing of true beauty. Add a miniature charcuterie board impaled on a bamboo skewer and the drink is almost powerful enough to undo the bad decisions you made the evening before. The Grape’s bloody mary — garnished with a hunk of cheese, an olive and a piece of salami — rights wrongs like a superhero. That it’s served in proximity to a burger the size of a Labrador’s head only makes it better.

2808 Greenville Ave., 214-828-1981,

Readers’ Pick: Ozona Grill & Bar

4615 Greenville Ave., 214-265-9105,

Best Beer Selection

Meddlesome Moth

One look at the run of taps jutting out from the nickel-covered back-splash, and you’ll know that Meddlesome Moth is a serious beer contender. There’s even more beer available by the bottle on the menu you’ll find at the bar. The local breweries you see at every other craft bar are represented, but the obscure beers bottled in far-off lands make Meddlesome Moth a standout beer-drinking establishment. If you’re looking for a special release, tapping events are commonplace here, and the stunning patio makes the Moth a place you’ll want to drink year-round.

1621 Oak Lawn Ave., 214-628-7900,

Readers’ Pick: Meddlesome Moth

Best Local Brewery

Peticolas Brewing Co.

Since opening in late 2011, Peticolas Brewing Co. Has been producing some of Dallas’ most recognizable beers. Good luck trying to find a local beer nerd who hasn’t imbibed a few hundred Velvet Hammers, and Golden Opportunity may be this city’s most drinkable beer. Maintaining a style that holds balance in the highest regard, Peticolas produces beers that sip easily and will sometimes set you on your ass. Fold in a series of special releases with festive tapping events, and Dallas’ best maker of beers is obvious.

2026 Farrington St., 214-234-7600,

Readers’ Pick: Deep Ellum Brewing Co.

2823 St. Louis St. 214-888-3322,

Best Local Beer

Community Beer Co.’s Mosaic IPA

This robust IPA is hoppy in a big way, but a hefty dose of malt helps keep things light, while a rich amber color and white, fluffy head make for an attractive glass of beer. Community’s Mosaic IPA is bitter and brash, but it’s also somehow smooth; the drinking experience won’t bore you and an ABV of 8.6 percent will keep you on your toes. If you’re a fan of American lagers commonly served from a can, Mosaic might be a little much for you, but if you’re a true hophead you may have found your perfect beer.

1530 Inspiration Drive, 214-751-7921,

Readers’ Pick: Revolver Blood & Honey

Best Tortas

La Huasteca Tacos y Tortas

La Huasteca Tacos y Tortas is a popular spot among locals in its East Dallas neighborhood. The best deal is the torta, a Mexican sandwich. Just $5 delivers a meaty torta on light, fluffy bread, accompanied by a huge pile of french fries. Request a side of orange sauce for a sweet and spicy chipotle flavor to dip the fries in. The tortas come out slightly different each time, depending on who is making them. Sometimes they’re flavored with more mayonnaise, other times they’re heavy with black bean spread or avocado. But the meat remains consistent. There’s always a lot of it, enough to make half of a torta a sorta filling dinner.

723 S. Beacon St., 214-821-3018

Best Wings

Knox Street Pub

It’s the little things that make a plate. All over Dallas, wings are served up under-fried, timidly sauced and paired with terrible garnishes. It’s enough to make you want to stick with the bar nuts. At Knox Street Pub, the wings come out with a satisfying crispness, and they’re sauced with pure Frank’s Red Hot, straight out of the bottle for a fiery punch. Even the garnishes are solid, with chunky blue cheese, celery that’s crisp and vibrant and whole baby carrots with a satisfying crunch. There’s enough veg on this plate that you could trick yourself into believing it’s healthy. Don’t.

4447 McKinney Ave., 214-528-5100,

Best Cheap Drink Deal

Cock and Bull Neighborhood Pub

Sometimes you go to a bar to hide. From your spouse. From your problems. From the glare of daylight itself. The murky atmosphere of the Cock and Bull, a cozy little red-walled bar in Lakewood, is as dark as a Raymond Chandler mystery. Some poorly lit bars skimp on cleaning, but you’ll find no sticky surfaces here, my friend. Just killer drink specials ($2.50 well booze Thursday nights) and a lovely absence of lumens.

Lakewood Shopping Center, 6330 Gaston Ave., 214-841-9111,

Best Caffeine Merchant

The Cultured Cup

Drop in during the weekend and be prepared to leave with a little extra zip in your step. Whether you prefer freshly ground coffee or the more delicate appeal of loose tea-leaves, The Cultured Cup will send you home with everything you need to assure your coming week is well caffeinated. But don’t rush out the door! The best thing about visiting The Cultured Cup is spending time at the tasting bar. You’ll likely encounter new teas and coffees and meet fellow stimulant junkies. The store is as social as your favorite coffee shop but with a much larger offering.

13714 Gamma Road, No. 104, 972-960-1521,

Best Butcher Shop

Rudolph’s Market & Sausage Factory

A lot has changed on Elm Street over the past year. The sidewalks are wider, parking your car is a little easier and from landscaping to paint everything has had a serious facelift. Through it all, Rudolph’s hasn’t changed a bit, which is a very good thing. The butcher shop has been selling paperwrapped steaks, sausages and other cuts of meat for more than a century, and anyone who has shopped here hopes things stay just as they are for as long as they can. A trip to Rudolph’s is a trip back in time — a time when the guy behind the counter could tell you how to roast the top round you just purchased, and your meat was raised sensibly.

2924 Elm St., 214-741-1874,

Readers’ Pick: Rudolph’s Market & Sausage Factory

Best Cookies

JD’s Chippery

Cookies are so good, most people don’t notice much difference between a fresh cookie; one that’s a little old, moist and dry; and a commercial cookie with a chemical aftertaste. But cookies baked with care from scratch taste better, and family-owned JD’s Chippery carefully bake theirs in small batches at their quaint shop in Snider Plaza. They excel in the classic chocolate chip, a little crunchy on the outside and soft and melty on the inside.

6601 Hillcrest Ave., Suite A, 214-363-2038,

Best Salad That’s Actually Healthy

Whole Foods’ Raw Kale and Avocado Salad

Think of Whole Foods grocery store as a city unto itself, where the salad bar functions as the “downtown.” It’s where the natives hunt and gather for the quick pick-up of ready-made meals. Get there early, however, for the healthiest option on the to-go table, the popular raw kale and avocado (with purple onion) salad. It contains no meat, no salad dressing —nothing cooked. How do you make a salad without dressing taste good? By smothering the chopped kale and crisp onion with creamy, squished-up fresh avocado. It’s pitched to people on the stringent “raw food” diet, but for anyone’s menu, it’s a light, refreshing, healthy bowl o’ green.

All locations,

Best Brunch Abomination

Easy Slider’s Glazed & Confused

In most cases, the idea of doughnut as sandwich roll is overwhelming. It’s a gimmick, trotted out by the likes of minor league baseball teams trying to kill you with a fullsize Krispy Kreme double cheeseburger. Easy Slider, with a little help from Deep Ellum’s Glazed Donut Works, takes advantage of its staple’s diminutive size to make a sweet, savory concoction of beef, cheese, bacon and doughnut that falls deliciously short of being a gut bomb. It’s available from 1 to 4 p.m. Sundays, when the Easy Slider truck can be found at the Doublewide in Deep Ellum.

3510 Commerce St., 214-668-1910,

Best Pimento Cheese Sandwich

Cold Beer Co.

Cold Beer Co.’s pimento cheese bears no resemblance to the neon orange stuff your grandmother used to keep a tub of in the fridge. It’s a decadent combination of Gouda, cheddar, mayo and just a hint of jalapeño. Topped with bacon and spread between two pieces of sourdough, it makes a sandwich you’ll tell your grandkids about.

3600 Main St., 214-370-9301,

Best Hangover Cure

The Ol’ Number 7 at Norma’s

Two biscuits smothered in gravy, three scrambled eggs, hash browns and melted cheddar cheese topped with sausage, bacon, jalapeños and tomatoes. That’s Norma’s Ol’ Number 7. A giant, dense, gooey mess that will take care of the physical ramifications of whatever horrible things you drank last night. It won’t help with your paleo diet, but it sure does help heal a hangover.

1123 W. Davis St., 214-946-4711,

Best Eats After 2 a.m.


For all that Dallas’ dining scene does well, latenight food service is not a strong point. Beyond the usual pancake joints and freeway greasy spoons, there isn’t much to pick from for eats after last call. When Zalat opened this spring, that changed. Five nights a week — Wednesday through Sunday — the New York- style pizza joint will serve you a pie as late as 4 a.m. The pizza, especially the creative and delicious Reuben, is way better than it should be for an after-midnight nosh. Worth staying out late for.

2519 N. Fitzhugh Ave., 469-573-2007,

Best Fort Worth Import

Rodeo Goat

Fort Worth’s top contender for the North Texas burger throne proved itself in 2015 as its second outpost took up residence in the Dallas Design District. The Rodeo Goat features a burger named after our mayor — the Irish whiskey cheddar- and candied bacontopped “Mike Rawlings” — and brought the Fort Worth original’s Goat Balls along for good measure. Ignore the rude name, the goat cheese-stuffed beignets are little wads of cheesy goodness. Every bite of the half-chorizo Chaca Oaxaca burger is an adventure into spicy meat happiness.

1926 Market Center Blvd., 214-741-4628,

Best Use of Rice Krispies Treats

Carnival Barker’s Ice Cream

Aaron Barker’s burgeoning Dallas institution, Carnival Barkers, is in a state of flux. The ice cream master lost his lease on his space at the Truck Yard this year, but opened his first stand-alone joint near the Texas Theatre in Oak Cliff. It’s a good thing, too, as even the slightest doubt about the availability of Barker’s most delicious creation, the Rice Krispies treats ice-cream sandwich, featuring vanilla ice cream jammed between two Rice Krispies squares, would’ve been utterly snap, crackle and no.

345 W. Jefferson Blvd., 972-603-8225

Best Pancakes

Ellen’s Southern Kitchen

Weekend brunches at Ellen’s are worth the one-hour wait for the perfect scrambled eggs and hash browns, but many would put up with longer queues if all Ellen’s served was pancakes. They’re less sweet than the flapjacks served at most joints, almost savory, and loaded with tangy buttermilk. A big stack dripping with syrup is a fine reward for waiting your turn.

1718 N. Market St., 469-206-3339,

Best French Fries

Poutine at The Blind Butcher

When a restaurant devotes a whole section of its menu to the gooey Canadian delicacy poutine, you know they start with good french fries. The Blind Butcher’s executive chef Oliver Sitrin has created intriguing varieties of poutine. A new shrimp poutine just joined the menu, lighter than the duck poutine with added foie gras hugging the cheese curds. There’s even a vegetarian mushroom poutine. The rest of the menu here, including hand-cranked sausages and pastrami egg rolls, may distract, but the poutines have a gravitational pull.

1919 Greenville Ave., 214-887-0000,

Best Ethiopian Restaurant

La Libela

Many people aren’t aware of Dallas’ strong Ethiopian community. About a dozen East African restaurants, many around the intersection of Forest Lane and Greenville Avenue, are delicious proof that it exists. Each restaurant offers a slightly different ambience — some with white tablecloths, flowers on the tables and contemporary art on the walls — but we prefer the humbler vibe at La Libela. Don’t mind the blaring TV or the large group that often dominates the small room. It’s probably the family of Genet Mulugeta, the owner, and she’ll treat you like you’re part of it. Plus, her food’s out of sight (try the veggie combo). Each excursion to La Libela is like a positive party-crashing experience.

9191 Forest Lane, 972-792-8442

Best Juice Bar

Roots Juices

Arrested Development’s Buster Bluth would love this place. (“We can have unlimited juice? This party’s gonna be off the hook!”) Your juice options are pretty close to unlimited at Roots’ storefront on Oak Lawn. Cleanses are available if you’re the zealous type, but juices such as the Immune Booster, which has a pleasant balance of sweet and spicy notes thanks to apple juice and jalapeño, are just as pleasant as a mid-afternoon refresher or green supplement to an otherwise unhealthy meal. Smoothies made with almond butter are more substantial for a light lunch. Let’s all set aside our disdain for health food trends and agree that this is one that can stay.

3527 Oak Lawn Ave., 888-666-0290,

Best Lunch

Slow Bone

Slow Bone is a case of downtown marries the country. Minutes from downtown on Irving Boulevard, with ample parking, Slow Bone offers classic Texas barbecue in a smartly re-purposed space that’s small, clean, bright and arctic air-conditioned. Walk in the door and you’re already in a cafeteria-style line, strolling past steam tables that shimmer and shine like a brand new dime. Get the classics, of course — falloff- the-bone ribs, butter-soft chopped beef and rich chewy sausage — but do try some of the house specialties, like Oora’s jalapeño mac and cheese, and Brussels sprouts and cauliflower au gratin. Great barbecue, pretty fast, clean and good. That’s lunch that’s smokin’.

2234 Irving Blvd., 214-377-7727,

Best Not-on-the-Menu Salsa

The Green Stuff at the Rush

For a while we thought maybe “green stuff” was code for drugs or Cuban cigars, because insiders at the Gold Rush Cafe in East Dallas always drop their voices when they ask for it. George, the proprietor, always looks over his shoulder before he mutters sotto voce whether they have it that day or not. But it’s salsa, really, really good fresh green salsa made by a member of George’s extended clan — sometimes. Not always. And it’s never on the menu. You have to ask. But don’t just blurt it out, or George will say, “Green salsa? I don’t know about any green salsa. Who told you a thing like that?”

Gold Rush Cafe, 1913 Skillman St., 214-823-6923

Best Dip

Love Dip

Pink, smooth and soft, Love Dip spreads cold on water crackers or rests easily on a chip or crudité. Like an evening cloud wafting across the setting sun, this dip hints hauntingly of things it is not. Of caviar, rosé wine and Provence. In fact it’s made in Texas from milk and cheese, onion powder, cayenne, tarragon, cilantro, lemon juice, kosher salt and other tasty stuff. For about six bucks, you get a nice pint container, which you might as well gobble down as you drive home because it’s so good you won’t want to share, even with someone you love.

Central Market, multiple locations,

Best Table-Made Remoulade Sauce

S&D Oyster Company

The best thing at Dallas’ oldest New Orleansstyle oyster house isn’t on the menu, but it is on the table if you ask for it. S&D waitpersons are accomplished in the art of table-made remoulade and spicy cocktail sauces, made not simply while you watch but to your order. A little less horseradish, a little more pepper, light on the hot sauce, a splash of soy. However you want it, that’s how they’re going to make it. Nothing makes a big platter of oysters or a plate of boiled shrimp taste better than a great sauce for dredging, and these people know how to stir it up just right.

2701 McKinney Ave., 214-880-0111,

Best Local Production Bakery

Heartland Bread Co.

The stuff of life, a staple that provides energy, fiber and nutrition. The vehicle for peanut butter. Yet the American industrial grocery complex, with its propensity for refining flour into pulverized sheetrock, has managed to turn most commercially produced bread into tasteless, sugar-filled fluff. The alternative to sweating over a hot oven to knead and bake it yourself is a moist and hearty 2-lb loaf from Texas-based Heartland Bread Co., sold in Kroger, Albertsons, Sprouts and Whole Foods in Dallas, Austin and San Antonio. With all-natural ingredients, no fats, oils, chemicals or other nasties, Heartland Bread is literally the toast of this or any other town.

10733 Colewood Lane, 214-553-0922,

Best Alternative to Chuck E. Cheese’s

Amazing Jake’s

There comes a time in every parent’s life when the invitation arrives for a child’s birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese’s. Kids may love the soggy pizza and animatronic rodent, but it’s misery for adults. Amazing Jake’s, which occupies an old department store space in Collin Creek Mall, is a much nicer place for kiddies to gather. Buffet-style food includes pizzas, pastas, soups, salads and desserts. An open layout relieves claustrophobia, and there’s a wide array of games and activities. If one must go to a kid-centric arcade, Amazing Jake’s beats the rat-hole.

Collin Creek Mall, 831 N. Central Expressway, Plano, 972-509-5253,

Best Cocktails

Midnight Rambler

As if it weren’t cool enough to slink down the stairs positioned just under a neon-lit “cocktails” sign, the atmosphere at Midnight Rambler is chic without feeling over the top. Once you find your way into this dimly lit cocktail den, the drinks that await somehow manage to eclipse the ambience. The cocktail nerdery of bar braniacs Chad Solomon and Christy Pope is evident in their modernist technique and clever wordplay on the cocktail menu, and the drinks they stir are just so damn good. Close your eyes and point at a random spot on the menu, you’ll find a winner every single time.

1530 Main St., in the Joule Hotel, 214-261-4601,

Best Picnic Plan

Scardello’s Monger Picnic Service and Dragon Park

There’s a narrow window of time in North Texas when it’s not too hot or too cold for a picnic, so if you’re going to do it, do it right. This is why we like to leave it to the experts at Scardello. Their “monger picnic service” includes a consultation with their cheesemongers to pair cheeses and accompaniments, and $25 will get you a choice of two quarterpound cheeses, a half baguette and an accompaniment of a jam, chutney or pesto. If you like, they can also help you select wine and craft beers to complement your cheese. (Biodegradable utensils, cups, etc. included.) The perfect picnic needs the perfect setting, so you’ll want to abscond with your goodies to nearby Dragon Park, a tucked-away statue garden that some find as magical as a “mini- Narnia.”

Scardello, 3511 Oak Lawn Ave., 214-219-1300,; Dragon Park, 3520 Cedar Springs Road

Best Place to Get a Margarita and a Mustache


No, we’re not talking about that time you fell asleep at that party in college. Hiding in the corner of the waiting area of Smoke’s Plano location is a kooky vending machine that dispenses not only fake mustaches, but also random wildflower seeds and “medals for achievements that have yet to happen.” If you get stuck waiting for a table at the popular upscale barbecue joint, you might as well make the most of it — add taste-testing their Woodshed margarita and mustache-sporting to your list of achievements.

2408 Preston Road, Plano, 972-599-2222,

Best Place to Chase Caffeine with Shaved Ice


You know it for its craft coffee, but Mudsmith has a secret. Tucked away in the back is a booth housing an “Olde New Orleans” shaved ice machine. Order a shaved ice up front at the barista stand and a friendly coffee slinger will escort you there past the hipster hunting lodge decor. You’ll choose your 12- or 16-oz flavor from the chalkboard list, with options to add coconut milk or cream. In a stroke of genius, you can manage your caffeine fix and banish the Texas heat all at the same time.

2114 Greenville Ave., 214-370-9535,

Best Greek Restaurant

Little Greek Food Truck

The Little Greek Food Truck may not provide tables, chairs or a little old lady who turns every broken plate into a celebration. It doesn’t serve any alcohol, either. What this rolling restaurant lacks in amenities, however, it makes up for in portability, making delicious Greek food possible on any paved surface in DFW. The truck’s menu of street food — mainly grilled meat sandwiches served in pita, salads and baklava for dessert — has your Greek basics covered. Just bring a little ouzo in a flask, ask for a cup of ice and belt out, “Opa!” as you toss one back.


Best Korean Restaurant

Seoul Garden

A trip to Seoul Garden is worth it for the kimchi alone. The cabbage is assertively spicy, fresh, vibrant and so crunchy you’ll think it’s still fresh. But since you drove here, you might as well enjoy the rest of the menu, starting with Korean barbecue that you’ll cook yourself at your table with a charcoal-fired grill. Get the plain, non-marinated cuts if you want the flavor of the charcoal to shine through, and don’t neglect the plates of banchan that cover the table when you order. The kitchen here isn’t afraid of big and bold flavors, and that personality comes through in these tiny dishes of pickled snacks.

2502 Royal Lane, 972-484-6090,

Best Bone Broth

LA Han Bat

The bone broth trend is taking off in other cities as health nuts praise its rich nutritional value. For the customers who have been patronizing LA Han Bat, though, the murky liquid is just another of many delicious options for lunch or dinner. There are no powders, mixes or shortcuts taken here. Four to five stockpots bubble away with protruding cow parts in the back kitchen, each on its way to becoming one of the best soups you can get in Dallas. Order the sul lung tang and get ready to be warmed to the core. Garnished with green onions and plenty of chili paste, this soup tastes too good to be considered health food.

2257 Royal Lane, No. 101, 972-484-2002,

Best Theatrical Drink Presentation

Smoked Ancho Manhattan, Parliament

Parliament is half cocktail bar, half theatrical performance. With a good seat, you can watch the bar’s drink experts swirl flames around a glass, shake up a Ramos gin fizz or garnish a cocktail with real deer antlers. But the pièce de résistance is the smoked ancho Manhattan, a spicy twist on the classic drink. After mixing your Manhattan with Ancho Reyes chile liqueur, your bartender will ignite a torch, catch all the smoke in a giant vase and pour your drink in after it. The vase gets sealed up and your drink is swirled through and around the cloud of smoke. As the Manhattan is poured into your glass, little curlicues of smoke puff out around you, transporting you to a fairytale dreamland of hot-pepper-and-cherry-flavored alcoholic bliss. Thirsty yet?

2418 Allen St., Dallas, 469-804-4321,