The 100 Best Restaurants in Dallas: How I Picked Them

Click the image and the list shall be revealed.

We decided to do the 100 Best Restaurants in Dallas about a year ago. The last time D Magazine published a list like this was in August 1990. At that time, D employed three food writers: Mary Brown Malouf, Betty Cook, and Lawson Taitte. To achieve their list, they used the inspiration of food essayist Waverley Root who once wrote of Parisian restaurants, “Only a very rash person would attempt to list these restaurants in their order of merit. Let us be rash.”

Malouf, Cook, and Taitte weren’t entirely impulsive. They devised and traded quirky lists and held anonymous voting polls over a course of several months. They argued a lot. The only thing they agreed on was that they unmasked the “subtle and not-so-subtle nuances that make restaurants memorable.”

I wasn’t as methodological mainly because I wrote the list myself, and only the demons in my brain fought it out. I wanted to call it The Best Dallas Restaurants in Dallas because, to make the task easier, I cut out Tarrant County, which includes Grapevine, and eliminated restaurants that were not born in Dallas (Sorry, Pappas Bros.) I battled myself for months. I started with a database of 1,600 restaurants, which is divided into cuisine categories. I picked the top two or three or ten of each category (obviously some are larger) and put them on a spreadsheet in no particular order. I manipulated the list every day. I asked friends, family, and colleagues for their opinions, and, in some cases, I even listened to them. I have been writing about restaurants for almost 17 years; in the end, I trusted my instincts. My goal was to answer the question I get asked most often: “What is the best restaurant in Dallas?” I gave you my picks. The top 20 places are restaurants where I spend my own money. The cutting room floor is littered with exceptional restaurants.

To the haters, I say this: Nobody bought his or her way onto this list. Also, magazine advertising dollars do not enter my mind. They never have and they never will and I am lucky to have a publisher who backs me up and allows me to spend a great deal of money to honestly review restaurants.

After we went to press, Escondido Restaurant (#60) closed. The first alternate, Local, is now at spot 100 and all the restaurants from above 60 have moved up one spot. That is the function of long lead time for magazine deadlines.

You can agree or disagree with me. That is the nature of creating lists like this. I welcome your thoughtful criticisms and observations. The Dallas restaurant scene is at an all-time high. We have so many talented, energetic people working to feed us. I wanted to showcase that. I now turn it over to you.

Click here for the full list of the 100 Best Restaurants in Dallas.