Best Of Dallas

The Best Things We Ate This Year

Slow Bone's smoked pork chop will cure what ails you, as long as you're ailing on Sunday or Monday.
Slow Bone's smoked pork chop will cure what ails you, as long as you're ailing on Sunday or Monday. Chris Wolfgang
At the end of each year, the food writers at the Observer like to reflect on the dishes that left a lasting impression on us over the past 12 months. Things we just keep thinking back on as we're going about our daily affairs, buying bigger pants and trying to breathe through the girth. Here's what we got for 2022. 

Our food critic Chris Wolfgang, along with contributors Hank Vaughn, Angie Quebedeaux, Nick Reynolds and Anisha Holla all pitched in on this article.

Smoked Pork Chop

Slow Bone
2234 Irving Blvd.
Slow Bone's pork chop is a meat marvel that has been in the works for three weeks by the time it lands on your tray. Slow Bone's Jeffery Hobbs digs deep into his bag of culinary tricks for this special that's available only on Sundays and Mondays. The chops are brined for two weeks, then hit the smoker before getting vacuum sealed and aging for another week. Day of service, they go back in the smoker to warm up and get finished on the flat-top just before serving. It's the most densely-flavor-packed bite of pork we've ever had, where salty, smoky, crunchy and juicy come together with each forkful. (by Chris Wolfgang)

Reuben Fries

Harwood Arms
2850 N. Harwood St.
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Rueben fries and a Guinness at one of our favorite spots in Dallas.
Alison McLean
Whether you believe money has the ability to buy happiness may largely depend on your checking account balance, but we're happy to share that, for just $6, you can get a close approximation of bliss with the Reuben fries at Harwood Arms. Available during happy hour Monday through Friday, a pile of delicately fried shoestring potatoes is tossed with A Bar N corned beef, then held together with melted Swiss cheese, a creamy Mornay sauce and Thousand Island dressing. It's the perfect salty and savory snack to go with a pint or two, and Harwood's splendid service comes free of charge. (by Chris Wolfgang)

Kouign Amann (or any baked good)

Bresnan Bread and Pastry
301 E. Louisana St., McKinney
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Goodies from Bresnan that were quickly devoured. The kouign amann is front and center.
Chris Wolfgang
Matt and Jenna Bresnan opened the brick-and-mortar storefront of their bakery in downtown McKinney earlier this year, after two years of online ordering and baking in commercial kitchens. The shop is a gem and is now open Wednesday through Sunday. Carb lovers will rejoice at the plethora of breads and pastries, and it's nigh impossible to make a bad choice. We're partial to the kouign amanns, which showcase Matt Bresnan's skill and artistry in laminating pastry. Never had a kouign amann? Imagine if Rembrandt worked in sweet flaky and buttery pastry instead of oils and canvas, and you'd be close, but it's better to head to Bresnan and try one for yourself. (by Chris Wolfgang)

Star Pizza

Mister O1
3838 Oak Lawn Ave.
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The star of the show is the star-shaped pizza.
Lauren Drewes Daniels
The eight-point pizza from Miami pizza import Mister O1 was an unexpected treat. The entire dining experience at this new spot is good, including the fresh focaccia bread, but there's one particular bite that I keep thinking back on. The unique way the crust is pinched together at different points creates a tent-like home for warm cheese. This tent of velvety ricotta cheese is simply glorious. Why haven't we been making pizza stars for centuries? (by Lauren Drewes Daniels)

Peanut Butter Paradise

Southside Steaks & Cakes
3125 Al Lipscomb Way
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Little bit of paradise.
Lauren Drewes Daniels
This Big Tex Choice Award winner is no joke. Here, a honey bun is rolled in funnel cake batter and injected with caramel before getting a dunk in a deep fryer. It's then topped with peanut butter and chocolate, which absorbs heat and turns oozy. After winning a blue ribbon at the fair, the owners of Southside Steaks & Cakes added it to the menu at their restaurant in South Dallas. Be warned: this is a monster dessert and it would be wise to bring a friend to share. (by Lauren Drewes Daniels)

Corned Beef Melt

The Fifth
2701 Custer Parkway, Richardson
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The corned beef melt at The Fifth.
Lauren Drewes Daniels
This mammoth corned beef melt can turn a bland day shiny, a whatever Wednesday to the best day ever.  The folks at The Fifth in Richardson soak an Angus corned-beef brisket in house brine for five days (five) with Prague powder, juniper berries, allspice, mustard seeds and some Shiner Bock. Swiss cheese, coleslaw and a house dressing called Louie help bring it all together between slices of toasted La Casita seeded sourdough. Put this sandwich on your calendar soon. (by Lauren Drewes Daniels)

Spanish Grilled Octopus

Monarch
1401 Elm St., 49th Floor (The National)
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Spanish grilled octopus: confit potato, roasted almond romesco, crispy guanciale.
Hank Vaughn
Monarch is a special occasion destination to be sure, occupying the 49th floor of The National in downtown Dallas, a spot with expansive views and prices to match. However, occasionally one gets what one pays for, and the Spanish grilled octopus definitely qualifies, especially since it’s considered a “shared plate” and priced a bit lower. Enjoy tender grilled pieces of octopus tasting of the sea and a wood-burning oven, with confit potato, roasted almond romesco sauce and crispy Italian cured pork cheek. The stuff of dreams, really. (by Hank Vaughn)

Short-Rib Grilled Cheese Sandwich

940s Kitchen & Cocktails
219 W. Oak St., Denton
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Filed under "best thing we've eaten in a long time."
Hank Vaughn
Sure, you have to venture north to the hinterland that is Denton, but you’ll be rewarded at 940s Kitchen & Cocktails with some decent cocktails such as the Gingered Beet or Smoke and Citrus, and we still remember fondly the wonderful short-rib grilled cheese sandwich. A blend of American and fontina cheese melted on grilled sourdough bread with juicy slow-cooked short rib, all topped with a perfectly fried sunny-side-up egg, served semi-open faced since there’s simply too much goodness at the party to allow otherwise. (by Hank Vaughn)

Chicken Karaage

Ramen Izakaya Akira
2540 King Arthur Blvd., No. 126, Lewisville
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The chicken karaage at Ramen Izakaya Akira
Hank Vaughn
This ramen spot in Lewisville serves up a great bowl of pork shio ramen, but it was the chicken karaage, one of the side dishes, that made an indelible mark upon our palates this year. Several pieces of some of the most tender and flavorful fried chicken we’ve had in a long time, coated in potato starch and then deep-fried in oil to just the right degree of doneness, yielding a terrific crackly skin and batter texture. It’s served with an aioli that complements these little bites if you’re into that sort of thing, but we kept it simple. (by Hank Vaughn)

X-Tudo Burger

Meridian
5650 Village Glen Drive
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The X-Tudo is a popular Brazilian burger.
Lauren Drewes Daniels
The smash-style X-Tudo (sheesh-tu-du) uses freshly ground Rosewood wagyu beef with a maitake aioli spread and perfectly melted gruyere cheese oozing between the layers of beef and topped with shallot marmalade and malagueta pickles that provide a subtle heat. All of these ingredients are placed between a soft sourdough potato bun (made at Doughregarde’s Bake Shop). The burgers are sold only during happy hour (Sunday through Thursday from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.) and they make only 10 of them each day, so plan to get there early if you want one of these coveted, melt-in-your-mouth burgers in your belly. (by Angie Quebedeaux)

Cacio e Pepe Pizza

Pizzana
3219 Knox St., No. 150
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Angie Quebedeaux
Pizzana is the hot new pizza joint that opened a few weeks ago on Knox Street courtesy of the founders of Sprinkles Cupcakes. The signature pizza, the Cacio e Pepe, is a gift from up above, an innovative re-imagination of the classic pasta dish served on a perfectly cooked Neapolitan crust. Four simple but high-quality ingredients are used for the pizza toppings: provoloncino d’agerola, fior di latte, parmigiano crema and cracked black pepper. The flavor combination will have you returning for a repeat experience. (by Angie Quebedeaux)

Chicken Korma

Sigree Indian Cuisine
4145 Belt Line Road, No. 218, Addison
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Lamb rogan josh (top left), saag paneer (bottom right) and chicken korma (top right).
Nick Reynolds
Led by head chef (and co-owner) Anshu Seth, Sigree Indian Cuisine in Addison specializes in North Indian fare. From biryani to tandoor chicken to a broad range of savory curries, if you’re craving Indian, this is your place. The chicken korma ($14.99), a mild creamy coconut curry with a whisper of sweetness was one of our favorite curries in recent memory. And if you’re looking for an intense appetizer with a fiery kick, try the lahasuni gobi ($8.99). Battered and deep-fried cauliflower glazed in a sweet and spicy garlic chili sauce. They’re deliciously addictive. (by Nick Reynolds)

An Ethiopian Feast

Yenat Guada
7015 Greenville Ave.
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Vegetable combo for two with siga tibs and fish goulash.
Nick Reynolds

Yenat Guada
, an Ethiopian diamond in the rough, dishes out some of the finest cuisine in the city. We had the vegetable combo platter for two ($28) that presented an array of classic vegetable dishes and sides, fish goulash ($16) in a spicy tomato sauce and siga tibs ($16), which are juicy beef tenderloin bites seasoned in Ethiopia’s signature chile spice blend. All are served on one plate family-style and with plenty of injera bread. It was an epic, memorable meal packed with a myriad of vibrant flavors. (by Nick Reynolds)

Bitterballen and Cocktails

Meyboom Brasserie
2100 Greenville Ave.
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Nick Reynolds
A newly opened, Belgium-influenced bar in Lower Greenville, Meyboom Brasserie offers a select list of international ales and lagers, expertly crafted cocktails and a menu of elevated Belgium bar fare. Here you can find professional mixologist (and co-owner) Jeff Katernick working magic behind the bar. Try the Belgian Bee’s Knees ($13), a perfect summer drink to sip on while taking in the expansive sidewalk patio. Or the robust yet oh-so-smooth espresso martini ($12). For bar bites to snack on while you sip on a Belgium ale, go with the Bitterballen: Dutch fried meatballs of braised beef thickened by roux and served with a fantastic house mustard blend. (by Nick Reynolds)

Crispy Pad Thai

Asian Mint (various locations)
A modern spin on the Thailand classic, the crispy pad thai at Asian Mint strikes a heavenly balance between crunchy, soft and flavorful. In a pleasantly deceiving way, what appears to be your typical pad thai at first is actually made of thick, crunchy wonton strips instead of noodles. The fried goodness is drenched in a tangy and sweet pad thai sauce and buried under a heap of vegetables and egg for a filling (and addicting) meal. It's a big plate. But we won't be surprised if there are no leftovers. (by Anisha Holla)

Potato Curry Puffs

Best Thai Signature
4135 Belt Line Road #112
The curry puffs at Addison's Best Thai Signature are buried (hidden almost) inside the restaurant's extensive selection of appetizers. But once you find them, there's no turning back. These Thai curry puffs come with a savory mix of mashed potatoes and peas on the inside. Blended with an aromatic curry powder, you can just smell the filling even before you take a bite. But it's the outside of the puffs here that are the real star of the show. The layer of pastry flakes to the bite in an almost ethereal way, making each bite better than the last. It comes in a portion of three puffs, but do yourself a favor and order two. You'll want them. (by Anisha Holla)

Bonus Round: Juno The Bakery

Apple croissant pastry (Copenhagen, Denmark)
A warm apple-caramel filling is enveloped by a flaky puff pastry in this ingenious work of baked art at Juno The Bakery. Baker Emil Glaser opened Juno in Nov. 2017 with high hopes of showcasing his baking skills to the rest of Europe. Let's just say: it doesn't disappoint. The outer shell of the buttery apple pastry is baked to a dark brown color, to allow for a perfectly crunchy exterior. You'll feel the layers of pastry slowly flake and melt in your mouth as you bite. And what's even better is that at the end, the layered croissant pastry gives way to a gooey, caramelized apple filling. They're served fresh out of Juno's oven, alongside other baked goods. (by Anisha Holla)
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Lauren Drewes Daniels is the Dallas Observer's food editor. She started writing about local restaurants, chefs, beer and kouign-amanns in 2011. She's driven through two dirt devils and is certain they were both some type of cosmic force.

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