Your 2013 Dallas Restaurants Bucket List
Tacos from La banqueta would be on anyone's Dallas bucket list.
Moving is a strange thing. Flashy and exciting visualizations of the road ahead overstimulate, while a library of warm memories prompts longing as you realize you will never have those experiences in the same way again. Sure, you can buy a plane ticket and revisit plenty of them, but those experiences will never be yours in the same way. You can't go home again.
So when @eliseparramore tweeted that she was leaving Dallas for New York City, and that she was willing to trust me with some of her final meals, I jumped on the opportunity to create a bucket list. Not only is a bucket list a compelling way to say goodbye to a city you're about to leave, but it's also a great way for those of us who remain to take stock the things that can make life great. Every day should be prioritized with a list of our favorite things -- yet we never seem to make the list until we're forced to.
El Ranchito's beef fajitas are some of the best in Dallas.
So Elise, I must prescribe Tex-Mex. It pains me to say it -- especially since tortilla bloat and frozen margarita hatred make it hard for me to enjoy many of these restaurants -- but there's a well-worn path between DFW Airport and the more popular Tex-Mex restaurants in Dallas for a reason. Ask any Dallasite what they crave after an extended period away, and they'll tell you it's Tex-Mex. El Ranchito in Oak Cliff does a good job of folding enchiladas and fajitas into a menu filled with authentic Mexican food, and if you have your own favorite you should visit it too.
If you were to leave Dallas, you would miss the sushi here.
Don't worry about the steakhouses (you'll find better ones where you're headed) but there's something special about the sushi scene in Dallas. Low real estate costs and an excess of disposable income, along with a nearby international shipping hub give us access to some really amazing seafood. Sure, you'll find the same high quality in New York, but you'll pay (oh, will you pay) through the nose to eat it. Dallas' sushi scene is as humble and approachable as it is very good. When you sit down to a $26 tuna roll in Midtown you will miss the sushi here, as much as you miss refried beans. I'd suggest Teppo and Tei An for some of the best the city offers.
Drive-thru burgers taste better in Texas.
Go to Keller's Drive-In on Northwest Highway on a Saturday around lunch time. Those burgers combined with classic cars, motorcycles and old lady waitresses are a real treasure. Take a picture in your mind of a poppy seed bun in your hand, and a bottle of beer on your dash back-lit by the Texas sun. The image will last far longer than what ever semi-important thing you recently captured on Instagram.
Good luck finding tacos this good, elsewhere.
You should eat tacos -- as many as you can handle and then a few dozen more. They're cheap, which will help offset the cost of some of the more expensive restaurants you'll want to dine in before you leave, and they're delicious, too. Tacos, like the ones served at La Banqueta, Bachman Tacos and Grill, and Los Torres Tacos will leave with with a warm glow, and if you're feeling adventurous, wrapping lamb in freshly made tortillas at Barbacoa Estilo Hidalgo is memory-worthy as well.
I couldn't leave Dallas without saying goodbye to Lucia.
Dine at Lucia, preferably with a close friend while sitting at the bar. And then grab as many friends as you can and visit the original Babe's in Roanoke. Order both the chicken-fried steak and the fried chicken. You may never experience renditions this good again.
Get in line early enough to secure one of Pecan Lodge's beef ribs, and if you like what you taste, plan a barbecue road trip a la Daniel Vaughn. Pick up some kolaches from the Village Bakery on your way down to Austin. And then wonder why so many people stop at the Czech Stop.
Drink on as many patios as you can -- even when it's hotter than hell. I'm convinced Dallas has one of the finer collections of patios for drinking. And drink a Shiner, because even though the bottles have made an appearance in New York recently, for whatever reason when you arrive, it won't taste the same.
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