By Steven Doyle
There is not a day that goes by that I am not asked about my favorite restaurants. Sometimes the mailbox is full of at least 50 requests. Whereas I do not mind giving my recommendations based on their particular criteria (dog friendly, cheap, great food, vegan and must have a beer list of at least 40 locals), I am sometimes at odds when it comes to selecting a new spot when I am going on a date. Perhaps this is an example of what Abraham Lincoln said about those who represent themselves having a fool for a client.
I made short list of places I really enjoy, with no particular theme in mind other than great food or drinks located across Dallas. Check it out:
This is a terrific restaurant located on Henderson, far enough away from the maddening party scene to make it a comfortable dining destination. The menu is varied enough that it will surely please anyone, including seafood, beef and chicken dishes. There are plenty of vegetarian items offered, so that will never be a problem either.
I love the bar at Gemma, as it has a pretty awesome wine, beer and cocktail list. And best of all, Gemma is open very late at night when most restaurants have been closed for hours. The pricing is moderate.
Max’s Wine Dive
This is a super cool restaurant located in Uptown that specializes in fried chicken and champagne, and also is open late night with brunch all weekend, including Friday afternoon. That brunch will cure any hangover. Don’t let the wine part of the name throw you off. If you are not a wine person, and you should have a few favorite styles of wine (think pinot noir that pairs with most anything) then look to the cocktail or beer list. Max’s typically will have a few really good local brews on tap.
El Come Taco
I know a lot of you think that the truck stop tacos at Fuel City are the best, and they do rock at 3 a.m., but when you want really good authentic street tacos look to El Come. The people there do rock the typical meats you are used to, including my favorite, al pastor which is a spicy pork with a tinge of pineapple sliced from a trompo. But this place also will have stuff straight from across the border like tacos de grillo (crickets). If you see something odd on the menu, by all means try it.
There is nothing wrong about this pizza joint located at Forest and Preston in Dallas. The chefs rock the Neapolitan-style pizza and also make their own cheese each day. If you have never had burrata, it is a mozzarella-style cheese stuffed with gooey cream and topped with olive oil and tomatoes. Holy hell it’s good. Great beer selection here, too.
The best burger in Dallas, bar none. Located at 2222 Irving Blvd., this joint is only open for lunch. Coming soon is a location in Trinity Groves which promises evening hours. Order the Do It Murph Style which is loaded with roasted jalapeno and smoked bacon relish. Killer. For bigger appetites, enjoy the Ten Buck Four Banger, which it’s a meat attack on a bun. With cheese. This place also is very cheap as it is on the DL.
For Italian, I love me some Carbone’s. It is uber casual with everything made from scratch in a kitchen open for all to see, and it is simply incredible. Go for the lasagna. This is the stuff Michael Corleone dreams of. Don’t stop with the main course, order a damned cannoli. It is the best you will savor this side of Sicily.
This is the Vietnamese Mecca that all the chefs go to for their fix. These people were doing pho before it became the rage just a few years back in Dallas. Throw a dart at the menu and you won’t miss something terrific to dine on. Vegetarians will have their fill here as well.
This Texas kitschy place is owned by the fabulous Stephan Pyles, chef to the stars. You will be the star when you check in for some hot Texas cuisine like his family made growing up in west Texas. Choose anything from tacos, honey fried chicken (the best), and even chili. The chili is made in house, then canned and delivered steaming table-side and served with homemade Fritos. Don’t forget the margaritas.
I love Herrera’s perhaps because I grew up on these enchiladas and the place defines Tex-Mex to me. Whatever the reason, Herrera’s is amazing with several locations across town, including the newest near Trinity Groves in West Dallas (just beyond that newfangled bridge). Order the 2C for a bit of everything on one plate.
Luscher’s Post Oak Red Hots
There is this guy, a chef, named Brian Luscher. He is a super cool guy who would be fun to sit down and kill a six pack with…and he also happens to make some of the very best hot dogs around. From scratch. By the time you read this he may have his new restaurant open in Deep Ellum which will specialize in these dogs, but if not you can buy them packaged at the Green Grocer on Greenville Avenue. Chi dogs never tasted so good.
Lockhart Smoke House
For my BBQ fix, I hightail it to Oak Cliff in the Bishop Arts District. There I can plow through ribs, chicken, brisket and spicy housemade sausages by the pound. I always look in the chill case for some cool side dish the chefs may have concocted, or even an unusual meat of the day (oh lawdy, when they do wings it is a good day).
While in Bishop Arts, I always stop in at Emporium for a slice of heaven. The chocolate pie with a pretzel crust is insane. There always is a line, so be prepared to bring along a few ribs to gnaw on while waiting for the ladies who own the joint to slice off a slab of their sweet, sweet pie.