When I arrived in Dallas in January 2020, I was ready for a whole new world of food to explore, highlight, adore, and, sure, side-eye with skepticism, too. I was Jasmine on a magic carpet ride of dining. But that didn’t happen. The year that followed, as we all know, ground me and the dining industry as we knew it to a halt.
That’s why, now, 18 months later, we’re finally bringing back our 50 Best Restaurants in Dallas. Not to trot out another best list. Not to glaze over the last year and a half of strife and hardship in an industry throttled on all sides daily. But because, despite those struggles, we still have incredible restaurants to visit after it all. And we should celebrate that fact.
This list is for the staff providing gracious service while keeping themselves and their patrons safe. This list is for the servers who, when they were laid off, came back into the fray. This list is for the diners. When you were called upon to order takeout, to show up in ways you were most comfortable, to be kind and patient, and to tip well, you did. You did that. Workers did that. Businesses did that. That being an encompassing expression of care.
The food world remains an imperfect one. While the industry is still maneuvering through many problems (a lack of labor, a new coronavirus variant, a—gasp!—Topo Chico shortage) we can pause and appreciate the folks behind the scenes right now. It’s more than time to do so.
We haven’t released a 50 Best Restaurants since 2019. Yes, in those simpler times the dining powers that be at D Magazine would take stock of the list on a quarterly-ish basis, knocking out closures and nudging in impressive newcomers. This time, our dining critic, Eve Hill-Agnus, and I locked ourselves in an office and hashed out a new list, fit for our current era of dining.
Which restaurants are listed because they’ve just always been here? Who, despite the odds, has been able to maintain an impressive level of execution? Is this merely for fine dining establishments, and if not (it’s not!), are we doing our damnedest to recommend places of all service styles, cuisines, and price points? Where are we recommending folks eat time and time again?
Such were the questions with which we rallied back and forth.
Your beloved eateries may have dropped off the list since it was last examined. As good as they surely are, we’ve had a miraculous influx of new openings that is reflected in our new 50 Best restaurants. Meanwhile, others have since closed permanently (RIP to Mirador, Bolsa, Koryo Kalbi Korean BBQ). The previous list also leaned heavily Japanese, so we made room for a wider swath of cuisine. I say this knowing we can and will aim to do even better next time.
Hey, it’s not a science, but an art.
“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” queried the late, great writer Mary Oliver.
I plan to eat and drink, and write all about them. To that end, here is your newest class of 50 Best Dallas restaurants. (We plan to update the list again in 2022.)
This first appeared in Wednesday’s weekly SideDish newsletter—our subscribers got this news first! Sign up here so you don’t miss the latest food and drink news and stories. Editor’s note: restaurants don’t pay to get on our Best lists. Our editors pay for their own meals and make decisions on their anonymous visits to each restaurant.