Best Steakhouse
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

Best Sushi
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

Best Taqueria
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

Best Thai Restaurant
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

Best Southern Food
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.

Best Macaron
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.

Best Wine Program
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.

Best Mexican
Kathy Tran

Squash blossom quesadillas, huitlacoche, tlayudas, enfrijoladas, banana leaf tamales: Mi Lindo Oaxaca's menu is an exhilarating walk through the markets of the region to which it pays homage. This cash-only restaurant on Fort Worth Avenue has as sophisticated a kitchen as many in Dallas; the staff members make the bread and chocolate, too, which is used for the housemade mole sauce. Grasshoppers are on the menu, on memelitas and as filling in various other dishes. Not sure what to get on your first visit? We'd recommend Mi Lindo Oaxaca's tlayuda, which is a bit like if The Rock was from Oaxaca and invented a bigger, meatier, crispier, more amazing version of the quesadilla.

Best Salsa
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.

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