Emporium Pies

Emporium Pies opened in the Bishop Arts District two years ago and quickly became known for the best pie baking in Dallas. The shop has only gained momentum since, and now a line snakes out the door and down the street in the evenings as diners from neighborhood restaurants defect for their evening desserts. The pies are all made from scratch with fresh ingredients, and each defies your expectations for what pie should be. The Smooth Operator is a classic here — a French silk chocolate with a pretzel crust, but newcomers seldom disappoint. Feeling sluggish? Try the Java the Hutt for crunchy toffee and a creamy espresso filling poured into a simple buttery crust.

Houndstooth Coffee
Scott Reitz

There aren't too many baristas in town who have to put on a shirt and tie before they start pulling espresso shots. Consider the uniform a testament to the seriousness with which every coffee drink is created at Houndstooth. Before the magic even starts, customers are given a choice of beans based on tasting notes like fruity, chocolate or even pastry. Next, the beans are ground, weighed to the 10th of a gram and carefully pulled through the shiny La Marzocco machine sitting on the counter. Ditch your laptop. There are no power outlets to be found here and coffee this good requires quiet contemplation. Grab a seat at one of the communal tables or out on the patio and sip until you find the answers to what troubles you.

Meddlesome Moth

Steak and eggs has reigned supreme as the high-protein breakfast dish of choice for generations, even though most restaurants deliver terrible renditions. Why would anyone want a thin and crummy New York strip when they could come to the Meddlesome Moth and enjoy an impeccably cooked hanger steak that packs big, rich beef flavor? It's the little things a restaurant does to elevate your brunch that makes getting out of bed on a Sunday morning worthwhile, and here the coffee is served from personal press pots and a bloody mary comes with your choice of beer chaser. When the weather is agreeable, grab a seat on one of Dallas' prettiest patios and get ready to drink the last day of your weekend into oblivion while eating very well.

Stratos Bar and Grill

When is a Greek restaurant not a Greek restaurant? When it's a full-blown club with a DJ filling the place with throbbing dance music. Stratos is a party as much as it is a place to eat. Come for lunch, though, and the cavernous dining room will be filled with office workers looking to fill up on the cheap. Massive plates of grilled chicken kebabs, lamb and other grilled meats land on tables beside huge Greek salads topped with tomatoes and feta. And then there's the gyro, which if you're crazy enough to order it, comes in a double meat variety. Go on and try it. You'll never make it back to work.

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You can order the pad Thai if you like, but cliché noodle dishes aren't the best use of your time in this Richardson Thai restaurant. Bambu focuses on Isaan-style cooking from northeastern Thailand. Be careful. If the crying tiger beef can make a big cat weep, it can do a serious number on your own capsaicin receptors. You could order fried rice or a bowl of tom kha gai that will warm your center, but you're better off with yam pla duk fu, a honeycomb-like pile of catfish floss set atop a salad of leafy greens, slivered carrots, red onions and peanuts. Fish cakes, fried tofu, deep-fried soft-shell crab and more round out a line of authentic Thai pub grub that will keep you smiling for hours — especially if you supplement your meal with plenty of Singha.

Spiral Diner & Bakery

Here's a little secret that will change your life for the better. You don't have to be a vegan to enjoy meatless cooking. In fact, if you just fold a few vegan dishes into your week on top of all of those strip steaks, hoagies and chili cheese enchiladas, you'll be doing yourself a whole world of good. Spiral Diner is one of those places where you can indulge your passive inner vegan and feel like you're not missing a thing. Try nachos with a cheese made from almonds that will absolutely fool you, or a barbecue sandwich for a massive heap of grilled seitan swimming in a sweet barbecue sauce with plenty of onions and pickles. Sure, it's no brisket sandwich, but your heart will sincerely thank you. And watch out. Eating this well can prove addictive.

Pera Turkish Kitchen

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.

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Sara+Kerens
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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.

The Bavarian Grill

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.

Lucky's Cafe

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.

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