Best Tacos Picadillos 2010 | Fuel City | Best of Dallas® 2020 | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Dallas | Dallas Observer

What with the cute poolside girls, cold Mexican sodas, beer and excellent taquería, it's easy to forget that Fuel City is also a gas station. Most of the tacos are very good, but the standout is the picadillo. Made with beef and tiny cubes of potato and seasoned to salty, greasy perfection, it's heaven on a tortilla. Make that heaven on two tortillas, actually, if you go with the corn instead of the gringo-preferred flour. Say yes to the free optional diced onions and cilantro to really set it off, and be sure to add plenty of the fiery house-made green salsa and a squeeze of lime to counterbalance the heat.

We all know high school kids and grandparents who check Facebook obsessively for FarmVille updates. Why do we do it daily at about 10:30 a.m.? Because we're desperate to see the posted menu photo and find out what Good 2 Go Taco is serving for lunch. The gourmet taco counter, nestled inside The Green Spot and featured on Food Network's The Best Thing I Ever Ate, offers daily specials that generally fall into, but aren't limited to, the categories of cow, bird, pig and veggie. Proprietors Jeana Johnson and Colleen O'Hare have painstakingly crafted locally focused tacos worth a wait spanning anywhere from five to 30 minutes depending on the time and day. Favorites include Puerco Fresco (pulled pork, mango salsa), School Daze (Sriracha meatloaf, mashed potatoes, cheddar), Hotlanta (waffle-battered chicken, sweet potato, honey butter), and Beets Me (golden and red beets, spinach, barley, bleu cheese vinaigrette). But a warning: Don't dilly-dally; because when they're gone, they're gone.

Like the bowling alley in the old NBC series Ed, this Lakewood institution started as a front operation for attorney David Musselwhite's law shop. He and his practice skedaddled years ago, but the coffee shop remains. If you can make it past the trays of muffin tops, it's home to some of the best pancakes in town—sweet and buttery, an oatmeal flapjack that's not too heavy. It's all you'd need if you had exactly one hour to right the world's injustices, and the rest of the day to nap: two eggs for strength, and one giant Cory Cake topped with fruit and granola. No coddling servers here catering to your every pancake whim. It's better than that: There's Aunt Jemima syrup at the tables.

The Pearl Cup Espresso Bar opened its doors on Valentine's Day 2009, and thanks to the coffeehouse's prime Henderson Avenue location, warm décor and popular specialty coffee drinks like the rich and delicious secret-recipe Pearl Latte, the coffeehouse very quickly made its way deep into the caffeine-addicted hearts of a diverse cross-section of Dallas. With plenty of seating inside and two patios outside, the spot is a great place to meet up with old friends or make a few new ones–especially at the communal tables where most days you'll find urban professionals, students and hipsters packed in elbow-to-elbow. Like a pub with a great draft selection, The Pearl Cup always has three espressos on tap (most coffee shops only offer one), and for drip coffee there's always The Pearl Cup Blend roasted by Dallas' own Eiland Coffee Roaster. But what really sets The Pearl Cup apart from other coffeehouses is its wide assortment of snacking options, including pastries from several local bakeries.

Established in 1982, a mainstay of the northern corridor Chinese commercial district, First Chinese B-B-Q is the place to go for traditional Chinese cuisine. Don't miss the flat noodles that arrive at the table with enormous slices of tender beef or the wonderful wonton. But the real reason to visit the First Chinese BBQ is the meat, the meat, the meat. And the sauce. The pork is maybe the best of the lot, with the perfect combination of chew and give. The sauce that drips off is so sweet it could be an ice cream topping. First Chinese also offers a full list of seafood dinners including Hong Kong style crab, lobster yee-mein noodles and spicy seafood combination. One little wrinkle, though: Don't forget to bring cash. They don't take plastic.

Though the neighborhood is still marginal—bars on windows—the restaurant is anything but. This nine-table, reservation-necessary, hot-house-in-summer Italian restaurant offers little in the traditional Little Italy sense. Rather, you can get intricately sauced and locally seasoned gourmet dishes such as the signature spaghetti Bolognese and delicate appetizers such as prosciutto-wrapped fig bruschetta with Texas honeycomb. Lunch is still a deal—the tasty paninis and matchstick fries, a nostalgic residue of Urbano's first incarnation on McKinney Avenue. It doesn't hurt matters that Jimmy's Food Store, a popular purveyor of imported Italian meats and treats, is right next store. The Urbano owner's in-your-face affability creates an intimacy for some, a hardship for those waiting for the tables to be turned. No matter, when your turn comes, it's worth the wait, but make sure to bring your own booze, because that's just the kind of place Urbano is.

Beth Rankin
Behold, a pouch of tiny mushroom magic (not that kind of magic).

Normally, a big part of why we're out to eat in the first place is that we want someone else to do the work, but Tei Tei's beef on the rock is a do-it-yourself experience that can't be beat. Tei Tei provides six strips of Washu beef—a crossbreed of Black Angus and native Japanese Wagyu—and a ginger soy marinade. You're charged with cooking them over hot rocks to your own specifications, but you'll be glad you're in control because with beef this thin and flavorful, you want to get it just right to maximize the velvety goodness. Need something to munch on while doing all the work? Order some sushi—perhaps the city's best—and thank us later.

Einstein Bros. Bagels

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