Our Favorite Dallas Dishes of 2012

So much food, so little time

Breakfast Schnitzel at Crossroads Diner

The pork was pan-sauteed into a deep-brown crust and came perched on a bed of wilted spinach in a swamp of thick, cheesy, gritty grits. It was crowned with a perfectly cooked egg, laced with lemony Hollandaise that jiggled in anticipation as it hit the table. The yolk gushed when urged to do so with the edge of my knife, washing my plate in a slow-motion tide of yellow that tied everything together.

Panamericana Torta at Tortas la Hechizera

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

The sandwich pairs a pounded and fried pork cutlet with sliced ham, avocado, tomato, diced onions, cheese and a serious slathering of mayonnaise. It's a sandwich that's big enough to satisfy two people if you're not starving. Bring some backup, or you'll likely have to skip your dinner.

Fish and Chips at the Londoner

The Londoner's version sports a thick, crispy crust that's not too oily, which encases dense cod that breaks apart into massive, meaty flakes. Chips play more than a supporting role with a generous portion of potatoes cooked just right. The results are a plate that eats heartily while leaving you feeling (mostly) guilt-free.

Sopa de Atlahua at Veracruz Cafe

It's a bit like a French bouillabaisse but with Mexican leanings. Veracruz Cafe's Sopa de Atlahua is anchored by a broth loaded with shrimp stock and chili flavors. Scallops, tilapia and whole shrimp round out the seafood components, and carrots, Mexican squash and zucchini assure Mom you're eating healthy. Fresh epazote, a bitter herb that looks a bit like dandelion greens and tastes of anise and coriander, finishes off the dish.

Pepper Bomb at Goodfriend

The mix of serranos, habaneros and Thai bird chiles on this burger packs wicked heat, but it's nothing once you've tangoed with the Trinidad chili. And if flaming lips are not your thing, that's OK. There are other burgers on the menu that make use of the same great beef.

Shanghai Buns at Jeng Chi Dumpling House

Some people tear a little hole in the little parcels of pastry to let the soup fill their spoon before slurping. Others make a little nick with their teeth and suck the savory broth directly from the dumpling. Not me. I may eat one or two like that, waiting for the magma-hot broth to cool, but as soon as they're tepid I lose control. I pop the whole thing in my mouth and bite down hard into a gushing, briny sea of porcine flavor.

Sweet Shrimp at Yutaka

My meal at Yutaka is months old but one memory is firmly with me. I've been trying to find better shrimp heads at every sushi restaurant I've visited and am still coming up short. The batter on these babies was amazing, shattering like glass as I took a bite. I popped each head in my mouth like an over-sized potato chip and a smile crept over my face as I crunched away. Their insides were meaty and textured and tasted of custardy cooked shrimp. It was a fresh and simple flavor I can't shake.

Pulled Whole Hog BBQ Eggs Benedict at Smoke

Tweaking a classic, Smoke swaps out the Canadian bacon for Smoke's elevated version of pulled pork. The char job on the English muffins brings a smoky aroma, and two perfectly poached eggs come in a Hollandaise sauce with a prominent citrus twang that cuts through the richness of the sauce, oozing yolk and mound of slow-cooked pork.

Italian Beef at Jimmy's

Sure, it's made of prepackaged products shipped down from Chi-town, but they come together in an honest rendition of the sandwich that works really, really well. Order yours with extra giardiniera. The spicy and acidic pickle of carrots, celery and peppers makes the sandwich.

Brisket Tacos at Manny's

I ate so, so many versions of these heavy little gut bombs on my quest to find Dallas' best that now I'm certain. These are it. The poblanos and onions are full of life and crunchy rather then drenched in oil and soft — plus, they give you a huge bowl of gravy for dipping. Manny's for the brisket taco win. It's a no-brainer.

Chicken-Fried Egg at Union Bear

Union Bear's beer list is a reason to go all on its own, but its chicken-fried egg is one hell of a bonus. With a salty, crunchy exterior, wrapped around a tender egg white, wrapped around a oozing yolk, this number owes as much to its sourcing as it does to the chef that handles the dish. Yellow Prairie Farm in Caldwell supplies the eggs, and the kitchen consistently turns out golden gushers.

Brisket at Pecan Lodge

I was blown away how the fat in Pecan Lodge's meat melted away in my mouth and how simple ingredients — salt, pepper, heat, smoke and beef — came together to create something so much greater than the sum of its parts.

Regina Margherita at Cane Rosso

Last year Cane Rosso's pizza made our favorite dishes list when it was still a humble mobile oven, wheeled around the city behind a pickup truck. Now the pizzas are available in a full-service sit-down restaurant and have only gotten better. The crust is more airy, delicate and less filling because Dino Santonicola, an Italian-born pizza pro, increased hydration and the temperature at which he ferments the dough. Sit at the bar with a cold Peroni draft and watch the master work. You're eating Dallas' best pizza.

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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.