Best queso 2000 | Matt's Rancho Martinez | Best of Dallas® 2020 | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Dallas | Dallas Observer
Taryn Walker
As legend would have it, the Bob Armstrong Dip at Matt's was christened after the former Texas land commissioner of the same name because he came up with the recipe for the specialty item during his frequent visits to the original Matt's in Austin. Also known to insiders as Bob Dip, it is a tasty appetizer chock-full of hot melted cheese, guacamole, sour cream, and taco meat. Choose only the strongest of chips, because the thickness of this queso can weigh them down. Of course, it can do the same to you if you get the bowl rather than the cup. We recommend the bowl.
It's not a sushi bar, and it's not a bistro--at least not in the traditional senses of such establishments. It's more like a brisk, clean comfortable hybrid that serves decent raw fish and thrilling little exotic specials such as monkfish liver, grilled smelt bursting with tarry roe, and Yumeya beef, a paper-thin sheet of marinated meat fashioned on the plate like a lotus leaf. Yumeya doesn't serve pomme frites, but it does serve sun-dried sardines. Think of what a small sack of these would do for a bagged burger.

Never could a college student afford so much seafood as at Rockfish (maybe that should be a bumper sticker). This laid-back establishment has friendly, easy-going waiters, fast service, and good portions. Since its opening a year ago, the place has caught on with Richardson residents and students, so expect a wait. For a quick meal on the go, order the fried shrimp basket. These good-sized shrimp have a tasty batter that doesn't overpower and tangy cocktail sauce that'll clear your sinuses. Ask for more horseradish if it doesn't have enough kick for you. Grab a bucket of peanuts and throw the shells on the floor. Just don't throw them at other customers. They don't like that.

Brandon LaJoie
There is something horrifying yet natural about seeing vultures and hyenas fight over the scraps of meat clinging to a zebra carcass. It highlights the animals' desperation for survival in the hard African landscape. What's our excuse for the skirmishes that occur at eatZi's? Sure, the food is great and pre-prepared for modern convenience. But, my God, are we savages? Go there to witness grown men and women fighting for pasta salads and sandwiches like Stalin-era Ukrainians fighting for scraps of horsemeat. The peak time for the food scramble is 9 p.m., when the closeout stickers are applied to the least fresh food, designating them as half-price.
A bell pepper generally is about as sexy as a bunion, but Raneri's version is one mamma of a little appetizer. Sheets of green bell pepper are spread with fragments of ground meat, grains of rice, specks of onion, and gooey knots of cheese anointed with a rich tomato sauce. The flavors are simple yet profoundly robust. Sometimes all a bunion needs for respectability is a nice toe ring.

Though it seems impossible, fried dough with a sugar glaze becomes an ethereal treat of subtle nuance. Even the chocolate cream doughnuts rest so lightly in your tummy that you can eat two--or six, if you're like us. People-watching is especially amusing on Sunday mornings when the getting-over-Saturday-night crowd runs into the on-the-way-to-church crowd.

We are not sure where the "grocery" is in this place, but the sandwiches sure are good, as is the pizza. You can get a regular meatball sandwich, but we recommend one of the more creative concoctions, such as the Cubano, a zesty, packed sandwich featuring beef, turkey, provolone, peppers, Cuban relish, and more. Also, if you are trying to dodge the yuppie lunch crowd that overruns Deep Ellum at noontime, this is your place. Lots of artist-types from nearby galleries frequent the joint, so don't be caught wearing a tie or a button-down oxford.
You say New York pizza doesn't exist in Dallas? You say it's all in the Manhattan tap water, or in the way Italian-American males, who act like they are right off the set of The Sopranos, fling the dough high over their heads and beat the hell out of the crust until it surrenders its thickness? Or maybe it's in the tomato sauce, Mama's own sweet family secret. Well, the closest approximation to the mozzarella dream cake in Big D can be found at Brother's Pizza on Montfort. Sometimes greasy, always tasty, it strikes the right New York ratio of crust to sauce to cheese. But order it to go. The confines are small, and the cigarette smoke gets in your eyes and stays there.

The typical wait staff team has a range of characteristics: Either they are indifferent, dim, perfunctory, or overbearing, or they're dressed like pee-wee golf caddies. Maguire's gaggle of servers is so professional and self-assured, they're able to cloak their brutal efficiency in an air of graceful sincerity. Plus, they know the menu and perform their tasks with mindfulness. Restaurants charging gobs of green more than this place rarely perform as well; the staff doesn't even wear pee-wee golf cleats.

Brunch is a weird word, a mutant merging of successive events (breakfast and lunch). It's like merging beer with gut and coming up with butt, which is what years of beer guzzling will grant you, only it emerges in the wrong place and makes your belt fit funny. The brunch assortment at Ziziki's isn't as broad as a beer gut, and it isn't as cheap as Haggar Sans-A-Belt stretch slacks. But it's fresh and tight with bottomless mimosas. Everything is supple and speckled with imagination. The bar is spread with platters of fresh vegetables and fruits and smooth feta cheese, plus the steam tables are packed with delicious scrambled eggs flecked with basil and thick fluffy pancakes pocked with beer gut-sized blueberries. There are pasta dishes, dolmas, baklava, and hearty spanakopita (spinach baked with onions and feta cheese and wrapped in delicate phyllo pastry). It's enough to give you a brunch gut.

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