Our unofficial nickname for this place is "Tacos, Beers and Chandeliers," because it has those three things in abundance. It's a fairly new gas station with a grill and coin laundry, and for reasons unknown is lit by dozens of LED chandeliers, including a huge one that hangs directly over an ice bin filled with tallboys of malt liquor. But the beer cooler has far more than malt liquor, offering a surprisingly good selection of craft beer bottles and cans from Dogfish Head, Harpoon, Real Ale, Founders and more. Even better are the tacos offered from the flat grill. Tacos al pastor are savory and semisweet, sliced off the trompo and crisped on the grill, and the other options are just as good, as are the quesadillas. It's an unexpected oasis of great food and beer in southern Oak Cliff.

When HG Sply Co. opened its expansive patio, complete with full bar and kitchen, we thought, "This is as cool as it gets." It's a respite from the high-octane Uptown rooftop decks and has a different view of downtown Dallas than the Hotel Belmont patio. But then Nora came in with a less obstructed view, a quieter ambiance and delicious Afghan food. Sharing a plate of hummus and pita while sitting next to your date on a couch under the curtained cabana feels like vacationing in the Mediterranean. Take a break from the hustle and bustle of Lower Greenville and enjoy the hot, summer breeze while sipping a dry red wine.

Catherine Downes

At most coffee shops, the pre-made sandwiches are a bready snack scarfed down in a carbohydrate rush. But Mudsmith sandwiches require you to sit down. These sandwiches are stacked high with protein — piles of cold cuts like turkey or roast beef between two thin slices of bread. There are also a filling vegan option, with hummus and lots of veggies, and a dairy vegetarian sandwich loaded with mozzarella cheese and pesto. These are simple sandwiches, not much in the way of sauce or exotic toppings, but all that hearty protein could constitute a dinner, and dinner is the time to eat Mudsmith sandwiches. After 6 p.m., Mudsmith sells whatever of its sandwiches are left for just $5. A hard-core practical eater can live on just half for dinner and save the other half for lunch the next day.

This low-key taquería/tortería/panadería is tucked away behind 7-Eleven on Lower Greenville and decorated with paintings of the actual Chichen Itza, the ancient city in Mexico built by the Mayans. But this Chichen Itza is more conveniently located to East Dallas, plus it serves tortas on fluffy pan baked in-house. The sandwiches are good, but the real treats are found in the side counter by the entrance, which displays a large selection of Mexican pastries made from scratch, including customer favorites like conchas and campechanas. The best part: Every pastry is just 60 cents, no matter how massive or filling it might be. Eat one in the morning with an espresso on the patio outside or come by for a sugar fix on a weekend night, when Itza sometimes hosts all-ages heavy metal and punk shows.

Best Grocery Store Deli for People on Special Diets

Green Grocer

Restaurants are notorious for breaking diets and causing allergic reactions. Grocery store delis are a little easier to navigate, but for questionable dishes, good luck tracking down an employee able to tell you all the ingredients. Green Grocer is different. This tiny neighborhood market sells only pasture-raised local meat and organic produce from nearby farmers. At Green Grocer's awesome deli, selections change daily, but popular regulars behind the counter include vegetarian kale and black rice salad, gluten-free "pizza" on top of a hearty portabello mushroom instead of a crust, pasture-raised egg salad and paleo-friendly dishes like cauliflower mash, coconut chicken or apple pie crumble, just to name a few. Vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free and paleo items are all clearly labeled, and staff is happy to help customers unsure about anything. The workers behind the deli also man a juice and coffee bar, and a fridge on the other side of the store sells hearty pre-made paleo dinners like meatballs and "spaghetti" made from squash.

Unrefined Bakery goes beyond gluten-free. Customers can get nut-free, dairy-free, soy-free, grain-free. They are incredibly accommodating to just about any allergy, and the food is surprisingly delicious. In addition to the typical small baked goods that one finds in gluten-free bakeries — cupcakes, cookies, muffins — customers can order their daily carb fill with several different sweet and sandwich loaf varieties, granolas, crusts, buns and rolls. The two owners and founders are a mother-daughter team who themselves have food allergies. As a result, the facility is dedicated to avoiding cross-contamination. If you're getting married, Unrefined Bakery also offers wedding cake selections, or any other special occasion cake for that matter. Prices are not too outlandish for a specialty bakery.

The name has to be sarcastic. Supposedly it's named for pastrami-topped foodstuffs in Southern California, but it's hard to imagine this monument of meat having many takers in the land of fish tacos and juice cleanses. Ten Bells Tavern's burgers are already plenty big (and delicious) without the addition of smoked cheddar, Swiss, a mound of pastrami and an entire hot link. But the add-ons make this $14 burger (with fries) over-the-top in terms of messiness, unhealthiness and tastiness. And you can feel good about eating it, because it's going to help you put your cardiologist's kids through college. The cholesterol and sodium are in a race to see which one has you clutching your left shoulder first.

Mughlai's curries are impossibly rich, the creamiest, most decadent motherfuckers this side of the Atlantic. However, there is something about their curries and the richness of them that makes it physically impossible to eat them in the quantities you want to do so. Do not do this. If you eat more than one curry, you will enter some kind of fugue state in which you will actually need someone to drive you home, and then you will sleep for four hours or more, no matter what time of day or night it is. This has been independently confirmed by other people. It's the most delicious mini-death imaginable.

The cake ball is far from the loftiest of dessert foods. Typically they are little more than globules of sugary flour. But Isabelly's cake balls are refined, closer in consistency and quality to decadent chocolate truffles than to cake. A box of them works quite nicely as a gift to one's significant other. Isabelly's gets extra points for opening in downtown Richardson and not being a hookah bar.

It's a hard balance to hit in most of the inner city: How do you find a patio restaurant that will have lots of dogs and not too many children? Nothing against children. It's just that dogs are better drinking companions, maybe because most dogs have heard the word "no" once or twice before in their lives. Mi Cocina Lakewood gets it just right, with lots of space, serious shade, many big fans blowing and margaritas that show up magically and so cold your fingers freeze to them. Reservations are a good idea on busy nights, but the wait usually isn't too terrible.

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