Best Martini 2001 | Martini Ranch | Best of Dallas® 2020 | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Dallas | Dallas Observer
Yes, the martinis are big and tasty, full of liquid courage that would make Sinatra proud. But that's not all that makes the Ranch worthwhile; it's the incredibly hot cheese that high-heels its way in and out of the Ranch's doors. You've probably often heard of the stereotypical, plastic Dallas look. Go here to see it. Not long ago, we were enjoying a few responsibly consumed adult beverages when a white limo pulled up and let out two big, blond bims and their escort: a balding old man who stood a good foot shorter than the ladies. Maybe it was the 'tini, but we've never laughed so hard. Entertainment that real you can't get from Survivor.

Arcodoro Pomodoro is little more than a simple pair of Sardinian joined-at-the-hip dining experiences. It's all at once a place to dine in elegance (Pomodoro), while it slips into something more comfortable and throws a little pizza (Arcodoro) at your appetite and some hip-grinding glamour at your libido (the bar guests). Yet the differences between this genetic aberration's dual personalities are as striking as they are similar. Everything on the menu is available in each Sardinian incarnation, except pizza is offered only in the more casual (and noisier) Arcodoro. The food is fresh, rustic and aromatic with oddball additions such as grated bottarga--the dried roe of gray mullet--and a couple of twists on carpaccio. The wine list is an intelligent capturing of Italian pressings as well as wines from the island of Sardinia. Plus, these restaurants are in Dallas, a city not known for its gray mullet.
This exotically erotic gulper is a libido depth charge with a little proof pumped in to facilitate heady reflection. The potion consists of uni (sea urchin roe), ponzu sauce, tobiko caviar (flying fish eggs) and either Hennessey or Rémy Martin XO cognac kicked with lime juice. The ingredients are layered in a cordial glass and topped with chopped scallions. Throw it back, swallow hard and smile.

If you don't lurch for this one, you'll certainly lurch afterward if you're still conscious. Hurricanes are terrifyingly furtive beverages, unleashing their rum pestilence long after you've removed your socks to keep your drink tally straight. But the Hurricane Grill multiplies this unseemly horror with the Category 5: a 45-ounce hurricane served on the rocks or frozen. They say it's designed for two or more, but we know that once the wind kicks in, it usually blows this rum jumble up one straw and into one mouth. This violent tropical quencher in pinkish fruity hues is enough to make your head hum like an old transformer. It's smooth, balanced and refreshing, so it coddles you while it messes with your brain cells, the ones you need for remembering your name and address for instance. Just pray there's an eye in this Category 5 so you can remember where the rest room is.

Younger sibling to Sol's Taco Lounge in Deep Ellum and older kin of the Sol's Cocina in Plano, this Mockingbird outpost bags brawny tacos, enchiladas, tostadas, tamales and burritos with lots of refried beans and tri-color chips to help chalk the entrées to your gullet. The food is always hot, ample, done up right and quick.
OK, so it might be a wholly unmonastic indulgence. But The Abbey Café's slow-roasted pork tenderloin is among the best kitchen devotions to the Babes and Arnold Ziffels of the world we've ever tasted. Two pieces of tender, juicy crown tenderloin are hit with stinging cayenne that spars with craggy chunks of coarsely cracked pepper. The meat is brilliantly paired with a cherry and jalapeo cranberry sauce that meshes well with the meat, creating an alluring harmonious tug between heat, restrained sweetness and tang. Go ahead. Eat it. It's been blessed by St. Gregory Peccary.
There's no cure for the summer--or winter, fall or spring--time blues like a few squares of fresh cornbread and a slab of chicken-fried steak smothered in peppered cream gravy. But don't forget the veggies: The mashed potatoes have skins, and the broccoli is steamed until tender. Everything's exactly like Ma makes it. Only Lucky's waitstaff won't make you clean your plate before chocolate cake is served.
The restaurant works hard for this honor. They throw parties every Monday. They serve breakfast almost all day. They even put ears on their pancakes. Given all they do--and the fact that Mom and Dad can get a decent, fresh-tasting meal--we think the eatery deserves credit as "cool, Mom."
Not only does Basha serve lots of garlicky hummus, roasted eggplant dip, tabbouleh, tangy labni (Middle Eastern cream cheese) made from house-made yogurt, falafel balls and great kabobs. It also serves up special dinners in a "tent room" where you can sit on a low couch and eat sans knives or forks, replacing them with pieces of just-baked saj bread to scoop up grub. Belly dancers even stroll in for a kind of vivacious, animated dessert, the kind you get when you put a dish of pudding on a coin-op motel bed.
The fish and chips at Hook, Line & Sinker aren't served in newspaper as they are across the pond, but these come close. The catfish (available in portions from one fillet to four or a whole fish) is served in a wax paper-lined basket with slender hush puppies and long, thin french fries. All three are spicy and so crispy and almost greaseless that the paper lining isn't really needed--except for sanitary reasons, of course. Hook, Line & Sinker may look like a bait shack, but it's got standards, and they're very high.

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