Despite the cliche, Dallas isn't just barbecue and tacos. You can easily eat like an adventurer within earshot of Dallas-Fort Worth Airport. Thanks to some seriously diverse food offerings nearby, you can eat like Anthony Bourdain and still make your connection. Here are 10 spots that will get you out and about and eating well.
Tom’s Burgers and Grill
1530 N Cooper St, Arlington
Time from DFW Airport: 20 minutes
One of the greatest Texas dishes of all time is also the easiest to botch. If you’ve got a layover in Texas, how in the name of Friday Night Lights could you not stop for chicken-fried steak? At Tom’s Burgers, which the Observer once boldly called the Greatest Diner of All Time, they do not mess around: The chicken-fried steak comes in an armored casing of ruffled potato chips that crunches when you put a fork to it. Tender fried steak is best when dipped into gravy, so take a deep breath of the white stuff and sink in. Beer-battered onion rings will also put you in the right place.
Taj Chaat House
1057 W Rochelle Rd, Irving
Time from DFW Airport: 15 minutes
Three important details to consider as you’re madly searching your phone for a restaurant: The Chaat house is lightning-fast, hugely flavorful and inexpensive. “Chaat” refers to “savory snacks,” typically served in food carts in India and much of South Asia. Actually, just stop your search for food: You need moon-sized dosas (masala is a sure-fire win) and potato curry. You also need cheese paneer hit with pickles and tangy, spicy chutneys from the condiment bar. Before you can say “635 traffic,” you’ll have a beautiful snack in front of you. Say it with me: Never go to Subway.
3977 N. Belt Line Road, Irving
Time from DFW Airport: 15 minutes
You could get a sad pretzel at the airport terminal, or you could get a flaky, meat-filled pocket, served in its own edible container. An empanada is made for the layover. Empa Mundo is one of the kindest, friendliest mom-and-pop spots in Irving, serving up nothing but meat-filled beauties. You can call ahead, and it’ll be ready for you. They come in convenient little plastic sacks, perfect for jamming 12 of them in your messenger bag. Get a cheesesteak, maybe the chorizo — popping with peppers and cheese — or the brisket-packed option and hit the road.
10045 N. MacArthur Blvd. Ste 113., Irving
Time from DFW Airport: 20 mins
According to a recent survey of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, there are 4.4 trillion burgers in the area. LA Burger is the only burger joint in binocular range of DFW airport that offers Seoul dogs. Burgers are topped with rich bulgogi or head-clearing kimchi. They’re quick and delicious. But their prize offering is the addictive Seoul dog, an all-beef hot dog heaped with bulgogi or sautéed kimchi. Melted cheese and flecks of onions take this into the comfort stratosphere. If you lay down for a nap, they’ll put a thick, fleece blanket on you. OK, not that last thing, but you should venture out to LA Burger.
3310 W. Rochelle Road, Irving
Time from DFW Airport: 16 minutes
Here’s what you need on a layover: Fried dumplings and beer. Garlicky goat dumplings ($4.99), fried enough to encase all those juices, and a friendly BYOB policy. This is life’s medicine. Everest, Irving’s Nepalese hole-in-the-wall, paints with a broad brush. Dishes range from “Szechwan chicken” to Nepali snacks. The goat momo, a dish worthy of any traffic you might endure between airport and restaurant, is also available in a bath of chile sauce.