Chilaquiles rojo
Alison McLean
Chilaquiles rojo

This gastropub in Oak Cliff in the former Kavala location just opened its doors, and chef Kelly Hightower made a big impression on us on the first night of business. The blowtorch salmon with yuzu miso glaze on the "Small Plates" menu was a standout item. Fresh fish was coated with the sweet and savory Japanese sauce and torched to a perfect texture, with the tacky glaze clinging to the flaky exterior while the interior remained soft. We've heard of desserts being caramelized with a blowtorch, but now we're wondering if the tool is underutilized in most kitchens. As the salmon is served with a spinach salad, it would be tempting to just order two or three plates of it and call it a meal—if the hummus, pizzas and entrées weren't so tempting as well.

The folks at Gun Barrel Hot Sauce appear quite proud of their roots 60 miles southeast of Dallas, which would be Gun Barrel City, of course, where the company began in 1989. But we're most proud of Gun Barrel's move to Dallas, where it makes the best hot sauce you'll find in a city with no shortage of options. While a bit pricey at $4.99 per pound and only available at select grocers like Whole Foods, Gun Barrel's ingredients are straightforward and as fresh as you'll find. There are four varieties—mild, medium, X Hot and XXX Hot—but we've only tried one, the XXX. Perhaps it's our propensity to buy things that say "XXX Hot" no matter what they are, but we stumbled on the ideal blend of spices. No need to mess with perfection.

Best Place To Request A Craft Beer Or MD 20/20 Variety

Corner Stop

Corner Stop

With its sign boasting "ATM Lotto Money Order Cigars" and rack of spank mags near the front door, it looks like just another crummy, run-down convenience store where you're more likely to find Steel Reserve malt liquor and thinly veiled drug paraphernalia than a decent beer. But check out the back cooler and you'll be surprised by the selection of microbrews and imports, including a few we've never seen elsewhere. Even better, the store keeps a list of customer stocking requests. In one memorable visit, we inked in an appeal for Ten FIDY, an expensive and difficult-to-find imperial stout, just below where a shaky hand had scrawled "Strawberry Banana MD 20/20." It was heartwarming to see that the place is willing to take care of you whether you want expensive craft beer or rotgut wine—or Steel Reserve, for that matter.

READERS' PICK BEST ITALIAN RESTAURANT

Nonna

Nonna
Nonna
Dickey's Barbecue Pit
Dickey's Barbecue Pit
The Blue Fish
The Blue Fish
Quesa-D-Ya's
Quesa-D-Ya's
Morton's the Steakhouse
Morton's The Steakhouse

Go to any farm within 100 miles of Dallas on any Friday before lunch and you will witness high anxiety stirring within the pig population. That's when Perry's begins serving its massive pork chop special, where men, mostly, even those who attempt to follow the dietary laws of their religion, can't resist the hot off the grill, cured, roasted and rubbed flavor of three or so huge hunks of pork flesh and bone. Each is big enough to choke a horse (sorry for the mixed husbandry metaphor). The pig comes with whipped potatoes and applesauce and can be bought every day, but only as a special on Pork Chop Fridays for the low, low price of $10.95. If you think we exaggerate the size of these chops, do a drive-by of Perry's each Friday on McKinney at say, 1:30 p.m., and see grown men standing in a valet line, waiting for their cars, each holding the same Perry's doggie bag filled with what they could not possibly consume in a single sitting. A late afternoon snack awaits them, not to mention a nap.

Einstein Bros Bagels

Year after year we have been reluctant to give best bagel props to Einstein Bros. Bagels (though we did in 2004), not so much because they didn't bake up a good bagel, but rather because they did. See, we figured good wasn't good enough—not when we were seeking the best...of. Like lox spread on a sesame bagel, we wanted to scatter the bready plaudits around, but delis ruin our plans by going out of business: first Gilbert's then Ed's, then Roasters, now Zinsky's. But the bagel behemoth that is Einstein's continues to dominate, and truthfully few other bagel stores came to mind. Face it, their bagels are fresh, sometimes even warm, their cream cheese tasty and varied, and their staff will slice your order upon request—though getting the halves evenly sized is still a bit dicey. Nonetheless, we honor Einstein's not so much by default, but for their perseverance in good times and bad. Though one judge would only cast his vote for Einstein's if we assured him that he could voice his one objection to the chain: "Blueberry bagels are a crime against nature." There, now it's unanimous.

Best Of Dallas®

Best Of