Off-Site Kitchen
Kathy Tran

Something weird has been happening to burgers over the past few decades. They've gotten bigger, cheesier and more obnoxious, and for the most part, they aren't any better for it. Leave it to Off-Site Kitchen to counter the trend and return the burger to more restrained proportions. Yet they somehow keep the flavor turned up to 10. The meat clocks in at a respectable quarter-pound and is cooked with the care all burgers deserve. The finished product is rosy, juicy and less guilt-inducing than a burger that arrives the size of your head, so you can over indulge some of the best burger toppings you'll find. Try it "Murph Style" with roasted jalapeños, bacon relish, cheese and creamy sauce that will really stick to your ribs. It's a small burger, sure, but don't mistake it for health food.

Goodfriend Beer Garden and Burger House

Anywhere else the turkey burger is a second-stringer. It's what you choose because you're trying to be healthy, or because you just exercised and you don't want to feel guilty about really, really indulging yourself. So you skip the regular burger and go for the turkey. Not as rich, not as juicy, but at least it's leaner. But Goodfriends' Gobbler is not the healthy alternative (well, it is relative to the El Jefe burger with brisket and bacon). It's thick, it's greasy and it's juicy, and it's presumably lean but certainly doesn't taste like it. And you can't beat a menu with beer recommendations for every sandwich.

East Hampton Sandwich Company

The people behind Subway and Jimmy John's should be strung up. They've reduced the greatest ingredient delivery system to a mere commodity. Lucky for you, East Hampton Sandwich Co. rights all wrongs. They may even take the humble sandwich to places it has never been before. You've likely had many chicken sandwiches, but East Hampton's version with tender roast chicken in a Meyer lemon vinaigrette opens up new dimensions of sandwich creativity. Bored with roast beef? Try a hot short-rib sandwich with oozing cheese and horseradish cream. Be careful. These East Hampton creations have a way of ruining you for the classics. And should you find yourself stuck with a commodity sandwich again, you'll be overwhelmed with sadness.

Jimmy's Food Store
Nick Rallo

This year the sandwich crown goes not to some arugula-strewn, aioli-slathered bistro creation but to an honest-to-God, no-bullshit Italian sandwich. Jimmy's Food Store's hot Italian sausage sandwich will make a New York transplant feel, if only for a moment, like they've come home. It's loaded with Jimmy's ubiquitous Italian sausage, sweet peppers, onions, stringy gobs of mozzarella and a tangy marinara sauce, all just barely contained by flaky French bread. Be patient, because they make it all from scratch. You can watch, or browse aisles stocked with wine and pasta, and fridges and freezers filled with lobster ravioli and containers of an unbelievable creamy vodka sauce. Take the sandwich to go or pull up a chair inside the Wine Room past the meat counter. On the way out, do not forget the cannolis.

20 Feet Seafood Joint

If flavors were sounds, the lemon in Marc Cassell's lobster roll would be the faintest whisper. The subtlety should be noted. In a city that has turned lobster rolls into a fetish, most restaurants create versions with way too much noise. Mayonnaise is often used in excess, or they're weighed down with butter. Sometimes the lobster meat comes in frozen. At 20 Feet, everything is as it should be. Lobsters are brought in live and steamed in batches before their shells are picked clean. The knuckles and tails get dressed in the tiniest bit of mayo brightened with lemon, and the simple salad gets tucked into a house-baked bun. That's it. That's the whole recipe. And that's why 20 Feet serves the best lobster roll in town.

Carbone's

It's hard to understand, if you haven't spent sufficient time (it doesn't take much) in Pennsylvania or New Jersey. The hoagie is more than a sandwich; it's a way of life. And once you've learned to love the hoag, its absence will cause a persistent and dull ache for the rest of your life. You'll miss things like shredded lettuce and high-quality cold cuts stuffed into a soft but chewy roll, and white butcher paper stained with oil and vinegar. Carbone's won't completely satiate your longing, but their Italian combo is very good methadone. They get their chewy bread from Padre Vecchio, a bakery out in Arlington, and they stuff it with some of the best cold cuts you can buy. The sopressata and hot coppa are from Molinari, a San Francisco company that's been hanging salamis since 1896, and the mortadella is made right behind the counter. You might as well be in Philly.

The exponential growth of Dallas' beer scene has added so many breweries to the city and surrounding area that it is really hard to narrow the contenders down to a single best. Even better, there's not a bad one in the bunch. Perhaps that's because navigating Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission and city regulations is such a hassle that only the area's most dedicated beer makers graduate from homebrewing to doing it professionally. But Michael Peticolas' creations are especially great. Velvet Hammer is an outstanding imperial red ale that is as refreshing as it is potent. Royal Scandal is a multiple-award-winning English pale ale. And we could have lived on the dark and strong Wintervention, spiked with Christmasy spices from Pendery's just down the street. Not only are we yet to be disappointed by a Peticolas beer, we have yet to try one that we didn't absolutely love.

Pupuseria La Pasadita

Tiny little Pasadita might be the smallest restaurant in Dallas. Ana Ortiz makes papusas in a postage stamp kitchen in the back of a convenience store on Carroll Street. This might not be exceptional but for the fact that Ortiz's pupusas are the very best in Dallas. For evidence, look at her curtido first. The lightly fermented cabbage slaw has a little extra crunch, when compared with other pupuserías. Then taste the salsa, which is often plain and runny but here boasts crunchy onions, fresh cilantro and big-time heat. Finally, check out of the chicharrón. The rich, shredded pork packs a whole pig's worth of flavor into a morsel not much bigger than a marble. Now combine all of this evidence in one massive bite. The salty pork, the crunchy cabbage, the melting cheese and the bright and spicy salsa — if you're not careful, one of the neurons in your pleasure center could burst.

Ten Bells Tavern

The term pedestrian is often used to describe humble dishes. Burgers, wings and sandwiches are all pedestrian foods. They are common, familiar and soothing. Too often, though, what is pedestrian often tastes stepped on. The ubiquitous snacks served at countless bars and restaurants are prepared carelessly with frozen ingredients. It was almost unthinkable that a bar would actually hire a chef and properly feed people instead of pandering to drunk customers who are thought to eat anything. When Ten Bells Tavern announced Carlos Mancera would be manning the kitchen of this Oak Cliff gastropub, it was a revelation that turned out to be worthy of extended celebration. Who knew the blue cheese served with wings could actually be a desirable condiment, or more shockingly, that brunch didn't have to suck? Bar food menus in Dallas have been given notice. Change is in the air.

El Rincon De Villa

You'd given up on them, hadn't you? Chicken tacos are dry, mealy and miserable — the absolute bottom of the taco echelon and suitable only for the drunkest of drunk food. Steady yourself. El Taco del Rincon de Villa is a small taco house on Greenville Avenue, and its chicken tacos will completely revive the genre for you. Tinga de pollo is your new go-to taco order. Grab several and wait for chicken meat stewed till it falls apart with a slightly spicy, slightly smoky sauce. Even better, they're tucked into tortillas that are made right there. They're soft and pliable and ready to receive all the salsa you can handle. This is anything but yet another chicken taco. It's your go-to lunch.

Best Of Dallas®

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