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.

El Come Taco
Catherine Downes

Every few months something else seems to improve at this East Dallas taqueria, and if the killer paint job, stylish tables and massive projection-screen TV weren't enough, El Come Taco recently earned a license to sell alcohol. Not that there was anything wrong with a fizzy bottle of Topo Chico paired with your suadero, but an ice-cold cerveza is a taco's perfect foil. El Come Taco also deals in tacos other taquerias can't be bothered to serve. Grasshoppers, ant eggs and calf brains all may sound like a challenge, but they're delicious. And without owner Luis Villalva, you wouldn't have the opportunity to even try them here in Dallas.

Herrera's
Kathy Tran

It was a sad day when news broke that Herrera's on Maple Avenue would close. Teary-eyed customers streamed out of the restaurant wondering where they'd go for their beloved sour cream enchiladas. Herrera's had moved plenty of times, but this go around there was no new location on the horizon. Now that the Tex-Mex restaurant is all settled in on Sylvan Avenue, it's hard to understand why anyone was ever concerned. Sour cream enchiladas abound, along with fajitas, refried beans and a list of combination plates that fills an entire page. The new restaurant has a massive patio, an expansive dining room and the most charm since the very first Herrera's occupied a tiny nine-table spot back in 1984.

Sakhuu Thai

Kyla and Angel Phomsavanh might very well be the hardest-working couple in the entire restaurant industry. If their Thai restaurant Sakhuu is open, one or both of them are likely working inside, whether during lunch service, dinner service or the late evening hours when the kitchen needs cleaning. The hard work pays off, though, with a staff that is just as diligent and an atmosphere that is so welcoming you may forget that you're in a restaurant and not your imaginary Thai grandmother's living room. Don't start a meal without the stuffed chicken wings, a feat of culinary engineering that results in an addictive snack. Then dig into a selection of Thai classics such as papaya salad and larb gai that will leave your belly filled and your mouth aflame.

The best vegetarian meals are based on dishes that are inherently, you know, vegetarian. A mushy, flavorless veggie burger will never stand a chance against a bowl of hummus and some grilled eggplant with freshly baked flatbread. Afrah is a treasure-trove for vegetarian diners, with dishes such as tabbouleh and baba ganoush that are as healthy as they are delicious. What's better is vegetarian dinners can welcome their carnivorous friends without putting them in a bind, because there's plenty of chicken, lamb and fish, too. A new, expanded location in Richardson diminishes your wait for a table but the vegetarian delicacies are as good as ever.

Best Of Dallas®

Best Of