Best Martini 2009 | Sevy's Grill | Best of Dallas® 2020 | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Dallas | Dallas Observer
Alison McLean

So everybody in Dallas orders vodka instead of gin. And the shaken or stirred question never comes up. At least Sevy's understands that, when you deign to order a real (gin) martini, the proper end result requires a balance of spirit and vermouth. And they don't let you get away with uneducated calls. Say "Bombay" and they're likely to ask "regular or Sapphire." You gotta respect a place that respects a martini.

Fogo de Chao is where animals voluntarily surrender to become part of a magical dining experience as opposed to the next Happy Meal. It's where meatatarians—if there was such a term—gather and rejoice that somehow their vision of what meals will be like in heaven has been realized here on Earth. Sure, there's an impressive salad bar with jumbo asparagus available, but true carnivores know to avoid filling up on the leafy crap and turn their place card from red to green, signaling the staff that you're ready to begin your feast. Then it starts. Two kinds of top sirloin are brought to the table followed by lamb, filet mignon, chicken, pork loin, beef ribs, sausage, filet mignon wrapped in bacon, pork ribs, rib eye and chicken wrapped in bacon. Is it worth it at $48.50 for dinner and $32.50 for lunch? You betcha. If only the bill was wrapped in bacon too.

Afghanistan, as a geographic entity, was well-situated to benefit from the Mediterranean's culinary breadth, as well as the unique flavors from the mountainous areas. Spice flowed through the region as early traders traversed the land. And it all winds up here in Dallas, as densely flavored meats, exotic platters, thick and pasty servings of hummus, the beautiful variety of dumplings. Afghan Grill can be one of the most rewarding nights out the city has to offer, especially if you're a fan of things bold and garlicky.

Certainly there's something really odd in cruising past Prada and Fendi displays on your way to a burger counter. And it is that—a wraparound counter shoved into one corner of the Neiman Marcus NorthPark mall location's café...which means you may also encounter women in silly hats on their way to lunch. No matter, the jaunt is worth it, and not only for the burgers. The joint mixes one hell of a shake from two ingredients: Häagen-Dazs ice cream and milk, topped with real whipped cream. Nothing fancy, just a shake rich in flavor, thick enough to suspend a spoon and easy to sip through a straw. Pretty near perfect, in other words.

Everyone knew chef Nick Badovinus could cook. They knew it from his time with Cuba Libre and Hibiscus. But he also has—or had, rather—a penchant for going way over the top. This time, he opts for overt simplicity. He buys mussels from Blue Hill Bay in Maine and steams them in a broth based on white wine, but drawing its complex pungent, sherry-like kick from shallots and roasted tomatoes. To the side he plants slabs of crusty bread. That's it, nothing special...except you want to slurp the broth like a soup and the bread is so thoroughly "at one" with butter, you don't want to let it near the bowl. Or any of your friends near your side of the table. The mussels, the bread—they're good, just as they are.

Patrick Williams

When we lunch at Angry Dog, we hardly ever move past the appetizers page of the menu. After all, why mess with perfection? Get the Angry Dog nachos—and don't mess around with the half-order; you're gonna want the platter-size full order. When they bring out this massive plate, you'll notice that the chips get a little toasted around the edges, but the center of the pile is dripping with cheese, refried beans, sour cream, guac, and your choice of chicken or beef—or skip the meat, which we sometimes do, and revel in the pure cheesy deliciousness.

Sadly, there seems to be a dearth of decent restaurants in Dallas that are open around the clock. But BuzzBrews, the deliciously quirky little diner next to the Best Western on Central Expressway and Fitzhugh, has opened a new location on Lemmon Avenue. Much larger, with its own parking lot and a nice little bar with rare wines and beer selections, the new restaurant retains the original's character and reliable menu (for breakfast, you can't go wrong with the migas, nopales or French toast and for dinner we recommend the chicken chimichurri) while affording a more spacious and comfortable place to use the free Wi-Fi and get some work done, eat dinner or grab a late-night snack after hitting the bars.

She came to Dallas from Minneapolis at the behest of Wolfgang Puck. In fact, she ran the kitchen at his outpost there, so the big guy has a lot of faith in her work—as well he should, for her range is tremendous. Curry dishes show the subtle layering of flavors that first made such Indian creations popular. When asked to lay on Asian accents, she does so smartly, never allowing one impression to dominate. Even when it comes to whimsical items, such as General Tso's quail, she manages to create something special. Wow factor with balance...not many chefs can pull that off.

We thought we'd miss Bill Addison, the smooth-writin', easy-going gentleman food critic. But Leslie Brenner came storming in from the West Coast (Los Angeles, to be precise) and began kicking some serious ass—as far as daily papers will allow ass to be kicked, anyway. Just look at the way she stripped The Old Warsaw of its faded glory. Sure, there are some points we disagree on. Such is life. Brenner gives the thinning paper back some of its...we were gonna say balls, but we'll stick with attitude.

If one talented chef is good, two will be even better, right? Seems to be the theory behind this far north gem, teaming elder statesman Gaspar Stantic and young (but accomplished) Jean-Marie Cadot, late of Lavandou. The kitchen works in touches of classic French, hints of pan-European and a lot of New American into their creations, to the benefit of diners. The duck terrine can legitimately be called brilliant, studded with pistachios and soothed by truffles. Sauteed escargots rival any in Dallas and the halibut with Champagne sauce, the soufflés...we could keep going. Despite the high-toned menu, this is a casual destination. Wear shorts. Sit back. Relax. Indulge.

Best Of Dallas®

Best Of