Best Tex-Mex 2015 | Herrera's | Best of Dallas® 2020 | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Dallas | Dallas Observer
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.

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.

It surely rubs some diners the wrong way that Urban Taco charges for the snack most Tex-Mex restaurants give away with enthusiasm. But as soon as the chips and salsa land on the table, you quickly learn that you get what you pay for. The chips are sturdy, well seasoned and not greasy, and the salsa arrives in threes from a rotation that seems to offer endless variety. Be careful when your server asks how spicy you'd like your selection to be. A few (including one that tastes as if it were made exclusively with habanero peppers) pack a serious burn.

Margaritas made with lime juice and mixes can be had at nearly every restaurant around Dallas. What makes the drink at Joyce and Gigi's special is the same thing that makes every drink at their bar stand out — freshly squeezed juices from fruits you may or may not have heard of. For the margarita, cherimoya is in play, lending unique apple, banana and sometimes pineapple flavors that balance out the tartness of lime juice, in a refreshing take on a classic you thought you knew all too well.

Kathy Tran

People who really love bread secretly harbor fantasies that everyone is just like them, that everyone wakes up each morning craving a perfect croissant and wouldn't think of coming home without a freshly baked baguette in tow. Bread people are weird like that, but they're onto something, because drinking wine and chewing on the tough, crusty end of a baguette is one of the best ways to spend your time after a long day at work. Pick yours up at Boulangerie; it's your best shot at being surrounded by fellow bread heads. If you've got a sweet tooth there's plenty of pastry, too. Grab a coffee, a tart and a pain au chocolat and enjoy a sugary overload.

You can't deny the line streaming out the door of Steel City Pops. It's long, and it's always present, turning the corner past the patio out front, leading down the sidewalk and sometimes around the block. The pops coming out of this small storefront take paletas to places they've never been in terms of flavor, using ingredients including tea, corn, buttermilk, avocados and jalepeños. If that sounds too adventurous you can get something simple like mango, strawberry or lemonade, but no matter what flavor you choose, your pop will always have a velvety consistency that's unrivaled.

Sitting at the bar at Remedy is like taking a trip through time and space. The old-school soda fountain serves up egg creams and other freshly mixed sodas and desserts that could easily make a whole meal. If you're in the mood for ice cream, check out the sundaes made from dairy that's churned on-site. The flavor combinations are all original creations and many pay tribute to local food personalities. There's also pie, including a coconut cream that redefines the genre, and if you're feeling gluttonous, you can have it served with more of that ice cream.

White Rock Local Market is all grown up these days, with three major markets in the Dallas area on both Saturday and Sunday. What started off as a small, homespun alternative to the massive market downtown has become one of the best collections of local farmers and producers in the DFW area. Good Local Market stands out because of its commitment to local farmers who grow and sell their own food, and a shopping trip there leaves customers with a sense they've made some small difference while learning the exact provenance of their food.

Chris Wolfgang

Nobody in Dallas makes ramen better than the team of cooks at Ten. The subject is not even up for debate. They deliver hot bowls of soup on the fly, filled with perfectly cooked noodles and fresh garnishes that truly elevate your ramen experience. What's better is the whole restaurant is built around authenticity. It's standing-room-only, so you'll have to slurp on your feet, and the menu focuses on what's important, which is ramen and little else. You'll be in and out the door in 20 minutes flat, and bowls of soup start at $10 for the fastest, cheapest, most delicious meal in Dallas.

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