Best of Dallas® 2020 | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Dallas | Dallas Observer
Four large, shimmering silver spoons are fanned over a reddish square plate. The spoon bowls hold fried oysters with daikon and a dab of wasabi cream topped with a sprinkling of tobikko caviar. They are cleverly presented, tightly packed bombs of explosive flavor. Pray that you're born with one of these in your mouth in your next incarnation.

Give us no doughnuts, bagels or bear claws. It ain't breakfast without at least one chicken ovum. We prefer a large meal of eggs, bacon, hash browns, pancakes and other artery-clogging dishes, but most days, time constraints demand a meal that demands no flatware. To other one-handed breakfast eaters, we recommend the Meeker--an egg, juicy ham, cheese, a slice of ripe tomato, firm cucumber and a sprinkling of scallions on a puffy croissant. It's tasty but not time-consuming, early-morning heaven. Named for a frequent breakfast-sandwich patron, the Meeker Special has become a favorite of downtown denizens.

Best frozen concoction that's not a margarita

Cuba Libre's Island Mojo

This will get your mojo working in no time flat. A luscious, not-too-sweet concoction of pineapple, coconut, and four kinds of Baccardi rums that makes you yearn for a beach and a turn at getting your groove back.

Best Place to Smell Like Your Lunch

Baker's Ribs

At some restaurants, the aromas of the cuisine being prepared inside slap you in the face when you walk through the door. But Baker's Ribs is different; the odors of this barbecue joint sneak up on you. Sure, you can smell the various meats being carved and chopped and sliced, but it's not an assault. It's an inviting, appetizing scent that gets the lips a-smackin'. What you don't realize, however, is that as you sit in Baker's Ribs, enjoying your beef and sausage with two sides of your choice, every fiber of your clothing is soaking up the aromas inside, so that by the time you've finished off your complimentary ice cream cone, you smell as if you've been slow-smoked for days and dipped in a vat of barbecue sauce. It's worth it, though, 'cause this is damn fine barbecue.

Younger sibling to Sol's Taco Lounge in Deep Ellum and older kin of the Sol's Cocina in Plano, this Mockingbird outpost bags brawny tacos, enchiladas, tostadas, tamales and burritos with lots of refried beans and tri-color chips to help chalk the entrées to your gullet. The food is always hot, ample, done up right and quick.
It seems the height of cruelty to pull the liver out of a duck, leaving the bird with nothing to filter its Scotch, but it sure tastes good once it's out. Voltaire's sautéed Hudson Valley foie gras is a mean organ. It's scored with repeating diamond patterns across its surface, folded, and settled atop a cushion of light mashed potatoes. Around the plate is a large fan of green apple slices messed with currants bathed in a clean, mandarin emulsion. Unlike most ornithological livers found in Dallas, this one is firm with a rich, nutty flavor that unfolds in the mouth.

The spicy Greek pizza at this takeout-only spot near Lakewood is the best excuse to forgo pepperoni in town: crisp crust with a garlic-olive oil base, mozzarella, seasoned chicken, kalamata olives, tomatoes, red onions, pepperoncinis and feta cheese. Owners Omar Dibe and his wife, Sadie Ayers, opened shop last spring and offer traditional Italian pizza as well, but their Lebanese-inspired pies are standouts: Try rosemary chicken, margarita and ardalino with baked eggplant slices. Dibe and Ayers are beefing up their imaginative menu all the time. They've just added oven-baked paninis, subs, pita wraps and gyros. Order and take home, or slip into Lota's Goat next door for some liquid and musical accompaniment.

OK, so it might be a wholly unmonastic indulgence. But The Abbey Café's slow-roasted pork tenderloin is among the best kitchen devotions to the Babes and Arnold Ziffels of the world we've ever tasted. Two pieces of tender, juicy crown tenderloin are hit with stinging cayenne that spars with craggy chunks of coarsely cracked pepper. The meat is brilliantly paired with a cherry and jalapeño cranberry sauce that meshes well with the meat, creating an alluring harmonious tug between heat, restrained sweetness and tang. Go ahead. Eat it. It's been blessed by St. Gregory Peccary.
There's no cure for the summer--or winter, fall or spring--time blues like a few squares of fresh cornbread and a slab of chicken-fried steak smothered in peppered cream gravy. But don't forget the veggies: The mashed potatoes have skins, and the broccoli is steamed until tender. Everything's exactly like Ma makes it. Only Lucky's waitstaff won't make you clean your plate before chocolate cake is served.

Best place to buy a vegan birthday cake

Cosmic Café,

The adjective "vegan" usually evokes visions of plates full of gray, squishy substances or tasteless products designed to resemble meat, not a big hunk of chocolate cake or a large, gooey brownie. But at Cosmic Café, the yummy Indian-style meals can conclude with desserts sans dairy products. The cakes, which don't scrimp on the frosting, may also be bought whole and taken home to celebrate the birthday of your favorite herbivore. They go great with Cosmic's mango, coconut, and banana ice creams. Sorry, those are for non-vegans only.

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