Best Frozen Drink 2014 | Frozen Irish Coffee at Twilite Lounge | Best of Dallas® 2020 | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Dallas | Dallas Observer

Imagine your favorite frozen coffee drink emboldened with a shot of Irish whiskey. Now picture in your mind a Coca-Cola Slurpee, but with a slug of Jack Daniel's to put a grown-up twist on a favorite childhood drink. The Twilite Lounge, one of our very favorite bars, offers both, and they are even tastier than they sound — particularly the Frozen Irish Coffee, with its sprinkle of ground coffee on top making it the poor man's speedball. Either way you go, it's tempting to drink them so fast you get an ice cream headache. Fortunately, whiskey is a pretty effective remedy for that pain. Be sure to get the extra shot of whiskey in the Jack & Coke.

Chris Wolfgang

Community Beer Co. head brewer Jamie Fulton has won multiple awards for his work at Community and his previous post at Fort Worth's sorely missed The Covey, and a few sips of Inspiration is all it takes to see why. Named for the street on which Community Beer Co. is located, Inspiration is a fantastic Belgian strong dark ale. While it is only available in the Dallas area, it deserves mention alongside heavyweights like Chimay Grande Réserve (Blue), Unibroue's Trois Pistoles and North Coast Brewing Co.'s Brother Thelonious. It's certainly no lightweight. This is a beer that drinks like raisins and molasses, spicy and toffee sweet with a full body, and yet the 9.6 percent ABV is barely perceptible. Community also makes perhaps the best IPA in town, Mosaic, and the Vienna Lager is an outstanding example of its style. The brewery will also soon release an imperial Russian stout that knocked our socks off at a recent brewery tour. They're doing great things over on Inspiration Drive.

There is a feeling, somewhere around the end of the second Velvet Hammer, where your face gets kind of warm and suddenly all of your friends aren't so terrible anymore, and you start anticipating the third Velvet Hammer with both delight and fear. It's more akin to a trip than your average bout of drunkenness. On Velvet Hammer, you know that very soon you won't be able to remember any more of the evening, but in the most delightful way possible. It's 7 p.m. Do you know where your brain is?

Lauren Drewes Daniels

People are putting a lot of focus on mixology these days, with artisanal bitters and obscure spirits dominating the local drinking scene. But for the utilitarian drinker who prefers imbibing in a dim dive, it's hard not to look at these needlessly complicated drink slingers as pretentious cocktoligists. Fuck your handmade maraschino cherries; we just want to get drunk. And for the devoted drinkers, only a proper bartender will do — one like Roger Nelson at Lakewood Landing. Nelson won't outfit your cocktail with a sprig of thyme and then make a coy reference to the clock on the wall, but he'll pour you a black and tan with a sniper's precision — a demarcation of Guinness and Bass that's as clearly defined as the DMZ. Better yet, order a Bud, which only requires the twist of a cap. Nelson has been slinging beers at this East Dallas dive for five years now and he's never served a mixed drink that has more ingredients than a wedding cake. What's that you'll have? Jack and Coke? You'll fit right in here.

The Meddlesome Moth offers an incredibly wide selection put together by people who are passionate about great beer. There's always have something unique. If there's a very limited release that has the beer nerds drooling, you can bet the Moth will have it. If a brewmaster from some far-flung state or country is in town, chances are he or she will have a meet-and-greet or beer dinner there. Partner Keith Schlabs has been a part of the craft beer movement in the Dallas area since the days when they were called microbrews, and cicerone Matt Quenette has forgotten more about beer than most of us will ever know. One look at the cool stainless steel tap wall — not a macro to be found — and you'll want to live there.

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.

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