Soley%21%27s+blend+of+Mexican+and+French+influences+makes+for+one+of+Dallas%27+best+new+dining+experiences.
Meredith+L.+Moore
Soley%21%27s+blend+of+Mexican+and+French+influences+makes+for+one+of+Dallas%27+best+new+dining+experiences.

Chef-owners Jose and Norma Vasconcelos grew up in Mexico but trained for culinary careers in France. In fact, both ended up working for Michelin star restaurants in surrender-monkey country before heading for the swagger of Dallas. In an often overlooked storefront on Henderson, they've brought birth and training together in a fusion of French and Mexican traditions. That means poblano stuffed with duck confit, mixed greens with tortilla strips or their spectacular escargot on a bed of pureed tomatillos. Because Mexican cuisine was influenced by both Spanish and French techniques, the idea works. The intricate French and native Mexican flavors blend together into something, well, let's just say you wish someone had thought of this sooner. Fantastic stuff.

Angry Dog

Please don't get mad, Angry Dog, if we call you a greasy spoon. We mean that in the best possible way. Oh, sure, we haven't stopped by as much as we used to—about three times a week—since the Observer's office moved away from downtown, but we still love you and your chili-smothered Angry Dogs, your hamburgers that taste like beef, not bun, your spicy fries and your club sandwiches that make us want to join whatever club created them. And did we mention your wide selection of draft and bottled beers? Oh, yes, we still feel the love. And so does our gallbladder.

State & Allen Lounge

You know what our problem is? We can't make a decision when it comes to ordering food. We'd like some of this, some of that and a bite of what you're having, thanks. We want that salad, but could we please have a couple of dressings? Indecision is the bane of our servers' existence. And yet, at State & Allen Lounge, they feel us. Like, they really feel us. The Silver Bowl, or "The Original" as it's noted on the menu, is a hearty salad that looks rather modest at first glance. But its bowl holds magic within: romaine, bacon pieces, red grape halves, mandarin oranges, tiny diced red bell peppers, savory marinated chicken with a little kick, and—get this—two dressings. Two! A tart balsamic vinaigrette and a creamy Caesar that are drizzled separately but come together in perfect harmony. There's enough fruit and veg we feel like we're diet-right, and enough meat we can grunt a bit and protein up. Plus, since State & Allen is all up on the green scene, we can get that silver bowl in a corn-derivative biodegradable to-go container if we need lunch on the fly. Or, if we can't decide, we might eat half there, half back at the office.

Walk in, turn right toward the bakery, go to the cooler against the wall where they have prepared foods in plastic tubs. Look for the green Deli Fresh Salsa made with tomatillos, cilantro, salt, onion and garlic. This sauce is so spot-on Mexican authentic that it has caused some diligent homemade salsa cooks to stop making their own. Why bother? For $1.50 you can get three-quarters of a pound of delicious fresh green salsa, and you don't have to slice up any of those pesky little tomatillos yourself.

I Heart Yogurt

Maybe you haven't noticed, but there's been a fro-yo explosion going on around town. No, it's not some '80s frozen yogurt redo of your dad's TCYB—it's something a hell of a lot tastier, and it's good for you too. It's kinda California, kinda New York and plenty delish. We had a hard time choosing, what with devotees dedicated to Yogurtland and Natsumi and Yogilicious and Orange Cup—all tasty probiotic treats (assuming you're into eating live active cultures). But we're putting our money on I Heart Yogurt, with its 16 flavors (love the peanut butter and the Irish cream) and its 24 toppings (fresh bananas and blueberries are great), which can be mixed, matched, hand-designed and self-served at 22 calories a yogurt ounce. The possibilities are limitless. Some people even call it lunch.

Wingfield's Breakfast & Burger

Sure, it's five miles from downtown, and, no, it's not fast food. But, man, is it worth it. A Wingfield's hamburger is one giant and extremely juicy fistful of beef on a big fluffy bun with fresh makings and that hot, right-off-the-grill taste with just a touch of singe—not frozen patties from Sam's and relish out of a can. The place itself, a few blocks south of Illinois Avenue, is postage-stamp small with a skimpy parking lot out front, so at busy times you may have to park half a block away and walk. The etiquette is to squeeze in the door, place your order, squeeze back out the door and wait 15 minutes or more. Then squeeze back in and check. They don't come get you. This is one you need to go get for yourself.

Yumi to Go

Normally it takes 45 minutes, the guy on the phone told us, but we can get it there in 25. Pretty damn bold to make such a promise, especially considering the NYC gridlock that can build up on Lemmon and Oak Lawn. Yet the driver—piling over curbs, cutting through yards, running down children...Well, we don't know how he managed shaving five minutes off the promised time. Now that's service. And for home delivery, the food's not bad, either.

Garden Cafe

Just behind Munger Park in East Dallas' Junius Heights Historic District, fresh herbs and vegetables are served, which might not sound all that unusual until we elaborate on "fresh." At the Garden Café, fresh means it came straight from the beautiful garden in back. In addition to its unique atmosphere, the café occasionally doubles as a hotspot for book signings, photography shows and poetry readings. Owner Dale Wootton has everything covered, including plenty of available parking, seating in back to enjoy the garden and a menu featuring favorites such as meatloaf, chicken-fried steak, catfish and homemade desserts. Want a chance to see a future meal grow? Head over to the Garden Café for an experience you'll tell your friends about.

Brandon and Susan Pollard have bee hives in places you might never suspect—the roof of Bolsa, the trendy Oak Cliff eatery, for example, or maybe in your next-door neighbor's back yard. Their bees are marching out across the city, relentlessly, like a Japanese horror movie only not horrible. In fact, the honey their hives produce is wonderful, flavored by local flowers, trees and shrubs, good for local allergies and absolutely free of the chemicals, antibiotics and toxins found in too many imported, commercially produced honeys. Visit them at the Yellow Shed on Saturday or Sunday. They're also very interesting on the whole topic of urban farming and local food. Buy some honey, chat them up.

Tiff's Treats

Ah, the power of a warm, fresh-from-the-oven cookie. It has the ability to comfort, satisfy, inspire...and provide a sugar-boost when it's about 3 p.m. and all signs read: "We're Not Gonna Make It Until 5. Population: Everyone in the office." But the little cookie delivery company that could is here to help. Once rising to meet the needs of midnight oil-burning UT Austin students out of an overused home oven, Tiff's Treats has become a dual-city treat titan with pro gear and seriously craveable recipes. Place an order online, set the time for delivery (if you're in the deliverable areas) and wait for that magic box with the blue ribbon to arrive. Inside, the snickerdoodles, chocolate chip, peanut butter cookies or whichever flavor you pick (they all hark back to Grandmother's masterful creations) will still be warm and oh-so ooey-gooey. Suddenly, the rest of the day will instantly seem less harrowing. And yes, milk is also available.

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