Best Of :: Food & Drink
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
The best top-to-bottom cheeseburger in the city right now is at Junction Craft Kitchen. The dry-aged beef, from Arrowhead in Kansas, is ground right into the Texas Akaushi (like wagyu) beef, along with fat from beef tenderloin for steak-level burgering. It's cooked spot-on every time. Chef Joshua Harmon and crew build everything from the ground up, including the garlic mayo, the rounds of paper-thin pickles and the chips. Stunningly, the American cheese is made from scratch. The bun gets a hard toast. A crown of sheer white onions, seared directly to the patty, forms a nearly sweet crunch, something like a heartfelt homage to great diner burgers. It will transport you without leaving Deep Ellum.
Readers' Pick: Twisted Root Burger Co.
The first thing to love about Tom's chicken-fried steak is the crunchy crust. The fried surface is made of Ruffles potato chips. The steak is bathed in buttermilk. The Tom behind Tom's Burgers and Grill makes the steaks every morning, fresh as the bubbles in the gravy. Tom's Burgers serves chicken-fried steak three ways: the cream gravy-covered way, with garlic, red mashed potatoes and Texas toast; between buttered, toasted brioche; and as breakfast, saddlebagged with two eggs, hash browns and toast.
Readers' Pick: Babe's Chicken Dinner House
Diner art happens at Jonathon's. The pillars of a great diner are in place: The patty melt is a picturesque statue of meat, cheese, buttery mushrooms and onions. The fried chicken gets a Tabasco-warmed buttermilk brine and is deep-fried until it's shattering. Get there as Jonathon's opens, and you'll catch the sound of the smoking-hot flat-top hissing as meat hits it. There's gravy and biscuits, scratch made, and owner and chef Jonathon Erdeljac's burger will dilate your pupils. It's not one of Dallas' oldest diners, but it's the best.
Readers' Pick: Norma's Café
The hot-dog joint is an endangered species in Dallas. In this city, tube meats simply don't get the same love as burgers. Only a few true joints are left to grab a great hot dog, which means the good ones, the really stellar dogs, stand out. The Tokyo Dog at the newly opened Sumo Shack from Wabi House's chef Dien Ngyuen is as bright as a star. It's made with house blend of wagyu beef sausage and neatly piled with bonito flakes, scallion, caramelized onion and nori. The nori, fine columns of seaweed, stirs up an aroma of the sea. Despite the nontraditional ingredients, it somehow maintains the soul and heart of a good, old-fashioned dog.
Readers' Pick: Angry Dog
Less than two years ago, Dallas' most underrated eatery swung open its window. The red banner above the ordering window still read "comederia" in chunky white letters from the former taco stand. A chalkboard hanging in front announced the menu: a Cubano, coffees, sides, a roasted turkey sandwich and a Cuban burger made with a beef and chorizo patty, homemade spiced ketchup, pepper Jack and crispy potato strings on a soft roll. Now, and here's the kicker, every sandwich at C. Señor can be ordered as a taco. What more do we need to say?
Readers' Pick: Jimmy's Food Store
This beautiful monstrosity of a bloody mary found inside a Watauga gas station leaves nothing to be desired. Topped with more than a meal's worth of food (think bacon, a blistered jalapeño, jumbo shrimp, a slider, waffle fries, a piece of fried chicken and all the traditional garnishes), it'll let you leave with a full tank of gas and a full stomach.
Readers' Pick: Anvil Pub
Leonard Firestone and Troy Robertson launched Firestone & Robertson, maker of TX Whiskey and TX Bourbon, in 2010, long before a distilling boom brought other distilleries to DFW. It started with the original flavor that had delightful vanilla notes and has branched out to offer a bourbon. To answer demand, it'll soon be opening a new distillery.
Readers' Pick: North Texas Distillers
This Uptown food, drink and nightlife mainstay keeps us interested with seasonal cocktail menus and intriguing new flavors. Luckily, its happy hour — 4 to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday — lets us try some drinks for just $5. Oh, and it offers some of the food from its scratch kitchen for the same low price.
Readers' Pick: Happiest Hour
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
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.
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.