BEST COCKTAILS TO-GO
Susie Oszustowicz

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
Patrick Michels

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
Taylor Adams

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
Nick Rallo

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
Andrew Kelley

"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
courtesy 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.

BEST KLOBASNEKS
Nick Rallo

Every time the door opens, smells of hot sugar and dough waft out in the super-heated air. It's the aroma of frosted chocolate, of glazed things, that takes hold of you at Jarams. But that's not why you're here. You're here for the wonderland of "kolaches," (Texas' erroneous name for sausage entombed in fresh baked dough). Some look like fritters with braided dough and ornamented with many sliced sausages. Cheese is woven directly into the dough. The jalapeño-studded klobasneks have good heat and some snap, and the melted cheese swirls through the chewy, tender dough.

BEST KOREAN RESTAURANT
Alison McLean

Dallas' Korea Town has been devastated by the coronavirus with some of its most popular and longest-established restaurants closed temporarily or permanently. But a relative newcomer, Damasita, is coming into its own. Originally opened as a high-energy bar, Damasita has turned to Korean home cooking under new ownership with possibly the city's best gimbap and satisfying, enormous rice bowls. Noodle soups and dumplings round out a menu that spells comfort food in any language.

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