Olivella's

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.

Bolsa

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

Salum

Salum Restaurant

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.

P.D. Johnson's Dog Day Deli

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.

The Metropolitan Cafe

It's a testament to the obsessive persistence of owner Michael Vouras that he could plant his culinary flag on the iffy eastern landscape of downtown Dallas nearly nine years ago and grow his small mom and pop (and grandma) shop into a destination restaurant for so many downtown lunchers. Then again, the food didn't hurt either. Vouras dishes out family recipes that once graced the tables of the high-end Chateaubriand (1958-1982). Wednesday is reserved for crab cakes, and you'd best come early if you want to catch a pair; it's sided with black-eyed peas and coleslaw, which when combined create their own unique great taste. Other daily specials include meatloaf, taco salad and Greek chicken—all good. Soups are all-natural and healthy—culled from grandma's 21 authentic recipes. She also makes the mouthwatering cakes and pies. And with the downtown law school likely opening up next year, and weary law students seeking a quick coffee buzz and breakfast sandwich, the Metropolitan's future seems assured.

Nick & Sam's Grill

This is one cool layout, ya gotta admit. There are two patios, one always covered, the other in full "be seen" view of passing traffic. The building's doors swing open to allow the outside to spill in (or the inside to spill out, depending on one's perspective). This is why you live or hang around in Uptown, right? Of course, you can't really grab one of those great patio tables without arousing the ire of the pretty poseurs. They are everywhere—the bar, the patio, upstairs—crowding you with 36 inches of plastic, knocking you accidentally aside with their Canali-clad elbows. It's why you avoid Uptown too.

Best Reason To Spend Part Of Your Weekend At A Dead Shopping Center In Frisco

Kenny's Burger Joint

Kenny's Burger Joint

There are some downsides...besides the dead shopping center in Frisco part. You pay extra for the fries, first off. And the fries aren't that great. The burgers, on the other hand, rise far, far above Dallas-area standards. Thick, meaty, with a trace of smoke, served on quality bread—this is America on a plate. Their shakes are straightforward good stuff (and they will do you an adult version too). Best of all, you can annoy a spouse or soon-to-be-former girlfriend by pointing to all those Animal House quotes on the wall and replaying the entire scene, verbatim.

Sprinkles Cupcakes

Red velvet is the best kind of cake ever—and not because of the 1989 appearance of the armadillo-shaped groom's cake in the film Steel Magnolias. There's something about the cacao-tinged flavor and the rich sweetness of the creamy frosting that's absolutely irreplaceable. Which is why you'd expect a high-quality red velvet cupcake at a high-quality cupcakery like Sprinkles. The bakers there—with their fancy-schmancy designs and pretty accoutrements—know just how to do the Southern specialty right. The taste of their delicious, deep red confections is tough to put into words, but suffice it to say that the Steel Magnolia set would certainly approve.

Best Of Dallas®

Best Of