Taco Cabana

We wanted to give this award to someone else; we really did. "Best Tortillas at Taco Cabana? Why not just give Best Hamburger to effin' McDonald's?" we think, angry with ourselves. But then we sigh, and our fists unclench as our thoughts turn to the pliable, pillowy flatbreads that are just 19 cents apiece at that familiar pink-and-green-stucco drive-thru. Plus, you can even see the tortilla-making machine right behind the counter, so you know they're going to be warm and fresh. And they pass the true tortilla test: They're great when filled with beans, cheese or rice but can also stand on their own. Cue the drool; we just can't help it.

After a several-month hiatus, Tipperary Inn is back in business, serving traditional Irish fare in the pub's old location at the corner of Skillman and Live Oak streets. The Tipp's environs are made for comfort--including dark woods and roomy seating areas--and so is the food. The menu is a little on the heavy side, but you can't miss the shepherd's pie or the fish & chips or the bangers & mash. Avoid the booths, though; they're so big and comfy, you may be tempted to curl up for a nap after you're done.

Il Mulino is cloaked in a jacket of elegance. The waiters have them. Even you are supposed to, except in the summer when wearing a jacket turns even the noblest, most mannered fellow into a sweating plow horse. At Il Mulino, waiters sport crisp tuxedos and move with impeccable precision and graceful warmth. They serve from the left and bus from the right. Or do they serve from the right and bus from the left? We can't remember, because we're usually seated next to a post or are crammed into a banquette sandwich where left and right have no meaning. Here it is open, and the servers are prompt and keen, clearing away course-worn flatware, deploying reinforcements in seconds. Sure, it's dark and hard to read the designer labels, but the servers dispense penlights. And they know the menu, right down to the gory details, which mostly involve prices. But then again, professionals who can distinguish right from left do not come cheap.

Readers' Pick

Lucky's Café

3531 Oak Lawn Ave.

214-522-3500

Best Children's Restaurant on Saturday

Hooters

Hooters

Why Hooters? On Saturdays, kids 12 and under eat for free--so put that in your Happy Meal and play with it. It's a deal so good that, let's face it, it makes Hooters the new McDonald's. Only better. It has more options for the little ones--they can choose between a hot dog, a burger, wings, chicken strips, a corn dog or a grilled cheese sandwich--and you're not parting with any cash. Nor are you stepping on any toy in your bare feet on Sunday morning. Plus, if you want, you can have a beer at Hooters while they eat. Name one McDonald's like that. Another plus: The waitresses have really big...um, never mind, we're talking about kids here.

Greenz

If you want a tasty, crispy spinach salad, Greenz can fix you up, but their specialty is more creative inventions, like the Bar None, a salad festooned with steak, tomatoes and mixed nuts and served in a pretzel bowl. Other fanciful salads include warm pear and goat cheese, BBQ Texas slaw and spicy panko shrimp. Every visit has included fast, helpful service and the opportunity to try delicious extras like creamy asparagus and ancho tortilla soups.

La Madeline

It's all about payback, or so we've heard. Maybe that's why La Madeleine, wherein some of the best breads on earth are made, fills a handy yet surreptitiously placed rack with homemade slices or half-loaves several times a day. On a little shelf, the bread fairies also put out pats of butter and little bowls of fruit preserves. The preserves have earned the right to be called something other than jelly, since they appear to be real, fresh fruit that has been simmered with a bit of sugar long enough to soften up, break down and then thicken to a pleasing, goo-like consistency. This simple buffet runs by the honor system. La Mad's idea is that diners--that is, people who have actually purchased something from the menu--can help themselves to more bread to go with the meal as they need it. People we've known who always run out of money before payday can usually spring for a cup of French roast at La Madeleine; then, with only a smidgen of guilt, help themselves to six or 12 bread, butter and jelly sandwiches, on the house. It's the best free breakfast in Dallas.

Best Cheeseburger and Cheese Fries Combo

Fat Daddy's

Fat Daddy's Burger House

It's not hard to get good cheeseburgers or cheddar fries around here (Snuffer's is terrific on both of those fronts, but they employ a service system that tends to screw up your order and try your patience). Still, Fat Daddy's has about the best combination. Their half-pound cheeseburgers are as good as they come (they also have a full 1-pound burger for the especially hungry), and the cheese fries are loaded with artery-clogging cheddar. Plus, when you walk in, the staff screams, "Welcome to Fat Daddy's." A good burger, good cheese fries and a cheery welcome. That's service.

Wolfberries are believed to be good for the eyes and enhance energy. Gingko seeds are swell for memory enhancement and urination promotion (not the same as urinal advertising). Lychee nuts are good for the skin. Gingko Tree China Bistro employs all of these healthful ingredients in its menu so that we can cease being forgetful sloths with eyesight that blinds us to our own bad skin. Plus we don't pee enough, or maybe just not in straight enough streams. That's why Gingko serves delicious dishes like lychee nut shrimp and gingko shrimp seasoned with seeds from the gingko, a Chinese ornamental shade tree. Gingko is Nuevo Chinese, in effect. It acknowledges that the great regional cuisines of China--Cantonese, Fukien, Honan, Szechwan, Peking-Shantung--are blurring, with aspects of some absorbed by staples of others. Gingko fare is designed to reflect the shifts in this hoary cuisine stirred by modernity. There are nods to the past, such as ants climb tree: rice noodles infested with stir-fried ground pork, bell peppers, scallions and tiny broccoli florets. There are crafty desserts such as fire on ice: seasonal fruit surrounding a scoop of house-made vanilla ice cream that's doused with Everclear squirts and set ablaze. Desserts like this simply underscore the need for proper bladder health.

Readers' Pick

P.F. Chang's China Bistro

Various locations

Hamburger Mary's is so gay--and we mean that in every sense of the word. The décor includes bejeweled high heels and all the colors of the rainbow. And the staff is about the friendliest we've ever seen. It's almost as if they're happy to come to work. Kinda weird. But not too weird, especially considering that Hamburger Mary's atmosphere is all fun, including drag shows on the weekend and movie nights that have included such titles as Steel Magnolias. (See? Gay.) This Uptown joint was imported from San Francisco, and it specializes in gourmet burgers that are as big as your head, with names like the Queen Mary and Buffy the Hamburger Slayer. (See? Fun.) There's also a pretty wide selection of salads, wraps, appetizers and sandwiches.

Palm Restaurant

For the unrepentant carnivore, nothing can compare with the cardiological time bomb that is the prime rib. If it's to be perfect, let it have been chosen and aged by experts and roasted in a manner that lets its enzymes caramelize into an ephemeral sweetness while its flesh remains firm but tender. Let it be well-trimmed with just a little interior marbling. Make it seasoned on the outside and juicy throughout, cut so broad and thick that a single slab can be rare near its massive bone, medium rare across its great plains and verging on medium well at its peppery borders. Let it smell as lordly as it looks. Such perfection exists in Dallas. Only at The Palm.

Best Of Dallas®

Best Of