Does your family follow this tradition? After the table is set and a steaming turkey is placed just in front of your nose, your mother or some elder at the table makes everyone hold hands and announce what they are thankful for. At this point you've been watching football all day and are probably six beers in the hole. You're in desperate need for some solid sustenance, but your cousin Susie can't figure out if she's more thankful for the most recent season of Yo Gabba Gabba or puppies.
As trying as the process can be, with your stomach grumbling and your grandfather blaming the lumps in the gravy on Obamacare, it can be useful to take some time to reflect on the things that have made our lives worth living, especially from a epicurean perspective.That's what Thanksgiving is all about.
Forget the turkey for a second -- it's dry and mealy anyway. Here are 10 things to be thankful for in Dallas.
Barbecued Meats (picture above) Of course barbecued meats! (Yes, there will be Tex-Mex somewhere in this list.) It's widely accepted that Dallas' barbecue is an art form worth celebrating, but I'm wondering if some Dallasites don't know just how good they have it. The beef rib from Pecan Lodge, the sausages of Cattleack, the sides of Slow Bone and the refined barbecue of Smoke in Oak Cliff are seriously good barbecue options that can hold their own on a statewide stage and beyond. You could even ditch the Turkey and replace it with a brisket. Let's see the old man blame the White House for that!
Tacos La Banqueta's tacos are a work of art -- especially after you decoratively apply red and green salsas and finish a squeeze of lime. If Dallas was to implode, or you were to move away forever, there's a good chance you're going to miss these (and many more) tacos, unless you're moving to Mexico City.
Local Beer Just a few years ago, Dallas barely had a beer bottle's worth of local beer. Now kegs of local suds rain down from the heavens. Every few months a new brewery is planned or recently opened, and some of them have them have gone on to win national awards. This ain't no hooch, but critically acclaimed beer.
Feuds When is the last time Jack Perkins picked a fight with one of his customers of commenters on the Internet? It doesn't matter because now we have the Leslie Brenner versus the red-assed chefs of Dallas. After handing out a few too many spankings, Brenner is managing a restaurant uprising, and when you're not completely aggravated by it, it can be fun to watch. Bottom line: Dallas is filled with passionate chefs and food writers alike, and they're both willing to fight for their cause. It's better than reality TV.
Locavorism Look, this isn't California. We live in a tomato's version of hell, which is what makes the work of Sarah Perry at White Rock Local Market, Steven Bailey at his Urban Acres and others all the more exceptional. These people are conjuring vegetables, fruits, eggs and meat from a dessert. We may not have the most robust locavore scene, but you should be thankful for what you have because it took a lot of work.
Coffee After looking at a recent credit card bill, I'm starting to miss the old Folgers days. There was a time when coffee came from an automated contraption that sat on our kitchen counters at a cost of about 15 cents. It was the best part of waking up. We had it rough. Now we've got loads of coffee shops that are willing to take a five spot for an 8-ounce cup that's mostly milk. And while there maybe be a bit of sticker shock associated with abandoning the Mr. Coffee you got as a hand-me-down gift 20 years go, it's undeniable how good coffee has gotten recently. Lacavore Bonus: many of the beans that are brewed here are roasted here, too.
Ethiopian food The collection of Ethiopian spots around Forest Road and the Central Expressway and beyond are some of the most unsung restaurants in Dallas, ethnic or otherwise. You can get plates the size of Hula Hoops filled with lentils and other vegetables, beef and other stews and many more delicacies for a few bucks. Most boast modern, if not swaky dining rooms, and many offer DJs and dancing late on Friday and Saturday evenings. If you haven't been to Queen of Sheba, Lalibela, Desta or Ibex, get up there fast so you can be thankful for them too.
Topo Chico Did you know the maker of those explosive bottles of fizzy water have offices right here in Irving? Topo Chico takes second place only to tacos for Mexico's best gift to the Union.The sea green bottles contain mineral water that's so carbonated there's a good chance you could explode if you drink it to fast. Bottles are showing up at bars and coffee shops all over DFW recently, which makes for a great break between rounds of those boozy local brews. And speaking of booze, this stuff obliterates hangovers. Stash a bottle or two in your fridge for emergencies.
Tex-Mex Oh, Tex-Mex. I have a love-hate relationship with this stuff, but when a friend from out of town dropped in and requested this indigenous delicacy (don't they always?), I had to oblige. I'm glad I did, because my recent meal at Avila's reminded my why this stuff is so popular. Move too far from Texas and this stuff will become a distant memory, replaced by Cal-Mex or Salvadorian food. You're truly lucky to have Tex-Mex, all the way down to the rice and beans.
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Sushi Despite being landlocked, Dallas has a seriously good sushi scene. There are fine-dining experiences featuring top-notch fish and there are quiet neighborhood restaurants that offer the same stuff. If you've been caught in a California roll malaise, Dallas is a great city in which to branch out. From Tei-an to Teppo, you should not miss out.
See also: Dallas' Five Best Sushi Restaurants