Angie Quebedeaux

You might want to approach Thunderbird Pies with skin as thick as their Detroit-style pizzas. In addition to a sassy social media manager, they don't care much for complaints. Especially, don't ever ask to talk to corporate or you'll likely get dinged with something like, "I am corporate, motherfucker." Then they'll make T-shirts to mock you, which they actually did, and blast it on an in-house billboard. It's not at all ironic that one of their best pizzas is the Honey Bastard, named after the honey badger. Much like the similarly named mammal, they just don't care, which they can get away with because the pizza is so good.

A proper Tex-Mex meal should start with a giant bowl of queso, and Meso Maya's pair of queso options makes for a tough choice. You could go with a traditional bowl of queso poblano, with a trio of white cheeses blended with roasted poblanos, fresh corn and nopalitos that are rich and buttery. Or go big with the queso fundido, which comes with corn tortillas and your choice of chorizo, pork or calabacita vegetables. It's a difficult decision, but it's rewarding however you decide.

Catherine Downes

This French restaurant in the Harwood District is a gem. When the weather is nice, grab a table on the patio overlooking the lawn or a seat at the bar to watch the open kitchen. Mercat Bistro opens for breakfast at 7 a.m. on the weekdays and 10 a.m. for brunch on the weekends. The interior has about a dozen tables. There are pastries on offer, but go for the croque monsieur served on a country sourdough, with Gruyere, jambon and a mornay sauce. Weekend brunch has an expanded menu with crepes, a duck baguette and charcuterie.

Hank Vaughn

This Deep Ellum ramen spot offers carefully crafted and flavorful ramen dishes such as spicy soboro shoyu and miso, all with a chicken-based broth and perhaps some of the best chashu in town, imbued with a delicate grilled flavor that is not always present in ramen pork belly. The pork buns are heavenly, and there is a vegetarian version, but the star is the deep-fried mochi rice cakes that come as six addictive balls of goodness.

Chris Wolfgang

Barbecue hounds and casual fans alike should sign up for emails from Cattleack Barbecue. Of course, you'll get a weekly email to highlight the week's specials. With hits like pastrami beef ribs, burnt end boudin or fantastic pork steaks, there's not really a weak item to be had. But the extra bonus to the signup list happens on the occasional Thursday or Friday when the stars align and the line at Cattleack is nonexistent. An email will show up announcing the lack of a wait, which is your cue to hop in your car and get some of the area's best barbecue.

Hank Vaughn

James Beard- and Food & Wine-nominated chef Misti Norris offers a six-course tasting menu at Petra and the Beast, her restaurant on Haskell that, as the website says, brings "unique, pleasant and hearty reflections from farm, forage, fermentation and fire to table." There are two seatings on Saturdays, and reservations go fast, but the lucky ones can expect some exceptional food with original presentations emphasizing local vegetables, usually including an amuse bouche, intermezzo and a small final bite.

Dallas Observer

We never thought we'd be this excited about salad dressing because, well, we're just not Paul Newman. But the salad dressing at Snappy Salads is an absolute miracle: It got us to crave salad. Some of us are just not into cold, leafy foods, no matter how much we understand that we should be. Snappy Salads, a growing chain of 13 locations across North Texas, offers salads with names such as "Lemon Pepper Shrimp" or "Texas Taco." We recommend building your own — your preferred lettuce, plus six extra toppings — adding tofu or your protein of choice and letting them absorb the richness of the specialty dressings, all for the price of your monthly rent. Hey, we didn't say it was cheap. The dressing flavors include chimichurri, wasabi and Mexican cream. Our hearts stopped with the sweet parsley vinaigrette dressing, but thanks to our new diet, our health will be just fine.

Angie Quebedeaux

Stepping into the vibrantly colored El Vecino reminds us of a small Mexican restaurant located in a tropical destination. Old school Tex-Mex is made daily, and if you're one of those people who like their Tex-Mex hot, then check out the complimentary salsa verde. It looks deceptively mild, made with roasted tomatillos, lime, garlic and serrano peppers, but it packs some real punch and will cure any sinus issues you might be having.

Nick Rallo

Jimmy's, of course, is more than a sandwich shop. It's a small grocery store that sells Italian wines, cheeses, snacks and olive oils that's also a full deli selling house-made sausages, sauces, pizzas, lasagnas and meatballs. There is even a wine-tasting room in the back. The freshly prepared sandwiches, such as the Italian sub, muffuletta, Calabrese and Italian beef, are unmatched in Dallas. Seating is limited, lines can be long, and parking is always a challenge, but nothing this good is easy.

Kathy Tran

Life's too short for a boring dinner every Monday. Among many other great things about TJ's three-decade presence in the Dallas restaurant scene, every Monday is lobster night, which consists of cracked lobster, clams, mussels, corn, potato and drawn butter. Not only is fresh seafood on offer throughout the menu, including a daily fresh catch, you can order from the market to take home. But why do that when you'd be hard pressed to find a place with better hospitality in the city?

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