Best Middle Eastern Restaurant 2014 | Pera Turkish Kitchen | Best of Dallas® 2020 | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Dallas | Dallas Observer

If bread service is any measure of a restaurant, Pera Turkish Kitchen has the rest of the local Middle Eastern restaurants beaten easily. Small loaves the size of CDs but much thicker are warm and glossy when they hit the table. You can smell the toasting sesame seeds glistening on the surface and the aroma only intensifies when you tear off a chunk to be dragged through hummus, cacik and ezme. The salads here are fresh and vibrant, which is perfect for bread that's just emerged from the oven. Don't stop with the bread yet. Use it to grab pinches of lamb or grilled fish. You have no business ever picking up a fork here. Not with a utensil like this.


Crossroads Diner doesn't look much like a diner. There's no glowing neon on the outside, and there are no blood-red vinyl booths to squeak your way into on the inside. Yet there are diner smells — sizzling eggs and butter, crackling bacon and searing sausage smells — all of it riding on a faint whiff of sweet pancake syrup. Lunch is just as good, with a killer corned beef and Swiss sandwich. The only problem with Crossroads is you have absolutely no access to all this greasy fare in the wee hours because the diner is only open for breakfast and lunch. But maybe that's why breakfast and lunch are so damn good here. Sometimes you have to focus on the important things.

If you're of the mindset that a liter a day keeps the doctor away, join the club at the Bavarian Grill. No, literally — Stein Club membership lets you track which of the dozens of German (and German in spirit, like the local Franconia) beers the grill offers, with the opportunity to earn your own stein if you sample enough. The food is great, too — potato pancakes and a variety of schnitzels are particularly good, proving there's more to German food than sausages. But there's sausage aplenty too, with a few choices going for just 95 cents during Stein Hour from 4 to 7 p.m. in the bier garten, along with goulash, potato salad and bulettes. It's more than worth the drive up U.S. 75.

You gotta love the hustle and bustle and old-school-diner vibe at Lucky's Cafe. Sure, if you head over to the Oak Lawn Avenue diner on a Saturday or Sunday morning, you're guaranteed to wait for a seat, but time whizzes by after you grab a newspaper and start sipping a coffee or mimosa. The only thing better than the comfort food and bottomless coffee are the employees who serve them. From the warm greeting to the attentive service, these guys and gals really do make up one of the friendliest wait staffs in town.

The margaritas in Dallas tend to blur together (especially when you drink them back to back). They're mostly green, they're made with cheap tequila and they all smell like a hangover. At Stampede 66, none of these are true. The margarita that's made on a cart beside your table after you order it is more like a science experiment than any lime-tinged margarita you're used to. Prickly pear fruit, lime and candied jalapeño join liquid nitrogen for a misty show that will take you back to chemistry lab in high school. Except you're of legal age now, so put the isopropyl alcohol down and get to drinking.

On any given Saturday or Sunday, provided the air isn't thick with humidity and the sun isn't searing hot, the patio at Capitol Pub is filled with drinkers. And in many hands, you'll find a tall pint glass filled with the blood-red liquid — one of the greatest hangover cures of all time. The bloody mary served here isn't the best because it tries to be gourmet. Yes, the mix is made on site, but the drink stays true to the salty renditions we all grew up on when the bloody mary was simply served from a plastic bottle at the liquor store. Salty as sin, just spicy enough and as you would hope, topped with a strong pour from the vodka bottle. Hair of the dog? Here, you'll get the whole pelt.

Catherine Downes

With craft beer exploding in popularity and the opening of scads of breweries in the area, a good selection of local beers is all but mandatory for bars, pubs and restaurants these days. What sets LUCK apart is that it offers nearly 40 locally brewed ales and lagers — and that's it, as far as beer. No Chimay, no Samuel Adams or Fat Tire, no Dogfish Head or Ommegang, not even anything from as far away as Austin and certainly no Bud Light or Shock Top. The beer menu is divided into styles, making it easy to find an old or new favorite. Better yet, every beer is $5, so there's no sticker shock when you tab out. It's a great way to get to know your local beer scene, because that's your only drinking option. Unless you like wine, that is — offerings from the Duchman Family Winery are shipped all the way up from Driftwood.

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?

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