Dallas' 50 Most Interesting Restaurants, No. 14: Smoke

Leading up to our annual Best of Dallas® issue, we're counting down the 50 most interesting restaurants in Dallas. These spots bring something unique or compelling to the city's dining scene, feeding both your appetite and soul. Find more interesting places on our all-new Best Of app for iTunes or Android.

Smoke chef Tim Byres has a reputation for heavy cooking, and it does him a bit of a disservice. His brunch plates have been rumored to put unsuspecting customers in a three-hour coma; his burger is outfitted with bacon, and crowned with a deep-fried egg and a massive jalapeño; his restaurant's signature dish is called the "big rib" and it delivers in both physical size and caloric density.

People have their lipid profiles and figures to worry about, and Thanksgiving is celebrated once a year for good reason. But you should know there are lighter plates available, too, and they won't weigh you down. Seared scallops, grilled quail and the bricked Cornish hen will let you float out of the dining room while you check your iPhone calendar to book your next return visit, and the small plates pack huge flavors, while maintaining restrained proportions.

What makes Smoke special though is not what is cooked but how it's cooked. Byres' obsession with antiquated techniques has revived kitchen practices that might otherwise go the way of pie birds and butter churns. The kitchen is anchored by a massive, wood-burning stove that isn't just a showpiece -- it's the heart of the restaurant. Much of the cooking here is fueled by wood, and the subtle kiss of combustion scents everything. (Including you.)

Bread baking, pickling, sausage curing, and other arts have seen a renaissance across the country, but here they're revived in a way that that seems especially earnest and genuine. Byers takes your palate on a historic journey using southern flavors and demonstrates why throw-back cooking is more than just hip or interesting -- it tastes delicious, too.

No. 50: Joyce and Gigi's No. 49: East Hampton Sandwich Co. No. 48: 20 Feet Seafood Joint No. 47: Taj Chaat House No. 46: Mot Hai Ba No. 45: La Nueva Fresh and Hot No. 44: Pera Turkish Kitchen No. 43: Tom's Burgers and Grill No. 42: Mughlai No. 41: Russian Banya No. 40: Off-Site Kitchen No. 39: Bachman Lake Taqueria No. 38: Carbone's No. 37: Babe's No. 36: Barbacoa Estilo Hidalgo No. 35: Zaguan No. 34: Royal Sichuan No. 33: Spoon No. 32: Bambu No. 31: Pecan Lodge No. 30: FT33 No. 29: Keller's Drive-In No. 28: La Pasadita No. 27: Ten Bells Tavern No. 26: El Ranchito No. 25: Cafe Urbano No. 24: Nova No. 23: Jeng Chi No. 22: Omi No. 21: Tei-An No. 20: Jonathon's Oak Cliff No. 19: Yutaka and Sharaku No. 18: Local No. 17: Ibex No. 16: Pakpao No. 15: Chennai Cafe

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