Best German Chocolate Cake 2011 | Buli | Best of Dallas® 2020 | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Dallas | Dallas Observer
This Cedar Springs coffee shop and café serves up a lot of great things, most of which come complete with LGBT double entendres. Take, for example, "A Big Girl," the shop's large 20-ounce size coffee; the 16-ounce "Butch"; and the Scream'n Queen (a red eye). The menu at Buli includes everything from grilled paninis to breakfast burritos and omelets, but what really stands out is the cafe's German chocolate cake, heaped with layers of chocolate and coconut. It's best paired with their Naughty Toddy (iced coffee). The cake, like all of Buli's cakes and breads, is made at Massimo commercial bakery. And while they don't have it every day, the cake can be made to order.
Kathy Tran
Oddfellows' Buffalo chicken mac 'n' cheese is so much more than noodles and artisan cheese. Does that skew the playing field? Maybe, but this isn't a democracy. Make no mistake, this is no side dish to your Wagyu burger (which is delicious). It's an entrée. A pair of chicken tenders coated in buffalo sauce sit on a bed of macaroni, scallions and blue cheese from Dublin, Texas. Now, for those of you disposed to imbibe, here's a recommendation: Chase it with an IPA, because this stuff is spicy. Not intolerably spicy, mind you, but pleasantly so. Follow these instructions, and you've laid the foundation for a solid night of drinking.
Fearing's at the Ritz Carlton
Dean Fearing has been the — so sorry — dean of Dallas chefs for north of 20 years, but this isn't a nostalgia award. Fearing deserves renewed recognition because he truly is the city's once and future best chef. Fearing is consistency personified, as he delivers some of the nation's, let alone Big D's, most palate-popping cooking. And the thing of it is, he doesn't have to. After he cooked his last lobster taco at the Mansion, Fearing could have moseyed off in his Lucchese boots, secure in his place in the firmament of great Dallas chefs. Instead, he rose up like a fire-roasted phoenix four years ago with his eponymous restaurant, Fearing's. Since then, his has become, according to no less a snooty authority than The New York Times, one of the "top 10" tables in the entire country, which, Governor Rick Perry's secessionist dreams aside, still includes Dallas. Fearing deserves this crown because instead of resting on his considerable laurels ("Table of the Year" per Esquire, Zagat's No. 1 hotel dining spot in all of United States) his restaurant produces some of the city's few truly destination dishes: Buffalo tenderloin, marinated longer than most marriages, or a Gulf shrimp taco doing a tangy tango with pickled onion and mango. It's all enough to reaffirm Fearing's place as the country's preeminent avatar (sorry Bobby Flay) for Southwestern cuisine at its most haute.
Catherine Downes
Burgers, Reubens, chicken wings: We love bar food because of its familiarity. On nearly every bar menu we can expect the same classics will comfort us whether our stool is across the street or across the country. Most bars pay lip service to these classics, executing the bare minimum to turn a check and get a plate out the door, but every now and then a restaurant with a competent kitchen tries to kick things up. When they succeed, you get a memorable meal at an affordable price. NHS Tavern is just that type of bar. Take the burger, sporting beef ground in house topped with aged cheddar cheese, great bacon and a flavorful sauce. A sexy sesame studded bun doesn't hurt things either. Or try that Reuben, with corned beef cooked in house and a kraut spiced up with jalapeño. Great wings and other bar sandwiches inspired from cuisines around the world round out what makes for the best bar food in Dallas.
Dining on the cheap doesn't have to suck. Ethnic restaurants provide affordable fare that's still inspired, but sometimes the ambiance leaves a little to be desired. Want something cheap with a sleek atmosphere and top-notch service? Head to Craft for lunch service, where many menu items come in below $15. The roast chicken takes top honors, with juicy flesh and crispy skin that has staying power. The portion is not quite as big as dinner, but here's the thing. The kitchen throws in a lovely mixed green salad, gratis. Other embellishments and amuse-bouches amp up your experience as well, like a crisp fried arancini and a tiny plate of tiny cookies. The chicken is a deal on its own, but with all these freebies, Craft makes a compelling lunch offer. If you want to double down, ask your server for the wine list. You'll pay another $15 or so for a glass, but the staff will let you try a few pours to make sure you like what you drink. You just got Dallas' best roast chicken for a song. Live a little.
A purist might scoff, but sometimes you order a margarita with one explicit purpose. If getting tanked is your goal, then your best margarita can be found at Gloria's. Sure they use a mix, but at least they use it sparingly. The drinks arrive barely tinted with sours and almost clear with alcohol. That first sip? Rocket fuel! But things will even out soon enough. Keep drinking while you munch on free chips with salsa and black bean dip, and then order a second round. Still think this might not be the best margarita in town? Order a third, and repeat this process as necessary. Given time, and an iron stomach, eventually you'll agree.
It's a total sausagefest at Lockhart Smokehouse. Every day, Jill and Jeff Bergus open up their restaurant, pitmaster Tim McLaughlin whips out his sausage and people line up and pay to eat it. Countless times, the folks at Lockhart Smokehouse have heard grammas utter the phrase, "Gimme some of your sausage." And they happily oblige, without once replying, "That's what she said." Because they're professionals, dammit. They're also the exclusive purveyors of the legendary, freaking amazing, 110-year-old recipe Kreuz Market sausage in Dallas. If you haven't experienced Lockhart Smokehouse's sausage, you really should get over there and join the meat party. Take one bite of Kreutz original or jalapeño sausage and if you don't start pillowtalking it, we're pretty sure you're not human.
Beth Rankin
The rest of Texas might disagree, but who cares? This is Big D, and in Dallas the greatest brisket can be found at Pecan Lodge. Barbecue has always been a humble affair, but pit masters who treat a great cut of brisket with respect and a good dose of smoke make cowboy chow a thing of beauty. That savory crust and intense flavor would be insulted if you dabbled in that tiny cup of tangy sauce. Save it for the smoky sausage with so much garlic that date night will be ruined for two days. Ribs and pulled pork don't stand out as brightly, but it's hard to shine while in the shadow of Dallas' bar-none best brisket.
A true grill master knows exactly how to make his favorite steak: a blazing hot grill and just the right amount of seasoning for a crispy sear and a bloody center. But even on his best day, a grill master is humbled by the Cote de Boeuf (bone-in rib-eye) at Bob's Steak and Chop House. Perhaps it's because the steaks at Bob's are aged for 28 days before cooking, or because the local chain has been making perfect steaks for nearly 20 years. That fact, coupled with the great wine selection and the signature sweetly glazed carrot that comes with each steak will likely send any grill master back to the drawing board — and definitely back to Bob's.
For those who are inexperienced elotes consumers, it might seem impossible to mess up corn in a cup, but the truth is some elotes carts are better than others. When it comes to delicious, sweet, creamy and spicy elotes, the cart at the Fiesta on Ross Avenue takes the cob. The corn to butter to mayonnaise to cheese to sour cream to hot sauce ratios are perfect. So's the two-buck price.

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