Anywhere there's opportunity for people to have access to fresh food is a good place. The one claiming favor in our hearts this year is the Lakewood Village Farmers Market, organized by Good Local Markets. This organization gets praise from both customers and the very farmers who work the stalls each Sunday. Also running the White Rock Farmers Market on Saturdays, Good Local is a nonprofit that really makes sure the farmers are who they say they are and are providing what they say they're providing.

Kitchen of Kuchipudi
Brian Reinhart

Specializing in foods from Hyderabad and Andhra Pradesh, Indian Kitchen of Kuchipudi has some menu items that you won't find at any other Indian restaurant in Dallas. Try one of the abundant rice dishes, a dosa or bhojanam, an enormous sampler platter much like a thali that bears seven or eight tin cups of food, rice and a couple pieces of bread. Ordering seconds is allowed. This spot in northern Irving also goes by "Kuchipudi Indian Kitchen," so don't be surprised if your GPS gets a little confused, but it's well worth finding for the regional specialties of India's Telugu-speaking states.

Macellaio

Lucia's younger, bigger sibling became an instant favorite in the Dallas service industry for its adaptability and consistency. Need to go out for a special occasion? Just want to swing by for a snack after attending an event in Bishop Arts? Macellaio is just right for both situations. Unlike Lucia, it doesn't serve pasta, but the silver lining is a renewed emphasis on salumi — grab a big board with four or five cured meats of different shapes, textures and animals — and ultra-seasonal large plates meant to be shared family style, like a pot of roast lamb in winter or, this summer, a rabbit leg surrounded by veggies.

Jerk chicken
Brian Reinhart
Jerk chicken

Our city now has a portal to Jamaica, and it's located at a six-table storefront in Mesquite. Owners Chubby Lee and Shelease Forbes are serving authentic Jamaican fare, such as the national dish, ackee and salt fish, a sauté of salted cod, Scotch bonnet peppers and a West African fruit called ackee. Eat it as the Jamaicans do: with a boiled dumpling made from green bananas. Other Jamaican specialties include callaloo (like spinach), escoveitch snapper same as Mediterranean escabeche — marinated in vinegar after cooking) and Mannish water (goat soup). Of course, there is jerk chicken, jerk ribs and jerk wings, but this is a place to branch out from the expected items. It's the oxtails and goat curry that will keep us driving east down Interstate 30 over and over again.

Velvet Hammer, its name means what it says.
Scott Reitz
Velvet Hammer, its name means what it says.

Not for the faint of heart, Velvet Hammer from Peticolas Brewing Company packs 9% ABV. But it's got much more going for it than bang for your buck. The imperial red ale has garnered numerous industry awards since coming on the scene in 2011 for a unique flavor profile that adeptly balances caramel malt with floral hops and a noticeable bite of alcohol. Velvet Hammer can be found at a number of local restaurants and Whole Foods, where you can take it home by the growler. Recently, it became available in four-packs of 16-ounce cans at the taproom.

Khao's boat noodles
Alison McLean
Khao's boat noodles

For too long, Lao food has been lumped into Thai cuisine as one and the same, both in Dallas and throughout the world. But with the opening of Khao Noodle Shop, a small, BYOB kitchen in East Dallas, we finally have distinct and unapologetic Lao food, thanks to chef-owner Donny Sirisavath — also our Best Chef. The signature dish here is the boat noodle, where bone marrow and pork blood come together for a rich, piquant broth hosting a twirl of rice noodles, brisket and herbs. At $5 each and in sample-size portions, there's room both in your stomach and wallet to try Sirisavath's four other noodle dishes. The shareable bites ranging from $7-9 need to be tested as well.

For 3 Nations Brewing, the end of 2018 brought major news. The Farmers Branch brewery announced that it would soon move to a massive former grain storage shed built in 1950, located in Carrollton's bustling downtown. 3 Nations, launched in 2015, has moved forward with construction on the new location while shipping out a series of adventurous beers from across the flavor spectrum. For local stout-heads, there's not a friendlier brewer in town, thanks to its inventive and devilishly delicious Devout series, which has featured offerings of créme brûlée, chocolate hazelnut, bananas foster and even golden marzipan.

Tantuni Mediterranean Grill

Tantuni sits in an incongruously big building at a minor street corner in Richardson, and the parking lot is hidden around the back. Inside this edifice, you'll find the best Turkish food in North Texas. Start with an enormous platter of hummus served warm and topped with spicy Turkish sausage, then move on to an Adana kebab grilled over charcoal, or an appetizer sampler of dips to pair with the restaurant's excellent fluffy bread. Some of the specialties, including a pressed and grilled half chicken, evoke the remote, rural lands of Turkey's far southeast, where sauces come bolder and spicier than they do on the Mediterranean coast.

Ceviche
Alison McLean
Ceviche

The namesake dish couldn't be simpler: finely chopped red onions, tomatoes, cilantro and a whole lot of lime. Get the shrimp, fish or octopus ceviche stacked two inches high on tostadas, with slices of avocado balanced on top. Or go for a fried oyster po' boy that strikes a balance between upscale and classical by adding thick wedges of tomato and real, unshredded lettuce. The kitchen at Ceviche Oyster Bar knows their way around a fryer, and the catfish and okra avoid becoming grease bombs. There's a big patio and Dos Equis on draft, too.

Americano
Kathy Tran

Step onto the small patio space offered by Americano, and you'll think you've stepped into an alternate, slightly Italian, slightly modern universe. The open, airy space is the kind of place where you can enjoy the city's best people-watching while sipping a mean Negroni and popping fried olives. It feels like paradiso, no? Va bene.

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