For our annual Best of Dallas® issue, online and on the streets right now, we've been 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.
The more I think about the restaurants that have opened in Dallas over the past few years, the more I notice that my favorites tend to be spurred on by the young people. They tend to examine food through a forward-facing lens, looking toward Dallas’ full potential as a dining city. The old guys have a tendency to look backwards and riff on what’s worked in the past. I love the classics — I find repetition and familiarity strangely soothing — but to be truly excited by something in the culinary realm I need something new to me.
Passion is another one that will get me. When I encounter a chef or cook who turns out the same items over and over again with passion, respect and love, my eyes will mist up like I’m some sort of sap.
I think I like Monkey King Noodle Co. so much because I see both forward thinking and passionate cooking in the restaurant. The menu takes a new look at classic Chinese comfort food, arriving at something equally distinct and familiar. And every time I’ve stopped in, owner Andrew Chen has been in the kitchen tearing it up.
Hand-pulled noodles, hand-crimped dumplings and soups made from scratch make for a seriously good lunch. And with newly extended weekend hours, they make for a good dinner, too.
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You can go anywhere in Dallas and eat a burger — I love them, and eat far more than my fair share. But as a writer and a food enthusiast, what really gets me going are the restaurants that provide some artistic value as a side to their sustenance. I’m not talking about tweezed and elegant plates (though they can also be impressive), I’m talking about cooking that has soul and character. That's not only what makes restaurants interesting, but what makes them a pleasure to dine in.