Best of Dallas® 2020 | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Dallas | Dallas Observer
This spinach never saw the inside of a can. A square dish is layered in the center with steamed spinach leaves, and soy sauce is channeled between the stack and the edge of the dish. The leaves are dusted with shredded bonito, blond thin curls of dried skipjack tuna. The bitter, leafy earthiness--silky in texture--is deftly foiled by the concentrated sea wash, delivered in whispered bursts shrouded in a delicate crunch. This stuff can do more than just swell biceps.

Fried calamari is as ubiquitous as Monday-morning yawns, but it's the subtle details that make it shine. Crú's scraps of squid are light and airy and virtually greaseless. And the spicy sweet-and-sour sauce kicks your senses back into alignment, should your wine-tasting flights knock you off course.
The thing you want to do most when nibbling late into the night is look. And here, there is a much look at, from the stylish nocturnal nuzzlers linking and languishing in lust at the bar, to the big red doors at the entrance, to the row of TV monitors rolling Japanese movies. (OK, maybe we don't want to read subtitles past midnight when our brains are marinating in stuff served with little umbrellas.) Fishbowl is a good place to gaze into the wee hours. Plus, this retro Asian lounge has great munchies such as sushi, mu shu pork tacos, and Szechwan shrimp stir-fry. Wash it all down with drinks called blazing Bangkok punch and chocolate Monchichi monkey, so even if you're sober, you won't sound that way ordering a nightcap.

We would venture that many Dallasites have never had the joy of a samosa (and no, it's not a Girl Scout cookie). Having only recently discovered them ourselves, we felt it our duty to spread the word, and with Texans' love of fried things, this Indian treat already has one point in its favor. Filled with potatoes and peas, wrapped in a pastry and then fried, often served with mint and tamarind chutney, you can't eat just one. Good thing they're only 80 cents at the front counter at India Grocers. You can also pick up other fresh and packaged Indian foods and goods while you're picking up your samosas. They tend to be pretty spicy, but a cool chutney or hummus balances the flavors. Just don't let them see you use ketchup.

We keep hearing that Deep Ellum and the West End are dead. Funny, we see plenty of young black and brown people in Deep Ellum and lots of pasty white tourists packing the West End. Oh, we get it: They're dead because the only good homogeny is white liberal homogeny. Now that we've cleared that up, we can tell you that you should brave the baby strollers and farmer's tans you'll find in TWE if you want a damn good hunk of meat at a reasonable price. We sampled four dinners (ours and three friends') there, and each cut of meat was perfectly cooked--seared outside, reddish-pink and tender inside--and dripping with flavor. We've been to several better-known steak houses in Dallas and received lesser-quality meals at 2.5 times the price.

Banana Leaf, whose twin mottos are "the leaf that's delicious" and "to-go, or reservation," does all the staples--pad Thai, panang, satay, spring rolls--with skillful aplomb. But it also pinches you with less familiar but well-spiced creations such as waterfall beef (so molten it turns your tear ducts into hydropower channels) and tiger cry (so named because it can turn a fierce feline predator into a typical Oprah guest). And while Banana Leaf isn't a dazzling example of interior design (walls feature groupings of birds from the truck-stop souvenir ilk), the food is clean, brisk and good-looking. Just make sure to stuff your pockets with Kleenex before venturing forth.

Turkeys were never meant to trod where cattle hoofs tromp. And that fleshy wattle growing from its throat ain't no set of horns. That's why turkey burgers don't have steer power: They often lack juice and richness, and they crumble like parched bran muffins under stress. Here the burgers are juicy and rich, and they stick together like their beefy counterparts. Pesto topping and a whole-wheat muffin don't hurt any, either. It's enough to make one utter an aria of rapid gobbles.

Most people we see at Whole Foods are buying stuff, so we don't think anyone goes there just to snack on the free samples in the aisles. But around the pineapple-mango salsa bowl, sometimes you wonder. It doesn't stick around long. The unlikely combination of fresh fruit and heat/spice, courtesy of chilies, cilantro and onion, is as refreshing as it is unusual. True, Tex-Mex purists might not even call this salsa. But it's such a brilliant departure from the traditional tomato-based varieties, and such a relief in the summer heat, it gets the best nod on originality alone.

We hear that one of our staff has had a bad waitstaff experience here. Not saying that isn't possible, just saying that we've never experienced anything except top-notch attention and care from the folks at Blue Fish. The sushi here is fresh and huge--it's often hard to put it all in your mouth. (Stop it.) The specials are rich and original (the crab bake over California rolls is not for the weak of stomach). If you're a Blue Fish virgin, you'll need to know these two alcohol facts: They have an outstanding cold sake selection, and Wednesdays offer $1 Blue martinis. Chop chop.
It's big, smoky, voluptuous, and colorful--too pretty to be a cowboy. It's filled with typical stuff like egg and lettuce, but it also has roasted peppers, charred tomatoes, and bright, clean, creamy avocado. The whole thing is smoked and spiked with bacon, smoked chicken, and jalapeño jack cheese before it's stiffened with some tortilla strips. It's an articulate confluence of flavors and tastefulness, despite a color scheme worthy of a punk golfer.

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