BEST KLOBASNEKS 2020 | Jarams Donuts | Best of Dallas® 2020 | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Dallas | Dallas Observer
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.

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.

Kelsey Shoemaker

Close your eyes while drinking a pint of Royal Scandal and you might just think you're in England. This pub-style English pale ale tastes like a textbook, technically perfect example of the style with refreshing lightness balanced against a backbone of bitterness. The way Peticolas makes Royal Scandal isn't actually textbook — the hops are all-American, for example — but the result might just be better than the real deal. And the fact that we can finally drink cans of this beer at home is one of the very, very few good things about 2020.

Kathy Tran

Baseball and football games may not be welcoming tens of thousands of spectators this fall, but there's still a good reason for the Arlington area to be a destination drive for Dallasites: Fattoush, a sterling restaurant run by an Iraqi refugee chef, Bashar Al Mudhafar. His journey to Pantego began with his serving burgers to American soldiers in Baghdad; now he cooks some of the best lamb kebabs, rice pilaf, lebneh and roasted chicken kozi in Texas. Grilled lamb chops are dusted with pistachios, and the falafel — made using an especially tricky, finicky recipe — is a standout.

Philip Kingston

Entering Jimmy's feels like stepping onto a Sopranos set, and you can easily get lost shopping for authentic imported Italian goods in the store's aisles. One of life's greatest treasures is gorging on a decked-out 12-inch Italian Stallion or muffuletta sandwich and topping it off with a rich cannoli. Luckily for Dallas residents, Jimmy's is still up-and-running with some minor modifications, including a somewhat condensed menu. Grocery shoppers must wear masks, and hungry customers can still buy premade, grab-and-go cold sandwiches for in-store or curbside pickup.

Kathy Tran

Revolver's gift for improvisation has come in especially handy this year. Not only is chef Regino Rojas' team still inventing new menu specials, the restaurant's got a rebuilt interior to allow a socially distant tasting menu of high-quality traditional crudos and tacos under the name La Resistencia. Rojas and his crew use Japanese grills and charcoal to cook meats and vegetables for their housemade tortillas, which are made from numerous varieties of heirloom Mexican corn. The latest innovation, a seafood brunch extravaganza, illustrates the way this restaurant will keep adapting. It doesn't hurt that their tortillas are still the best in the city.

We can't help but salute the courage of anyone looking at the restaurant business, a risky endeavor in any climate, and deciding that now, in a public health disaster, is the time to try it. If we're all still here next year, we can pass judgment on their food in detail, but for now, let's give them all an unusually generous welcome. We only have space to name some of the most notable 2020 openings: 2 Neighbors Hot Chicken, Ariana Kebabs, Bacchus Kitchen and Bar, Edoko Omakase, Elm & Good, Hurtado Barbecue, Invasion, K-Pop Ramen Shop, Korean Street Eats, Krio, Luna 23, Marugame Udon, Mestizo, Ngon Vietnamese Kitchen, Pangea, Ricky's Hot Chicken, Thai Monkey and Uncle Zhou.

courtesy Ellen's

While so many restaurants have closed for brunch service, we're thankful this standby in West End remains open for all of our pancake and grit needs. Owner Joe Groves recently took the menu to a new location in Allen, but the popularity remains downtown for the proper plates of eggs and bacon, a pancake pot pie and beef chili with eggs.

Chris Wolfgang

It sounds like a joke, but there are memories smoked right into Todd David's bologna. The Cattleack Barbeque owner used to smack three slices on soft white bread with a circle of spicy-sweet mustard. It's what he makes for himself, but this time with his own smoky, luxe, pepper-dotted in-house bologna slices. David runs wagyu brisket trimmings through a grinder until it's smooth and smokes it until it's "happy" and firehouse red. It's the stuff you had as a kid. Texas pitmasters know bologna better than anyone on Earth. He sells it as a special (keep an eye on his newsletter) and it's a must-buy every time. Get a side of mac and cheese for maximum nostalgia points.

Nick Rallo

When beef prices hit $5 a pound, Peak owner Joel Morales ran to his local Bass Pro Shop to get a meat grinder. Only in a pandemic would brisket and bacon, coarse ground into already-expensive chuck, lessen the expense. Good thing Morales did. The cheeseburger is a new Dallas classic. It tastes like smoke and skies. A 5-ounce patty gets flash seared on the blazing griddle, and it's layered with American cheese, chopped lettuce, onion and pickle. They know the power of good grease — all of those toppings nest under the patty as beef juices come down like rain from a tin roof.

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