Ten Things We Love About Dining in Dallas

Squash blossoms at Sprezza.EXPAND
Squash blossoms at Sprezza.
Beth Rankin

There’s been a lot of negativity about the Dallas restaurant scene in recent months. Between fears of an economic bubble, complaints about “Fickle 500” diners, the growing encroachment of valet parking, reports of mediocrity in fine dining and harsh reviews for such swanky kitchens as Uchi and Flora Street Café, it’s been a rough few months.

So, amid all that doom and gloom and inspired by a heartening blog post from Katie Zabrowski Dickman, I thought it was high time to talk about some of the things Dallas is great at. Here’s a top 10 list of reasons why, despite the flaws, we still love eating in DFW.

The olive oil cake makes a great close at Lucia.
The olive oil cake makes a great close at Lucia.
Lori Bandi

1. Fine dining that’s not so pretentious. It’s no jacket, no tie, no problem at the best restaurants in Dallas, and I appreciate seeing customers walk into places like FT33 wearing jeans. Visiting our fine-dining restaurants can be so welcoming it's like visiting family. They have a sense of humor, too. The whimsical but above-average wine list at FT33. The cheesy '80s-synth-and-opera playlist at Flora Street. The $1 stuffed prunes at Lucia (where I once dined with a friend who was wearing cargo shorts). The pianist at St. Martin's, who, on my last visit, serenaded diners with the theme song from Blazing Saddles. The top restaurants in Dallas do a good job not being stuffy.

The garden "charcuterie" board at Wayward Sons challenges the idea of what charcuterie can be.EXPAND
The garden "charcuterie" board at Wayward Sons challenges the idea of what charcuterie can be.
Kathy Tran

2. Lots of scrumptious veggies. I convinced my parents that they like Brussels sprouts at Blind Butcher. Squash blossoms are a hot ingredient at Sprezza, Sixty Vines and a number of Mexican restaurants. Wayward Sons has its fabulous tomato salad and vegetable charcuterie. Resident Taquería serves stereotype-defying kale and cauliflower tacos.

Dallas has a reputation as a meat-first town, and yeah, we have some pretty frickin’ great burgers, steaks and brisket (even vegan brisket). But some of the best cooking in town is vegetable-based, and some of our favorite meals are served with nary a bacon strip in sight.

After ordering the all-you-can-eat Korean barbecue at Omi, your table will be loaded up with meats and condiments.EXPAND
After ordering the all-you-can-eat Korean barbecue at Omi, your table will be loaded up with meats and condiments.
Beth Rankin

3. Our Koreatowns. The area’s two Korean districts — in Dallas at 35 and Royal Lane, and in Carrollton at 35 and the George Bush Tollway — are culinary treasures. In fact, some days, I think they’re the most exciting food neighborhoods in the whole Metroplex. No list of the 50 or 100 best restaurants in Dallas is complete without Seoul Garden, Dal Dong Nae, Koryo Kalbi, DanSungSa and at least one barbecue place like Ssahm, Sura, Omi or Gui-Rock. And the diversity is extraordinary: If you think Korean food is all bulgogi and kimchi, try the soups at Dal Dong Nae, or the fried chicken at Number One Plus Chicken, or the cold spicy noodles at Ajumma Kimbob Deli.

God, I love Korean food in Dallas.

Khanh Nguyen making pizza at ZaLat.EXPAND
Khanh Nguyen making pizza at ZaLat.
Kathy Tran

4. All the pizza we can eat. Want New York-style pizza? ZaLat's got you covered, and Zoli’s is reopening soon. Want Chicago-style pizza? Taste of Chicago is legit. Roman partisans can head to Sprezza for its terrific thin crust, and Neapolitans can visit Il Cane Rosso. Turkish pizza makes a strong showing at restaurants like Café Istanbul and Istanbul Palace. Dallas has tons of great pizza, and some of it is pretty darn creative, too, like the pho pizza and the weirdly delicious Reuben pizza at ZaLat.

Frog legs at an Avery beer dinner at The Libertine.
Frog legs at an Avery beer dinner at The Libertine.
Jesse Hughey

5. Beer pairings and beer dinners. Dallas takes beer seriously and it respects beer’s potential — that’s why so many places host specialized beer dinners, carefully pairing pints with inventive cuisine. The Libertine and Common Table got the ball rolling a few years ago; now even wine-tastic Scardello is matching beer with cheese.



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