Best Chocolatier 2016 | Dude, Sweet Chocolate | Best of Dallas® 2020 | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Dallas | Dallas Observer

Dallas has no shortage of fancy (and expensive) chocolatiers specializing in artful and delicious chocolate creations. One spot, however, has stood out even as more high-profile chocolate-makers come and go: Dude, Sweet Chocolate. Rather than rely on airbrushing and ornate construction, Dude, Sweet just makes damn fine dark chocolate creations like yerba mate truffles, "potions" (chocolate sauces) and toffee made with Deep Ellum Brewery beer-soaked cocoa nibs and Full City Rooster cold-brew.

Food trends may lean toward the fast and casual these days, but Dallas still has a long legacy of fine dining. One of the city's best is also one that doesn't take itself too seriously: FT33. Under chef Matt McCallister, the intimate and modern Design District spot creates strong modern dishes with hyper-seasonal ingredients. Take the plunge with the tasting menu, don't skip the barrel-aged cocktails and make sure to skim the humorous yet extensive wine list. Excellent service makes this spot worth the fiscal indulgence.

Alex Gonzalez
Green curry with beef

Asian Mint's Thai Tea is good enough to illicit strong reactions not usually reserved for Thai tea, an iced drink made with sweetened condensed milk and strongly brewed Ceylon tea. It's sweet, it's creamy, it's heavily caffeinated and an infusion of citrus makes Asian Mint's version particularly addictive.

Taryn Walker

Bananas and ice cream you know from banana splits and bananas Foster, but this is not that. Fried banana vanilla ice cream at Bangkok Inn is a simple, elegant and very Thai treatment of these magically complimentary flavors, cold and warm together, the perfect coda to a leisurely meal in this venerable family-operated East Dallas establishment.

Bartenders do not solely exist to crack open your cans of Lone Star and stir up your Moscow mules. They are also our "psychiatrists, comforters, wingmen, shoulders to cry on and always-waiting high five," Máté Hartai, beverage director of HG Sply and Remedy, reminded us in a Facebook post that went viral in July. Dallas had just been shaken by the killing of five police officers, but he found the words to explain what made bartenders and bars such an integral part of our lives and the healing process. "We have a city in shock, hurt, scared, angry, bleeding," he wrote. "Our greatest gift is that regardless of what happens, people come to us. In times of joy, sadness, celebration, mourning and all the shades of human emotion. They come to us." To Hartai, being a bartender is more than a job. It is a higher calling.

Readers' Pick:

Gabe Sanchez, Black Swan Saloon

It just feels wrong even telling people this, because when you step into Sprouts you feel all sanctimoniously healthy and low-fat and gluten-free just for being there, but it's a fact: Sprouts has one of the best selections of taffy anywhere – all those traditional flavors like lemon and licorice, of course, but also a rotating variety of off-beat flavors like bubblegum and watermelon, and all at pretty cheap prices. But you have to hunt for it. They keep it on this rolling bin that they move around the store, hiding it behind the produce or the candle shelf like it's their food porn section and they don't want to shock people with it. Always pinch the taffy first, by the way, to make sure it's fresh. So now you know. Shield your eyes.

Root beer, mango, spicy ginger ale, orange mint green tea, creamy caramel, coffee, horchata, all frozen on a stick. So sit at the counter and watch the scene pass you by on Lower Greenville, or take your popsicle out there and join it. Yeah, at three bucks a pop, it's not free, but compare it with anything else you can do. A visit to Steel City Pops is a mellow interlude and a chance to commune with the flavors of the universe, some of them old-fashioned and reminiscent, some of them new and surprising and a few that are just weird as hell, but remember, it's just a popsicle. How much can you lose? And so much to gain.

Holy bloody mary, Batman! This beast of a drink is more than just a brunch accompaniment. It's a whole meal. Available during their F**k Brunch (11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekends), this perfectly spicy brunch treat is delivered to your table with a slider, shrimp, sausage, assorted veggies and whatever else they decide to throw on there. The best part? You get a small beer to wash it down.

Readers' Pick:

Ozona Grill & Bar

This was officially the year Dallas hit critical mass on Southern food — every third high-profile restaurant opening touted yet another take on homey Southern fare, from $27 meatloaf to $36 buckets of fried chicken. In Deep Ellum, one spot consistently churns out interesting Southern eats: Filament. The fried hot catfish is more injurious than delicious, but otherwise it's hard to go wrong with dishes like hoppin' John, Cajun-fried oysters and Berkshire pork short ribs.

Victor Tangos has perfected the art of the liquid dinner. At this restaurant bar, the cocktails include culinary ingredients, many savory, and are composed like dishes: the Pepper Smash contains red bell peppers, the Cool Like That is made with a peach and radicchio purée and the Hipster Elixir is spiked with kale. Those definitely count toward your daily five. The real food program, if you must know, is made up of addictive sharable plates such as crispy ahi tuna nachos and tempura asparagus drizzled with fish-sauce caramel. If you're eating and drinking at Victor Tangos from atop a bar stool, you could even get away with calling its elegant restaurant fare "bar snacks."

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