BEST MEXICAN RESTAURANT 2020 | Revolver Taco Lounge | Best of Dallas® 2020 | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Dallas | Dallas Observer
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.

Alison McLean

Deep Ellum's hand-roll sensation puts ingredients and technique to the foreground. When dine-in meals are safe again, you'll get to sit at the long bar that takes up the whole restaurant and watch the care and craft that go into making such simple-looking seaweed-wrapped sushi, featuring fresh tuna belly, uni, scallops and ever-changing specials. The hand-roll format is also a first-rate vehicle for vegetarian combinations. For now, we have Nori's tidy, flawless takeout containers of sushi, which can also include the izakaya-style appetizers that come from the restaurant's small kitchen.

It wasn't easy for chef Ryan Ferguson to adapt to the road. Pasta and pizza seem like the ultimate takeout cuisine: They're not. Pasta likes to sponge up whatever the liquid is around it. Thin-crust pizza can get as floppy as a rabbit's ear after a drive home. Sprezza has considered this: Their pizzas crackle and blister and snap. The creamy tomato sauce pie — the vodka-spiked tomato base, studded with shishito pepper, fresh plum tomato, sharp provolone — is a stunner. There are zero other pies like it in Dallas. The crust is thin, rectangular, modest but giant fiery-huge in flavor. Keep an eye on their rotating, farm-to-table toppings. Fresh toppings and good tomatoes and crackling crust are how a good pizza is made.

Brian Reinhart

Few takeout specials during the coronavirus pandemic have become as iconic as Taco y Vino's formula of six tacos and a bottle of wine for $30. It's North Oak Cliff's ultimate weeknight treat, and it helps that Taco y Vino keeps coming up with creative new menu offerings to match. One of owner Jimmy Contreras' summer specials, for instance, drew on his abiding love for the Double Decker at Taco Bell. But fear not: In terms of quality and care, this is about as far from Taco Bell as you can get. Every great taco menu is a little bit playful, and Taco y Vino's is proof.

Kathy Tran

"Tex-Mex" here refers to the foods of the borderlands, to cabrito and guisos you could find on either side of the Rio Grande. But El Ranchito also has plenty of seafood and a San Antonio-style panache that includes the restaurant's celebrated mariachi performances (during pre-viral times) and elaborate Christmas decorations. So whether your definition of "Tex-Mex" leans more toward the Tex or the Mex, there will be something to please you at this nearly 40-year-old Oak Cliff institution.

Catherine Downs

There's really been no doubt about Knife's preeminence on Dallas' overcrowded steak scene since its dry-aging room first filled with cuts of beef in 2014. From the Texas-sourced cuts to the choice each diner can make between "old-school" cooking and "new-school" (which uses sous vide to guarantee temperature), everything about Knife shows a care toward the beef. The restaurant took some major time off in the early months of the coronavirus pandemic, reopening after investing in safety measures. If you don't have the cash for some of the highest-end steaks here, Knife's attention to detail also produces some of America's best cheeseburgers.

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