Best Not-Like-Anything-Else Restaurant 2009 | Marlo's House | Best of Dallas® 2020 | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Dallas | Dallas Observer

Best Not-Like-Anything-Else Restaurant

Marlo's House


Any place billing itself as "the finest Mennonite restaurant" in the area and handing out matchsticks labeled "Mennonite flashlight" deserves some recognition. But the fact is, this quaint mom-and-pop place stuck in a Garland strip mall serves some damn good (can we say that?) Pennsylvania Dutch/Canadian food. Yes, you read that right. The cook (the mom) is a Mennonite, originally from Canada. Hence the great pies, simple but hearty meals and heaping plates of poutine, that strange Canuck sensation where they drench French fries in gravy and cover the lot with cheese. Really, it's better than it sounds.

As much as we love ice cream dripping with fudge and all manner of other artery-clogging ingredients, occasionally we just need a palate cleanser. What's that you say—fruit? Hmm, if there was only a way to combine delicious frozen treats with fruit...enter Yogilicious. Unlike some frozen yogurts, Yogilicious' brand isn't overly sweet in an attempt to imitate ice cream. Instead their rotation of flavors—from green tea to chocolate to coconut to strawberry—comes off as refreshing, not cloying. Continuing the healthy theme, Yogilicious offers fruit toppings such as pomegranate and blueberry or nuts such as almonds and pecans. Or if you need a little deviousness in your yogurt, veer toward toppings such as Oreos, Fruity Pebbles or sprinkles. While you're there, hang out and play some Wii Sports or Rock Band till you build up a hunger for more fro-yo.

If you've burned yourself out on Café Brazil (and let's face it, we've all done it at one time or another) the Dallas branch of this Southern chain is a more than adequate substitute, serving up everything from Southern crab stacks (a grit cake topped with homemade crab cakes, shrimp and andouille sausage cream sauce) to bananas Foster pancakes. We're slowly working our way through the menu ourselves, but the Hey Ricky!!—a Spanish omelet complete with avocado slices, green chiles, onions and cheese—is easily our favorite so far and probably the best omelet we've ever had 'round these parts. Add a little chorizo and it's even better. Throw in an English muffin, country potatoes and a side of crispy baked bacon and you've got yourself a breakfast to dream about.

The New England-style seafood shack has been around for a while, but they're not afraid to take chances—chances like dumping every kind of shellfish they can think of on some rice and calling it paella. Two small lobster tails, several scallops, some shrimp, mussels and clams. Geez. This is a tour of New England, the equivalent of an all-you-can-eat seafood feast for about $20. There's nothing Spanish about it, but who really cares? If it's on the menu and you think you're up to the task, do it.

OK, so it's a cram-packed little joint. So it doesn't take reservations, and there's no comfortable place to wait. And maybe Campania suits your tastes better. But there's just something about the crust at this tiny SMU destination. Owner Charlie Green supposedly plucked chef Salvatore Olivella from a New York establishment because he refused to start a pie until the wood-fired oven reached the proper temperature...which he checked by reaching in with a bare arm. This kind of care (or monomaniacal lunacy) leads to pizzas set on beautifully charred, smoky, crisp but chewy rounds of dough. So what if they cure their own mozzarella and find the best ingredients? The crust—it's all about the crust.

The Oak Cliff restaurant caught everyone's attention by offering a menu that changed daily based upon whatever a slate of farmers brought in. They also earned some notice because of their refusal to buy such conveniences as a deep fryer. But we really didn't care about any of that once we tried Bolsa's flatbreads—essentially cracker-crust pizzas, only far more expressive. We're talking about smoky bread covered in spicy Jimmy's sausage or basil that explodes on the palate, local and very fresh cheeses, tomatoes that taste as if they were picked that very day. They're just really damn good.

Best Place You Always Forget Is There


There's no-man's land as in that boggy space between British and German lines along the Somme and there's the real no-man's land, that gap you speed through when going from Knox-Henderson to West Village, or vice versa. Restaurants don't live very long on this treacherous ground unless they cling stubbornly to such basics as spot-on cooking and reasonable pricing. Helps if they have some back-up too—such as one of the best bartenders in the city. Salum is still there, tucked along Cole, after five or so years. You just never see it.

Behind a high white fence in a leafy little corner of East Dallas is the immaculate freezer plant where the city's best popsicles are made. Sold only from handcarts at a buck apiece by guys who rarely speak English, La Princesa's popsicles are made from fresh fruit and natural flavors only. In fact, if you drop in on the plant someday, you'll see big containers of watermelon, lemons, bananas and other produce trucked in the door to be turned into arctic-cold popsicles. Manufactured according to the best sanitary standards, La Princesa's popsicles stay rock-hard on dry ice in those handcarts. In fact, you want to be careful to give your popsicle a few minutes to warm up before you stick your tongue on it, or you'll wind up with a bad case of Minnesota-tongue, and what a terrible irony that would be in Texas.

Is there anything wrong with giggling a little bit when ordering lunch? Ever tell your co-worker that he has a little sauce on his shirt from his Nooner? Frankly, it's liberating, and it's in no way actionable as long as you've ordered from, or are sitting in, P.D. Johnson's Dog Day Deli. Even though it's owned by two sisters, the place has dick jokes coming out its buns. Bonus? There's nothing like taking a new employee to lunch and not warning them before stepping up to ordering position. "I'd like the Hankie Pankie." Or better yet, "I'll take an average Bone." "A Hot Johnson looks good, but I can only handle a shortie today." But it wouldn't be much fun if the sandwiches weren't any good. They are, though, so joke all you want while you try all manner of Johnsons to determine your fave, you sandwich slut.

Chefs Randall Copeland and Nathan Tate go shopping almost every day. Sometimes they bring in produce from their own gardens, but always they work with local farmers committed to such concepts as "free range," "seasonal" and so forth. Of course this means dishes change constantly. One day they might plate a pork chop with grits. They next, it comes with a salsa and gastrique from local peaches. They even kick things off with an amuse bouche whipped together from their farmers market haul. Local, seasonal, sustainable have become much abused buzz words lately. Whatever—this is a restaurant where you can use those words (and others, like "expressive") to describe every single menu item.

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