Best Salsa 2017 | Urban Taco | Best of Dallas® 2020 | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Dallas | Dallas Observer
Tom Jenkins

Pineapple pico, roasted peanut habanero, poblano pepita pesto — few Mexican restaurants in DFW give as much attention to salsa as Urban Taco, which serves a dozen salsas that you can taste in a trio for $3.50. At Urban Taco, you can make a whole meal out of chips and salsa and not feel bad about it. The mezcal selection doesn't hurt, either.

Readers' Pick: El Fenix

The benefits that come with operating a food truck normally don't extend to barbecue. The size of most smokers, along with the long cook times that the best barbecue requires, generally make barbecue a better fit in a restaurant with four walls rather than four wheels. None of these challenges seems to faze Eric Hansen of Not Just Q. Not Just Q's truck sports an onboard smoker that can fit up to 500 pounds of brisket, ribs, chicken, turkey, pulled pork and sausage, each of which is available by the pound, on a bun or in a tortilla. We're big fans of the smoky and juicy brisket, which could be a star at most brick-and-mortars, and standout sides such as the homemade coleslaw or cheesy corn with bits of ham aren't to be missed.

Jesse Hughey

Strangeways doesn't have the largest beer selection in DFW, but it's certainly not small — and biggest doesn't always mean best. Strangeways is a bit of a dive compared with the city's other craft beer heavy-hitters, but this underdog should not be underestimated. The best time to visit is during one of its epic themed weeks, including Barrel Week, when the bar devoted all 40 taps to barrel-aged brews, and Sour Week, when lovers of obscure and intense sours could geek out all week long. When Strangeways devote itself to a particular style, it goes all out, hoarding kegs to devote every tap to that week's featured style. There's something to be said for such focused dedication in the era of customers who expect endless choices.

Readers' Pick: The Ginger Man

This newcomer to the DFW artisanal butcher scene has a small selection, but what it has sings. The Texas wagyu options are meticulously sourced and can be cut to your specification. Deep Cuts specializes in Old World butchery with New World attention to sustainable sources and responsible usage. Deep Cuts is a whole animal shop, which means it utilizes every edible cut of a whole animal to make in-house sausages, boudin and chorizo. There's a fun selection of gourmet charcuterie and cheeses, and every day at lunch, it offers a different hot sandwich, such as a smoked brisket or gourmet ham and cheese made with Berkshire ham and reserve English farmhouse cheddar.

Readers' Pick: Jimmy's Food Store

Brian Reinhart

How is it that the best barbecue in Dallas comes from a place that's only open two days a week for lunch? At Cattleack Barbecue, owners Todd and Misty David wouldn't have it any other way. For just 3 1/2 hours on Thursdays and Fridays, Cattleack serves sublime examples of brisket, pulled pork, housemade sausage and pork ribs. The quality of these basics would be enough to warrant a visit, but each week also features a different special, such as boudin or pastrami burnt ends that are a must-try. Last year, a remodel allowed Cattleack to double the size of the dining room, and it added an extra day of service on the first Saturday of each month. We've sung the praises of Cattleack for years, so when Texas Monthly ranked Cattleack as the third-best barbecue joint in the state earlier this year, we did our best to act surprised. When it comes to barbecue in Dallas, Cattleack is without peer.

Readers' Pick: Pecan Lodge

Scott Reitz

This West Village patisserie is so much more than macarons. From ice cream sandwich pop-ups with fresh-baked cookies to fun hybrid desserts like croissant waffles, Bisous Bisous keeps experimenting in delicious ways. Classic desserts such as chocolate croissants shine, but we particularly love chef-owner Andrea Meyer's quirky collaborations with local chefs such as Brian Luscher, who helped Bisous Bisous create savory "cruffins" (croissant muffins) in flavors like cheeseburger and pizza.

Readers' Pick: Village Baking Co.

Mark Leveno

When Jettison opened late last year in a cozy modern space adjacent to big brother Houndstooth Coffee, we fell in love instantly. Finally, a break from the endless mimosas and Moscow mules that populate every square inch of Dallas. At this West Dallas cocktail den, you'll find a creative menu that plays frequently with sherry and mezcal, two liquors that, in the hands of Jettison's attentive bartenders, make for delightfully complex and intriguing cocktails. The design is modern romance, the glassware is delightfully elegant and you're guaranteed to sip something you haven't had before. Come with an open mind and leave with a new favorite spirit.

Readers' Pick: Black Swan Saloon

Robert Yu

When it comes to Texas coffee shops, few names carry as far as Houndstooth. With the formerly Austin-centric shop's first space on Henderson Avenue (followed by a stunning new modern shop in Sylvan Thirty), owner Sean Henry and his team introduced the city to their clean and sophisticated approach to our morning cups. The coffees served — which include offerings from the brand's sister company, Tweed Coffee Roasters, as well as national favorites such as Roseline from Portland and Durham's Counter Culture Coffee — are as clean and complex as can be, made possible by well-trained baristas with professional respect for their craft in tandem with the most up-to-date technologies the coffee industry has to offer. Houndstooth started in Austin, but with two locations in Dallas, it's now just as invested in this city's coffee culture as any of our stellar native third-wave coffee shops.

Readers' Pick: Ascension Coffee

Beth Rankin

At a time when White Rock Coffee was the only game in town, two of its baristas, Jonathan Meadows and Nathan Shelton, were scheming and dreaming of how to take over the Dallas coffee scene. In 2009, each barely older than 20, the duo took a swing at it and rapidly came to dominate the Dallas specialty coffee market. Cultivar Coffee is the most tenured roaster in town, and eight years after opening, it still has what it takes to be the best around. Cultivar has developed long-standing relationships and familiarity with the coffees it works with and has been able to turn out an outstanding product with unparalleled consistency. It's now able to serve up coffees in cafes in Oak Cliff, Denton and East Dallas.

Readers' Pick: Ascension Coffee

Scott Reitz

This local nonprofit has been expanding around DFW, setting up producer-only markets where you can shop for seasonal produce, snag locally made baked goods and even take a yoga class between purchases. Every Saturday morning, hit up the markets at White Rock, 9150 Garland Road, or Tyler Street, 922 W. Ninth St., or visit the new Thursday night market at Paul Quinn College, 3837 Simpson Stuart Road. The company occasionally hosts special events like vegan pop-up markets.

Readers' Pick: Dallas Farmers Market

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