Best of Big D

Food & Drink

Featured in The Best of Big D 2014

Best Fish Market

TJ’s Seafood Market

Owner Jon Alexis is a walking advertisement for the seafood industry. His relentless dedication to quality and service is unmatched. His once-small market has expanded to two locations and now offers full-service dining and catering.

Readers’ Pick: The seafood display at Central Market is gorgeous, the variety is vast, and fishmongers are eager to give cooking tips.

Best Bloody Mary

Taverna Rossa

The oh-so-spicy Bloody Rossa is not for sissies. Fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, jalapeños, horseradish, and okra are added to vodka and infused for four days. The resulting spirit is blended with Zing Zang and Ballast Point Bloody Mary mixes, Worcestershire sauce, olive juice, and bitters, and poured into a 16-ounce glass rimmed with Lawry’s seasoned salt. Really need a morning jolt? Drink the vodka straight.

Best Family-Friendly Restaurant

The Lot

Bike over. Grab a bench under the misters in the beer garden. Send your wee ones to the sandbox play area and your preteens to the cornhole court. Order the fried cauliflower while you’re looking over the menu, both the adult version and the one for smaller people. As the sun sets, good luck mustering the energy to climb back in that saddle.

Readers’ Pick: At Babe’s Chicken Dinner House, the staff will sing the Hokey Pokey—if your kids are into that sort of thing.

Best Dessert

Banana Trifle at CBD Provisions

There is your old family recipe for banana pudding, and there is pastry chef Ruben Torano’s take on banana pudding. You will always love your family’s recipe, but after licking the bottom of Torano’s Mason jar filled with layers of creamy banana goodness and house-made marshmallow fluff topped with peanut butter cookie crumbles, you might not appreciate that version as much.

Readers’ Pick: There is a reason why Whiskey Cake is named after whiskey cake.

Best Indian

Mughlai Fine Indian Cuisine

The beauty of this menu lies in the fact that it’s a combination of traditional Indian dishes and unique modern creations. Go with a group and pick a variety of kebabs, curries, and biryanis. Warning: there are four spice levels. The Indian spicy will blow your head off.

Readers’ Pick: India Palace opened its doors in 1985 and started serving classic Indian food. They’re still going strong.

Best Bakery for Bread

Village Baking Co.

Every time we visit this quaint boulangerie, we can’t help but grab the same two necessities: an insane chocolate croissant (our favorite), and a crusty Meyer lemon rosemary bread that goes so well with a slab of butter. Bring these to dinner parties, and you’ll be the guest of honor.

Readers’ Pick: The bread and carb section at Eatzi’s is all house-made from scratch.

Best Brewery

Community Beer Company

Community Beer Company not only has the best top-to-bottom lineup in North Texas (there’s not a dud in the bunch), but it also boasts the best specialty brew. Ascension Coffee Porter starts with a Baltic porter, then it’s infused with coffee from Ascension Coffee House down the block. The result is a near-black beer with a roasty finish.

Readers’ Pick: There’s a lot to like about Deep Ellum Brewing Company, not the least of which are the parties they throw at their brewery. Go. Now.

Best French Fries

Neighborhood Services

They look like most other fries, but there’s a distinctive difference in texture and taste. That’s because they are soaked in ice water before they are blanched, cooled, and fried to order. The result is a hot, moist potato with a crispy crunch and a bite of sea salt.

Readers’ Pick: The secret to the success of Burger House’s fries lies in the special salt spiked with garlic, pepper, and other spices they won’t reveal.

Best Margarita

Mexican Sugar

We’ve drunk a lot of serviceable margaritas over the years. But rare is the cocktail that captures our heart and liver at first sip like Mexican Sugar’s hibiscus margarita. It’s the addition of slightly tart hibiscus water to a mix of Z Pepe reposado tequila, Velvet Falernum, Cointreau, simple syrup, and lime that balances out the margarita’s sweeter notes and also gives it a lovely ruby red color.

Readers’ Pick: Mi Cocina’s Mambo Taxi—a frozen margarita swirled with sangria—is as popular as this chic homegrown chain.

Best Tex-Mex

Mr. Mesero

Veteran restaurateur Mico Rodriguez, the co-founder of the Mi Cocina chain, is enjoying a second act with this equally popular blend of American standards and Mexican classics. But it’s the queso—with its mix of spinach, artichokes, roasted poblanos, and white cheese—that elevates this Tex-Mex to white-tablecloth status.

Readers’ Pick: Mi Cocina, Rodriguez’s former Tex-Mex empire, is still thriving.

Best Coffeehouse

Davis Street Espresso

Oak Cliff Coffee is one of the city’s best coffee roasters, and it now operates the best coffeehouse, too. Baristas handcraft each cup of coffee. Only six coffee beverages are offered, with nary a frozen slushy coffee in sight. At Davis Street, quality is valued over quantity, explaining why it’s a popular barista hangout.

Readers’ Pick: White Rock Coffee’s signature White Rocker latte keeps the East Dallas crowd caffeinated.

Best Butcher

Rudolph’s Market & Sausage Factory

The butchers at this historic market know what they’re doing. It opened in 1895 and has been the place to get custom-carved, dry-aged Prime and choice meat ever since. They also produce German, Italian, Polish, and Czech-style sausages.

Readers’ Pick: The helpful and humorous folks behind the meat counter at Central Market should get their own television series.

Best Sandwich Shop

Patina Green Home and Market

Chef and co-owner Robert Lyford creates the freshest sandwiches around at this spot in historic downtown McKinney, using locally sourced produce, meats, and breads. The menu changes daily, so plan ahead if you want the lamb meatloaf sandwich with goat cheese, walnut pesto, and peperonata. Trust us. You do.

Readers’ Pick: Dallas’ most popular Italian market, Jimmy’s Food Store, makes the city’s favorite meatball subs.

Best Burger

Off-Site Kitchen

The line is almost always out the door, and the little seating that exists is either out in the elements or in a steaming corner of the shop. But when that Murph-style burger slides across the table, piled with bacon relish and roasted jalapeños, it’s clear that it was all worth it. Or maybe sink your teeth into the green chile and bacon number, or pop an egg on top of any of the burgers. It doesn’t matter—they’re all gold.

Readers’ Pick: Twisted Root Burger Co. once had black bear on the menu, so that’s something.

Best Fried Chicken

Stampede 66

Celebrity chef Stephan Pyles’ upscale take on down-home Texan cuisine includes our favorite fried chicken in town. Pyles gussies up his version with an injection of honey. Sides of buttermilk biscuits and ham hock gravy may elicit a yeehaw or two.

Readers’ Pick: Babe’s Chicken Dinner House’s fried chicken recipe is a closely guarded secret.

Best Taco Joint

Los Torres Taqueria

It’s easy to hop in the car, swing into Fuel City, and check off the “taqueria” box on your list. But take seven extra minutes, and a Roy G. Biv of salsas and pickled veggies will greet you, followed by freshly pressed tortillas and a variety of goat tacos. You can’t find that at Fuel City.

Readers’ Pick: Torchy’s Tacos has planted its Austin-based flag in Dallas in recent years. Its motto isn’t a lie: these are damn good tacos.

Best Hot Dog

Luscher’s Post Oak Red Hots

It’s Memorial Day, and the grill is hot. The host smokes a pork butt, but everyone’s drawn to one thing: the pack of Red Hots that sits unopened. A guest throws them on, and soon after, they’re devoured. The pork butt is good, sure, but those Red Hots are what’s already gone. Available in retail stores and some restaurants.

Readers’ Pick: Angry Dog slathers its massive all-beef dog in chili and cheese, and for $6.75—with fries—it’s one of the best deals in town.

Best Sushi

Yutaka Sushi Bistro

With few frills and even less cream cheese (ick), Yutaka consistently stands out in a town rarely known for raw fish. Sit at the sushi bar and let the chef guide your meal, or find a small table. You’ll probably have to wait. But you won’t mind.

Readers’ Pick: Blue Fish’s best location is its Greenville Avenue spot, especially before a show at the Granada.

Best Cheese Shop

Magnolia Cheese Company

Owner and chief cheesemonger Elizabeth Northern stocks her charming Fort Worth shop with a diverse selection of local and American cheeses. The shop also doubles as a cafe, its chalkboard menu full of tempting options including a pimento cheese sandwich made from Drunken Monk gouda from Eagle Mountain Farmhouse Cheese in Granbury.

Readers’ Pick: Central Market is a no-brainer. If you need it, they have it.

Best Barbecue Joint

Pecan Lodge

Just because Pecan Lodge has moved from the Dallas Farmers Market to its new home in Deep Ellum doesn’t mean anything’s changed. The line still goes out the door, and the “Hot Mess” is still a gorgeous pile of shredded brisket cradled inside a sea salt-crusted sweet potato, topped with chipotle cream, cheese, butter, and chopped green onions.

Readers’ Pick: Pecan Lodge

Best Late-Night Eats

CrushCraft Thai Street Eats

CrushCraft has captured the spirit and taste of Bangkok’s street-food stands. Everything on the menu is good, but try the handwritten specials if you want the best dishes. Oh, and they also serve alcohol, so you never actually have to leave.

Readers’ Pick: Velvet Taco is as busy at 2 am as it is at lunch. That is a good thing.

Best Vegetarian-Friendly

Blind Butcher

Even though Oliver Sitrin’s hand-cured sausages are some of Lower Greenville’s best bar snacks, vegetarians won’t feel left out. There’s an entire salad section with local Spiceman greens, all sorts of pickled things, and at least one rotating veggie sausage to go with a Lakewood Temptress. Don’t forget the seared broccolini or the mushroom poutine.

Readers’ Pick: With vegetarian sausage and its ability to accommodate vegans, Dream Cafe is an easy favorite.

Best Gourmet Shop

Green Grocer

Never a day goes by when a quick trip to Green Grocer doesn’t turn into an enticing conversation about food with whomever’s manning the register or deli counter. They’re always friendly, and they’ll jump to find anything you need. We go for all our local product cravings and ready-made meals to go. Last we heard, the store might start making its own pimento cheese.

Readers’ Pick: Eatzi’s has everything from a salad bar to a fresh bakery section.

Best Italian

Carbone’s Fine Food and Wine

You want pasta? They have pasta. Just like your Italian grandmother made. More specifically, like chef-owner Julian Barsotti’s nonna made for him. But it’s a little more complex than that. Barsotti has hired a pasta maestro to oversee the La Monferrina P3 pasta extruders and bronze dies that turn durum semolina pasta into at least 10 different shapes every day. Egg pastas are rolled and cut by hand. All are rolled, tossed, or baked and topped with nothing but handmade sauces and local products. Sunday supper? They’ve got Sunday supper. 

Readers’ Pick: Devoted diners still wait weeks for a table at Lucia, chef David Uygur’s tiny restaurant devoted to Northern Italian food and house-made charcuterie.

Best Bakery for Sweets

Dolce Cafe Bakery

If there’s one reason to visit Flower Mound more often, it’s the rum-forward tiramisu and buttery scones at this Italian bakery for breads, pastries, and desserts. Morning routines should always include an espresso with a peach cream cheese Danish or chocolate biscotti. Sticking around until lunchtime gives you a great excuse to order the chicken panini with pesto and mozzarella on house-made ciabatta bread.

Readers’ Pick: If you need a fresh-baked chocolate chip cookie ASAP, Tiff’s Treats is the way to go.

Best Chinese

Monkey King Noodle Co.

Ever since this tiny street-food stand opened in Deep Ellum, our wallets have suffered. Thankfully, it’s relatively inexpensive, considering how addicted we are to the dan dan noodles and house-made soup dumplings. Master noodle maker Andrew Chen and his army of Chinese ladies craft them all by hand.

Readers’ Pick: Royal China’s hand-folded dumplings inspire frequent cravings.

Best Steakhouse

Nick & Sam’s Steakhouse

You don’t have to look too hard to find a place to eat a steak in Dallas, but when you want a meaty experience with a heavy dose of “wow,” head to Nick & Sam’s. The lights are low, the mood is celebratory, and the list of steaks, chops, and seafood is stellar. Corporate chef Samir Dhurandhar has crafted a menu with cheffy touches such as duck fried rice. And the desserts can cause joyous squeals.

Readers’ Pick: Steaks aside, Bob’s Steak & Chop House is the home of the whole glazed carrot and dazzling onion rings.

Best Pizza

Cane Rosso

Dallas is home to national chains such as CiCi’s and Pizza Hut, mass producers of pedestrian pies. But the local hand-crafted pizza pie business is booming. Nobody tosses a better pie than this authentic Neapolitan pizzeria. At the heart of each location is a red-tile, wood-burning oven filled with bubbling, cheesy pizzas topped with unique ingredients. Quit wasting calories by eating cardboard and switch over to the Cane Rosso side.

Readers’ Pick: Cane Rosso

Best Korean Barbecue

Jin Korean BBQ

By the time you leave Jin, you’ll be holding your stomach, keeling over from the all-you-can-eat L.A. galbi, bulgogi, tilapia, mussels, vegetable and seafood pancakes, spicy squid, Korean fried chicken, noodles, and pork chops. It’s 29 items for $19.99. Order the tripe, which tastes best when the outside is grilled to a perfect crisp and the insides are still gooey.

Best Seafood Restaurant

Spoon Bar & Kitchen

Sometimes we like to put on a little black dress and eat pretty. Spoon has the perfect atmosphere to do so, and the menu is filled with beautiful seafood. Chef John Tesar has spent most of his life refining his passion for cooking seafood, and he continues to improve and impress. Delicate razor clam tartare, thin slices of geoduck scented with pink Himalayan salt and chili oil, and flaky Arctic char are responsibly sourced and sensuously presented.

Readers’ Pick: Truluck’s Seafood Steak & Crab House is the go-to spot for stone crab and chocolate cake.

Best Regional Mexican

Mesa Veracruz Coastal Cuisine

Chef-owners Olga and Raul Reyes keep the menu small to maintain quality. The seafood-centric menu includes a clean whitefish ceviche cured in lime juice and tossed with tomato, onions, cilantro, and avocado, and the red snapper a la Veracruzana is worth a crosstown trip. Chef Olga’s unique mole sauce, made with more than 20 ingredients, is undoubtedly the best in town.

Readers’ Pick: Javier’s Gourmet Mexicano is where devoted customers chow down on Mexico City-style fare.

Best French Restaurant

Boulevardier

The tall-toqued Frenchmen who once manned the most important restaurants in Dallas are gone. In their place are tattooed chefs riffing off classic French bistro cuisine. The boys at Boulevardier push les limites in a good way. The charcuterie and accompaniments are house-made, the onion soup is traditionally complex, and the saffron-scented bouillabaisse is full of shrimp, clams, mussels, and octopus. You’ll find joie de vivre at the bar, where patrons eat fresh oysters and sip cocktails you won’t find in Paris.

Readers’ Pick: Boulevardier

Best Patio Dining

Savor

Everyone in Dallas should be required to eat at Savor. The quality of the food varies wildly, but the view never changes. The all-glass restaurant creates an indoor-outdoor patio and allows a view of the Dallas skyline from every seat. During lunch hours, dogs, people, and vendors create a unique (for Dallas) urban experience. At night, the white lights twinkling in the trees and tall buildings of downtown make you feel snug and secure.

Best Chef

Teiichi “Teach” Sakurai, Tei-An

The most popular chefs in town are social media pros with Facebook pages filled with comments from food groupies. The best chef in Dallas spends his time rolling out soba noodles in his kitchen at Tei-An. Teiichi “Teach” Sakurai has devoted his career to providing exquisite Japanese cuisine. The soft-spoken man lets his food relate his feelings. Sakurai is set to open an authentic (and tiny—only 10 seats) ramen shop next. “If I like to make business, [the shop would] probably be four times bigger,” he says. “It’s my passion introducing a culture, not a business.” That’s why he’s the best.

Readers’ Pick: Stephan Pyles, a fifth-generation Texan, continues to develop new restaurants and greet his customers by name.

Best Service

Gemma

When was the last time you left a restaurant and talked about the great service instead of the food? Or both? Every visit to Gemma has been delightful on both fronts. It’s sophisticated without snobbery, pleasant but not pretentious. Unfortunately, this is a rare occurrence in today’s world.

Best Bar Food

Vagabond

The duck-fat steak fries at Vagabond are magic. The kitchen also makes beef tongue pastrami in-house, and you can build your own burger (beef, chicken, tuna steak, or veggie) with such add-ons as bacon apple jam, bone marrow mayo, and avocado remoulade. The menu is small and suited for accompanying that crafty drink in your hand. Go ahead, have another. The bread pudding with bourbon crème anglaise will soak it up.

Best Brunch

Bolsa

New executive chef Andrew Bell has elevated the brunch at this popular farm-to-fork restaurant from good to amazing with recent additions such as a rustic iron-skillet quiche with caramelized fennel, and the appropriately named Duck Duck Duck, featuring duck confit, a sous-vide-cooked duck egg, and grilled ciabatta slathered in—what else?—duck-fat hollandaise. Mixologist Kyle Hilla continues to shake and stir the best brunch cocktails in the city.

Readers’ Pick: Blue corn cheese enchiladas, adobe pie, and a street taco station make Blue Mesa Grill’s brunch buffet a crowd favorite.

Best Grocery Delivery

Artizone

You don’t have to run to farmers markets and small artisanal shops all over town anymore. You can simply go online, fill your virtual cart, and wait for the delivery truck. It’s a deliciously easy way to access more than 85 local artisans who produce high-quality meat, fish, organic produce, cheeses, farm fresh eggs, bakery goods, craft brews, wine, and everyday necessities.

Best Comfort Food

Mot Hai Ba

Move over chicken soup—pho is the new soother for the soul. Jeana Johnson and Colleen O’Hare traveled to Vietnam to perfect their version, scented with ginger, lemongrass, cassia bark, black cardamom, and star anise. It helps you sweat out a fever or reduce a sinus irritation. All of their dishes are more comforting than traditional American classics, because they are lower in fat and calories. Take that, mac and cheese.

Best Wine Shop

Domaine Wine Company

The choices at this Oak Lawn shop might be few, but every bottle is hand-selected. What’s more, the owners, James Moll and Lance Storer, are two of the most experienced wine retailers in town. They offer personal service that reflects a deep knowledge of wine and a rare understanding of different tastes. Domaine doesn’t skimp on the education side either—organized tastings are free every Friday evening. If you have a special request, don’t be afraid to ask.

Best Ice Cream/Gelato

Carnival Barker’s

Their batches are small—six pints at a time—but some of the most inventive tastes in town. They make their own base and experiment with new ingredients all of the time. It’s been a rocky road for them businesswise, but they finally have a full-time shop open at the Truck Yard. Try a scoop of Munchies, peanut butter ice cream filled with chocolate-covered potato chips, or perhaps a bacon-Rice Krispies Treats ice cream sandwich, and you can thank us later.

Readers’ Pick: Once a tiny gelato cart in Highland Park Village, Paciugo now has 45 locations.


View Map of the Best of Big D Winners

Editor’s Choice: Restaurants, Bars & Clubs

Readers’ Choice: Restaurants, Bars & Clubs

Credits

  • Photographer Kevin Marple
  • Photographer Melinda Ortley
  • Photographer Manny Rodriguez

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