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?

For 10 years, the aptly named Dallas shop with two locations has been a well of wellness. The GEM's menu is a Goop-y, Poosh-y dream with miracle mushrooms ("miracle" not "magic"), vitamin-rich energy shots and "immuni-tea." The hours are not so great. Your post-run craving for a fruity drink will probably have to wait until after the weekend. They are closed on Sundays and after 2:30 p.m. on Saturdays. But in the small window that this place is open, we're there specifically for the Tahitian Pearl, a heaven-sent blend of cacao, dates, banana, almond butter, cashew milk, coconut butter and maca. The luxurious, creamy chocolate flavor tastes like it's not good for you at all. The all-organic, healthy part makes it better.

Angie Quebedeaux

Rise is best known for its soufflés. And while the soufflés are fantastic, the showstopper is the marshmallow soup. It's an upscale and refined tomato and carrot bisque with a drizzle of pesto topped with goat cheese soufflés that resemble marshmallows. It comes with flaky and savory cheese straws that are great for dipping. Rise sells about 100 of these soups each day, regardless of the temperature outside.

Courtesy of Dakota's, photo by Beckley Photography

We thought Dakota's had closed for good in 2020, so we weren't alone in excitement when the iconic steakhouse reopened in late 2021. Dakota's downtown underground dining room had long been a date-night gem, but a few changes were in order. The menu got a revamp, with classic steaks and chops (the beef Wellington is still a winner) listed alongside newer seafood and pasta dishes. The bar and patio also got a refresh, but the dining room still has the cozy charm that has long hosted many a Dallasite's special occasions.

Angie Quebedeaux

If you have an adventuresome spirit and enjoy trying bold and flavorful dishes, then Hawker's should be on your must-visit list. It's located in Deep Ellum, and the food and the atmosphere are equally interesting. We recommend ordering from the small plates menu so you can try different things. Favorites include the roti canai, Sichuan wontons and Korean twice-fried wings. If you're not in the mood to share, the curry laksa ramen or the steak and kimchi fried rice are great options. While this may sound strange, be sure to check out at least one of the four bathrooms.

While Pie Tap Pizza Workshop + Bar is primarily known for its Neapolitan-style pizzas, the brunch options on the weekend should be noted as well. If you have a sweet tooth, the glazed cinnamon rolls are a meal by themselves. If a brunch pizza is on your mind, then try the smoked salmon pie topped with Icelandic smoked salmon, ricotta, red onion, dill, capers, a house-cured egg yolk and lemon zest. If you prefer more traditional breakfast fare, the chicken and biscuit or the breakfast sandwich is the way to go. Whatever you do, order the roasted Calabrian potatoes with spicy ketchup.

Hank Vaughn

A quiet North Dallas restaurant in a brick-clad strip mall, Sushi Robota will feel like your own secret discovery. The sushi is delicious, with standard rolls and sashimi that amaze with their freshness and are beautiful to look at. Sushi Robota's ramen game is on point, with silky and salty broth and noodles in miso, soy or pork varieties. Service is warm and attentive, and the cozy and modern dining room adds to the enjoyment.

Elizabeth Lavin

Chef Olivia Lopez knows a thing or two when it comes to tamales and tortillas. She makes them from nixtamalized heirloom corn that she sources directly from several small communities in Mexico. She sells her products via her Instagram account (@molino_oloyo) and operates out of a commercial kitchen in the Design District. She has also started doing pop-ups at various breweries throughout the city. Her goal is to open a brick-and-mortar where she will be able to serve these tamale and tortilla creations to a broader audience. In the meantime, do yourself a favor and send her a message via Instagram to place your pickup order and experience the magic that she is bringing to the Dallas food scene.

Brian Reinhart

This Tijuana-inspired taco stand, which previously did business as Tacos Mariachi, in Trinity Groves, serves a seafood-heavy menu of tacos, but the costra de salmon — smoked salmon wrapped and toasted in asadero cheese — is a show-stopper. Someone should put one in a vault to be preserved. It's Dallas' Luka of tacos. Also try the mole fries topped with crema fresca and carne asada. Or put a big pink heart on every Wednesday on your wall calendar to remind you of the Wednesday brisket taco special, a carryover from the original location that was finally revived this summer.

Hank Vaughn

DL Mack's is a slightly upscale eatery that likes to think of itself as a Chicago tavern, but unlike a tavern, reservations are usually required. They do, however, nail the thin-crust tavern-style Chicago pizza that has been the true pizza of choice for Chicagoans and ex-pats alike. Their version comes in only one size and is a bit pricy, but it hits all the marks in ingredient size and amount, sauce flavor and thinness and crispiness of crust.

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