BEST CHEF 2020 | Luis Dominguez | Best of Dallas® 2020 | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Dallas | Dallas Observer
courtesy the Dominguez family

Countless diners have been able to enjoy Luis Dominguez's work during his 20 years in the Dallas restaurant industry in a career that spanned restaurants in nearly every neighborhood in town: Tillman's, Hattie's, Smoke, Chicken Scratch and, most recently, HG Sply Co. Dominguez helped create some of Smoke's most popular dishes, adding Southwestern spice and Mexican tradition to chef Tim Byres' barbecue. Dominguez died of COVID-19 July 22.

Taylor Adams

The arepa is reason enough to wake up: The savory pocket, similar to a gordita, has enormous flavor. You'll see sun-yellow corn and cloud-white salt. Queso blanco fuses to the walls of the seared envelope. Zaguán began like an over-the-counter neighborhood bakery, with four glass cases of crackly breads (made in-house) like the cachito stuffed with minced ham and cheese and powdered-sugar pastries. Eighteen years after opening, they host more comfort than ever: Egg, ham, and cheese on cloud bread and a just-pulled espresso is stunning.

Lauren Drewes Daniels

This spot on the edge of Deep Ellum has hot dogs we love along with a solid list of beer on tap. There's a wide selection, with much of it local, whether it's Deep Ellum Brewing Co.'s Easy Peasy IPA, Martin House's Pils or Peticolas' Golden Opportunity golden ale. Even more is available on a list of canned beer. Whatever you get, a cold beer here is a perfect place to be.

courtesy Reyna Duong

A few months into the pandemic, we had restaurants fully complying with safety measures (most of them, anyway). But there was one that stood out from the beginning, when we started asking restaurants what they were doing before the city reacted to the pandemic. Reyna Duong, owner of Sandwich Hag, was already screening her employees, making food pickup contactless and insisting on hand sanitizer. When someone on staff contracted COVID-19, they shut down and cleaned thoroughly. Protocols heightened as months progressed, communication was transparent and constant via social media as those escalated, and no exceptions were made. Sandwich Hag is an example of how to do it right.

Sara Kerens

Pounded, tender meat, the perfect crisp batter that isn't too thick but doesn't easily flake off and perfectly seasoned gravy: There's a lot that goes into a proper chicken-fried steak, and the folks at Jonathon's know how to do each step. Anything fried here is good, as is anything with gravy. But if you're hunting for the best CFS in town, it's right here in North Oak Cliff.

Melissa Hennings

When the happy day comes that we can again spend our evenings sitting elbow-to-elbow with fellow humans, one of our first stops will be Shoals. From the kind and intentional staff to the expert cocktails and vegan food menu, this Deep Ellum spot has our hearts forever.

Chandler Gibson

As this is written, Rudolph's is taking call-in orders only, which we're fine with because it's good to call anyway. After all, Rudolph's is a great first place to visit when you're cooking something that requires a specific cut of meat that may be hard to find. If they don't have it on hand, they can usually get it for you. And there's no better bacon than that pepper bacon they have in the cooler.

We appreciate everyone who's doing curbside pickup these days, and it's especially smooth and easy at Haute Sweet Patisserie. Order online through Square, select your pickup time and head to the Lake Highlands-area shop at that time. You can't miss the phone number posted all over the windows: Call, and your sweet treat is handed through your window in a minute.

Sara Kerens

Chef Tom Fleming is still keeping this Far North Dallas diner running with breakfast items we can't get enough of. Proper biscuits and gravy, perfectly fluffy pancakes and savory dishes make this menu one that's good enough for the whole family. It's a place you can't over-hype to your friends: It's consistently a place you'll want to return to for breakfast and lunch.

This past summer offered a weird season for farmers markets, which normally thrive when stone fruits (peaches, plums, etc.) ripen. But our usual go-to east of White Rock Lake held strong, bringing in the vendors that it could to provide us fresh produce, eggs and meat. Good Local Markets runs this one, which means it's full of local farmers and artisans.

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