While plenty of arguments can certainly be made about the increasing sophistication of Dallas diners, one brutal fact remains: Ranch is our favorite condiment. It adorns not only salads but is also a fixture on pizza night (unless you're eating at Cane Rosso) and demands to be slathered on all things fried, whether you like it or not. But ranch — in the right circumstances — doesn't suck, especially when eaten at the local restaurants that make it right (i.e., from scratch). With that in mind, here are Dallas's best ranch dressings, ranked:
10) BLIND BUTCHER'S PICKLED RANCH
Without context, if some rando at the bar dunked a handful of fries in ranch in your purview, you'd likely recoil. Has he no decency? No shame? Well, pot, kettle, ranch, my friend. In a place where fermentation is cherished — which the charcuterie-heavy Blind Butcher inarguably is — pickled ranch makes perfect sense, no matter how weird it may sound. Chef and resident genius Oliver Sitrin uses both chopped pickles and pickle juice in the sauce, which comes alongside the insanely tasty duck fat fries. Acid and fat. Savory and sour. See? It makes sense after all.
9) BRYAN STREET TAVERN'S HOUSEMADE RANCH
At this East Dallas mainstay, they work hard to make their fare — especially their wings and pizza — stand out among the bar-food fray. One of the reasons they succeed is because, duh, they respect ranch. While their housemade rendition doesn't stray far from traditional conventions — again, respect — the texture is silky, buttermilk is the star, and the ratio of mayo to cream to acid to heat is on point. A bonus: you can use their ranch as a dipping sauce for wings tossed in... a spicy ranch rub. Yup. Ranch-on-ranch crime. It's ranch-ception.
8) SPIRAL DINER'S VEGAN RANCH
Whoa! Hey! Where are you going? Come back! Listen: I was like you. I get it. It's vegan ranch: it's an abomination. Here's the thing though: I don't know what the hell this vegan ranch is other than hand-to-God good. It looks like ranch, it makes you go "mmmm" just like real ranch does, and it's damn sure tastier than whatever bottle of factory slop you have corroding in your fridge right now. I didn't want it to be good. But it is. We must accept it. Thanks, Obama.
7) UNCLE UBER'S SMOKEY HABANERO RANCH
These sandwich savants happen to know their way around a condiment, too; their riffs on ranches are better and more interesting than your typical sandwich shop's. The classic version is a standby, but the adventurous among us drizzle Uber's smokey habanero ranch atop our shaved ribeye steak and subsequently reap the mouthwatering rewards. It also happens to make a winning dipping sauce for their standout seasoned fries.
6) TRUCK YARD'S CHIPOTLE RANCH
The cheesesteaks at Truck Yard are one of Dallas's most perfect and essential drunk foods. Much has been written as to why: the seasoning and preparation of the meat, the use of quality ingredients, the healing and magical powers of Cheese Whiz. But it's time now to focus on what really matters. And that's chipotle ranch. You could smother a tire in it, and we'd publish an article calling Ranch Tire an inspired and clever take on Southern cuisine. It makes everything far better and everyone deliriously happy. It's the most underrated thing about the Truck Yard, and if life were fair and condiments were created equal it would adorn every cheesy, meaty, bready menu item from here to Philadelphia.
5) OFF-SITE KITCHEN'S HOUSE RANCH
Much like everything else served at Nick Badovinus's lunchtime wonderland — the stellar burgers, those unparalleled fries — the ranch dressing is the very best version of itself imaginable. They forego any fancy additions and instead stick to the classic ranch flavor profile, but it's magically, indescribably good. Thankfully, the kitchen staff uses it judiciously: It's drizzled on the crispy sloppy taco, slathered on the club sandwich, and also adorns the cheese fries because come on, the only thing better than nacho cheese sauce is nacho cheese sauce united with ranch. It also makes the salads here totally worth eating, on the off chance you've reached your burger quota for the week.
4) ZOLI'S JALAPEÑO RANCH
Zoli's is known for its pithy marquee patter, and the fact that they even serve jalapeño ranch — they are, after all, part of the ranch-hating Cane Rosso family — is their funniest joke. It's great that they do, though, because it is mouth-burningly good. While Taco Joint may be the godfather of jalapeño ranch, here's the thing about Zoli's: they don't skimp on the jalapeño part of this condiment, and for that they deserve adulation. What they also do is place a self-serve vat of the stuff right in front of the cashier, so when you order, you can't help but ooh and ahh and ogle it. Zoli's knows what its customers' priorities are — or, at least, what they should be.
3) ZALAT'S SRIRANCHA
The stoner pizza geniuses at this DaLat spinoff have united America's two most fervently admired condiments: Sriracha and ranch. If one day someone invents Heroin Ranch, history will tab Srirancha as its precursor. You can tack a side onto your pizza order for a mere 75 cents, and it's marked on the menu with a big, well-deserved red asterisk. When's the last time you achieved mouth nirvana for less than a buck?
2) TACO JOINT'S HABANERO RANCH
If TJ's jalapeño ranch is the movie so widely beloved that it inspired a sequel, then habanero ranch is The Empire Strikes Back. It is, impossibly, better than the original in all conceivable ways. This ranch is so criminally good, Taco Joint won't even broadcast it, or, for that matter, put it in the salsa bar where its jalapeño-flavored brother resides. It's kept it in the back, off-menu, where distribution can be controlled. Think about that: this is a ranch so potent that they can't risk it falling into the wrong hands. Experience its fiery embrace, and then wonder how you lasted this long without it.
1) GOODFRIEND'S GHOST CHILE RANCH
It is reasonable for one to read "ghost chile ranch" and think "an insane firestorm of awful burning sensations in my mouth." But at Goodfriend, that reasonable assumption would be wrong. The geniuses here use the ghost chile as a complementary flavor rather than a focal point, and in doing so, through Edgar Allen Poe-inspired buttermilk alchemy, unleash an avalanche of flavors. It's an achievement, a wonderfully surprising example of culinary creativity in a sometimes derivative category, and, assuming its addictive contents are even legal, should absolutely be bottled and sold.