The Porch

No doubt there is something magical about the number 3: In rhetorical flourishes (life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness), in religion (the Holy Trinity, the Three Patriarchs, the Three Holy Cities of Islam), in nuclear accidents (Three Mile Island). Now that same magic has spread to the culinary rage known as the slider, which is most often served in threes. Derived from White Castle hamburgers and named for the ease with which the greasy treats slide down the gullet, these mini-burgers have been reincarnated into high-end gourmet globs, using salmon, fried oysters, crab, etc. to make their point. We feel the Porch makes that point better than most, with its chopped brisket sliders, an appealing appetizer of barbecued beef, creamy coleslaw and horseradish-infused pickles served on a small bun. No need to dip into the side of barbecue sauce, which seems like an embarrassment of riches. Instead you'll be searching for adjectives to describe this sweet, tangy, mouth-watering concoction. There, that's three.

Note we didn't say most authentic—'cause in this case we don't much care about authenticity. Green Papaya's version of the Vietnamese staple is big (as Texas) and hearty (as a motherf...never mind). There are fancier soups out there too. But the Oak Lawn restaurant's pho is simple and satisfying, which is all you really want. The broth itself sends warm shivers of meatiness down your spine, but you can add a choice of beef, chicken or meatballs (try the latter). Spiked with onion and cilantro and full of noodles, it's more than just a modernized, Texafied pho. It's a meal.

Pappas Brothers Steakhouse

With some 500 seats to fill, the kitchen at Pappas Bros. has to work hard, not just to meet the demands of a dinner rush, but to create that demand, as well. They do it with cuts—slabs, rather—of prime beef they age for up to 40 days and grill to a rare perfection. That sheen of pan juices and seasoning burned onto the skin, the oh-so-delicate rare center...this is meat heaven. More than that, really, for they employ several wine stars to find the right match for your meal and furnish one of the city's most extensive cellars. Yes, it's an expensive place. But, damn, the memory of those steaks will stay with you for a long time after.

The Grape
Beth Rankin

The Grape is the kind of place you want to huddle in on a Sunday: low-key, casual atmosphere with great food...and unlike Denny's, it's dark enough inside no one can see your bloodshot eyes. But really, it's all about the food. You can go meaty, with steak frites. Need something old-fashioned and hearty? They serve oxtail hash. If you're in the mood for a fancy meal, then you can order rainbow trout. But if you want something Denny's-ish (only prepared by a great chef), they'll whip up griddlecakes, waffles, or bacon and eggs too.

Kenichi

Lest you think there's only so much one can do to improve a slice of raw fish, allow sushi chef Kiyomi Sano to set you straight. Yeah, there's the whole attitude thing. The place is consciously hip, to say the least. But Kenichi has thrived through Victory Park's death throes thanks to delicate fish, chef Bodhi Durant's "badass" tuna tacos (we told you—attitude) and, most of all, the sake know-how of sommelier Hung Nguyen, who gained Level 2 certification from the Sake Educational Council of Tokyo, making him the leading expert in Texas and one of only 40 or so Level 2 masters in the world. His assistant, by the way, holds Level 1 status. So, piece of fish, great sake, perfect pairing—we're in.

Whole Foods Market Highland Park

The best part of shopping at this Whole Foods is that when you inevitably get hungry at the sight of all that food, all you have to do is mosey over to the bar once you've filled your cart. The salad fixings are broad and varied, from healthy greenery to hard-boiled eggs and at least three different kinds of tuna salad. The hot food bar offers a number of different things depending on the night, from home-style meat and mashed potatoes to Indian, Asian or North African. And once you've made your selection, you can enjoy your meal on the patio or inside while gazing at the big, bright tropical fish tank.

Royal Thai

You can make an argument for Asian Mint, of course, but Royal Thai takes its regal title seriously. And it's not easy to depose a king when they turn out perfectly balanced pad Thai. Look beyond the world's go-to Thai noodle dish, and you'll find odd, fierce and refreshing combinations like pla goong, full of lemongrass, mint and burning peppers. There's even Texas-pleasing cuts of flank steak. Service is solid, the cooking consistent and the restaurant well-deserving of its longevity.

Mattito's

Prepare yourself, because the next few sentences might make you grab your car keys and take a drive to Uptown. Have you ever wondered what's better than artery-clogging bacon? Artery-clogging bacon that is wrapped around chicken. What's better than artery-clogging bacon wrapped around chicken? When the chicken is stuffed with Monterey Jack cheese and jalapeños on a skewer, with sides of ranch and cayenne sauce for your dipping pleasure. Keys in hand yet? You can find this mouthwatering dish, the Baja Chicken, at Mattito's in Dallas. It's an Uptown favorite on the corner of Routh and Cedar Springs. Go. Go now.

Diterra's Urban Italian

We were sitting there, staring at the menu, thinking about just what we wanted to order. But a steady stream of bartenders from nearby establishments kept walking in, ordering "mushroom toast" to go. OK, we'll bite...and damn, are we glad we did. Warm, bittersweet points of charred bread slathered in goat cheese peek through a sauce supreme laden with mushrooms. Then their warm bread salad shows up: butter-soaked cubes tossed with greens and nice, salty ham, covered with a fried egg. These are salads on steroids, salads major league players from the '90s would love. Filling, meaty, fatty friggin' meals. Old bread and some other stuff. Who'd have thought it?

Blythe Beck, chef at this ground-level space in the Hotel Palomar, doesn't believe in treading lightly. There's no 2 percent milk in her kitchen, no low-cal dinners on her menu. And no way in hell will she even go near I Can't Believe It's Not Butter. Nope, she fries just about everything. And in her sauces—every one of them—she piles in either real butter, whole cream or both. The resulting sauces are outrageously decadent. Tasting them, you realize why the old French chefs put such stock in heavy ingredients: They are so damn good. They also stick—to the food, to the roof of your mouth and to your ever-growing hips.

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