Best Sushi 2019 | Sushi Robata | Best of Dallas® 2020 | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Dallas | Dallas Observer
Courtesy Sushi Robata

We're going to upset people with this one. Not because Sushi Robata is the wrong pick — it's oh so right — but because a lot of Dallas sushi lovers see this joint as a well-kept secret, tucked away in North Dallas far from the hype and the Instagrammers. Sushi Robata is an all-rounder with a full Japanese menu that encompasses ramen, grilled meats and pork katsu. The sushi bar is equally wide-ranging, but insiders skip over the glitzy specials in favor of traditional maki rolls, some of them vegetarian, and the ever-changing list of daily seafood specials. Sushi Robata is one of Dallas' best-kept secrets. Unfortunately, we're not in the secret-keeping business.

Paige Weaver
Resident Taqueria's fare

The folks at Resident are always dreaming up something new and interesting. More important, they're always doing it right. A Philly cheesesteak taco could be a tiresome gimmick if it didn't taste so darn good. If anyone is going to try putting, say, a crab cake or shishito peppers into a taco, it might as well be the kitchen at Resident, with its from-scratch tortillas and its marriage of love for tradition with a penchant for inspired pairings of flavor. Even the vegetarian tacos, like the one with caramelized cauliflower and pepitas, are worth driving for.

One of the most 'grammable burritos in the nation can be found in the Dallas Farmers Market at Brunchaholics, as reported by the Food Network. Jessie Washington's soul-food burrito made national news when the foodie channel included it as one of "the most over-the-top burritos in the country." Washington says the burrito was the result of a craving, and he originally only made it to post on Instagram. But after the swaddled trio of fried catfish, smoked turkey collard greens, and mac and cheese started showing up on news feeds, the composition took on a life of its own. Now Brunchaholics draws lengthy lines on the weekends, and food is typically sold out in a couple of hours. Washington's aim is to give Dallas brunch the revival that it needs, and he is doing just that. Check their website for new pop-up locations.

Cauliflower wings

Vegan Food House, a new restaurant near Bishop Arts, is tackling vegan Creole food. Owner Elizabeth Anderson has been a vegan for more than 10 years, and the menu is inspired by the food she grew up with. Anderson uses a variety of meat substitutes in her cooking. Vegan Food House serves a "bacon" avocado tomato sandwich that is made with seitan. The big fish po' boy sandwich is made with oyster mushrooms as the "meat." The menu is focused on value; the only thing that is priced above $14 is the big Creole basket for $17, which comes with a pile of food.

These are no puny, dry wings. Bryan Street Tavern's wings are large, tender and perfectly fried. They are beer-basted, and you have your choice of eight sauces and rubs, including mild, medium, hot, honey-chipotle barbecue, spicy Thai, spicy ranch dry rub and Cajun hot rub. Can't decide what flavor you're craving? You can get half and half at Bryan Street. And if you're one of those people who can't handle bones, they also have all white-meat, battered-and-breaded boneless wings with the same rubs and sauces as their bone-in brothers.

Alison McLean
Homewood's watermelon creme fraiche pound cake

When Maggie Huff retires from making desserts in Dallas, we'll need to figure out where to put the statue. In front of City Hall, maybe. Outside our office would do, too. Huff enchanted diners at FT33 with desserts that employed fine-dining techniques but tasted straightforwardly delicious. Now she's brought her style back at Homewood: fruit-forward, texturally interesting and indulgent without being too sweet. In the summertime, that could mean grilled lemon pound cake topped with blueberries, or a Texas peach crostata and ice cream. We can't wait to see what cooler weather brings.

Brian Reinhart
El Vecino's Charley's Choice is a combo of three styles of enchilada. From left: chicken mole, brisket in guajillo salsa and shrimp in poblano crema.

All good Tex-Mex begins, and probably ends, with chips and salsa. So when indulging in the fusion food eaten round the world, it's important for the chips to be hot, the salsa fresh and the queso to remain creamy until the end of the meal. The taco bowls must be crispy, flaky and freshly fried. The mole must be made in-house, preferably from around 19 ingredients, and the fajitas need to be next-level good, like the fajitas picosas that place grilled meats or veggies on a sizzling plate of spicy queso, with fried onions on top for good measure. El Vecino meets all of these standards. John Michael McBride, Tex-Mex scion of the El Fenix chain, reminds us why Texas is the only place to eat true Tex-Mex.

Edilycious is a gem, located in the Grow DeSoto Market Place, offering an array of West African fusion favorites. Early this year their jollof tacos created quite the stir, bringing Taco Tuesday lovers from all over to the Southern sector. Edilycious also offers stews, coconut red beans and rice and teas made in-house.

We love a good food truck. Without worrying about service staff, decor, ambience and the like, the food is given ample opportunity to shine. We especially appreciate a barbecue food truck, because it often provides a glimpse into the effort that goes into the finished product. Take Smoke Sessions Barbecue in Royse City as the perfect example. There are no secrets in Smoke Sessions' sublime brisket, just salt, pepper, smoke, heat and time. As good as the brisket is, Chad Sessions' brilliance as a pitmaster really shines in the garlic-pepper jack-habanero sausage. The links are an explosion of flavors unlike anything else we've tried.

Chris Wolfgang

"They've gone crazy for it," Todd David says about his bologna sandwich. He fine-grinds wagyu-style brisket, smoothing and emulsifying, adding dry spices and casing it in a classic, bright red ring. It cures for a day or two, "getting happy," he says. Then it's cold-smoked, followed by hot-smoked to finish, and sliced thick to-order. There are days when his smoked bologna is in such high demand — repeat, he's made bologna so good that it's in high demand — that he's forced to ration patrons to two thick slices per order.

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