Smokey Joe's BBQ | Top 100 Restaurants in Dallas

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December 7, 2023

The Dallas dining scene continues to woo us. From Icelandic hot dogs to Hawaiian lunch plates to Italian street food, the options to indulge are bountiful. We started this list of the top 100 restaurants in Dallas in 2018 and every year since have added new ones and dropped an equal number. Restaurants close throughout the year, concepts change, chefs leave or quality (service, food or both) declines, scooching a spot off the list and leaving room for others to slide in. And the bench here is deep.

For the top restaurants of 2024, we’ve added 11 places that range from downtown comfort food to an Oxacan hideaway with flaming bone marrow in Oak Cliff. Not all the restaurants are new: some have been around for years, but the timing and kismet were right this time around.

You can see the full list of the top 100 restaurants in alphabetical order using the A to Z button above, or spin the wheel like you’re on the Showcase Showdown and let fate pick your next meal. Either way, you can't lose.
– Lauren Drewes Daniels, food editor

Top 100 Restaurants in Dallas

Smokey Joe's BBQ

Smokey Joe's BBQ
Alison McLean
Shhh. Don’t spread the word around too far. But just between us, this author’s personal favorite barbecue restaurant in Dallas is Smokey Joe’s. Yes, this author gets to Cattleack and its incredible brisket and coleslaw whenever he can, and yes, he knows all about the beef ribs at Pecan Lodge and the fried chicken at The Slow Bone. But the regulars at Smokey Joe’s know that its bricks of fabulously tender and minimally treated pork ribs are unbeatable. And owner Kris Manning’s personal passion happens to be brisket, which might be why his has become the best brisket between Cattleack and Waco. Its balance — not overly smoky, not harshly seasoned, fabulously tender and moist — is just right.

Top pick: There are some great barbecue sandwiches here, including the GF, with heaping brisket, pickles and onion rings that stay crisp on the drive home.

Fun fact: A “slice” of pie here is a quarter of the whole darn pie. Did you really think you were going to get work done after lunch? ($$)
6403 S. R L Thornton Freeway, Dallas, 75232

Top 100 Restaurants in Dallas

Al Markaz

Al Markaz
Alison McLean
Chicken Karahi
For more than two decades years, Al Markaz has been an institution in the Dallas-area Indian and Pakistani communities. Some of the original employees are still here, and the lunch combo is still an outrageously good deal. That long history, and those low prices, are still a big part of the restaurant’s appeal, but there are plenty of good dishes coming out of the kitchen, including lentil stews and probably the best butter chicken within a dozen miles. It’s especially fun to visit in the evening during Ramadan and watch dozens of families arrive simultaneously to order mountainous, fast-breaking meals.

Top pick: The lunch combo includes a piece of naan and appetizer portions of three different main courses. You choose the mains; we recommend the nihari and dal palak (spinach and lentils).

Fun fact: The attached grocery store is excellent, with a wide range of South Asian foods, teas, sodas and English biscuits. ($)
1205 W. Trinity Mills Rd. #112, Carrollton, 75006

Top 100 Restaurants in Dallas

AllGood Cafe

AllGood Cafe
Nick Rallo
If you designed the diner of your dreams, and you happened to be from south-central Texas rather than, say, New York or the Midwest, the result would look a lot like AllGood Cafe. The food here adds gentle Texan touches to American classics, like the fat slices of roasted poblano pepper in the terrific grilled cheese sandwich, or the fact that all sandwiches come with a side of tortilla chips rather than fries. The chicken-fried steak, with enormous, crisp batter that sprawls across a whole takeout container, is advertised as the “world’s best.” We don’t know if that’s true, but to find better, you’d probably have to drive to some tiny town in the Hill Country.

Top pick: Either the fabulous chicken club sandwich, with crisp, peppery bacon and avocado, or literally any dish that comes with the restaurant’s smooth mashed potatoes and ultra-peppery gravy. Come to think of it, all our favorite dishes at AllGood have huge quantities of black pepper.

Fun fact: The restaurant’s atmosphere, eclecticism and charm are best described by the slogan emblazoned across its website: “It’s like going to Austin, without having to go through Waco.” ($)
2934 Main St., Dallas, 75226

Top 100 Restaurants in Dallas

Armoury D.E.

Armoury D.E.
Kathy Tran
When the Armoury D.E. opened its doors in 2015, its mission was to offer some of the best cocktails, food and live music Deep Ellum had seen in years. The Armoury has stuck to what it knows best, offering a casual dining experience with a diverse selection of Hungarian comfort foods and other good stuff that doesn’t quite fit anywhere else. Be sure to ask about the burger of the week while you’re there. Also, venture out back to catch one of their free live shows, curated with a music taste as refined as the bar’s choice in booze. ($$)
2714 Elm St., Dallas, 75226

Top 100 Restaurants in Dallas

Ayahuasca

Ayahuasca
Lauren Drewes Daniels
Ayahuasca is possibly the most difficult-to-find restaurant in Dallas. To get there, enter the Xaman Cafe in Oak Cliff, then head down a back hallway to a wooden door. Inside, owner Mauricio Gallegos and chef Monica Lopez serve pre-Hispanic dishes and techniques influenced by Oaxaca. The dishes are steeped in authenticity, from the pulpo y tinta (octopus and ink), caldo de piedra or chicharron en salsa verde. Fear not if you’re unfamiliar with the fare; servers are happy to walk guests through the menu, asking them what looks interesting or what kind of dish they're looking for.

Top Pick: Without a doubt, order the tuetano. Two large roasted beef bones filled with marrow are topped with a lively chimichurri and served with a bowl of diced rib-eye alongside. Scoop up a spoonful of baked marrow from the bone and spread it into a criollo tortilla, then add the tender rib-eye. Yes, the dish is $49, but it’s worth every penny. ($$)
334 Jefferson Blvd., TX, 75208

Top 100 Restaurants in Dallas

Baby Back Shak

Baby Back Shak
Observer file photo
A half slab at this barbecue joint means seven baby back ribs kissed with smoke, spiced with pepper and just-right tender: The meat doesn’t fall off the bone, but pulls off with the gentlest of tugs. It just narrowly beats out the boudin plate as our favorite order, but the boudin (here spelled boudain) is top-notch, too, especially dunked in a cup of sauce. The small dining room pays loving tribute to great blues musicians and displays two decades’ worth of media praise.

Top pick: We love two meaty sides: excellent, peppery, lick-the-takeout-container baked beans and the boudin links. (Yes, boudin can be ordered as a side dish with a rack of ribs to make the ultimate meat plate.) ($)
1800 S. Akard St., Dallas, 75215-1901

Top 100 Restaurants in Dallas

Barsotti's

Barsotti's
Chris Wolfgang
The former (and in our minds, original) Carbone’s Fine Foods has been reincarnated as Barsotti’s. The trappings of the new space feel a little more upscale since the remodel, but the restaurant still executes classic and unpretentious Italian fare. Longtime fans of the red-sauce Italian spot have returned in droves. Classic dishes like vodka rigatoni or lasagna Bolognese stream through the dining room regularly. Be sure to wrap up your meal with one of Barsotti’s textbook cannolis.

Top Pick: Barsotti’s from-scratch Sunday gravy, served on a bed of al dente creste pasta, is exquisite. If you don’t get enough — or lie awake at night thinking about it — Barsotti’s will sell you a container of sauce to go. ($$)
4208 Oak Lawn Ave, TX, 75219

Top 100 Restaurants in Dallas

BBQ King

BBQ King
Alison McLean
This spot is one of the best Pakistani restaurants in the Dallas area, which started in Richardson before moving to Garland in 2018. BBQ King serves some great naan — try it stuffed with spiced potatoes or topped with a showering of sesame seeds and cilantro. These are accompaniments to dishes such as haleem, the porridge-like soul food of lentils, wheat, ground meat, ghee, ginger and fried onion.

Top pick: Try the stew-like kunna gosht, made with goat leg, or beef karahi, which sets tomato sweetness against a balanced lineup of spices.

Fun fact: If you’re into paan, the leaf-and-nut chewing stimulant common in Pakistan, BBQ King has what most diners agree is the best paan counter in the area. (We haven’t indulged.) ($$)
3112 N. Jupiter Rd., Garland, 75044

Top 100 Restaurants in Dallas

Beckley 1115

Beckley 1115
Alison McClean
Beckley 1115 opened in January 2022 under the guidance of chef and restaurateur Sharon Van Meter, and in 2023 husband-and-wife duo Luke and Geni Rogers bought the restaurant. While Luke works the kitchen, Geni runs the front of the house and has curated a polished wine list of affordable options by the glass or bottle. The menu is dotted with American bistro favorites: shrimp, steaks and house-made pastas dominate the entrees. Appetizers sparkle, like a generous charcuterie board or delicate octopus carpaccio. In just a short time, the Rogers have turned Beckley 1115 into the neighborhood secret worthy of everyone’s attention.

Top Pick: Order the Butcher's Cut of the Day, which varies but is always executed with skill. A melting beef tallow candle in the center of the cut bastes the beef as you eat. ($$)
1115 N. Beckley Ave., Dallas, 75203

Top 100 Restaurants in Dallas

Bilad Bakery & Restaurant

Bilad Bakery & Restaurant
Kathy Tran
The Iraqi restaurant Bilad is a neighborhood institution. The superb bakery got its start turning out excellent samoon bread from Iraq and trays of delightful desserts like pistachio puffs and baklava. Bilad has an excellent kitchen serving Iraqi specialties, including some of the region’s better shawarma and falafel, zhug (an acidic hot pepper sauce), fresh tabbouleh and garlicky hummus. Kebab meat may look charred on the outside, but the interior is still perfectly tender. Grab a bag of that samoon bread as you leave, or visit the small grocery next door.

Top pick: The shawarma sandwiches, served on loaves of fresh Iraqi bread with fluffy soft interiors, are no-doubt, unanimous-vote choices for the Texas Sandwich Hall of Fame, especially if you ask that your sandwich be made spicy.

Fun fact: Bilad makes a point of providing food for their neighbors experiencing homelessness. ($)
850 S. Greenville Ave., Richardson, 75081

Top 100 Restaurants in Dallas

Billy Can Can

Billy Can Can
Billy Can Can
Texas Red Chili
For a certain kind of tourist or visiting family member, this fancified, all-frills saloon in Victory Park is a guaranteed hit. It presents a dressed-up, Wild West atmosphere that verges on kitsch (and, in the name, crosses that verge), while serving up food and drink vastly better than the gimmick might suggest. An adventurous, affordable selection of wines and cocktails backs up pretty killer renditions of skillet cornbread, Texas red chili, hot fried quail and summer okra succotash. Some of the mains, such as the big-boned pork chop, are over-the-top in a good way. Alongside Knife and Town Hearth, this is one of the best places to take out-of-town guests who ask for a stereotypically Dallas experience but still care about the food being good.

Top pick: The crispy oyster sliders with comeback sauce make a pretty flawless appetizer, and the burger is a meaty dream bathed in Longhorn cheddar. ($$$)
2386 Victory Park Lane, Dallas, 75219

Top 100 Restaurants in Dallas

Boulevardier

Boulevardier
Kathryn DeBruler
This quaint French bistro in the Bishop Arts District has one of the best brunches in the city, a celebrated wine list, phenomenal French cuisine and a stellar oyster program. It almost feels arrogant of them to also have one of the best bars in the city. And, yet, here we are. Every Friday from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., get half-off of every bottle of wine on their list and discounted oysters. Watch the chalkboard for the best picks. Not a wine-drinker? No problem. Their hand-crafted classic cocktails will get you wherever you need to go.

Fun fact: Every Tuesday they run a special: one-third off all steaks, including the chef's cut. ($$$)
408 N. Bishop Ave., #108, Dallas, 75208

Top 100 Restaurants in Dallas

Cabritos Los Cavazos

Cabritos Los Cavazos
Cabritos is the star at the only full-on Monterrey-style, goat-grilling show in the Dallas area. Stare through the glass kitchen wall at the massive pit, above which goat legs, shoulders and ribcages stand like planted flags, then feast on one of the cuts alongside charro beans and the restaurant’s excellent salsas. Few make-your-own-taco experiences in Dallas get as good as this. One portion of cabrito, with all the fixings that come with it, is enough to make one person full or to satisfy two people who’ve also shared an appetizer.

Top pick: Splurge on the whole goat for $235. If that’s a little too much food for your household, consider the spectacularly rich machitos — rolls of goat meat, fat and organs stuffed into the animal’s digestive tract and grilled until crispy.

Fun fact: If you’re wondering why the dining room is a little strange, and why the kitchen has a glass wall partition, it’s because this space used to be a liquor store. ($$)
10240 N. Walton Walker Blvd., Dallas, 75220

Top 100 Restaurants in Dallas

Cafe Momentum

Cafe Momentum
Kathy Tran
Cafe Momentum is a nonprofit venture that employs juvenile offenders and pays them fair, living wages to help teach them life skills, leadership and, of course, how to work in a restaurant. Because of the employees’ fair wages, any tips left behind are considered donations to the mission. As such, it’s easy to praise the restaurant without ever mentioning food, just by dwelling on the life-changing effects it has on young people who deserve this chance to work and grow. But here’s the thing: Cafe Momentum is a genuinely good restaurant, one that consistently manages to stand out from the glut of Southern kitchens around town.

Top pick: Menu items rotate along with the interns and the professionals who teach them, but look for market-fresh fish with seasonal sides, savory crawfish beignets or an excellent plate of shrimp and grits. ($$$)
1510 Pacific Ave., Dallas, 75201

Top 100 Restaurants in Dallas

Cafemandu Flavors of Nepal

Cafemandu Flavors of Nepal
Alison McLean
Of Irving’s top Nepalese restaurants, Cafemandu boasts the biggest and deepest list of momos, the country’s beloved pleated dumplings. Cafemandu even has dessert momos, but it’s probably best to start with the classic steamed variety to admire the thin, nearly translucent dough around the plump filling then work your way through spicy chili momos covered in hot sauce and sautéed with peppers, jhol momos, served in a bowl of mildly spiced broth, and even dumplings bathed in cheese.

Top pick: One you best bets is sekuwa, the Nepalese grilled skewers of seasoned meat similar to kebabs; try the ultra-flavorful goat.

($)
3711 N. Belt Line Rd., Irving, 75038

Top 100 Restaurants in Dallas

Cattleack Barbeque

Cattleack Barbeque
Chris Wolfgang
In an industrial park in Farmers Branch, Cattleack Barbeque lives up to every bit of hype it’s received. Fabulous fatty brisket and extraordinary pulled whole hog are the stars of the show, as is a vinegar-based coleslaw. Grab another bite of slaw and you’ll be prepared to tackle that next slice of Texas hot link.

Top pick: Some weeks, the Cattleack crew smoke beef ribs rubbed with a pastrami spice mix. The ribs are jaw-dropping; order an extra, take it home and throw it in a pot of beans the next day. In fact, order extra of everything in general, and you’ll be cooking the best beans of your life. ($$)
13628 Gamma Rd., Farmers Branch, 75244

Top 100 Restaurants in Dallas

CheapSteaks

CheapSteaks
Alison McClean
There's a long list of new, glitzy restaurants in Deep Ellum. CheapSteaks is not one of these. Here you'll get honest food and strong drinks at a fair price, a reflection of the original neighborhood's gritty character. True to its name, CheapSteaks offers up a trio of beef cuts that punch above their weight class. Light and crispy truffle french fries are the default side choice, but flavorful Brussels sprouts or a baked potato can be subbed for a couple of bucks more. And every night of the week, CheapSteaks hosts live music that helps burnish its Deep Ellum bona fides.

Top Pick: The hanger steak is particularly delicious, especially when ordered with no more than a medium finish. It’s a poor man's filet of tenderness and flavor, and it is baffling to us that more restaurants don't offer the cut.
2613 Elm St., Dallas

Top 100 Restaurants in Dallas

Chilangos Tacos

Chilangos Tacos
courtesy of Chilangos
Deep in the maze of warehouses, industrial plants and nightclubs along Harry Hines Boulevard, Chilangos serves a short menu of tacos along with spicy elote cups and horchata. The interior is a chic tribute to Mexico City, with the ordering counter made to resemble a street or market stall, Topo Chico bottles converted into flower holders on each table and words of culinary wisdom painted on the walls. There aren’t a lot of taco choices here, but every single one can be made costra-style — that is, with the fillings of your choice wrapped in a golden-brown blanket of crisp molten cheese. That cheese pocket is then placed on a flour tortilla that can barely stretch to hold it.

Top pick: The traditional and best order to fold into a cheesy sheath is Chilangos’ excellent pastor-marinated pork. Just be sure to add lots of chopped onions and salsa verde to offset the cheese’s richness. ($)
10777 Harry Hines Blvd. #130, Dallas, 75220

Top 100 Restaurants in Dallas

Cosmo’s Bar & Lounge

Cosmo’s Bar & Lounge
Taylor Adams
Dumplings in broth
Tucked away at the corner of Skillman and Live Oak since 2000 is Cosmo’s, a restaurant and bar boasting no nonsense, one of a kind hospitality. With a ‘60s lounge vibe, specialty cocktails and an eclectic menu with everything from gourmet pizzas to Vietnamese dishes, Cosmo’s has something for everyone. When you’re there, browse through their extensive VHS collection and make a request or step outside to their patio, which feels like a little oasis outside the noise of the city. ($)
1212 Skillman St., Dallas, 75206

Top 100 Restaurants in Dallas

Cris and John

Cris and John
Lauren Drewes Daniels
Cristina Mendez and John Pham opened Cris and John in 2017 in a North Dallas strip mall — bookended by a 7-Eleven and a laundromat — and have stood out with a creative blend of Vietnamese and Mexican street fare. The center of Cris and John’s menu is the phoritto, which piles all the goodness of a bowl of pho into a warm and crispy tortilla. From there, the menu expands to bao, tacos or banh mi with a variety of fillings, or more traditional pho and ramen. Want loaded fries and spicy wings too? Cris and John’s has you covered, blending cuisines like few others in the city.

Top pick: Each week, Cris and John creates a $30 special tray filled with some of its most popular items, like Angry Pho, birria tacos, chicken wings or spring rolls. The tray offerings change each week, so there's always something new to try. If you see the option to add short rib to pho for a small up-charge, do it. ($$)
5555 Preston Oaks Rd., Dallas, 75254

Top 100 Restaurants in Dallas

Dal Dong Nae

Dal Dong Nae
If your parents were Korean and supported your drinking habit by cooking enormous meals for your returns home from long nights out, your house would probably look a lot like Dal Dong Nae. This late-night staple of Dallas Korea Town serves enormous, family-style platters of pork, bowls of raw oyster kimchi, huge simmering pans of stew, fried kimchi pancakes and other excellent ways to blunt the effects of the restaurant’s $12 soju and $4 beer.

Top pick: The seafood pancakes are very good here, as is the bit-of-everything budae jjijae (army stew) served bubbling hot.

Fun fact: Dal Dong Nae is open, and bustling, until 2 a.m. every night but Monday. ($$)
11445 Emerald St., Dallas, 75229-2044