Creme De La Cookie

When our sweet tooth takes over and we're craving something more than an ordinary, run-of-the-mill dessert, the first place we think of is Crème De La Cookie. The Snider Plaza treat boutique bakes up irresistible cookies, cake balls, cupcakes, bars and brownies, as well as signature offerings like the whoopie pies with marshmallow butter cream (a gourmet take on a Moon Pie) or fudge brownie towers drenched in chocolate ganache known as Screamin Os. Last year, Forbestraveler.com featured the spot's OMG Chocolate Chip Cookie as one of the top in the nation, noting the cookie's "deep rich flavor" and high-quality ingredients like Schokinag Chocolate imported from Germany. Crème De La Cookie is also one of only a handful of places in Dallas where you can get a cup of coffee brewed with beans from Chicago-based Intelligentsia Coffee, which the shop used in a few of the delectable treats, like the wonderfully gooey Chocolate Espresso Chip.

Lakewood Landing

Sure, we can appreciate an aesthetically pleasing cheese board with locally sourced artisan meats and gherkins, a platter of Thai-inspired steamed mussels and other fancy-pants gastropub fare. Still, when we think of bar food, we're thinking cheap, crispy and brown. And with its beer-battered onion rings, jalapeño-topped cheese fries and tasty burger, it's clear that the cooks at the Landing know their way around a deep fryer and a flat grill. Nary an item tops the $10 mark, and the food is served late enough that you can give your stomach lining a healthy coating of grease before you try to drive home.

Zen Sushi

Chef Michelle Carpenter doesn't just have casual fans; she has devotees. The half-Japanese/half-Cajun sushi expert is known for her elaborate Omakase dinners, which grant her the freedom to serve whatever she feels like making (get ready to be wowed by such items as popcorn-sized fried octopus, smoked apple and bacon yakitori and a miso-marinated black cod that's worship-worthy). Her sushi-making skill has been called performance art, with impeccable slices of raw fish molded like tiny sculptures over rice. She's known for adding touches of Southwestern flavors to her sushi, strips of lime, speckles of jalapeño or cilantro. Our own critic commended her for her raw fish respite blazing trails in Oak Cliff's Bishop Arts District.

Pappasito's Cantina

Let's say you have the sudden need to throw a party for 50 at your home and most of the guests are from the East Coast where the chance of them experiencing genuine Tex-Mex is not only unlikely, it's unheard of. You are short on time, and your spouse is no damn help, so you call Pappasito's Cantina and book the evening and food and watch as they do the rest. On the appointed evening, they swoop in, set up tables, chairs, festive decorations. They man a frozen margarita machine, which you sample for taste. A lot. A cook stands over an industrial strength mesquite grill, preparing tasty chicken and beef fajitas. Several more staff work the quesadilla station that will rock your world. Their professional servers offer just that, professional service, and best of all, after the party peaks and the guests begin to leave, they clean up after themselves. Which is its own blessing, because it's late and you're too smashed to even try.

Mama's Daughter's Diner
Mama's Daughters' Diner
P.F. Chang's China Bistro
P.F. Chang's China Bistro
Picasso's Pizza & Grill
Picasso's Pizza & Grill
Inwood Lounge
Starbucks Coffee Company
Aw Shucks

This Gulf-style seafood shack is about as basic as they come—especially in this neighborhood—with a counter-service interior that's so cramped that the patio's picnic tables can look attractive on even the hottest of days. The menu isn't much more complicated than the design, offering only a few items (seafood cocktails, gumbo and, of course, raw oysters) that don't get a dunk in the deep fryer. But by keeping it simple, Aw Shucks manages to get the fried food right. Shrimp, oysters, crab cakes, catfish and various combinations are all served sizzling hot, crispy and with enough batter to give the protein a fun wrapping but not enough to bog the seafood down with grease. Lord knows there's enough oil in the Gulf as it is. Get a side of the jalapeño-studded hush puppies and coleslaw and the basket suddenly becomes a meal for two.

Best Of Dallas®

Best Of