BEST YES WE CAN 2013 | TX Canning | Best of Dallas® 2020 | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Dallas | Dallas Observer

Deep Ellum Brewing Co. founder John Reardon was ahead of the craft-beer curve in Dallas, creating the first in a wave of new breweries in the city limits of Big D. With his new venture, he and DEBC event planner Zack Fickey are once again reading the hop leaves to foresee the future of craft beer. Canned beer is becoming respectable and even preferred in some cases for the kind of earth-conscious brewers and consumers responsible for the craft-beer business boom. Cans are lighter and have less of a carbon footprint; they are more portable; and they preserve beer better by keeping out the damaging sunlight and oxygen that can leak into bottles. But rather than simply buy a canning line for DEBC, Reardon and Fickey created a new venture, a mobile canning service that can serve their own brewery as well as other small breweries popping up around town such as Denton's Armadillo Ale Works. We raise a can (and then shotgun it) to the North Texas brewing community working together.

That old problem: Which sounds better, an order of queso, some quesadillas or a plate of nachos? If you can't figure out which Tex-Mex appetizer you'd like to munch on with your first margarita after a chaotic day at the office, Ojeda's has you covered. The botanas platter has every cheese-filled and fried finger food imaginable; a pile of nachos, a few chicken flautas, some amazing stuffed jalapeños, traditional chicken quesadillas, a cup of chile con queso and a scoop of guacamole — all served on one large plate. For $15 you can provide appetizers for happy hour with friends or the entire family, or simply make a meal out of it, but we don't recommend the latter unless you're training for a professional eating competition.

We've tried pretty much every variation of taco salad offered from East Dallas to Oak Cliff, and if you want a fresh and affordable take on the traditional "healthy option" while eating at a Tex-Mex joint, then this one wins our vote for a much tastier option without the temptation of that fried outer shell. Rather than a pile of iceberg lettuce inside of a grease-laden flour or corn tortilla bowl, Mia's salad is served with finely shredded greens in a wide glass bowl with the "taco" meat served in a small tortilla. For less than $8, diners get a choice of seasoned ground beef or tender shredded chicken on top of fresh lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions and cheese. The salad comes served with a house-made spicy blue cheese or your pick of a variety of other dressing options. But if we're counting calories, we prefer dousing it in Mia's salsa.

Nachos can come loaded with everything from ground beef, veggies, chicken, brisket, lobster, beans and even pulled pork smothered in barbecue sauce, but there's one ingredient that is integral to the delicious appetizer from menu to menu: cheese. So, how can the nachos from vegan restaurant and bakery Spiral Diner be the best in town (FYI for all you carnivores, vegan = no dairy)? If you put your skepticism aside you'll discover that the mound of chips covered in cashew and bell pepper "cheese" spread, quinoa, black beans, black olives, tomato, green onion, corn and cilantro comes together deliciously and satisfies even the most intense nacho craving, sans the greasy "I just ate a brick of cheese" feeling.

Jack Perkins' spot is known for its slabs of cow. Seared to a crisp in that old diner style, the meat's crust always has that excellent crunch. It's a damn good burger, one of Dallas' best. Their BLT (that's bacon, lettuce and tomato, of course), however, is Gladiator good. The bacon comes crispy and thick, with that perfect salt balance with the creamy mayo. The best part: This isn't one of those sandwiches that falls apart instantly. The bread, slightly toasted and buttery, holds every shard of bacon. For a good time, ask for extra bacon.

The equation is perfect. Take the Foundry's patio, add the wooden stools firmly placed in the gravel, add some hair of the dog and multiply that by a biscuit sandwich the size of Giada De Laurentis' head. On the other side of the equation? A future nap and a dead hangover. Go for the restaurant's namesake sandwiches: The Foundry has fried chicken, collard greens, an over-easy egg and Tejano red sauce. You may need a cab ride home or a neck pillow to finish this sucker.

Ditch Jack and the Box. Their deep-fried tacos are a cult favorite, but they're trash compared with these crispy gems. Food snobs turn away; these are not real taquería tacos. They come with heavy shredded cheddar, iceberg lettuce and diced lipstick red tomatoes. The cook uses toothpicks to keep the tortillas together when they're fried. Pour some green salsa onto the spicy beef (or pulled chicken) and you get a guilty pleasure that'll guarantee a second order.

Something about The Cedars Social is perfect. It may have something to do with the fire pits with the polished rocks, the late-night oysters, brioche-bun burgers and succinctly astounding cocktails. No, hang on. That’s not it. No. The Cedars Social is awesome because it has somehow managed to completely own a Secret Agent/007 theme. The menu comes out like a “for your eyes only” dossier. Come on, what’s not fun about that? Did we mention late-night oysters?

You walk into Smyth, and you're immediately transported. Not to an island in the Caribbean, or Fiji, but to a plane. You're on the second floor of James Bond's private jet. There are only a few seats, but the way Smyth is carpeted and decorated it's a certainty you're in a deleted scene from Dr. No. Here's why it's great: There's no giant, weird wooden menu. No menus at all actually, so you can just pretend you can afford everything. You just tell them what you like, and they make you a great cocktail. Somehow, even though you might order a cocktail that they finish with the smoke from a lit match, it ends up being not pretentious. It's simple and good.

There simply isn't enough room here for the philosophical discussion necessary to suss out when, in the process of garnishment, a bloody mary ceases to be a bloody mary. At what point does it become something else entirely? Perhaps the mixologist (chef?) who concocted "Fuck Brunch" can better answer this question. All you need to know is that when you order this "bloody mary" for Sunday brunch, you need not order anything else. Its "garnishes" include a bacon-and-cheddar slider, an artisanal cheese, some meat (maybe a Slim Jim, maybe not), asparagus, green beans, a pickle, shrimp, Brussels sprouts ... truly, the list goes on and is subject to Anvil's whims. But it will all, somehow, fit inside a big-ass mason jar. Yes, Fuck Brunch.

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