Best Cheese Board 2010 | The Libertine Bar | Best of Dallas® 2020 | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Dallas | Dallas Observer

As skilled as the cooks are at this pub, sometimes it's nice to just order a big, shareable platter of cheese that you can leave at the table and eat at your leisure. It's easy to customize and choices change weekly as new artisan meats and cheeses are available. The servers are knowledgeable about suggesting something to go with whatever you're drinking, and the savories come with nuts (we especially love the glazed almonds), fruits and vegetables that complement and contrast whatever cheeses you choose.

Where to begin? There is so much to love at Oceanaire, the debonair seafood restaurant that makes you feel you are eating on a 1930s luxury ocean liner in the Mediterranean at the behest of Conrad Hilton—OK, maybe his great-granddaughter Paris. Take the crab cakes, for example—no heavily breaded microscopic crab meat these, but chunks so large you can almost make out the outline of the crab. The seafood hails from every port imaginable; the raw oyster selection alone contains 12 different seafaring mollusks, from such faraway places as Prince Edward Island; Wallace Bay, Nova Scotia; and Taunton Bay, Maine. Yet Oceanaire wouldn't dream of forsaking localism. Its black and blue Texas redfish is a regional favorite. And don't get us started on the matchstick fries or the fried calamari or the iceberg lettuce wedge and clam chowder soup, for starters, which is probably where we should have begun in the first place. We should also have mentioned the fact that the national chain has filed for bankruptcy in Dallas federal court. We can only hope, as has been stated in press releases, that the Galleria location will remain open and viable.

Barbecue joints aren't frequently known for their cocktail prowess, but pseudo-posh meat-house Smoke isn't exactly your typical barbecue joint, anyway. Yeah, they serve cold draft beer and potato salad, but alongside their unrivaled brunch offerings, the Oak Cliff hilltop restaurant serves the finest Bloody Mary in Dallas, possibly in the entire land. Thick and tomatoey, Smoke's homemade Bloody Mary mixer soothes a hungover stomach while more substantial sustenance is on the way, though spears of bread-and-butter pickles, in-house pickled carrots, green beans and jalapeños turn a good drink into a salad in a glass. The seasoned-salted rim spices up each sip, right down to the last—at which point the only polite thing to do for your accommodating stomach is to order up one more.


Ali Baba Cafe

Taryn Walker
Ali Baba Cafe
La Madeleine
The Alligator Cafe
India Palace
Norma's Cafe

When you consider "home-style" food, it can be blue-plate or family-style, but something about it has to place you back in Mom's/Granny's kitchen (not the other rooms where there were creepy paintings and random chores to be done), strategizing how best to eat another roll, another spoonful of starchy side and still have room for pie. Norma's has been around since 1956, and the recipes taste as though they haven't much changed. The open-faced roast beef sandwich is slow-cooked like it would be at home on an old Hotpoint and the meatloaf is made with an original tomato sauce that, as a child, you probably wished they'd bottle and sell instead of ketchup. Value a good turnip green or pinto bean just as much as a mashed potato? So does Norma's. Now, as far as desserts, there is really nothing that Norma's makes that isn't incredibly familiar—in a good way. "Mile High" cream pies, fruit pies, cobblers and cakes all exceed expectations in size and that throwback flavor. You wouldn't necessarily want to go home again, but you definitely want to go to Norma's

Nick Rallo

Sure, people usually go to this Deep Ellum spot to chow down on the chicken-fried steak and jam out to some local music, but what about the grilled cheese? The magical concoction of cheddar and pepperjack cheeses, green chiles, roma tomatoes and chipotle mayonnaise served on sourdough bread should really receive some recognition. This ain't your momma's grilled cheese served with a can of tomato soup either, folks. AllGood serves the lunch-only dish with a side of Auntie Grace's coleslaw, tortilla chips and house salsa all for $6.99. Considering AllGood recently celebrated its 10th anniversary, we think they know what they're doing when it comes to pleasing patrons and their bellies.

It's really hard to single out one Dallas taqueria as the best, 'cause they all have their strengths (and weaknesses). For example, Fuel City's picadillo tacos are still some of the best in town, but their other varieties, not so much. When it comes to La Paisanita's tacos, we can't speak for anything except the al pastor, because that's all we got on our first visit, and all we've been able to bring ourselves to order on subsequent visits. Not because their other tacos don't look good, mind you, but because the al pastor tacos are just that addictive, dripping with spicy red juices and stuffed into small, oiled tortillas that crisp up ever so slightly on the tiny shack's griddle. La Paisanita tacos come with lemon instead of the customary lime, which seems strange at first, but just go with it. Washed down with a tall Mexican Coke, there's not a better taco in the city.

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