BEST BEER SHOT 2013 | The Ginger Man | Best of Dallas® 2020 | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Dallas | Dallas Observer

Really, it’s the only beer shot. Can you think of another in Dallas? But that isn’t the point! Combine two chilly draft favorites, Maredsous 8 and Ace Pear Cider, and you have the crispest, most refreshing beer combo since beer plus your mouth. They tout this mixture as “The Ginger Man Special,” a sweet and sour juncture that takes place on the tip of the tongue. Just be careful, because two of these and you’ll never know what hit you — or whom you hit.

To borrow a note from Jeffrey Tambor in Arrested Development, eating an ice cream sandwich should be a love affair. Indulgent, satisfying and sometimes weird. Bizarre even. And in combinations you wouldn't have dreamed of before the options were suddenly placed in front of you. And CoolHaus has more flavors of both cream and cookies than the Kama Sutra has ways to throw out your back — like olive oil gelato on butterscotch and potato chip cookies. Rice milk and cardamom sorbet on double chocolate sea salt cookies. Or brown butter ice cream filled with chunks of real cooked bacon on, why the hell not, vegan carrot cake cookies. The food truck lines at Klyde Warren Park can get fatally long on sunny summer days, but the blood orange sorbet on rosemary cookies are worth any sunburn. Also, all the sandwiches come in edible wrappers.

Taylor Adams
Dumplings in broth

Cosmo's is a beautiful mystery. Right next door to one of Dallas' greatest dives (see Lakewood Landing), is a place that can pull off the terms "'80s" and "swank" in the same breath. The drinks are as strong as Terminator here, but are softened by whatever is happening in the kitchen. Their Vietnamese options are surprisingly top-notch. The swift crunch of their egg rolls is nice, but pales in comparison to the dishes they serve up on Banh Mi Mondays.

Here's the scene: You're saddled up to one of Elbow Room's two ancient pool tables and you're about to knock in that critical black ball when shots arrive at your table, ordered by the girl who thought that was a good idea. Clearly she's never had a shot at Elbow Room. At Elbow Room, shots come in squatty cocktail glasses, not shot glasses — that's because this bar serves shots so big they inspire yo-mama jokes. Order with caution if you had any plans of driving anywhere ever. And remember: Yo mama's so fat she thinks Elbow Room's shots are normal-sized shots.

Catherine Downes

Sitting high atop NYLO Dallas Southside, the city's coolest new boutique hotel, is a bar that either exists on South Lamar Street or is actually some kind of quantum wormhole that transports patrons to Miami. Let's review the evidence. At Soda Bar, there are lounge chairs surrounding an infinity pool that appears to extend out into an unbroken horizon; a bar ringed with some kind of softly glowing LED light; and billowing curtains, suggesting a Caribbean opulence. Where the South Florida spell ends is at the view. It's often said that Bar Belmont offers one of the finest views of the Dallas skyline. But have you seen it from the south side?

Mike and Connie Hale raise chickens on their farm in Campbell, but not just any chickens. These chickens are hormone-free, antibiotic-free and pastured. The Hales go so far as to house their organically fed ladies in moveable yurts. Yes, yurts. They even process the chickens on-site, which means if you have a question about a Windy Meadows product, Mike Hale can answer it for you because he raised it from beginning to end. For the Hales, it's about providing a quality product you can't find in a typical grocery store. Luckily for you, you can find their chicken, broth, sausage and more in small grocery stores, farmers markets and restaurants around Dallas.

Bars are always changing. The stools, fixtures and walls might stay the same for decades, but the customers shift like sand. The Windmill Lounge has served all types, but these days it's a drink-maker's bar. Charlie Papaceno is the bartender's bartender, and though he's not behind the wood every night, he's a fixture here too. Don't be high maintenance and ask him what he makes well, just tell him what you want and you'll end up with a well-made drink. Papaceno stays loyal to classic recipes when he should, but he also throws you a subtle twist to keep things new. While other mixologists twirl their mustaches while telling you about specially procured cloves for their next bitters recipe, Papaceno is a simple craftsman. You're damn right that maraschino cherry is handmade, but he'd never say so unless you asked him.

They lied to you. You don't have to be caught in the rain to enjoy a piña colada. You just have to make happy hour at a strip mall that shares parking with the Kroger in Denton. If you're ordering the piña colada at El Matador, you don't have to play the sacrifice game that often comes with icy, sugary drinks elsewhere: flavor versus alcohol. You get both here. The piña colada is blended so smoothly that you could mistake it for a milkshake ... but a milkshake with a very, very important kick.

Aaren Prody

One of the hardest things to do when you're sick is to put on pants. When your fever is skyrocketing, every second feels like baby beavers have formed a dam in the part of your body that allows happiness to flow. You just have to make it to Black Swan, where you will discover Gabe Sanchez's hot toddy, aka healing elixir, is worth the effort of getting dressed. Apply this lemon-, honey- and clove-infused bourbon to what ails you as you listen to the bartender's Vegas stories. (They're all good.)

Just listen: If it's between the hours of 7 a.m. and 3 p.m., stop reading this and do what we tell you: Go to Village Baking Co.'s retail shop on University just a half a block east Central Expressway, RIGHT NOW. Buy something. Keep doing this every day so this little shop stays open forever because, swear to God, Dallas, if Village Baking ever goes away, we will slap the entire city. OK, sorry to be overwrought there, but our jones for Village Baking's flour, yeast and water artistry makes us a little jumpy between hits of sourdough. Baking demigod Clint Cooper had been making bread for local restaurants, hotels and grocery outlets for nearly a decade before he opened up this retail outlet last year, churning out baguettes, kouign amman, brioche, croissants and specialty loaves so good they'd tempt an angel to gluttony. So, obviously, we never stood a chance. We're not saying we're addicted to Cooper's wares, but we do have a question: If he can legally sell his pain au chocolate, why is heroin illegal?

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