BEST BARBECUE
Beth Rankin

In these trying times, Slow Bone is the barbecue hero we need. We may not know when the urge for barbecue will strike, but Slow Bone has us covered at lunch any day of the week. We may not know if we have enough time to grab some barbecue, but Slow Bone's line moves quickly, when it's there at all. We may not know how we'll recapture Slow Bone's brilliant flavor at home, but their vacuum-sealed meats deliver the goods. Like many other establishments, they've adapted quickly in the time of coronavirus. Sure, we miss sitting down and eating from their pastel trays, but the goodness of Slow Bone still shines, no matter where we partake.

Ocean Prime

McEuen took over Ocean Prime's bar this year and has upheld the high level of service. She's a consummate professional who knows her drinks and a handful of jokes and jabs to make her guests feel like family. Ocean Prime's cocktail pro hasn't stopped mixing it up since the world shut down. She took the chance to travel around and challenged various bartenders and civilians to Instagram Live mix-offs and taught us all how to mix up some classic cocktails along the way. Find her in the newly remodeled OP bar and ask her which whiskey or wine she recommends.

BEST COCKTAILS TO-GO
Beth Rankin
Tacos have been a staple here, though the menu has more recently expanded.

Las Almas Rotas flat-out killed it on the to-go game this year. Its program, led by Reid Lewis, mixed up some unique options that are just as delightful from a deli cup as they would be behind their bar. The mezcal bar next to Fair Park has done more than just the cocktails well. They also made a drive-thru experience in the alley next to the bar with a doorbell to order.

Whether you're fluffing out a blanket to go on grass, sitting on a bench overlooking the wate or wanting a picnic table that's fully shaded any time of day, this park in North Oak Cliff is ideal. There's a loop around the lake to work off your meal, too, and the views of the lake and the skyline are unbeatable.

BEST CORN DOG

One sign that you're going to have a stellar meal, a truly Dallas meal, is a bag of takeout that's got wooden sticks poking out of it like a bat with nails in it. Lakewood Landing's sharp corn dog holders can't be contained by a to-go sack, so they jab out as dangerous as a medieval weapon. Inside are Dallas treasures: long Rudolph's Market dogs (from the oldest butcher shop in Dallas) armored by a charred orange batter. Frozen corn dogs have a batter that tastes burnt and a frank that has a sickly tinge; Lakewood Landing knows better: Their hot dogs sing with beef flavor and send juices into the salty-crunch of its casing. Immerse corn dogs immediately in French's yellow mustard. This is iconic bar food in our city.

Herman Marshall forged the trail for grain-to-glass whiskey in North Texas. Aside from growing their own grains, every part of their whiskey-birthing process is done in-house. The mash is poured into 500-gallon handmade cypress tanks for open-top fermentation, a nod to tradition. They then use a custom-designed copper pot to distill the mash. The spirit is then tucked away to age in charred American white oak barrels, enduring many seasons of wildly sporadic Texas weather to give the final product character and grit. Distillery tours break down the process and history with a side of humor. At the end you can even pour and seal your own bottle. Or you can pick one up at just about any retailer, restaurant and bar around town.

BEST PIE

When it comes to comfort food during the pandemic, Humble has been a go-to for its balanced, freshly made pies that satisfy our sweet tooth without being overly sweet. Try the bayou goo, which is a favorite for its layers of rich, sweet cream cheese, candied pecans, chocolate cream, Chantilly cream and chocolate shavings.

BEST FRIED CHICKEN SANDWICH

You'll find pepper and juices under long-cut slaw, orange-gold from hot sauce. The heat is just enough to whisk away a year's worth of anxiety. The tenders crack and break under pressure, releasing juices and flavor right into the store-bought bun. The chicken is crackly enough, loaded with enough pepper, that you won't need a bunch of high fructose condiments. Pack a book; you might need to wait a few minutes. Or do a load of clothes: It's a family-run joint next door to a coin laundry.

BEST HOT DOG

"Historically it is difficult to sell a hot dog in Dallas, so we figured, if we're going to do it, they might as well be the best," owner Andrew Kelley says. That's a tall order considering the steamy street meat you'd find in New York City, but that's exactly what he did. Tangy sauerkraut in shredded scoops as fine as angel hair melts against brown mustard and the rich juices of the frank. The bun is chewy and fresh. The Angus beef frank is sourced from Fort Worth. It snaps some. It's sparkling with juices. It does not taste of curing agent and heart-killing salt, but bears the flavor of good beef.

BEST INDIAN RESTAURANT
Urban Tadka
A recent roti special at Urban Tadka

At Urban Tadka, the specialties are food from far north India and terrific housemade paneer, which is a star in every dish where it appears. There's a whole menu of paneer in various sauces to pair with the excellent housemade naan, and every item on it is a gem. If you can resist the vegetarian items, try a goat dish or lamb dhansak with tender lamb stewed in lentils. The buffet here was never really a star attraction, but during a pandemic, that hardly matters.

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