Mr. Wok
Kathy Tran

You can drop by Mr. Wok without any notice and have a delicious Chinese food experience. Your stomach will be much better served, however, if you remember to call and make a reservation in advance — a move that grants access to more prized items on the menu. Call one day ahead to order Peking duck with skin so crisp it rivals kettle-cooked potato chips. And if you can firm up your dinner plans two days ahead, it's worth your time to order the beggars chicken. Wrapped up in dry, tough bread, the dish resembles a rugby ball more than dinner, but get a crack at what's inside that boule and you'll be forced to rethink the humble bird forever.

Murray Street Coffee Shop

Remember when a cup of coffee was just a cup of coffee, and a coffee shop was just a quaint, quirky place to get such a cup? Murray Street keeps things simple in an environment where tattooed, mustachioed coffee geeks obsess over the floral notes in a single-origin, organic, Costa Rican cup of java. Just want a coffee? This is where you come to get your pick-me-up, served by the nicest staff you could hope for. Want a mocha-spiced-latte with soy-whatever? Yeah, you can get that here too. And they won't even call you high maintenance for placing the order.

John's Cafe

Sure, the sign says cafe, but the burgers, gyros, shortstack pancakes and other breakfast plates scream diner all the way. John's has been plating up the classics for more than 40 years now, and the place has loads more character than the 24-hour chain diners that blanket the Dallas area. John's doesn't forget the little things: There are philodendrons hanging from the ceiling and fresh flowers on every table. Fresh flowers, plus two eggs over-easy with bacon and hash browns: Where else can you find that?

Do you have trouble getting out of bed on Saturday mornings? If you do, Luscher's Red Hots could be the greatest enhancement the Dallas culinary scene has experienced in ages. Before Luscher's, the only way to get the best hot dog in Dallas was to visit the White Rock Local Market on Saturday mornings. If you slept in past noon, you had to wait seven days for your next chance at an expertly crafted tube steak. At Luscher's Red Hots you can get a hot dog seven days a week. And if a dog doesn't pad out your square edges sufficiently, you can always follow it up with an Italian beef.

Mughlai

Indian restaurants lend themselves to communal dining. Bringing friends with you to places like Mughlai is the only way to sample a little of everything the kitchen has to offer. With a table of six or more, you can share several curries and rice dishes, and breads to soak them up with, at a table laid out like a banquet. Mughlai can help you take a simple ethnic dining experience and turn it into a grand event (that's still surprisingly affordable). Just remember to save room for some rice pudding and kulfi.

bbbop
Kathy Tran

Fried chicken doesn't have to be served at a picnic in the park with a side of potato salad and sweet tea. Sometimes fried chicken with a little more character is in order. Sometimes you want crispy fried chicken drizzled with a sweet, spicy glaze and served with pickled daikon and kimchi. And screw iced tea. Quench your thirst with a massive plastic bottle of Hite beer. If you want fried chicken that talks back while you eat it, head over to Bbbop and order some yard bird fried in a rice-flour batter. It's got a serious crunch.

Lucia

A reservation at Lucia has been a difficult score for more than four years now. One reason? While chef David Uygur presides over Dallas' very best Italian cooking, there's more to Lucia's allure than what is on the plates as they cross the pass. The walls of this Oak Cliff restaurant enclose a tiny dining room that exudes as much charm as that perfectly cooked pork chop exudes glistening juice. Lucia embodies romance, even if you're dining alone. Just sit at the bar and engage the cooks working across from you. The night will pass more quickly than you'd like.

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Nothing says kid-friendly dining more than pizzas and a patio, which Cane Rosso has in spades across multiple locations. Throw in a third "P" for prosecco and you've got the makings of a relaxed family evening that won't break the bank — not to mention there's rumor of buried treasure in the garden at the Lakewood location. Order a few pizzas, wrap things up with some of the best sugar-dusted doughnuts in Dallas and wait for the kids to sugar crash. Your Friday night is complete.

Stand at the counter at Bolsa Mercado and you'll be filled with a sense of potential. The mercado serves as a commissary of sorts for next-door neighbor Bolsa, and there's house-smoked turkey and house-cured pastrami up for grabs. These are the building blocks of great sandwiches, flanked by some equally impressive sides if you order correctly. You can't go wrong picking from their case of croissants, macarons and other goods from the best bakeries in Dallas. Grab a seat at the communal table inside or on the patio and start brainstorming excuses for not returning to work.

Uchi
Kathy Tran

Dallas had to wait years for Uchi to make its way to Dallas, but now that the Maple Avenue location is open for business, the wait has proved worth it. The Austin-based Japanese restaurant, which has received multiple nods from the James Beard Foundation, offers a new spin on sushi that's filled with creativity. The best part about Uchi, though, is that you don't have to spend a fin and a tail to eat well here. Every day from 5-6:30 p.m., a happy hour special will fill you to the gills without breaking the bank.

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