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.

20 Feet Seafood Joint

20 Feet has been a great place to get a lobster roll since it opened in 2013, but the recent addition of a covered patio complete with climate control makes this East Dallas seafood shack a great place to pass some time. The restaurant is BYOB, which can save you some money, and the staff is quick to supply a bucket of ice for whatever bottled vice you show up with. Add some fried clams, a few dozen freshly shucked oysters and end the evening with a slice of Key lime pie, and you've got the makings of a mini beach-side vacation without the four-hour drive.

Zeytin is a Turkish restaurant in disguise. It wears the unassuming mask of a generic suburban Mediterranean lunch buffet, with hummus and chicken for all. Come at dinner time, though, and you'll find Zeytin executes thoughtful interpretations of Turkish standards. The borek appetizer, a pastry of feta and parsley, is light and fluffy even though it still sizzles from the fryer. Grilled chicken atop smoky eggplant purée is more melt-in-your-mouth juicy than grilled chicken has ever been. Oh, and that unassuming lunch buffet? With seconds-inducing vegetarian options such as roasted cauliflower, baba ghanoush and bulgur (fine-grained wheat with tomatoes and parsley), Zeytin has one of the healthiest, freshest and all-around best buffets in Dallas.

OK, OK. So maybe there's only one treehouse bar in Dallas, but it's still the best. At this adult playground with a laid-back atmosphere, you can kick back with a beer, a mighty fine cheesesteak and even buy snacks for the squirrels. From this bird's-eye vantage point, the people-watching is especially good. The Truck Yard is packed on weekends, so your timing is going to have to be just right to snag a spot here. They don't take reservations per se, but if you're really determined, you can rent the whole treehouse for 3 hours at $1,500. It'll hold 40 people before the party really crashes.

Hibiscus

When Graham Dodds arrived at Hibiscus, the old-school steakhouse got an infusion of youth and integrity. The local food movement that's guided Dodd's cooking in several kitchens around Dallas upgraded the ingredient sourcing and his creative takes on classic dishes brought a thoughtful update to much of the menu. Come here for a perfectly cooked, locally sourced steak. Sit at the bar if you're feeling social — Hibiscus has one of the liveliest bar scenes on Henderson Avenue. You'll also have access to one of the better whiskey selections in the city.

Boulevardier
Kathryn DeBruler

With plates like duck confit with farm eggs, and a massive burger, Boulevardier is also in the running for brunch most likely to induce an afternoon nap. Even the steak and eggs here features a 14-ounce rib eye, and the plates are always filling. But after a weekend of excess, some Sunday slumber is often just what the doctor ordered. Don't pass up the cocktail list — consider it part of the medicinal properties of a great brunch — and prepare to walk out the door with your mind set on spending some quality time with your couch.

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