Best Ice Cream Shop 2018 | Dude, Sweet Chocolate | Best of Dallas® 2020 | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Dallas | Dallas Observer
Beth Rankin
Dude, Sweet Chocolate

"Craft" and "artisanal" ice cream was uber-hot in Dallas this year, with new shops opening all over the area. But our favorite spot to get a cool treat is actually a long-running chocolate shop: Dude, Sweet Chocolate. You'll only find one soft-serve flavor at a time, but this rich, velvety ice cream comes topped with the chocolatier's stellar chocolates as garnish. Seasonal flavors like peach with orange blossom cream and peach compote bring us back every few weeks to sample owner Katherine Clapner's new concoctions.

A new kid on the block, Humble Pie brings familiarity to East Dallas. From classic fruit pies like cherry and apple to coconut cream pie, owner Sean Jett emphasizes that simplicity is the key ingredient that keeps folks coming back for more. Pro tip: Cool off this summer with a slice of lemon icebox pie.

Kathy Tran

No high-end restaurant in Dallas can rival the consistent excellence of Tei-An. Teiichi Sakurai's flagship Arts District restaurant is one of the best Japanese restaurants in the entire country, and the best way to prove it is to order from the page listing the day's specials, featuring ultra-fresh seafood flown in just hours before on an airliner from Tokyo. Tasting menus showcase either a collection of Sakurai's greatest hits or a sampling of new, seasonally influenced items. Two regular features are must-orders: a bowl of soba noodles, which are made from scratch in the kitchen, and the nutty, almost savory, entirely magical black sesame mousse.

Kathy Tran

Sachet embodies the way that many of us want to eat now: vegetable-focused but not vegetarian, strongly seasonal, focused on small mezze-style plates so that we can sample a little of everything, healthy but with a sense of indulgence. Sachet's consistency is a marvel, and so is the way that the restaurant filters the entire Mediterranean basin through an American lens. Pastas like green garlic tortiglioni are outstanding, as is the single miniature pizza that features fontina, aromatic thyme and crispy roasted kale. Add in one of the city's most adventurous wine programs, an entire menu of gin-and-tonics featuring liquors from Spain and an irresistible almond cake, and it's clear that Sachet is a new Dallas classic.

Courtesy Bradley Anderson

As the Sichuan dining scene explodes in Plano, one older standby keeps getting more and more consistent. Sichuan Folk's lip-tingling hot dishes, alive with the taste of numbing peppercorns, are formidable and thrilling. Spicy fish is practically mandatory. The wontons, 10 for $5, are excellent. But it's possible to pass a satisfying meal here without encountering high heat by trying the marinated wood ear mushrooms and a noodle soup with a mellow savory broth. In its realm of expertise, Sichuan Folk is still setting the regional standard.

Readers' Choice:Royal China
Kathy Tran

Early 2018 has seen a boom in upscale Italian restaurants across the Dallas region, from The Charles and Mille Lire near downtown to Frisco's Da Mario, which specializes in setting its pasta alla vodka on fire. But in many ways the original is still the best: Nonna, which just celebrated its 10th birthday, is as keenly attuned to the seasons as ever, basing its ever-changing menu on the freshest produce. As good as the stuffed squash blossoms and lobster ravioli might be, save room for main courses of fish, quail or lamb grilled in the wood-fired oven. They have a habit of stealing the show.

Kathy Tran

Ddong Ggo has enough gimmicks for a dozen restaurants, including its name, which its owner says is Korean for "chicken butthole"; its cocktails, which include popsicles dunked in pint glasses of booze; and its atmosphere, carefully designed to mimic the street-side bar carts of Korea. But Ddong Ggo's kitchen is serious about producing truly great fried chicken, tender seafood, shareable soups and addicting bar snacks like the "kimchi cheese pizza pancake," which is even better than it sounds. There may be no meal in Dallas more joyous to eat than Cheese Island, a skillet on which an island of fried chicken and potatoes floats on an ocean of molten cheese.

Kathy Tran
Bashar Al Mudhafar and wife Marwa Hamza, owners of Fattoush Mediterranean Kitchen.

You'll find some of the best hummus, labneh and lamb kebabs in Texas in the tiny town of Pantego, just west of Arlington. Here Bashar Al Mudhafar, a Baghdad native who arrived in America as a refugee in 2010, cooks superb Iraqi food with the help of his family. The falafel, its inside bright green with fresh herbs, comes from childhood memories of falafel Al Mudhafar ate from street vendors; the grilled lamb chops are dusted with ground pistachios. The secret to keeping even shish tawook (chicken kebabs) tender and moist? Grilling them to the side of the flame, so they don't dry out over the high heat.

Catherine Downes

Oddly, the steaks aren't always the first thing we remember fondly after a night at Knife. The sheer professionalism of the service, the fabulous creamed spinach, the pastas that are far better than they need to be and the gimmicky-sounding but delicious bacon old fashioned all produce their own warm memories. Knife is a complete restaurant, and in-the-know diners are just as excited about the cryptic menu item "Something Green and in Season" as they are about the 90-day dry-aged rib-eyes. But let's not undersell the steaks. Knife was a national pioneer in the dry-aging movement, and it's still the reigning champ. Whether you choose "old-school" meat or "new-school," which employs sous vide to ensure a flawless cook, you can't go wrong.

Kathy Tran
The Mitchell

In the shadow of The French Room, a tiny bar decided that it should try its hand at French food too. The Mitchell focuses on bistro fare, the kind you'd find at lunchtime in a Parisian cafe: huge, filling croque madame sandwiches; a cauldron of mussels steamed in apple cider; raw oysters dotted with caviar; and a ring of beef tartare dotted with egg yolk custard. Their food has the element of surprise — we never expected to be so delighted by steak frites or roasted bone marrow in a downtown gin bar. But The Mitchell is the real deal, and our return visits indicate that after several recent rounds of chef turnover, the kitchen's standards are as high as ever.

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