Kathy Tran

SpicyZest Restaurant

Kathy Tran
As the only Sri Lankan restaurant in North Texas — and one of maybe a half-dozen anywhere in America outside of New York and California — SpicyZest would be notable even if it weren’t especially good. But it is especially good, and 2020 was a big year for the restaurant, as it moved down the strip mall to a newer, larger space that has room for a small grocery store and a full bar. Run by husband-and-wife duo Nimidu Senaratne and Chamari Walliwallagedara, SpicyZest produces outstanding food, ranging from fusion snacks like the “spicy pancake bomb” to traditional special occasion meals like lamprais, a generous helping of rice, meat and vegetables rolled into a banana leaf and steamed. The bar is newly stocked with Sri Lankan beer and arrack, which Senaratne plans to add to specialty cocktails. The owners are all too happy to help first-timers get to know Sri Lankan food, and their hospitality is first-rate.

Top pick: We especially love the seafood curry and kottu, a stir-fry of flatbread strips, a meat of your choice, carrots, greens and enough spices to make the whole dish a bold yellow.

Fun fact: Thanks to some years in Singapore, Senaratne can also cook a handful of Indonesian specialties, like nasi goreng.