Small Brewpub
Kathy Tran

Barrett Tillman is the one-man operation behind Blackman Brewing. To find his bottles for retail sale, you'll have to drive down to Small Brewpub in Oak Cliff and look at the little shelf on the left side of the dining room. There are lots of small-batch experiments here, including wild-fermented brews, fruited sours and Curry #30, so-called because it employs a blend of dozens of curry spices. It's not really a spicy ale in the flame-throwing sense, just a super-flavorful one. The curry comes through without getting overwhelming; it's refreshing and eyebrow-raising and uncanny and delicious all at the same time.

After 10 years, Balcones, the small distillery in Gaines-ville (aka Waco), is churning out amazing juice, and it's getting better with age. While it's not hyper-local, we'll make the drive for great whiskey. Be sure to track down their distillery releases, and look for their new, dynamite Pot Still Bourbon that hit shelves this year for a meager 30-or-so bucks a bottle.

Tacos have been a staple here, though the menu has more recently expanded.
Beth Rankin
Tacos have been a staple here, though the menu has more recently expanded.

Looking for a beautifully made, traditional margarita? Las Almas Rotas can make it. Looking for a thoughtfully made mezcal margarita? You can bet your botas that Las Almas Rotas can make it, and make it delicious. With a vast selection of unique mezcals, they're giving us the chance to expand our horizons and change our thoughts about what makes a perfect margarita. But don't worry, they have a delicious frozen option if you're not looking for an agave adventure.

Owner Jena Glover knows a thing or two about creating savory, flaky treats. Peckish Pies offers an array of meat pies: From the Down Under, a beef pie marinated with Aussie sauces, to the classic chicken pot pie loaded with white meat and veggies. Satisfy your sweet tooth with the Bart, a chocolate chess pie with amaretto, or a Major Key (lime pie) full of flavor.

Tikka fries at Halal Mother Truckers

On a quest to find a way to introduce Texans to Pakistani food and culture, Umar Baig opened Halal Mother Truckers, and they've been rolling ever since. Coining the phrase "Pakistani Tex-Mex," Halal Mother Truckers is dishing out family recipes with a twist, such as butter chicken tacos and tikka fries.

Angry Dog

If you're looking for a hearty meal to soak up some of last night's booze-fueled fun, make your way to Angry Dog in Deep Ellum. Their menu is full of hangover-busting appetizers, like chicken wings, fried pickle chips, chicken-fried chicken strips, quesadillas, queso and cheese fries. To round out your satisfyingly greasy meal, order the burger, hot dog, chicken-fried steak sandwich, grilled cheese or corned beef sandwich.

When James McGee's daughter was diagnosed with a slew of allergies that stopped her from consuming dairy and animal products, the whole family followed suit. That eventually led to creating Peace, Love and Eatz, a plant-based smoothie bar that not only sells fruit-filled smoothies and smoothie bowls but items such as oyster mushroom "sammiches" and burritos.

South Dallas Café

Whether you're getting your fix after church or indulging on a whim, South Dallas Café is the place to consume all the Southern fixins' under the sun. The newly renovated, family-owned restaurant is serving the classics such as fried catfish and smothered chicken with sides including greens, macaroni and cheese and candied yams — cafeteria style.

Maskaras Mexican Grill
Alison McLean

Former TV star Rodolfo Jimenez and his wife and business partner, Zulma Vanessa Hernandez, are cooking up a tribute to Guadalajara at this Oak Cliff mainstay. Maskaras initially drew regional attention for its massive collection of luchador memorabilia, but now fans come back for crispy tacos drowned in belly-warming salsa, carne en su jugo, 15-inch shrimp burritos and enchiladas verdes. The Taco Maskaras, featuring steak, avocado and molten cheese, makes for a great appetizer, too. Maskaras hasn't been around for very long, but it is already an Oak Cliff institution.

Zoli's burger, like McDonald's, but good

Chef Jeff Bekavac's first burger memory is two all-beef patties and special sauce. Years ago, he sat at his grandma's dinner table and took enormous bites into the smashed, pickle-forward, bread-middled Big Mac. It stuck with him through the years. His double cheeseburger at the Addison pizza joint is stunning and rich, a tower draped by a flag of American cheese. It's delicious until there's nothing left. Mustard seeds pop when you take a bite, bursting through the rich, buttery flavors. The secret-sauce homage is a creamy marvel. This is food that's enjoying itself.

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