Best Of :: Food & Drink
Dean Fearing has been the — so sorry — dean of Dallas chefs for north of 20 years, but this isn't a nostalgia award. Fearing deserves renewed recognition because he truly is the city's once and future best chef. Fearing is consistency personified, as he delivers some of the nation's, let alone Big D's, most palate-popping cooking. And the thing of it is, he doesn't have to. After he cooked his last lobster taco at the Mansion, Fearing could have moseyed off in his Lucchese boots, secure in his place in the firmament of great Dallas chefs. Instead, he rose up like a fire-roasted phoenix four years ago with his eponymous restaurant, Fearing's. Since then, his has become, according to no less a snooty authority than The New York Times, one of the "top 10" tables in the entire country, which, Governor Rick Perry's secessionist dreams aside, still includes Dallas. Fearing deserves this crown because instead of resting on his considerable laurels ("Table of the Year" per Esquire, Zagat's No. 1 hotel dining spot in all of United States) his restaurant produces some of the city's few truly destination dishes: Buffalo tenderloin, marinated longer than most marriages, or a Gulf shrimp taco doing a tangy tango with pickled onion and mango. It's all enough to reaffirm Fearing's place as the country's preeminent avatar (sorry Bobby Flay) for Southwestern cuisine at its most haute.
Sure, their bright-ass paint job is obnoxious, but the barbacoa, picadillo and pastor tacos at Cool & Hot are freaking delicious. And if the fact that they offer their tacos for just over a buck each isn't enough for you, the menu also includes snow cones and ice cream. That's right: tacos and snow cones, y'all. Welcome to the intersection of awesome and hell yes. The atmosphere at Cool & Hot is exactly what you want when you're eating a street taco: It's a little trashy, a lot shaded. This place isn't slick or manufactured like so many of the taco spots in Dallas; it's just a great, unassuming little taco shack. Most days Cool & Hot is open 24 hours, so next time you have a late-night craving for tacos, skip that nasty Taco Bell Bueno and get yourself some Cool & Hot with a side of Pimp Juice or a scoop of Rocky Road.
Spiral Diner, the kick-ass vegan restaurant in Oak Cliff, has more than just delicious veggie-monster-friendly meals: They have Oogave natural soda on tap. Oogave offers a variety of yummy flavors, including mandarin Key lime, cola and ginger ale. But none compare to their watermelon cream soda. It's sweet, pink, no-high-fructose-corn-syrup, all agave-sweetened hippie happiness. Watermelon cream soda from Oogave is about the best thing that this planet has to offer, non-alcoholic bev-wise, and it's pretty expensive if you buy it at Whole Foods in a bottle. So, when you're getting your herbivore on at Spiral Diner and you have access to free refills of the stuff, take full advantage of that situation, friends. Order your veggies, pass on the regular water and roll up to that self-serve Oogave soda fountain ready to chug some delicious watermelon-flavored agave angel nectar. Mmm.
The only thing better than the spicy basil rice from Thai 2 Go (not to be confused with Thai2go in the Medical District) is the spicy basil rice from Thai 2 Go when it's delivered straight to your doorstep. If you're buying a new house anytime soon and you're not basing that purchase on whether or not the house is in Thai 2 Go's delivery area, you're doing it wrong. The delivery from Thai 2 Go is always on time or early; they always get your order exactly right; and did we mention that for a small fee, they're bringing you freaking delicious dinner that they made for you so you could spend your evening watching Flipping Out instead of cleaning your dirty kitchen? When the delivery guy from Thai 2 Go knocks on our door, we run screaming toward him like it's Thai Food Christmas. "Sweet! Potstickers!!! Thanks, Spicy Basil Santa!" You should probably hug him. Or at least give him a good tip.
Waiting for your food at the counter of Lockhart Smokehouse is like something straight from the beeftacular dreams of Travel Channel host Anthony Bourdain. You're waiting, watching the barbecue masters cut through the bark of a hunk of meat, and then they hand it over — a slice of wax paper heavy in the center with fat-shimmering meat. If you've ordered right, you've ordered the shoulder clod. The clod is a lean cut from the shoulder, but don't let that fool you: Lockhart's shoulder meat has got bigger, better flavor and texture and is the same price as the brisket at $7.50 per half pound. If you're scared by ordering something with "clod" in the title: Suck it up, watch an episode of No Reservations and head to Oak Cliff's best meatacular for a sample.
Under moonlight, these onion rings may look like crispy wristbands. They sure don't taste like wrist-wear. Order extra. Like, 14 baskets extra (hey, they're only $5.25 per order). Paired with their creamy chipotle aioli and a ridiculously cold beer, the gates of heaven approach faster than you could ask. This is one of those dishes you buy for an out-of-towner because you want to look cool. Every year, we here at the Dallas Observer yammer about eating Lee Harvey's burger on the beautiful porch, and forget to mention its crispy companion. Everything needs a sidekick. Dallas Police headquarters is right next to Lee Harvey's, you know. The onion rings — they're no different. They're Robin to Burger Batman, and they come with plenty of aioli sauce.