Mecca Restaurant

When The Mecca announced its most recent move to East Dallas from the west side of town on Harry Hines Boulevard, the announcement carried a bit of extra news. The diner that's as old as dirt would kick off dinner service for the first time since opening in 1938. Breakfast all day had been a favorite at the greasy spoon that served up eggs through lunch time, but the expansion into dinner service meant that well after sunset you could get two sunny-side up alongside a savory piece of steak beaten to a pulp, breaded and fried to a crisp. Have you ever dragged a hunk of chicken-fried steak that's already smothered in gravy through the glistening yolk of a perfectly fried egg? Have you ever done it after a long day of work? The Mecca's CFS will make all of those job hurts fade away, blanketed in a greasy sheen of gently peppered pan gravy.

Best Veggie Burger at a Non-Veggie Joint

The Meridian Room

The Meridian Room

At most non-veg eateries, a veggie burger is a sad, shrunken prospect, some freezer-burned Morningstar cast-off tossed unadorned onto a plate. A non-burger like that can darken the whole dining room. Not Meridian Room, though: If their veggie burger isn't made in-house, they're doing a damn good job fooling us into thinking otherwise. The patty somehow tastes juicy and like whole grains at the same time, and they'll cheerily pile that sucker with avocado, havarti and jalapeños on request. Pair it with their perfectly crispy sweet potato fries for a plate that'll make your meat-eating dining companions jealous.

Kalachandji's Palace & Restaurant
Beth Rankin

Kalachandji's, the beloved East Dallas Hare Krishna temple and eatery, finds its way onto our list year after year. We're boring, we know. But we'll never tire of sitting in their beautiful garden patio, eating dal and vegetable curry and drinking tamarind tea. And after a fire in another part of the building closed the kitchen for a few days, we're relieved to see the restaurant open and unscathed. No matter how busy the lunch hour, the atmosphere here is always as meditative and peaceful as a museum, and while the food's not fancy, it's healthy, fresh and plentiful. Try the homemade bread, and if at all possible save room for some vanilla-inflected rice pudding at the end (skip the halvah, which tastes exactly like halvah). Afterward, pay a visit to the dim, beautifully muraled sanctuary across the hallway, making sure to remove your shoes first. Om.

Good 2 Go Taco

Whether you prefer your slaw slathered on a taco or served alongside a burger, the folks behind Good 2 Go Taco and Goodfriend Beer Garden and Burger House have you covered. These slaws aren't the run-of-the-mill coleslaw typically served around Dallas, often too creamy or too vinegary. Feta slaw is served at Goodfriend, and the chefs (who work at both spots) combine red, white and Napa cabbage with radishes and carrots, and then mix that with a sundried tomato vinaigrette, as well as a generous portion of feta cheese. Good 2 Go Taco's "Afternoon Delight" menu (from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.) boasts the Swine Bleu — a mouthwatering braised pork and blue-cheese slaw taco that tastes absolutely when-pigs-fly divine. The slaw is a similar concoction (both restaurants share a kitchen) but made with blue cheese.

Sushi Zushi

For the past few years Sushi Zushi has offered up one of our favorite happy hours in town. Offering the option of sitting at the bar or in the main dining room, from 5 to 7 p.m. the San Antonio-based chain serves a selection of appetizers, sushi rolls and "comfort foods" for less than $5, and drink specials that include cocktails for $5, 20-ounce Japanese beers for $4 or 10-ounce carafes of hot sake for $3. It's a great place to people watch at the bar solo, meet friends or even take a date on the cheap.

Herrera's Mexican Restaurant

Amelie Herrera opened the original Herrera's location in 1971, in the space that is now the Grapevine Bar. Since its beginning, Herrera's has expanded into several different locations around town (each is a little different since they're all individually owned), but it's the original location, now situated a block north from where it all began, that serves up the best caldo de pollo (chicken soup) in town. The soup comes served piping hot, heaping with fresh vegetables and tender pollo. Sure, you have to navigate through the bones, but it's worth it. The soup is a sure way to cure a cold, hangover or a simple a case of the blues. The catch, though, is that this delicious soup is only available on Fridays, and not for long, so make sure to get there early (especially during the chilly seasons) or it could be gone.

Sunrise Donuts

Sunrise Donuts knows how to brighten up a hungry person's morning. The tiny shop, located in a strip mall off Oak Lawn Avenue, is open seven days a week, from 5 a.m. until noon except for Sunday, when opening time is 6 a.m. The shop offers an abundance of delicious fried dough. There's something for every doughnut lover, from cinnamon-sugar twists and apple fritters to traditional sprinkle doughnuts and kolaches. In fact, the shop has some of the best kolaches in town. They come plain, with cheese or with cheese and jalapeños, and the friendly staff will gladly heat up the breakfast hotdogs for you.

Bolsa

Choosing a best burger is like choosing the best sex position. There are just too many options, and you can only enjoy so many a day. If you really want a burger that tops them all, you need a version that covers all the bases. Thankfully, Bolsa's bliss on a bun does just that. You can get a fancier version if you want, but you will pay through the nose for it, and Bolsa's burger clocks in at a respectable 11 bucks. That's not bad for a delicate patty that's full of juice and flavor, made from for organic beef that's ground on-site. While high-end restaurants top their burger with nonsense like pork belly and slow-roasted-caramelized-balsamic-glazed super-onions, Bolsa keeps it simple with LTO and cheese. This isn't a fancy, refined and overwrought burger cookery — it's an honest, everyman's burger cooked with the attention and respect that every burger deserves.

Bolsa

Beets, those nasty vegetables your mom used to splatter on your plate, that turned your teeth purple and set your gag reflexes into motion, have gone from disgusting to a delicacy. The root vegetable can be found on menus all over town, and is most popularly served in a salad with goat cheese, arugula and walnuts. But the folks at Bolsa have taken beets to the next level and are serving it in a cocktail. The Rita Rioja is a florescent purple cocktail made up of tequila, mint, citrus juices and beet puree. The drink is delicious. So delicious, in fact, that it could turn a diehard beet hater into a beet lover.

Whitehall Exchange

We didn't see these sliders coming when we ducked into the new Whitehall Exchange down the street from Hattie's. It's a small joint, just a bar, a few tables along the back wall and a men's restroom that looks like a structural afterthought, but, boy, did we demolish the Korean BBQ sliders they served up on an attractive, gastropub-ish white dish with cucumber sliced paper-thin and a side of aioli. The beef was juicy and flavorful, best washed down with a glass of bourbon. Solid as any bar food in Dallas, and a nice refuge when the Bishop Arts District goes night-night at 11 p.m. on a Saturday.

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