Nick's is to breakfast what an ox is to basic transportation: It's big, docile and will keep you inching indefinitely on very little money. Nick's will invade your gullet, make building materials out of your digestive system, climb out through your ears and leave you smiling the whole time. How many meals in Dallas (or anywhere) have all of these features? All of Nick's servings are the size of Jerry Jones' ego, which means you generally have to shoot them before you can open your mouth to appreciate their intrinsic worth. Nick's has great fluffy pancakes, corned beef hash with two eggs, hash browns (cooked anyway you like them...well, maybe not flambé) or grits, biscuits and gravy or toast. And they have lots of meats to load up on in addition to bird embryos: bacon, sausage, ham, hamburger patties, gyro meat, pork chops and steaks. Whether you're hung-up or hungover, Nick's is a great way to begin your day. Or end your night.
La Duni Latin Cafe
La Duni not only has a variety of fresh egg creations with Latin twists; it also has breakfast tacos, orange brioche waffles, rum banana nut waffles, skillet baked upside-down cake and an assortment of house-baked breads and pastries. La Duni has a medley of fresh squeezed juices--orange, grapefruit, tangerine, grape, carrot--you won't find anywhere else. Watch out before they make breakfast juice out of brussels sprouts. Plus, they have a large assortment of espresso and coffee drinks, as well as house blend teas. If that isn't enough, this brunch is served on Saturday and Sunday. With a doggie bag, you can even have it on Monday, though leftover sunny-side-up huevos rancheros might be a little weird.
Caravelle Chinese & Vietnamese
This colorful BYOB spot has an expansive menu bulging with Chinese and Vietnamese fare. Each dish is assembled with fresh, supple ingredients. Caravelle has swell Vietnamese spring rolls and fire pots, splendid whole baked fish and dapper clams with black bean sauce. Plus, you'll leave satiated and without the dizzying blur of Chinese Restaurant Syndrome. (The MSG kind, not the kind you get when you think you've just eaten snake disguised as crab Rangoon.)
EatZi's Market & Bakery
Brandon LaJoie
The bakery part of EatZi's may not get the recognition that the market's other fresh-cooked offerings do, but no one offers better fresh-baked breads and other baked goods than at this cook-owned deli. Once you've tried any one of these fresh breads you will understand why there is never an open parking spot at EatZi's.
Jimmy's Food Store
Nick Rallo
Whenever we take jaded locals to Jimmy's, which is across the street from Mai's and Hall's Hobby Shop (two more local landmarks), they're always shocked at the treats and treasures this place holds. They take it for granted that it's one more quickie convenience store, one more neighborhood stop-and-rob on an urban corner; they've driven by it a hundred times and never given it a second glance. It's their loss, and our job to correct their mistaken impressions: This place, owned and operated by fourth-generation Sicilians, is a veritable gastric paradise, a repository of exotica. One aisle overflows with olive oils from the homeland; another is drenched with fine Italian wines available at the nicest price. From capers to crackers, from coffee (Café Bustelo, that dark Miami nectar, is our favorite) to cheeses (including bufala mozzarella, the Tom Hicks of cheese), Jimmy's is your one-stop shopping for a day of nibbling or a night of culinary get-down. The nerve center of Jimmy's is its meat market, located at the back and packed to the brine with some of the finest olives, cheeses and meats in town (the prosciutto is primo). And it's back there they concoct the Cuban sandwich, a spicy mélange of pickles and pork, ham and Swiss cheese, mustard and butter (and, likely, so much more; one bite makes our taste buds do the masticatin' mambo). Call ahead--it takes a good 15 minutes to prepare this delicacy--but stop by and pick up one. Or five. At $4.99, it's a real bargain--the lunch that keeps on giving, if you know what we mean.

If you have thrown concern for cholesterol to the wind, this place is a one-stop pig-out. The ribs are the specialty of the house, but just in case you're in the mood for honest-to-goodness soul food, there are collard greens, cabbage and red beans. You'll get friendly service, huge portions at the right price, and there's always gospel music playing in the background. You'll think you've died and gone to hog heaven.
Piggie Pies
So what makes a good pizza? Some say it's fresh toppings, others the crust. Piggie Pies has both. The crust is neither thin nor thick, but cooked perfectly in between. And there's no skimping on the toppings, which are cut large (no canned veggies here) and piled so high atop a gooey wad of mozzarella that one's shirt is in danger of permanent stains with every crust-bending bite. Piggie Pies also delivers. Never mind that thermo-wrapped approach some other pizza companies use, Piggie Pies' delivery is hot and always on time.
The Old Monk
Few gastronomical adventures really excite us anymore. We love good food, but it seems as though we're too jaded--or just too fat--to believe that there is really any end-all, be-all dish. "Oh, the sea bass, yes, it was tremendous, but surely someone in town does it better, no?" Not so with this dish. No one in town does fried calamari better. No one on this earth does calamari better. It simply cannot be prepared in any more perfect a fashion than it is at Old Monk. The delicate ovals of splendiferous squid are feather-dusted in an impossibly light, perfect batter and then deep-fried. The quick-flash result is the most orgasmic experience of which any cephalopod has ever taken part. We figure, anyway.

Porta Di Roma
Forget those stampeding brass bulls near City Hall: Pizza joints are the best thing downtown has going for it. Porta di Roma is the newest addition, located in a renovated storefront across from the Bank One building. We're a fan of any pizza by the slice, but this one is exceptional: wide, melting triangles of heavenly goo supported by a strong, thin, slightly crispy crust. Perfection. As a bonus--like we need one--Porta di Roma offers huge, fresh plates of pasta, cheap. We're hot on the "spaghetti olio" dish, a mound of pasta flavored with olive oil, garlic, chili pepper and a dash of Parmesan. Even comes with hot bread. Lunchtime price: $4.25.
La Calle Doce
Where is Jimmy Buffett when you need him? Face it, Dallas is Margaritaville. So how do you choose between the perennial favorite ritas at Blue Goose and Uncle Julio's or the stylistically compelling artistry of, say, a Blue Mesa or Taco Dinner? We look for authenticity, and that is why La Calle Doce gets our vote. It's just the right amount of frozen--not overly icy or fluid. It's white, velvety, not too salty and plenty boozy. And it goes down smooth--that is, until that biting aftertaste grabs you by the throat and compels you to grab a chip and salsa--fast. Then it's back to the rita, a return trip to the chips, rita, chips, rita--all mixing and matching in a Mexican dance that can last until you're sated or plastered--whichever comes first.

Best Of Dallas®

Best Of