Best Patio

An airy patio has it all: fans, a view, natural light and, of course, a great happy hour menu to enjoy some of its specialties for a bargain. The patio at Top Knot, the playful Modern American-meets-Pan-Asian restaurant above big sister Uchi, isn't large, so if you want to dine al fresco, be ready for a bit of a wait. And since Top Knot offers half-price rosé on Sundays, you know where to find us at least one day a week.

Readers' Pick: Katy Trail Ice House

Best New Bar

This impressive cocktail bar has massive windows and bubbly drinks that enliven and light up the whole neighborhood. While the bar uses chemistry-heavy drink prep, most of the necessary equipment — such as centrifuges, roto-vaporizers and lasers — is kept in the back to prevent it from coming off as gimmicky. The bar has an impressive selection of prebottled cocktails, carbonates others right in front of you and serves craveable bites such as ahi poke-stuffed tacos. In 2017, Hide locked down its strip of Elm Street as a worthy drink destination and ushered in a new wave of cocktail openings (such as IdleRye and Shoals) that we're excited to watch.

Best Bar Food
Kathy Tran

Never did we think Hungarian goulash would become our favorite Dallas bar food, but here we are. Armoury D.E. in Deep Ellum has great drinks, sure, but we're also huge fans of its homestyle eats. Its goulash — a traditional stew made with meat, potatoes and paprika — is a drinking-food standout, along with its veal schnitzel and traditional palacsintas, crêpes filled with meats, veggies and paprika sauce. Stopping in for a goulash nightcap after a long night of boozing is like stumbling into your grandma's kitchen for some early morning soul food. Armoury leaves the range hood light on for ya.

Kimbell Art Museum

Eggs, cream, butter and flour. When combined just so, these humble ingredients can be transformed into something magnificent. The Kimbell Museum in Fort Worth knows a thing or two about this transformation. It has been baking quiches for lunchtime buffets for a few decades. While the flavor components change — an herby mélange one day, spinach and roasted garlic the next — the quiche remains the same. With more cream and milk than eggs, the custard bakes up incredibly light and silky, practically melting when it hits your tongue. A cheesy interior layer and a deeply brown, buttery crust make for a quiche that is a work of art in its own right.

Best Restaurant Cocktails
Kathy Tran

In Italy, drinking is an all-day affair. People don't do it to get drunk, but to improve their eating experiences. They sip low-ABV apéritifs such as Campari before meals to stimulate their appetites and digestifs such as grappa after meals to aid digestion. Americano, a casual Italian restaurant in the Joule Hotel downtown, highlights the intuitiveness of this kind of ritualistic drinking with its light and bitter cocktail menu, which pairs beautifully with its food menu. Here, you can find Italian classics such as the Americano (Campari, sweet vermouth and club soda) and the Aperol Spritz (Aperol, prosecco and soda), plus a few surprising Texas twists such as the Lone Star Sbagliato (Campari, sweet vermouth and Lone Star lager). At Americano, you might not even bother leaving between meals.

Chilaquiles rojo
Alison McLean
Chilaquiles rojo

Bacon gelato. Bacon-washed cocktails. Bacon foam on miniature bacon macarons. By making bacon into a marketable idea of a food rather than a simple ingredient, we have perhaps lost sight of just how good a simple BLT can be. But not Nova. This Oak Cliff eatery with a retro-chic vibe makes an old-fashioned, soul-restoring BLT. The components that make this sandwich shine include toast that is sturdy without being tough, a generous slather of ranchy mayo and an entire Okja's worth of applewood-scented, thick-cut bacon that's cooked just right — a little crisp, a little chewy. Spring for a fried egg to push this BLT into full-on sandwich orgasm territory.

Best Use of Gravy

Pier 247's brunch menu uses the words "creamy" and "grits" six times, and "bacon" appears seven times. And while much can be said for restraint when it comes to food, Pier 247's offerings suggest that the best way to be abstemious is to moderate the amount of food you are eating that is not cloaked in creamy, fatted sauce. We're talking gravy, folks. And if it's homemade gravy you're after — flour browned in a pan, the practiced strokes of a whisk — Pier 247 has you covered. Try the chicken-fried chicken biscuit, which is barely visible beneath a sea of gravy flecked with chili and bacon. It's a salty, savory gravy and, when paired with a biscuit, is enough to turn a Yankee into someone who says "fixin' to."

Best Sunday Brunch

What's a little Polish, a little Cajun and a wee bit coastal? It's IdleRye's diverse culinary influences. IdleRye set up shop in Deep Ellum during late spring this year and quickly started delivering some of the best brunch dishes in town. We named it the grand daddy of brunch because it has brought a much-needed sense of eclecticism to the Dallas brunch game, and it has done so masterfully. From pierogis that could rival those of a Polish grandmother to a Spanish-style hash of charred Brussels sprouts, olives and chorizo, the kitchen bobs and weaves its way through different cuisines without missing a beat. It's a young, ambitious restaurant with the soul of a practiced one, and it's worthy of your weekends.

Readers' Pick: Café Brazil

SpicyZest Sri Lankan Fusion
Kathy Tran

Opening a Sri Lankan restaurant in Farmers Branch would be a bold move for anyone. After all, it would be the first Sri Lankan eatery in North Texas, and one of just a handful in the United States. But SpicyZest is Nimidu Senaratne's first restaurant, a passion project that has met with unanticipated success and critical acclaim. SpicyZest began as a catering company operated out of the family kitchen, then expanded to a take-out only storefront before regular customers, hungry for more, demanded tables. Four tables have turned into six. Senaratne studied hospitality in Sri Lanka and Singapore and clearly sees it as the bedrock of his business. He and his wife, Chamari Walliwalagedara, often walk newcomers through the menu, especially during Saturday's lunch buffet. And SpicyZest's food, from crispy-spicy deviled chicken to the divine stir-fry of meat, scallions and torn flatbread that is kottu, is a superb, sharply presented vision of Sri Lanka. Yes, much of the fare is spicy — nasi goreng, an Indonesian dish, comes with a pile of red pepper flakes on the side — but the flavors, especially the relatively mild but awe-inspiring curries, go much deeper than mere heat. Few Dallas restaurants have menus as interesting or success stories as inspiring as SpicyZest's.

Readers' Pick: Readers' Pick:

Kent Rathbun
Best Chinese Restaurant
Nick Rallo

Challengers come and go, but Royal China's hand-pulled noodles and exquisite dumplings remain almost uncontested as the best in Dallas. Dan dan noodles, served spicy but cool in temperature, are essential here; the wide, flat Henan-style noodles are especially good. The best seats in the house are at the dumpling counter, where workers tirelessly form and steam baskets of Royal China's specialties, especially xiao long bao, the savory soup dumplings filled with pork and piping-hot broth. Royal China is nearing its 50th anniversary, and to survive that long, it has made more than a few adjustments to suit Preston Hollow's taste buds. But one bowl of noodles might be enough to show that decades of diners haven't been wrong.

Readers' Pick: Monkey King Noodle Co.

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