Best Mediterranean Restaurant 2017 | Bilad Bakery & Restaurant | Best of Dallas® 2020 | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Dallas | Dallas Observer
Kathy Tran

Bilad, an outstanding Iraqi-owned bakery and grocery in Richardson, could have won this award based just on its heavenly fresh baklava, the best we've found anywhere near Dallas. It also could have won this accolade based just on samoon, the pillowy Iraqi-recipe bread with pinches of dough at the ends, made onsite and available to take home or to eat at Bilad in sandwich form. It almost doesn't matter what kind of sandwich you order — the falafel is excellent, as is the shawarma — as long as the bread is this good. Bilad doesn't stint on veggies or pickles, either. And it'sAbY generous in other ways: The restaurant sponsors a program that allows poor and homeless community members to dine for free.

Readers' Pick: Café Izmir

Kathy Tran

How ambitious and forward-thinking can a taco restaurant be? Fort Worth taqueria Revolver Taco Lounge is setting the bar high and establishing a new standard in Dallas at its new Deep Ellum location, both in its more traditional taqueria front room and in the reservation-only backroom, Purepecha. Purepecha guests can expect refined, even sublime takes on traditional Mexican cooking, including chayote-corn soup, raw fish preparations and duck breast paired with a mole prepared by owner Regino Rojas' mother, Juanita. Up front, the tacos are often just as ambitious, whether they contain octopus and fried leeks or frog legs tossed in Thai curry paste. Perhaps most exciting about Revolver is that the restaurant and its driven crew have room to grow even more creative in the years to come.

Readers' Pick: Haymaker Dallas

For some Dallasites, seafood restaurants mean polished parlors with elegant Mediterranean dishes, exactingly sourced oysters, socialites buzzing over Champagne cocktails and ever-rising prices. But for much of the city, seafood restaurants are mariscos stops, kitchens owned by Mexican-Americans that serve affordable ceviche, shrimp cocktails, soups and fry baskets. Seafood Shack, which has three locations in Dallas and Mesquite, is a consistent purveyor of filling, lime-kissed ceviche tostadas, enormous flautas stuffed with tail-on fried shrimp, and solid fried seafood baskets with the likes of cornbread-battered catfish. But most surprising about Seafood Shack are the bonuses, like ultratender fried okra, terrific fries and calamari as expertly cooked as comparable dishes at much fancier restaurants. For those who really need a boost, Seafood Shack's menu also boasts $4 shots of whiskey.

Readers' Pick: Nate's Seafood & Steak House

Kathy Tran

Ducatis on the walls, sports trophies lining the booths, a giant fishtank with a submersible in it: Town Hearth is a pastiche of the Dallas steakhouse that transcends the format and justifies the silliness. Its open-fire grilling is superb. Wait for a special occasion, dress up and order a family-sized cut of meat like the enormous Battle Axe rib-eye. And, since no steakhouse would be complete without an over-the-top side or two, Town Hearth offers irresistible "tots du jour" and good fried oysters, too. With the atmosphere, the friendly service, the cocktails and the big ol' slabs of meat, Town Hearth looks likely to be one of 2017's favorite places for a big, splurging night out.

Readers' Pick: Al Biernat's

Kathy Tran

This North Dallas eatery is hidden in a strip mall where the chef and owners try to avoid media attention. When the Observer reviewed Sushi Yokohama in early 2017, restaurant staff asked us not to, saying they don't need the attention and don't like being in the news. But our Best Sushi pick from 2000 is still going strong 17 years later, with hard-to-find specialties like ankimo (rich, buttery monkfish liver) and sushi rolls constructed without rice. What's best? Anything from the chef's list of daily specials. No rice, no gimmicks, no press, no nonsense: Sushi Yokohama is all about the basics of great technique and great sourcing. The fish here is as fresh as any in Dallas, and the results are so stellar that we can't help but give this restaurant the accolades it doesn't want.

Readers' Pick: The Blue Fish

Brian Reinhart

Newcomer Taquero opened on the corner of Singleton Boulevard and Chihuahua Avenue, deep in the heart of West Dallas, with just two parking spaces and outdoor-only seating. That hasn't deterred its new legion of loyal fans who keep coming back for lightly creamy ceviche or the taco Olmeca, a huge blue-corn beauty filled with a combo of meats, onions and smoked salsa. Chef-owner Fino Rodriguez has a few more tricks up his sleeve: solid seafood tacos; Brussels sprouts imbued with smoky, savory Mexican flavors; addictive horchata; and a concise breakfast menu that includes chilaquiles. No wonder everyone looks so happy to eat a meal standing outside in the Texas summer.

Readers' Pick: La Ventana

Melissa Hennings

Few restaurants in Dallas are as atypical as Ly Food Market, a combination convenience store, grocery, Thai music shop and jewelry counter deep in the heart of Oak Cliff, at the corner of Illinois Avenue and Cockrell Hill Road. Order at the front counter, and the kitchen in the back will bring forth superb executions of Thai classics such as pad kee mao — "drunken noodles" — bolder, more colorful and more vibrant than almost any other in town. Part of the boldness is because the owners are from Laos, and they're not afraid to challenge American diners with the stronger savory and sour flavors of more traditional southeast Asian cooking. Fried pork ribs, juicy and crisp, come coated with diced garlic. Spicy papaya salad and fiery, cilantro-heavy beef larb are on hand for the adventurous, too.

Readers' Pick: Royal Thai

Kathy Tran

The Dallas restaurant scene is overflowing with "modern" and "elevated" takes on Southern food, but chef Joshua Harmon and his adventurous team are leading the pack. Harmon sees unlikely parallels with the cuisines of East Asia, especially Korea, which make for clever dishes like a Korean-American dry-aged beef braise, Louisiana boudin in a steamed bun and miso pork belly served family style. Junction has a sense of humor, too. The potato salad is topped with one of the few ingredients that Harmon's kitchen doesn't make in house: Funyuns.

Brian Reinhart

In February, we exhaustively compared the products of nine local bakeries that specialize in macarons and came away impressed with four. This notoriously fickle dessert, batches of which can be ruined by the day's humidity, has no better champion in Dallas than Chelles Macarons, available at stalls in the Dallas Farmers Market and Plano. The baking is consistently spot on and the flavors are balanced, never treacly or sickly sweet. And some of the best offerings from Chelles are also some of the most adventurous, such as black sesame seed or the sophisticated-tasting Fruity Pebbles.

Kathy Tran

At 20 pages, Flora Street Cafe's wine list is impressively long. But it's also impressively thorough and adventurous, with lots of attention paid to the natural wine movement and lesser-known regions and grape varietals. Of course, that's not all to satisfy geeks: Obscure wines with less glamorous marketing are often good bargains. So skip Champagne and try excellent sparkling wine from Austria or Sicily; then spot a bargain in the "Interesting Red" section. Many of the adventures come courtesy of sommelier Madeleine Thompson, an eager explorer skilled at defusing the awkwardness that can come when ordering fine wine. Thompson's move of beginning the wine list with a short selection of personal favorites is a habit we'd like to see elsewhere around town. Alhough she's moving to another state for a new job, the cellars she leaves behind at Flora Street Cafe are still full of temptations.

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