For those who have grown tired with the ice cream status quo, Carnival Barker's offers flavors that are anything but boring. Banana pudding and Nutella vodka join Fat Elvis — a peanut butter and banana ice cream with candied bacon and honey — in a slew of flavors that will keep you thinking while you spoon-feed your face. For those who aren't feeling as adventurous, cookie dough and cookies and cream are among flavors that will resonate with old ice cream memories. Just don't forget these guys are Texas' only independent ice cream shop. Those other shops have to buy their base from state-controlled creameries.

If you were just to read the list of ingredients off the menu, many of the salads served at Gemma would sound like abstract art. A bok choy salad features thinly shaved cabbage, paper-thin radishes, mint, fennel, cashews for crunch and peas for sweetness. A salad of heirloom squash features more of those windowpane radish slices, pine nuts, Pepato cheese and lemon. If either of these sounds like they'd eat more like a Mondrian or a Picasso, relax. They're just like the salad you'd expect served alongside a hearty steak, only much prettier. And because of top-shelf ingredients that taste like they were just plucked from the garden, those salads that you're used to will fall into a very distant second place.

Cattleack Barbeque
Chris Wolfgang

To put things delicately, the Toddfather is not a sandwich you should take lightly. Todd David's brisket at Cattleack Barbecue is worth a visit all on its own, but fold some pulled pork into the mix along with his brilliant house-made sausages and you've got a holy trinity, a great trifecta of smoked meat generously tucked inside a fresh, warm bun. If it sounds like a lot of fat and heavy flavors, that's because it is, but a small container of sweet and crunchy coleslaw will help cut through the richness.

Steel City Pops

If your understanding of a frozen pop was solidified with ice pops you squeezed from plastic tubes after they were plucked from your home freezer, it's time to give the art form another look. Even if you grew up on the small-batch paleterías around town, you need to reconsider. The frozen forms that leave the front door of Steel City Pops may be fleeting, but the memory of a pop this good will stick with you a long time. Forget flavors like grape, orange and cherry. Try a creamy avocado pop instead. The satin-smooth bright green pop smacks of life. There's a creamy lemon flavor, peanut butter, and sour cream and cherry, and if you'd prefer something a little fruitier, you're covered here as well. Blood orange, anyone? It's not to be missed.

Monkey King Noodle Co.

It's a fact: Food tastes better when you eat it while standing. Street stalls around the world have served up some of the best bites imaginable, catering to a diner's desire for deliciousness, portability and affordability. Dallas doesn't have a lot of street food, but at Monkey King Noodle Co. they certainly have some of the best. With hand-pulled noodles, carefully pleated soup dumplings and rustic, hearty soups, this Deep Ellum restaurant is producing some of the city's best Chinese food, takeout or otherwise. Place your order at the window and pour yourself a cup of hot tea. When you get your noodles, head up to the roof deck and soak up the Dallas skyline while you slurp.

The Wine Therapist

If you haven't paid the Wine Therapist a visit in a while, you need to check it out again. The East Dallas wine shop made a move across Skillman Street and has a completely new look and feel. There's a bar for sipping from a curated list of wines, but the best seats are up the steps to a loft where leather couches wait to cradle you in a little bit of privacy. Work your way through the list and when you find a bottle that really suits you, take one home for later. You won't find an experience like this one in the wine section of your typical grocery store. You won't find an experience like this in most wine shops, either.

El Come Taco
Catherine Downes

El Come Taco doesn't always have chapulines and escamoles on the menu, but when they do, enthusiasts come out of the woodwork. That's probably because there aren't many restaurateurs willing to put grasshoppers and ant eggs on their menus. Do not be afraid. The grasshoppers have a mild nutty flavor and a crunchy texture that's exciting to eat. Everyone smiles when they bite into a grasshopper taco, especially when they get a leg caught in their teeth, and there aren't too many foods that can evoke laughter. The escamoles are comparatively serious, with a rich, almost livery flavor that's complemented by a dollop of guacamole.

The Local Oak

Spam isn't exactly the most cherished ingredient. It's hard to work up enthusiasm for any meat product that comes suspended in a can full of jelly. But given the right treatment, the right complements and perhaps a little bit of luck, Spam can be turned into some stellar bar food. Just look at the Surfers on Acid served at Local Oak in Oak Cliff. The buns are soft Hawaiian rolls and they're toasted in butter before they receive a modest slice of lightly seared Spam. Add a red cabbage slaw for some creaminess and body, and pineapple minced with chiles for a little sweet and a little heat, and you've got three small sandwiches that can disappear before you can get a few fingers into your beer.

Village Baking Co.

There are times you want a massive slice of cake when you're craving something sweet, and there are times when you'd really prefer something smaller and more understated. Canelés are perfect for this. Like a small gift, they are wrapped in a tough, waxy crust that is a deep mahogany brown. Inside you'll find a dense cake that has a moist, almost custardy texture and the strong flavor of vanilla beans. Just a few bites and it's gone — the cake equivalent to a small cup of espresso — becoming a memory seconds after you've broken one open.

With all the steakhouses and barbecue joints in Texas, opening a meat mecca on Greenville Avenue would seem like a non-event. But Blind Butcher has managed to completely shift animal protein expectations since it opened earlier this year. There are sausages of all varieties, ground and cased right in the kitchen. Get the bangers with the creamiest of mashed potatoes for a worthwhile introduction and branch out your sausage exploration from there. There are charcuterie plates and cheese boards featuring house-made wares and there are french fries like you've never seen, topped with a boatload of gravy, a fried duck egg and foie gras for a decadent poutine. If you've got a vegetarian friend, there are a few things available on the menu, but why?

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