Our Favorite Dallas Dishes of 2012

So much food, so little time

Fried Chicken at Sissy's

Usually when I'm done with a review, I'm done with a restaurant. The day after my review of Sissy's ran in the paper, however, I went back to the restaurant and grabbed a seat at the bar. I did not order an entire bucket, but I did order fried chicken. I'm not saying it's the best in Dallas, but if it can draw a critic in for a rehash long after he's filed his copy, then it's definitely a worthy addition to our list of favorite dishes.

Italian Combo at Carbone's

Grilled Whole Bronzini at Tei Tei Robata
Catherine Downes
Grilled Whole Bronzini at Tei Tei Robata
Arepas at Zaguan Latin Cafe
Catherine Downes
Arepas at Zaguan Latin Cafe

If you're from Philly or the surrounding area and love hoagies, Dallas' sandwich scene will make you very sad. Go cheer up a little at Carbone's. The roll comes from Il Vecchio Fornaio in Arlington and is shaped wrong, but the texture is pretty close. It's a crusty and tough number that holds its own against a vinegary Italian dressing. "Combo" refers to three meats: house-made mortadella, coppa from La Quercia in Iowa and soppressata from Fra Mani in California. It's a son-of-a-bitch that you must pay $11 for the sandwich, but when looking for reminders of home, you pay for what you get.

Guisado Verde Tacos at La Nueva Fresh And Hot

The storefront where you'll be waiting for your guisado verde tacos is stifling in the summer. Never mind that. It's worth it the second you get a double-stacked tortilla bursting with braised pork simmered in a light green tomatillo sauce. Hit it with a little onion and cilantro for some crunch, and a little of the red salsa you'll get on the side for heat.

Patty Melt at NHS

This thing is an all-out monster. I wish NHS would slice the bread more thickly, so the sandwich wouldn't need four slices to keep from falling apart, but the patty hidden between the bread is not up for debate. It's fatty, flavorful meat, cooked exactly how you tell the kitchen to cook it, and then topped with cheese, Russian dressing and a black jam-like condiment made with onions and bacon. It's absurd. It will give you level nine food shame. And you will like it.

Bistec Con Queso at El Tizoncito

El Tizoncito can call it whatever they want, but this is a cheesesteak. It's not a Philly cheesesteak for sure. The bread has been replaced by tortillas, and the provolone by Monterey Jack, but the steak and onion combination with melting, oozing dairy stays true to the flavors you've grown to love.

Falafel at Fadia Bakery

The falafel served in this small storefront in Richardson may be one of the area's best kept secrets. Owner Charbel Hamad soaks dried chickpeas overnight and then runs them through a meat grinder. Then he folds in minced cilantro, parsley, onion, jalapeño and garlic. It's not until you place your order that he grabs some of the falafel dough and folds in baking soda and a blend of spices. These savory little fritters pack a lot of punch into a pillowy, fluffy package encased in an impossibly crunchy and savory exterior.

Deviled Eggs at R&D Kitchen

At R&D Kitchen, this simple snack gets elevated a touch while remaining true to its picnic-basket roots. The kitchen uses a sweet house-made relish that gives these eggs a distinct personality. A tiny dice of celery offers a final twist, lending cool, watery explosions to every bite.

Spicy Fish Soup at Korea House

If I hadn't passed the old man's table, littered with little bowls of interesting condiments such as pickled vegetables, salads and funky fishes, I'd have never ordered the soup. Huge chunks of fish floated like icebergs in the bowl, which literally boiled when it arrived. Clams and shrimp swam about and I took every bite in a different direction than the last because of that endless array of condiments. Bright, then salty, then sweet, then fishy — I'd never get bored eating like this.

Spicy Crispy Wings at Malai

These wings take cultural cuisine to the next level — at least for Uptown. They might even be dangerous. I ordered them as hot as the kitchen would make them, and a steaming bowl of deep-golden chicken flecked with red chiles and green cilantro came to my table. They were sticky, sweet and left whole. These wings are seriously good. How hot were they? Pretty hot. Two cold beers for four double wings hot. A slightly tacky forehead and a couple of deep breaths as you ate hot.

Chili Dog at St. Pete's

St. Pete's chili dog easily won our chili dog smack down, trumping the Angry Dog and securing its spot in this year's favorite dishes list. High-quality ingredients are key here, and a hot dog made at Rudolph's Meat Market just down the road packs a lot of flavor into an already intense dish. It's almost possible to pick this puppy up and eat with your hands but I wouldn't recommend it. A fork and knife will help.

Cabrito a la Parrilla at El Ranchito

The first time I ate cabrito was at El Ranchito, a glorious palace of Mexican food specializing in the regional dishes of northern Mexico. I brazenly tore a fatty chunk of meat off the mini-goat carcass splayed on the parrilla in the middle of the table and tucked it into a warm flour tortilla with grilled onions, guac and pico. The baby goat was rich and tender, less gamey than lamb but exponentially more flavorful than chicken, with a touch of smoky flavor from the grill. In a word, delicious.

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Brian Price
Brian Price

translation: this restaurant paid us alot of money to advertise for them

scott.reitz moderator

@Brian Price You must be high on all that zombie makeup glue. I don't even watch commercials.