Royal China
Nick Rallo

When you think handcrafted pasta in Dallas, the well-adorned creations of Nonna and Lucia are likely the first dishes to pop into your head. The intense, rich, seasonally inspired recipes change often, bringing a seemingly endless array of flavors. At Royal China, Zhang Xue Liang takes a different approach to his pasta making, and it's no less impressive. The Chinese noodle chef employs repetition, working hours on end to produce a small array of noodles that are simple and consistent. Liang starts with a small ball of rice flour dough he pulls into a disk before his arms turn to rubber and the disk lengthens into undulating waves. With a quick tear, and a flash of scissors those waves become wide-flat noodles that are dressed in an oily sauce of Sichuan peppercorns. Before you know it he's working with another piece of dough, this time a rope, that he draws open like curtains over and over again till the strands are as fine as the hair on a horse's tail. The thin, wispy noodles are even more impressive for their delicacy.

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Sara+Kerens
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As summer yields to cooler fall temperatures, Dallasites take to outdoor eating and drinking with warranted enthusiasm. While Dallas has assembled an impressive array of spaces to imbibe outdoors Stackhouse's rooftop deck may be the city's most impressive. Don't expect an expansive modern plateau with sprawling urban scenery. The roof on this house-turned-restaurant is appealing for its humble simplicity. Trees obscure most of the view, but just to the south, skyscrapers rise through the leaves like crooked teeth, while exhaust fans belch smoke and burger grease from the kitchen below. It doesn't hurt that the beer is cheap and those burgers are some of the best in the city. Put them together during sunset just as the skyline ignites. Grab some house fried potato chips with some amazing French onion dip while you're at it. This meal will stick in your memory for quite some time.

White Rock Local Market

It may not be as big as the Dallas Farmers Market downtown. It may not even be as convenient, as the East Dallas pop-up market only "pops" every other weekend. But the White Rock Local Market makes up for these minor misgivings with a lot of heart. Despite more than 60 farmers, artisans and vendors listed on its website, the market maintains a surprisingly independent feel that resonates with the "back to roots" vibe that make farmers markets so appealing. Come to find the perfect tomato for your BLT, the sweetest peach for your summer pie, and meet the farmers who actually grew the products. If produce isn't your thing, you can grab a freshly baked baguette from Empire Bakery, artisan goat cheese from a local dairy or even a handcrafted hot dog on a freshly baked bun.

While Dallas celebrates its recent barbecue renaissance with newcomers Lockhart Smokehouse and Pecan Lodge, a sleeper has been quietly smoking away in Carrollton. Island Spot's jerk chicken may not be as prized as a perfectly smoked brisket, but it's the best Jamaican 'cue in Dallas, for sure. Most spots use gas grills to cook their chicken or even (gasp!) bake it in the oven. Island Spot's version is indeed burned over petroleum. But they still manage to wrangle smoky flavors out of chicken as bits of spice and rendering fat drip down to the hot elements below. The results are a burst of perfume that starts as a wisp and builds to a billowing smokescreen. What's better is that the restaurant uses a coal-fired grill occasionally at large events like Taste of Addison and Taste of Dallas. The results may be hard to come by but they're worth seeking out. It just might take you all the way to Jamaica.

Pera Turkish Kitchen

The suburbs have always been known for superior ethnic restaurants. And superior suburban ethnic restaurants have always been known for their grittiness. With Pera Turkish kitchen you get all of the flavor, intensity and passion of real ethnic cooking, and you don't have to eat off of Styrofoam and wipe your mug with a paper napkin. The kebabs are great options for big, grilled flavors, and ezma brings a host of new, interesting flavors — if the ezma's tart pomegranate and sweet molasses don't do it for you, there are always hummus, tabouleh and baba ganoush to fall back on. Order all three and tear into as much pide bread as your stomach can handle. The waiters bring the freshly baked loaves out a few at a time and they're thicker and more puck-like than the pita breads you're used to. Use them as a bulldozer to plow through as many of the meza as you can fit on your table and then order a few more.

Rudolph's Meat Market

Are you kidding? It's not that it's the oldest (though opening in 1895 doesn't hurt). Rudolph's meat market is the best butcher in Dallas because it's simply badass. See the links in the case? They're made right there on site. If you don't want to cook them at home you can try one doused in chili and cheese down the street at St. Pete's. You see the beef dangling in the walk-in? Those are whole sides of beef hanging on huge meat hooks, not vacuum-packed, pre-portioned primal cuts for baby butchers. You see those wood blocks? They're dished like warped vinyl because they've supported the craft of butchery for decades. Rudolph's is a no-nonsense butcher for people who still like to buy high-quality meat. Walk in and tell Brandon Andreason what you're in the mood for. He'll give you the right cut, and if you have a question, he'll tell you where it came from and how to cook it.

Scardello Artisan Cheese

Unless you're a total fromage freak, you need a really enthusiastic staff to keep cheese shops from getting dull. Scardello's employees are more than just cheese nerds. They're actually fun to hang out with. Lance Lynn knows his beer pairings and Ali Morgan can talk brie all day. And while owner Rich Rogers will happily debate the merits of affinage, he's most exciting when he cracks open a massive wheel of Parmigiano Reggiano. You think you know what fresh parm smells like, but can you believe it really smells like pineapples and heaven? Many wines are available by the glass, and you can grab any bottle off the wall and swill till it's empty. It won't hurt things that new-hire Marco Villegas is a certified sommelier. We bet the wine list only gets better. ------------------

Cafe Maya

Forget the Velveeta-Ro-Tel blend that many lesser chain restaurants call "queso." Even the best creamy, spicy, fresh quesos can't stand up to Queso Maya at Cafe Maya. It's loaded but not overloaded with black beans, beef and pico de gallo, and floats a few slices of fresh jalapeño. Spicy but not too spicy, beefy but not too heavy, it's one of our favorite appetizers in town. Stir it or leave it be, but be sure to share unless you want to ruin your appetite with the generously sized bowl. Or you could just slurp it up like soup. Tempting ... very tempting.

Coffee House Cafe

Far North Dallas is a desert of corporate coffee shops and breakfast joints. Rising from the dust is Coffeehouse Cafe, a sleek bar and restaurant with a massive pet-friendly enclosed patio. Even in the summer, it feels cool. And in the winter, a massive outdoor fireplace keeps patrons warm. Forget ordering from a large batch of coffee that's been sitting on a burner for hours; a fresh coffee press brews at your table while you wait for your well-cooked omelet. And while the place seems like a four-star joint, you only have to shell out a few bucks for a mimosa or a bloody mary.

Nonna

Nonna may also deserve an award for best strip-mall conversion. While the exterior of the restaurant is frighteningly dull, as soon as you step through the doors you forget that a liquor store and a tailor flank the restaurant and realize you're in one of Dallas' more romantic restaurant spaces. A white pizza with clams and a reduction sauce will always please, but Nonna may be best known for its tender and delicate pasta dishes. Chef Julian Barsotti's most popular creation is likely the lobster ravioli, which stuffs sweet crustacean into pasta purses rolled so thin you can almost see the contents. Pappardelle al ragu Bolognese and a lasagna are also winners, as refined as they are hearty. Save room for dessert, though. Barsotti's sweet creations show restraint in the sugar department, resulting in closers that are almost guilt-free. Anything with semifreddo in the description is a guaranteed win.

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