Best Tamales 2016 | Tamale Company | Best of Dallas® 2020 | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Dallas | Dallas Observer

We may have found a unicorn: A local company that produces lard-, gluten- and MSG-free tamales that, even without the animal fat, are hands-down the best tamales we've had all year. Sold around town at farmers markets and select grocery stores, the Tamale Company makes flavorful, indulgent tamales in packs of six. Throw a pack in a pot of boiling water for a quick, easy dinner that tastes as homemade as you can get without spending a day making your own masa. With flavors like ancho chili pork, chicken tomatillo and black bean and corn, even Tamale Company's vegetarian goods will rival your abuelita's tamales.

2016 has been the year of delivery in Dallas. Thanks to services like Uber Eats, Postmates and Sourced Craft Cocktails, you can have everything from condoms to craft cocktail ingredients (with recipe) delivered right to your door. Our favorite food delivery service has proven consistent, quick and filled with options: Caviar. The service pairs with local restaurants, frequently adds new spots and offers free delivery from restaurants near-by. The app's real-time GPS tracking makes it easy to predict exactly when your food will arrive. Sometimes it's by bicycle, if the restaurant is in the neighborhood.

The best farmers markets offer not just a solid selection of locally grown produce but also integrate farmers with prepared items, artists and food. It's an added bonus if the market is in a quaint, scenic location, which is always more pleasant than buying summer squash in a hot parking lot. McKinney Farmers Market hits all the marks. Held in McKinney's historic, tree-filled Chestnut Square, this market is stocked so well with local farmers and vendors that you can easily handle an entire grocery trip in one spot. Meat, produce, canned goods, pastured eggs, olive oil — it's all there and reasonably priced. The market also hosts fundraising farm-to-table dinners featuring local farmers using seasonal North Texas produce.

Readers' Pick:

Dallas Farmers Market

Lucia, the cozy Oak Cliff Italian spot where it's notoriously hard to snag reservations, serves up a cadre of indulgent dishes that aren't known for being inexpensive. That's precisely why it's fun that one of Lucia's most popular snacks will set you back only $1 each: the foie gras-stuffed prunes, which featured a dollop of velvety whipped foie gras in a small prune. The buttery umami of the foie gras combined with the sweet, concentrated flavor of the prune creates an intense bite that, if you're doing it right, will mark the start of every meal at Lucia.

The supper club is on the rise everywhere, not just in Dallas, but one local underground dinner club outshines them all: Frank Underground. After meeting as contestants on season two of MasterChef, North Texans Jennie Kelley and Ben Starr came back to Dallas and decided to start their own supper club, one that's quickly become one of the hardest reservations to get in all of North Texas. Once you get into this dinner, though, you're in for a treat. Diners are seated around a communal table and treated to a multi-course adventure featuring local produce and engaging stories from Starr and Kelley, who also happens to be a member of the enigmatic band the Polyphonic Spree.

Kathy Tran

Step aside, mediocre national pizza buffet chains — Stonedeck Pizza in Deep Ellum has reinvented the pizza buffet with one that, well, is actually good. From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday, $8.99 will net you all the thin-crust pizza and sides you want, and there's plenty to choose from. Turkey sandwiches, cold soba noodle salad, chili-flecked marinated cucumbers — this is the pizza buffet that grew up, got a bachelor's degree but still throws down hard on Friday nights. And did we mention Stonedeck sells beer?

Eating a dumpling at Fortune House feels like a delicious ceremony. As soon as the server pulls away the lid to the bamboo basket, steam fills the air and perfect little pouches of magic await. The Irving eatery does well with Americanized dishes like General Tso's chicken, but real treasures await on the "Shanghai flavor" menu, where you'll find impeccable xiao long bao (soup dumplings) and impossibly flavorful pan-fried pork buns. If half your table is in the mood for American Chinese food and the other half is looking for adventure, this is the place to go.

Readers' Pick:

Royal China

Brian Luscher wields his cheeseburger with the preciseness of a samurai swordsman. We believe this is the best burger in Dallas because of the way it's built: From the ground up, it's crafted to bring heartfelt, home-infused joy to the lover of the burger. The mayo is homemade. So is the mustard, for meat's sake. Hugged by a wind-soft seeded bun, the two Local Yocal waygu beef patties, thin, but not too thin, are indulged with the meltiest of melted double American cheese slices (you'll be able to pull stretchy pieces from the wrapper), pickles and caramelized-to-buttery onions. Adding peppered bacon will cut you in half, gleefully. It's a not a sandwich — it's a Hattori Hanzo sword.

Readers' Pick:

Twisted Root Burger Co.

Taylor Adams

On a trending corner of East Dallas, the folks from Goodfriend Beer Garden and Burger House brought a little something new to the neighborhood with Goodfriend Package, a sandwich spot and bottle shop that also boasts a Cultivar Coffee stand and vinyl hand-picked from Good Records. Goodfriend's sandwiches are simple and straightforward but made with attention to detail: bacon-fat mayo on a BLT made with house-cured bacon, house-made sauerkraut on the Reuben and inventive touches like the mushroom pastrami sandwich. Pop in for a breakfast sandwich on the go or hang around and browse the hundreds of craft beer bottles in their coolers.

Readers' Pick:

Jimmy's Food Store

With 40 draft beers and more than 80 bottles of craft beer on hand, Meddlesome Moth has an expansive beer selection, but it's also one of the most thoughtful beer lists in town. "Chances are if you've seen it in a commercial, we don't serve it," according to Moth's website. Even still, Meddlesome Moth's staff shies away from pretension and, instead, displays a wealth of knowledge when helping you pick a beer. From rare Belgian lambics to local IPAs and everything in between, Meddlesome Moth is a spot where even the staunchest beer nerd can find something they've never had before.

Readers' Pick:

Flying Saucer Draught Emporium

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