Dallas Restaurant Guide

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Zavala's Barbecue Top 100

Texas barbecue gets influenced by Mexican heritage at Zavala’s, and the results are deeply satisfying. Every Friday is taco night, but every barbecue tray can be converted into a taco plate if you ask for tortillas. This might be a hot take, but tortillas are a better barbecue accompaniment than white bread. A slice of Zavala’s lean brisket nestled in a fluffy tortilla, topped with cilantro-heavy house salsa verde, tastes just about perfect. The ribs are perfectly cooked, too, especially with a house barbecue sauce that leans heavily on spice. A Sloppy Juan taco bundles chopped meats into a tortilla with a tomato-based sauce that, as the name suggests, tastes exactly like a sloppy joe. Jalapeño peppers find their way into a number of menu items, including sausage links and the creamy-but-spicy coleslaw. Making the whole experience even better, Zavala’s is housed in a tiny 1967 building in Grand Prairie’s mid-century downtown, with a big canopy hanging over the picnic tables out front. It’s an architectural gem, and a metaphor for the way that Zavala’s takes past traditions and uses them to build new traditions of its own.

Top pick: Cheesy jalapeño hominy replaces the customary macaroni and cheese as a side dish, and it’s fabulous.

The downside: It does wonders for the flavor of the brisket here, so we’re not complaining, but Zavala’s might some day be to blame if there is a global shortage of black pepper.

Fun fact: Yes, the tiny side street next to the building is really, officially named Brisket Lane.
  • Hours: Thursday 11 a.m.-3 p.m., 4-7 p.m.; Friday 11 a.m.-2 p.m., 5-8 p.m.; Saturday 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
  • Outdoor seating: Open-air patio
  • Alcohol: No Alcohol
  • Takeout: