Kathy Tran

Sapp Sapp Lao & Thai Kitchen

Kathy Tran
One of the mainstays of the Laotian food revolution in Dallas, Sapp Sapp comes from a family that’s been in the business for multiple generations. They founded one of the region’s first Lao kitchens at Nalinh Market, which was originally intended as a specialty grocery store. At Sapp Sapp, there’s more room to sit down and try whole fish, crispy pork riblets coated in garlic, grilled Lao sausages or any number of ultra-hearty soups and curries.

Top pick: Just about any soup here is great, from the Lao-style pho topped with a whole beef rib to the kowpiak, filled with crispy pieces of pork belly, smooth cubes of pork blood and whole soft-boiled quail eggs. Look out for excellent noodle soups, too.

The downside: The pandemic has been a brutal challenge for Sapp Sapp, which sits in Irving’s small, very quiet downtown. In the spring, owner Xay Senephoumy told the Observer that sales were down as much as 90%.

Fun fact: Call ahead to arrange a garlic-marinated tomahawk rib-eye, a popular meal for visiting UFC fighters. The steaks are available only by reservation.