Best Picnic Plan 2015 | Scardello's Monger Picnic Service and Dragon Park | Best of Dallas® 2020 | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Dallas | Dallas Observer

There's a narrow window of time in North Texas when it's not too hot or too cold for a picnic, so if you're going to do it, do it right. This is why we like to leave it to the experts at Scardello. Their "monger picnic service" includes a consultation with their cheesemongers to pair cheeses and accompaniments, and $25 will get you a choice of two quarter-pound cheeses, a half baguette and an accompaniment of a jam, chutney or pesto. If you like, they can also help you select wine and craft beers to complement your cheese. (Biodegradable utensils, cups, etc. included.) The perfect picnic needs the perfect setting, so you'll want to abscond with your goodies to nearby Dragon Park, a tucked-away statue garden that some find as magical as a "mini-Narnia."

Best Place to Get a Margarita and a Mustache


Kathy Tran

No, we're not talking about that time you fell asleep at that party in college. Hiding in the corner of the waiting area of Smoke's Plano location is a kooky vending machine that dispenses not only fake mustaches, but also random wildflower seeds and "medals for achievements that have yet to happen." If you get stuck waiting for a table at the popular upscale barbecue joint, you might as well make the most of it — add taste-testing their Woodshed margarita and mustache-sporting to your list of achievements.

Best Place to Chase Caffeine with Shaved Ice


Catherine Downes

You know it for its craft coffee, but Mudsmith has a secret. Tucked away in the back is a booth housing an "Olde New Orleans" shaved ice machine. Order a shaved ice up front at the barista stand and a friendly coffee slinger will escort you there past the hipster hunting lodge decor. You'll choose your 12- or 16-oz flavor from the chalkboard list, with options to add coconut milk or cream. In a stroke of genius, you can manage your caffeine fix and banish the Texas heat all at the same time.

The Little Greek Food Truck may not provide tables, chairs or a little old lady who turns every broken plate into a celebration. It doesn't serve any alcohol, either. What this rolling restaurant lacks in amenities, however, it makes up for in portability, making delicious Greek food possible on any paved surface in DFW. The truck's menu of street food — mainly grilled meat sandwiches served in pita, salads and baklava for dessert ­— has your Greek basics covered. Just bring a little ouzo in a flask, ask for a cup of ice and belt out, "Opa!" as you toss one back.


A trip to Seoul Garden is worth it for the kimchi alone. The cabbage is assertively spicy, fresh, vibrant and so crunchy you'll think it's still fresh. But since you drove here, you might as well enjoy the rest of the menu, starting with Korean barbecue that you'll cook yourself at your table with a charcoal-fired grill. Get the plain, non-marinated cuts if you want the flavor of the charcoal to shine through, and don't neglect the plates of banchan that cover the table when you order. The kitchen here isn't afraid of big and bold flavors, and that personality comes through in these tiny dishes of pickled snacks.

Kathy Tran

The bone broth trend is taking off in other cities as health nuts praise its rich nutritional value. For the customers who have been patronizing LA Han Bat, though, the murky liquid is just another of many delicious options for lunch or dinner. There are no powders, mixes or shortcuts taken here. Four to five stockpots bubble away with protruding cow parts in the back kitchen, each on its way to becoming one of the best soups you can get in Dallas. Order the sul lung tang and get ready to be warmed to the core. Garnished with green onions and plenty of chili paste, this soup tastes too good to be considered health food.

Parliament is half cocktail bar, half theatrical performance. With a good seat, you can watch the bar's drink experts swirl flames around a glass, shake up a Ramos gin fizz or garnish a cocktail with real deer antlers. But the pièce de résistance is the smoked ancho Manhattan, a spicy twist on the classic drink. After mixing your Manhattan with Ancho Reyes chile liqueur, your bartender will ignite a torch, catch all the smoke in a giant vase and pour your drink in after it. The vase gets sealed up and your drink is swirled through and around the cloud of smoke. As the Manhattan is poured into your glass, little curlicues of smoke puff out around you, transporting you to a fairy-tale dreamland of hot-pepper-and-cherry-flavored alcoholic bliss. Thirsty yet?

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