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

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."

Armoury D.E.
Kathy Tran

People didn't really know what to think of Armoury D.E. when it opened in Deep Ellum in the summer of 2015. Boilermakers and Hungarian food in an industrial space? But the team behind the concept — local bar and restaurant vets Peter Novotny, Dan Murry, Johnny Brown and chef Abram Vargas — trusted we would get it. Eventually. Now the place is packed nightly (and strangely, at brunch) with Armoury D.E. addicts slurping up bowls of gulyas and slamming beer-and-shot duos like the Naked Varas: a Modelo and shot of well mezcal. The bar has a well mezcal! And since the kitchen is open until 2 a.m., you can end your night of boozing with the perfect drunk food, cheese spaetzle, even if you're in the last Uber out of Deep Ellum. OK, we get Armoury D.E. now.

Rapscallion
Kellie Reynolds

We knew Rapscallion on Lowest Greenville made exceptional cocktails after trying the Kern N' Oil, its take on the classic Corn N' Oil. The original is made with blackstrap rum, Falernum (a syrup used in tiki drinks) and a squeeze of lime; Rapscallion's version includes a grilled lime wheel and bitters, making it surprisingly earthy. Huh. That's interesting. Then we tried another drink. Also good. What kind of magic was barman Eddie Eakin, who came over from Boulevardier, working exactly? And we kept going back, making our way down the cocktail menu and then back up it, eating hot fried chicken and quickly turning into Rapscallion devotees. But we may love the place most for its little-known tiki night. On Tuesdays the bartenders wiggle into Hawaiian shirts, pass out a special tropical drinks list and whip up brain-freezing concoctions like the Nuclear Banana Daiquiri (rum, banana liqueur, Falernum, lime juice and a punch of Yellow Chartreuse). The carefully made drinks are topped with colorful umbrellas and plastic monkey toys and served with an irreverence that's hard to come by in this town. See you there.

Independent Bar & Kitchen

With an emphasis on European bar eats, new Deep Ellum eatery Independent Bar & Kitchen serves up filling fare like Scotch eggs, bangers and mash and shepherd's pie. The cocktails are solid, brunch is a hit and the full English breakfast is an artery-clogging plate of U.K. pride.

Meso Maya

Sounds weird, tastes great. Chef Nico went all-in with this rich yet refreshing margarita made with muddled avocado, pineapple and lime juices and triple sec. With the first sip, the heavens open up and the birds sing (in Spanish, obviously). With the second sip, you'll decide that no other margarita will be ever good enough for you. (Oh, you'll drink them, but you'll be thinking of this avocado margarita.)

Readers' Pick:

Gloria's

Parliament

For craft cocktail fans, Parliament is the spot for happy hour. This cocktail den tucked away in State Thomas is brought to us by Dallas' drink king, Eddie "Lucky" Campbell. From 5 to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday, they offer expertly mixed drinks for peanuts — even their famous Ramos Gin Fizz. Even better, this happy hour will make you want to make it rain (literally) because they offer all these deals anytime it rains, too.

Readers' Pick:

Gloria's

Best Bar for Loners Who Want to Drink in Peace

The People's Last Stand

The People's Last Stand
The People's Last Stand

Some nights you want to go out and have a beer, but you don't want to socialize. And you're not looking to meet someone new and jump their bones, either. Head for The People's Last Stand, which has ample room to spread out, corner couches and armchairs, expertly made cocktails and a choice craft beer selection. Plus, People's is not a sketchy dive bar, and it welcomes all comers. Bring a book and drink a cocktail, or enjoy the first-rate Mockingbird Station people-watching. In case you need further enticement, there's macaroni and cheese.

Some fine-dining restaurants go for broke with enormous wine lists, dozens of pages long. Others stay hyper-focused on one region or a small selection of favorites. Gemma maintains a happy balance between the two extremes. Indeed, balance is the hallmark here: Gemma stocks both familiar and obscure varietals, both classic French regions and more adventurous locales, both $40 bargain bottles and splurgetastic special-occasion wines. Everything pairs harmoniously with the kitchen's cuisine. The bargain wines are often remarkable discoveries, and it doesn't hurt that the ownership cares as passionately about wine as they do about food.

Bodega Wine Bar
Lauren Drewes Daniels

This cozy, fireplace-bedecked wine bar invites patrons to settle in and unwind over a glass or few of wine. The thoughtfully curated by-the-glass list offers something for everyone, the wine flights are a great way to experience a particular varietal or region, and bottles are fairly priced. If you find something you like, take $10 off the list price and take it home with you, or come to the wine fair on the last Saturday of the month for an even bigger discount. Owners Amier and Kelsey Taherzadeh bring passion to their business, and you can always trust their recommendations.

Best Of Dallas®

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