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 Cuisine

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.

Urban Taco

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.

Joyce and Gigi's

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.

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