Best Food Court/Food Hall 2019 | "Food Court" in Plano | Best of Dallas® 2020 | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Dallas | Dallas Observer

Eight miles east of Legacy Hall in Plano stands another, more exciting food hall. It's in a building whose big yellow sign simply reads, "Food Court." The treasures inside span the Asian continent, from a Korean soft tofu specialist to Morefan, the Dallas area's first kitchen to serve Xi'anese foods like hot oil splashing noodles. Hakka Express is a longstanding favorite of the local Taiwanese community. Nothing here costs more than a fast-food lunch; bring friends, order a tray from every restaurant and try them all.

courtesy Coco Andre
Coco Andrea, the cat's meow when it comes to chocolate

Mother-daughter duo Andrea and Cindy Pedraza put their heart, soul and heritage into each piece of chocolate they make at CocoAndré Chocolatier. Their Oak Cliff shop is a haven for chocolate lovers — non-vegan or vegan — offering sweet treats such as truffles, Texas-shaped chocolates and their signature chocolate high heels.

Hypnotic Donuts is an East Dallas staple bringing creative combos to everyone's favorite breakfast pastry. Flavors like the Canadian Healthcare, the Homer and the Evil Elvis make it hard for customers to choose. Hypnotic also offers vegan doughnuts on Mondays and Tuesdays.

If you know much about Texas chili, you already know this name. Frank X. Tolbert, a Texas historian, founded the famed World Chili Championship in Terlingua in 1967 and opened a chili parlor in Dallas in 1976. Now located on Grapevine's Main Street, the parlor uses the same recipe developed by Tolbert himself — bite-size pieces of beef chuck simmered in an ancho chile-laden gravy and topped with chopped onions, cheese and a whole jalapeño. They'll serve it to you with beans if you ask, but they'll know you aren't from around these parts.

Kathy Tran

Bullion is a classical French restaurant with chef Bruno Davaillon's personal, contemporary flair, and the wine list mirrors that sensibility precisely. Just about every corner of France is represented in the restaurant's cellar, which means not just the usual suspects — though you can get plenty of classic vintages of Burgundy, if you wish — but more affordable bottles from regions that get overlooked, too. On a list that ranges from $30 to $5,000, look out for sparkling wines from regions other than Champagne, full-bodied whites from the Mediterranean coast and an extensive collection of cognacs. Intimidated? Personable wine staff can make it easy to find a bottle that matches your taste and your wallet.

Melissa Hennings
Taco Libre

There's only one thing wrong with Taco Libre, which is that nobody has nearly enough stomach space to devour all the good tacos on offer at this festival. Taco Libre arrives every spring immaculately well-organized and with a carefully curated selection of vendors: Not just anyone with a tortilla can serve food here. Add in live luchador wrestling, musical acts and paletas, and you've got one of the parties of the year. In 2019, Taco Libre stepped up their game by importing two taquerias from Mexico City, both cooking in the United States for the first time ever.

"Sometimes," said Winnie the Pooh, "the smallest things take up the most room in your heart." And for a sweet tooth, nothing endears itself more than the cupcake. At BIRD Bakery in Highland Park Village, what could be wrong with exercising portion control as you eat a miniaturized cake of Southern Red Velvet, Chocolate Strawberry, Carrot, or, our favorite, The Elvis, which consists of banana cake with chocolate chips and peanut butter frosting? Hailing from San Antonio, BIRD Bakery was founded in 2012 by acting duo Elizabeth Chambers and Armie Hammer. Even though actors make believe, there is nothing fictional about the sugary goodness of their cupcakes made every day from scratch with the finest ingredients.

In a broad sense, Rusty Taco is all about reinvention: the original location boasts a renovated filling station (complete with a gas station island for a patio and substantial windows from repurposed overhead doors). In a narrow sense, they do not compromise. You may know Rusty Taco for their no-nonsense tacos packed with unalloyed flavor. What you might not know is that this Dallas-based taco shop excels in churro creations. Prepare for a signature dessert of the Southwest that blows Disneyland churros out of the water in size and flavor.

Si Tapas' unassuming white building is a culinary beacon in the sea of new condos springing up around it, and the small plates of authentic Spanish food served there will tickle the tongue. Expect to feast on delicacies such as medium-rare sirloin in rich and creamy Dijon sauce, luscious grilled quail, crispy sautéed Brussels sprouts and minty fresh orange and carrot salad. Pair your meal with a glass of wine from the restaurant's extensive selection, and top off with one of their exceptional desserts, like the sage poached pear or the sweet simmered fruit with housemade black pepper ice cream. If you won't be getting to Barcelona anytime soon, chef Jose Luis Lopez's outstanding creations at Si Tapas are the next best thing.

Peticolas Brewing has had an eventful 2019, thanks in large part to owner Michael Peticolas' involvement in seeing the hotly debated "Beer to Go" amendment pass through the Texas Legislature. But it's important not to forget how special the brewery's anniversary beer was this year. Inspired by everyone's favorite classic cocktail, the Old Fashioned, the 13% ABV beer called The Usual is a delightful barleywine-based brew with cherries, fresh orange peel, bitters and whiskey-soaked oak chips. You won't find it on the taproom menu all the time, but when it does show up, it's a mistake to skip it.

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