Though+many+of+the+dishes+at+Bambu+cry%0D%0Aout+for+spicier+treatment%2C+the+nicely+finessed%0D%0Acrying+tiger+beef+is+not+one+of+them.
Sara+Kerens
Though+many+of+the+dishes+at+Bambu+cry%0D%0Aout+for+spicier+treatment%2C+the+nicely+finessed%0D%0Acrying+tiger+beef+is+not+one+of+them.

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
House-cured+fish+and+meats%0D%0Aare+Crossroads%27+ace+in+the+hole.

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.

Stampede 66

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.

Capitol Pub

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.

LUCK Dallas
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.

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