Best Of :: Food & Drink
Aaron Barker's burgeoning Dallas institution, Carnival Barkers, is in a state of flux. The ice cream master lost his lease on his space at the Truck Yard this year, but opened his first stand-alone joint near the Texas Theatre in Oak Cliff. It's a good thing, too, as even the slightest doubt about the availability of Barker's most delicious creation, the Rice Krispies treats ice-cream sandwich, featuring vanilla ice cream jammed between two Rice Krispies squares, would've been utterly snap, crackle and no.
When you dine out, how often do you receive a bonus side of feel-good? Chad Houser's Café Momentum has been a long time coming, and now that the official restaurant is open, diners don't have to chase pop-up events from neighborhood to neighborhood. Café Momentum employs at-risk, non-violent youths, giving them solid training and a chance to earn an honest living. Diners get ricotta gnocchi with rapini and sage from one of the most inspiring culinary teams Dallas has to offer.
This town needed a shake-up. Not only has Dallas' dining scene been overrun with meat and potatoes, but the most notable chefs have often been men. Enter Misti Norris, whose kitchen at Small Brewpub is turning out the most innovative bar food Dallas has ever seen. While folks at watering holes down the road nibble on chicken wings, Norris' customers dine on chicken feet. Her charcuterie, condiments and even the vinegar are made on-site, and the results are as delicious as they are interesting. Don't miss this chance to see where Dallas' dining scene could be headed.
For the longest time, the term slider was reserved for thin-pattied mini-burgers you could down in one bite. They were bready and dry and only slightly better than the alternative of having no burgers at all. Then Easy Slider came around and the slider was turned on its head. Forget nickel-thin meat patties and picture meatballs instead. Now dream up every flavor combination you think even remotely belongs on a burger and know that Easy Slider has likely tackled those dreams already. Combine juicy burgers with interesting flavors, then put them on wheels, and you've got the best food truck in town.
With so much focus placed on brisket in matters of Texas barbecue, it's easy to forget there are other cuts of meat that benefit from some time in a hot, smoky environment. A perfectly smoked sausage, for instance, is a thing of true beauty, especially when the links are expertly prepared. Cattleack Barbecue has excellent brisket for sure, but the links coming out of that kitchen are works of art. Plump and rarely collapsed or wrinkly, these sausages retain their fat and ooze with moisture when your teeth pop through the snappy wrapper.
A morning trip to CBD Provisions is worth it for the oatmeal alone. Each bowl is topped with nuts, drizzled with sorghum and finished with a dollop of crème fraiche. You'll never be able to go back to Quaker again, and all of the morning options here are good enough to make you want to open up your newspaper, blow off work and put in an extended breakfast session. The eggs are expertly cooked and the coarsely ground sausage is made in-house. There's also a baker toiling away: The biscuits, breads and other baked goods are on point.
The buns for the burgers are baked on-site daily and the meat is ground on-site several times more. If the burger component can be produced on-site, at Hopdoddy it probably is, and still the finished burgers somehow cost less than $7. No wonder there's a line out the door. Add in a good beer selection with plenty of local taps, and milkshakes with booze in them, and Hopdoddy is a perfect little paradise of vice. Lines are never fun, but know that this one moves fast — it's a constant churn of burger lovers seeking the ultimate in burger satisfaction.
The undisputed heavyweight champion of fried mountains of meat, Babe's has been serving plates of golden brown and delicious things in the Dallas area for decades. If you want a chicken-fried steak that is guaranteed never to disappoint, Babe's is your place if only because they plate up orders by the hundreds every day. That much practice has to have a positive effect, and here it's realized in a CFS that is crisp, just salty enough and never oily despite a lengthy baptism in bubbling fat.
You can drop by Mr. Wok without any notice and have a delicious Chinese food experience. Your stomach will be much better served, however, if you remember to call and make a reservation in advance — a move that grants access to more prized items on the menu. Call one day ahead to order Peking duck with skin so crisp it rivals kettle-cooked potato chips. And if you can firm up your dinner plans two days ahead, it's worth your time to order the beggars chicken. Wrapped up in dry, tough bread, the dish resembles a rugby ball more than dinner, but get a crack at what's inside that boule and you'll be forced to rethink the humble bird forever.
Remember when a cup of coffee was just a cup of coffee, and a coffee shop was just a quaint, quirky place to get such a cup? Murray Street keeps things simple in an environment where tattooed, mustachioed coffee geeks obsess over the floral notes in a single-origin, organic, Costa Rican cup of java. Just want a coffee? This is where you come to get your pick-me-up, served by the nicest staff you could hope for. Want a mocha-spiced-latte with soy-whatever? Yeah, you can get that here too. And they won't even call you high maintenance for placing the order.
Sure, the sign says cafe, but the burgers, gyros, shortstack pancakes and other breakfast plates scream diner all the way. John's has been plating up the classics for more than 40 years now, and the place has loads more character than the 24-hour chain diners that blanket the Dallas area. John's doesn't forget the little things: There are philodendrons hanging from the ceiling and fresh flowers on every table. Fresh flowers, plus two eggs over-easy with bacon and hash browns: Where else can you find that?
Do you have trouble getting out of bed on Saturday mornings? If you do, Luscher's Red Hots could be the greatest enhancement the Dallas culinary scene has experienced in ages. Before Luscher's, the only way to get the best hot dog in Dallas was to visit the White Rock Local Market on Saturday mornings. If you slept in past noon, you had to wait seven days for your next chance at an expertly crafted tube steak. At Luscher's Red Hots you can get a hot dog seven days a week. And if a dog doesn't pad out your square edges sufficiently, you can always follow it up with an Italian beef.