Best of Dallas®

Best Of 2018

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Best Of :: Food & Drink

Best Kids Meal That's Also Free
Cafe Brazil

Parenting is a constant balancing act. And the scales don't seem to tip in our favor often enough. Never is this more evident than at dinnertime. Between ongoing negotiations over how many bites of green beans to eat before the kids can leave the table and what exactly constitutes a bite, giving up and outsourcing dinner is an option we can all get behind. Enter Cafe Brazil. The Dallas mainstay is primarily known for its flavor-rich, quasi-Brazilian menu options and a coffee selection that never disappoints. But battle-weary parents and children are likely to find common ground with Cafe Brazil's free dinner for kids under 12 with the purchase of an adult entrée, Sunday through Thursday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. You'll be in and out just in time for bedtime negotiations to begin.

2815 Elm St., Dallas, 75226
MAP
214-747-2730
Best Barbecue Restaurant
Top 5 BBQ
Chris Wolfgang
Top 5 Barbecue

Lest you think of DeSoto as one of those ubiquitous Dallas suburbs with the usual chain dining choices, Top 5 BBQ will disabuse you of the notion. The small restaurant adjacent to DeSoto's City Hall is cranking out brisket, ribs, sausage and pulled pork that are among the state's best, all bound together in the unique flavor of Top 5's complex spice rub. Our praise doesn't end with the meats; all of the sides we've tried are top shelf, especially the french fries that are dusted with that addictive rub. Don't overlook the barbecue-themed specials, either. Top 5 even fries their own tortilla chips in-house to make barbecue nachos. It's that kind of creativity and execution that keeps us coming back to DeSoto time and again.

917 N. Hampton Rd., DeSoto, 75211
MAP
Best Chef
Peja Krstic, Mot Hai Ba
Kathy Tran
Peja Krstic

It's not just us: Ask your favorite chefs around Dallas, and you're likely to hear admiration for Krstic, the Serbian-American mind behind Mot Hai Ba's fantastical variations on traditional Vietnamese cuisine. His food combines deep respect for Vietnamese cooking with a modernist sensibility that sends the food in surprising new directions, like taking traditional pâté and swiping it around tempura-battered okra, or pairing grilled duck meatballs with tomato compote or a mild kimchi. As Dallas fine dining becomes increasingly conservative and risk-averse, Krstic is a role model for chefs who follow their inspirations in new and exciting directions.

6047 Lewis St., Dallas, 75206
MAP
972-638-7468
Best Kids Restaurant
Hat Creek Burger Company
Amanda Albee
Hat Creek Burger Company

A good kids restaurant needs two things: a safe playground and food that's tempting enough to get them to take a break from it. Hat Creek Burger Company, a new arrival from Austin that describes itself as a "fast-casual family-friendly burger patio," hits both marks. Its wild popularity is probably also attributable to the wine and on-tap beers from Austin's Strange Land Brewery. The respectable burgers are fresh off the grill and all under $10. Milkshakes with gummy worms and sprinkles are on hand for emergency meltdowns/rewards/bribes. As of now, the AstroTurf playground is rocking mostly in the evening until a soon-to-come canopy will be installed. So try to get there in the morning for breakfast tacos, egg sandwiches and pancakes when the air is still cool enough to breathe. Birthday parties are free with a reservation, but they're already booked through October, so get on it now, moms.

8185 Walnut Hill Lane, Suite 1400, Dallas, 75231
MAP
469-206-3305
Best Popsicles
Encanto Pops
Kellie Reynolds
Encanto Pops

The best popsicles in Dallas live at Encanto Pops. The glow of color-changing globe lights sets the tone at this funky Oak Cliff spot, where the Diaz siblings offer their updated take on traditional Mexican paletas. Adventurous palates will be charmed by innovative flavors like pico de gallo, Gansito and avocado soursop. Pair a pop with an agua fresca for a combination that really takes the edge off the heat — no small feat in Texas. This just may be grounds to elevate the Diaz family to sainthood status.

831 W. Davis St., Dallas, 75208
MAP
Best Bakery
Kessler Baking Studio
Courtesy Kessler Baking Studio
Kessler Baking Studio

From cookies to brownies to bars, once you walk inside Kessler Baking Studio and get a whiff, you'll throw your whole diet away. But owner Clyde Greenhouse doesn't stop at sweet treats. He's serving up packaged nuts and confections that can serve as the perfect gift. Pro tip: Start your weekend the sweetest way possible by stopping in for Cinnamon Roll Saturday.

1129 N. Beckley Ave., Dallas, 75203
MAP
Best Fried Chicken
Rudy's Chicken
Scott Reitz
Rudy's Chicken

There's no way anyone can deny — or compete with — the taste of Rudy's fried chicken. This no-frills spot is a southern Dallas staple that brings all walks of life to its location on Lancaster Road. Despite occasional long lines, no one seems to mind the wait. Don't forget to ask for extra seasoning.

3115 S. Lancaster Rd., Dallas, 75216-4540
MAP
214-375-9234
Best Juice Bar
Recipe Oak Cliff
Paige Weaver
Recipe Oak Cliff

Recipe Oak Cliff is not your average juice bar. Whether you're ordering from the menu or chatting it up with owner Tisha Crear, who always has a great suggestion, Recipe Oak Cliff makes you feel at home — if your home was stocked with plant-based meals and fresh juices and smoothies. If you're feeling timid, start with the fresh watermelon juice.

1831 S. Ewing Ave., Dallas, 75216
MAP
469-930-8284
Best Soul Food
Sweet Georgia Brown

Sweet Georgia Brown is one of the first places folks recommend when asked about soul food, and it's not hard to see why. Load up on your favorites like ribs, fried chicken, collard greens and mac-and-cheese. This cafeteria-style staple is open daily, but if you want to avoid the after-church crowd on Sundays, get your fix in late afternoon.

2840 E. Ledbetter Dr., Dallas, 75216
MAP
214-375-2020
Best Caribbean Food
Caribbean Cabana
Dalila Thomas
Caribbean Cabana

The Dallas Farmers Market has a lot of goodies, but a true gem is the Trinidad and Tobago family-run spot Caribbean Cabana. Why? They're bringing the flavors you yearn for in Caribbean food, from island favorites like oxtails to the jerk chicken sandwich that's impossible to eat in one sitting.

920 S. Harwood St., Ste 112, Dallas, 75201
MAP
972-707-8131
Best Food Truck
SoulGood
Dalila Thomas
SoulGood food truck

Meat is obsolete — at least that's how the vegan food truck SoulGood makes you feel. This food truck is serving up goods that'll satisfy any palate, plant-based or not. The fan favorite is the Vin Diezel, a vegan hot dog topped with vegan chili, banana peppers, sauerkraut and sweet relish.

Best Ice Cream Shop
Dude, Sweet Chocolate Critics' Pick
Dude, Sweet Chocolate
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.

408 W. 8th St., Dallas, 75208
MAP
214-943-5943
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Best Kids Meal That's Also Free: Cafe Brazil

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