Jacob Vaughn

Two tall glass towers brew a small but exceptional cup of joe at most, if not all, Ascension Coffee locations. Ascension Coffee's Kyoto Towers resemble something out of a Breaking Bad episode, and odds are you'll see one in action when you stop by one of their locations. That's because they're used to make the coffee shop's cold brew, which requires about 12 hours. Ice water is poured into a top glass chamber. A bed of coffee grounds sits between the top and bottom chamber. Gravity takes it from there, slowly dropping the water through the coffee grounds and into the bottom chamber until it's full. The end product is a strong-as-hell coffee concentrate. It's used for Ascension's regular cold brew (which has water added to it) or their Doki Doki, the shop's nitro brew.

Lauren Drewes Daniels

There's no shortage of standup burgers in Dallas, but recently Michelin-starred chef Bruno Davaillon helped to reinvent Up On Knox into a French bistro, appropriately called Knox Bistro. The previous concept had a good burger, but this new iteration is all oo-la-la. A thick patty that's cooked to order comes smothered in a creamy peppercorn sauce and topped with caramelized onions. Don't try to dig in with your hands, this is a cutlery burger. Order fries with an extra side of that peppercorn sauce. Then sit in a corner and dig in.

Lauren Drewes Daniels

This Italian-inspired spot on Greenville Avenue is the best kind of cafe. It serves both coffee and wine, the bookends to a perfect day. The space is tiled and marbled to the nines and serves pastries for breakfast (or dessert), pizzettas and sandwiches the rest of the day. They also have some prepackaged pastas, meats and cheeses for a quick dinner; two parking spots just out front make it easy to pop-in. They serve Illy nitro cold brew on tap, sandwiched between red and white wines also on tap. They open at 7 a.m. and don't close shop until 10 p.m. Don't miss the cheesy wagyu pastrami muffuletta.

Courtesy of Nate's Seafood

Nate's Seafood & Steakhouse is a family-owned business that has been serving some of the best Cajun food to Dallas since 1988. The original owner, Nate, is from Lafayette in the heart of Louisiana's Cajun country. He is semi-retired now but has handed down the restaurant and recipes to other members of his family. From crawfish etouffee, seafood gumbo, boiled crawfish, po'-boys and signature dishes such as Stuffed Flounder Atchafalaya or Grilled Redfish Canal, this is one of the few places to get dishes like those back on the bayou. Any good Cajun also knows that boiled crawfish is not meant to be served in a plastic bag. Nate's is one of the few local places that serves them properly in a plastic tray, and if you like your mudbugs with an extra kick, be sure to order them with turbo seasoning.

Kathy Tran

Misti Norris is a James Beard-nominated chef and was one of Food & Wine's Best New Chefs of 2019. She's also the owner and executive chef of Petra and the Beast, where she has put forth her "farm, forage, fermentation, fire" philosophy to great effect. Her other ongoing project is Stepchild, which is the first entry into Attalie, The Exchange's rotating chef concept, bringing her fresh spin on French Acadian cuisine. Her use of local ingredients prepared and presented in a unique, fresh manner shines at both locations.

Mike Snider

Yeah, it's as big as your head, but stop being so whiny. And just because it has size doesn't mean it lacks art. Here, a crisp batter perfectly encases a tender steak that is topped with a just-peppery-enough gravy. This is all enhanced by the restaurant's charm that has made it a Deep Ellum staple for decades. AllGood is open for breakfast and lunch (yes, the CFS is on the breakfast menu) Sunday through Wednesday, but Thursday through Saturday it's one of the best places to catch a live local act and get a chicken fried steak.

Hank Vaughn

After a short stop at Stephen Pyles and a gig as the executive pastry chef at Nobu for a time, Kate Weiser moved on to chocolate, first as the executive chocolatier for Chocolate Secrets in Highland Park and eventually opening up her shop in Trinity Groves before expanding to NorthPark mall and the Shops at Clearfork. Her specialty is artisan chocolates, and her hand-painted chocolates stand out as little edible works of art almost too pretty to eat. Almost.

Kathy Tran

In the heart of the Bishop Arts District, Atlas is a come-one-come-all cocktail lounge that embodies the charm of the surrounding neighborhood. Order a Lone Star or go for something a little more chic from their worldly cocktail menu, like a martini espresso or a vieux carré. In addition to an interesting cocktail menu, the kitchen is pushing out stellar from-scratch dishes (go for the Cuban). If you go on the weekend, keep an eye on the bookshelf in the back: it's actually a door that leads to a small cozy back bar that rotates themes each month.

Taylor Adams

While the pandemic claimed their Oak Cliff standalone shop last year, Cultivar Coffee still thrives inside Goodfriend Package in East Dallas. Cultivar starts by procuring the best sustainably sourced beans before applying their considerable roasting skill to produce pour-overs, lattes and cortados that turn coffee into an art form. Start with a beverage from Cultivar, then grab a bite from Goodfriend, and your day will only improve from there.

Paige Weaver

Jeng Chi has been a mainstay for unpretentious Chinese dining in DFW since 1990, attracting a loyal following for its dishes from Taiwan and mainland China. Their soup dumplings are justifiably praised, but the extensive menu has something for everyone, from more traditional authentic fare like braised pork belly with marinated egg, to Americanized dishes such as orange chicken and kung pao shrimp. They also offer a wide variety of cakes for special order.

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