Quesa-D-Ya's
Quesa-D-Ya's
Bolsa

We could have given Bolsa tons of awards. Best flatbread. Best mussels. Best bartender. Best bartender with muscles. You get the picture. But it's really all those other bests that make it simply the best place to take a date because when you're on a date, you want the best of everything, right? After absorbing the ultra-cool ambiance created by the inspired renovation of a former auto garage, we recommend sitting at the bar for your meal, where "Lucky" the bartender's use of fresh fruit while making drinks is exhilarating to both observe and consume. Bolsa's food menu is all about freshness too, so it changes daily depending on what's available. Look, the best way to ensure that your after-dinner plans go smoothly is to eat someplace where you know the dinner will be a home run every time, and Bolsa's combination of food, drinks, atmosphere and service always clears the fence.

Best Thing That Sounds Disgusting But Is Actually Quite Tasty

Victor Tango's Roasted Bone Marrow

Victor Tangos

If you're in the mood for something out of the ordinary, Victor Tango's aims to please with a menu that includes surprisingly scrumptious roasted bone marrow. It tastes like the fat from a juicy rib-eye steak, which might not sound very appealing either, but trust us on this one, if there ever was a time to pull the trigger on the unconventional choice, this is it. Served with toasted brioche and onion confit—sweet caramelized onions seasoned with herbs and balsamic vinegar—three large bones are split down the middle, exposing gelatinous marrow. It's not for everyone, but for 10 bucks, you'd be hard-pressed to find something as adventurous and affordable.

Avila's Mexican Restaurant

When Avila's closed for several months following a nasty family spat that resulted in a dramatic court case and a new splinter restaurant across town (Ricardo Avila's Mextopia), we at the Dallas Observer openly wept. Whether it was the Number One Enchilada Special—seriously, these are the best cheese enchiladas in town—the Anna Maria Plate (one soft cheese taco, one cheese enchilada and one beef taco), the brisket tacos or the vegetarian-friendly black bean enchiladas, we all mourned our standing orders, remarking constantly that our other lunch destinations just didn't hold up. So when Avila's finally reopened their doors again, we were like little kids on Christmas morning, heading straight down the street to order our favorites and munch on some of the best chips and salsa in town. And since they took the downtime to remodel the interior, the bathroom's not even in the kitchen anymore. Though honestly, with Tex-Mex as good as this, we never seemed to mind.

Hattie's

Hattie's is one of Oak Cliff's best restaurants, with a clean, inviting interior and a menu full of delicious, upscale Southern comfort food. But it's their occasional brunch special, the chicken and waffles, that keeps us coming back. The giant buttermilk fried chicken breast dozing on the plate-sized Belgian waffle will bring tears to any true Southerner's eye, and the red chile-flecked maple syrup that accompanies it makes the experience even more decadent. So cancel all your Sunday afternoon plans, head on over to Hattie's and enjoy the inevitable five hour nap you will take as a result of this ultimate brunch dish.

Freebirds World Burrito

Before you Chipotle Mexican Grill lovers claim that Freebirds stole the concept of made-to-order burritos from Chipotle, we'll kindly point out that Freebirds was born in 1987 in California—six years before the first Chipotle opened in Colorado. Not only was Freebirds first with the idea, they do it best by offering better ingredients and more of them. Start out with your choice of burrito—roasted carnitas (pork), grilled steak, grilled chicken or veggie—and the combinations are nearly endless once you start picking a tortilla, cheese, beans and greens. And just when you thought your job was done, Freebirds offers seven different sauces, including lime juice, bad-ass barbecue and its death sauce, which somehow ranks below habenero on the hotness scale.

Perry's Steakhouse & Grille

After successful endeavors in Houston and Austin, Perry's (not to be confused with The Place at Perry's) finally found its way to Dallas in April, adding yet another upscale steakhouse to a crowded market, not to mention another restaurant named Perry's. While we've found plenty of reasons to dine at Perry's regularly, no menu item has us coming back as often as its turtle soup, which is hard to find anywhere, much less a bowl this tasty. For those unfamiliar with the delicacy, turtle soup is indeed made with the flesh from turtles—in Perry's case, farm-raised snapping turtles from Louisiana. (Who knew Cajun turtles tasted so good?) Prepared in a tomato base, this soup is worth recommending to anyone without a PETA membership card, and for those riding the fence, it's served with dry sherry on the side to ensure you'll get buzzed while taking the plunge.

Coffee Co.

When it comes to getting a major jolt from a single cup of straight, black coffee, there's really nothing around town that gives you a bigger caffeine bang for a buck than a 12-ounce Styrofoam cup of "Danny's Motor Oil." And the only place to get a cuppa the stuff is at Coffee Company Incorporated, a Lakewood-area coffee roaster and market that's been roasting coffee since 1971. Which, if you know your coffee history, means Coffee Co. has been browning beans for folks as long as Starbucks, but Coffee Co. isn't a "coffee shop" in the modern Starbucks sense of the word. With only a couple of chairs up front near the shop's fire-engine red Probat roaster, the closet-sized shop is more a coffee roaster and retailer than a hangout. And the shop's hours of operation (10 a.m. to 7 p.m. most days) mean that you'll have to grab your early morning fix elsewhere. Danny's Motor Oil is named for the shop's roaster and co-owner Danny Furr who—using the shop's fresh-roasted beans—brews the coffee up as black as night.

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 Of Dallas®

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