bestlunch_05 Smoke Chef Tim Byres photography by Kevin Marple


Smoke

Slowly but surely, this North Oak Cliff restaurant has evolved from an haute barbeque joint into one of the city’s most thoughtful eateries, where heritage inspired cuisine and local ingredients are celebrated. That doesn’t mean that chef/co-owner Tim Byres doesn’t still know his way around a smoker. The chef smokes or cures almost all of his dishes over wood. Businessmen toss their ties over their shoulders and dig deep into the nationally-acclaimed restaurant’s meaty creations such as beef paprika/fennel seed smoked sausage, beer can farm chicken, and the crowd favorite “pork and beans”: a trio of spare ribs, pulled pork, and andouille sausage. But Smoke is more than… well… smoke. Beyond familiar barbeque fare, you’ll find pit-roasted cabrito and fresh masa paired with goat milk cajeta and green apple salsa. Smoked chicken tamales are topped with a fried egg. Grilled shrimp and romaine are tossed in a tongue-tingling lemon tahini dressing. Smoke even grows many of its own herbs and vegetables in a garden behind the restaurant. The restaurant’s food is homey, progressive, and highly personal, fueled by Byres’ imagination and his commitment to sustainability. Well, that and smoke obviously. Don’t Miss: Chopped coffee cured beef brisket

bestlunch_06 Mr. Mesero Enchiladas Oaxaquenas photography by Kevin Marple


Mr. Mesero

In a city where a bowl of goopy Velveeta-clogged queso is as good as gold, it’s refreshing to pair the words “elegant” and “Mexican.” That’s what you find at Mico Rodriguez’s latest. The founder of Mi Cocina and Taco Diner certainly knows his way around an enchilada. His Mr. Mesero is a breezy, chic Uptown spot where he eschews greasy Tex-Mex classics and creates something more refined. So, instead of your typical chile con carne-drenched cheese enchiladas, Rodriguez offers roasted pork enchiladas with chilorio sauce. Tired of ubiquitous yellow Mexican rice? Mr. Mesero offers red, green, and white options, one topped with a deeply decadent mole sauce. Soul-warming soups include a piquant one with green pozole, chicken, and cilantro. Yes, Mico still serves his mother’s brisket tacos made famous at Mia’s and now a staple on Mexican menus across the city. Mr. Mesero even offers steaks done surprisingly well. Actually, maybe that shouldn’t come as a surprise. As evidenced by Rodriguez’s past success, this is one restaurateur with a Midas touch worth his weight in queso, albeit one melted with spinach, artichokes, and roasted poblanos. Don’t miss: Queso Mesero


bestlunch_07 Rise No. 1's Chocolate Souffle photography by Kevin Marple


Rise No. 1

This one is for the Francophiles. Co-owner Hedda Gioia Dowd’s Inwood Village bistro is a favorite with not only the well coiffed ladies-who-lunch set but also with anyone longing for a little Left Bank amour. The menu is dominated by swoon-worthy soufflés: both light and airy, yet moist and dense all at once. Savory options include creamed spinach, truffle-infused mushroom, Southwest chicken (not particularly French but still tasty), and, but of course, escargot. Sweet favorites include chocolate, grand marnier, and apricot soufflés. Sure, you can order entrées if you prefer. The salad nicoise is quite nice, traditionally French with its mix of seared ahi tuna, haricot vert, olives, capers, and roasted potatoes. And the mini baguette sandwiches with ham, Gruyere, cornichons, and sweet butter are perfect bistro fare. But at a place named Rise, how can you not order a soufflé? You can’t. Don’t miss: Grand Marnier souffle

bestlunch_08 Fearing's Banana Pudding photography by Kevin Marple


Fearing’s

No one puts on a show better than Dean Fearing. His namesake restaurant at the Ritz-Carlton Dallas is a perfect personification of the celebrity chef’s yin-yang: It’s fine dining yet relaxed, glam yet homey. If you want to impress your lunch guest, ask for a table in the light-strewn Gallery room with its white linen style dining. Want a show? Sit in Dean’s Kitchen under rawhide chandeliers as chefs sauté and flambé nearby. Regardless of where you sit, the food experience will be the same: big and bold yet remarkably refined. Barbecued shrimp taco is paired with mango/pickled red onion salad and smoky citrus vinaigrette. Short ribs are braised in Dr Pepper and served with crispy tobacco onions. A beautiful cut of halibut is glazed with blood orange and served with a ragout of wild mushrooms, fennel confit, and brussels sprouts leaves. What is perhaps the best banana pudding in Dallas is accompanied by warm beignets topped with bananas foster sauce. You get the picture. This isn’t wimpy food nor is it unpolished. Just unforgettable. Don’t miss: Comanche buffalo “Sloppy Deans” 

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