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A man holding a knife and fork cuts into in a New York strip steak on a light brown plate.
The 18-ounce New York strip steak at Georgie.

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An Eater’s Guide to Dallas

What to eat and drink when you’re in Big D

Since its portrayal in the eponymous and infamous 1980s soap opera, Dallas has undergone an incredible amount of change. The home of Neiman Marcus, the legendary State Fair of Texas, and America’s Team, the Big D also boasts a thriving, diverse culinary scene that can sometimes fly under the national radar. Dallas has always been a city of niches — if you want to fit in, you have to find yours. There might be whole parts of town that aren’t the right vibe for you, though some spots have the history and pull to rise above the fray. This guide will help you get to the heart of Dallas’ unique culinary identity.

Welcome to the Land of Meat, Meat, and More Meat

A plate of veal parmesan from Carbone Dallas.
The veal parmesan at Carbone Dallas.
Major Food Group

The old saying that “everything is bigger in Texas” might account for the number of steakhouses (and the massive steaks) in Dallas, as well as the Metroplex’s obsession with all kinds of heaping helpings of meats, including brisket, carnitas, and chicken fried steak.

Where to Start on Eater Dallas’s Best Maps

Eater Dallas puts together comprehensive guides to the city’s best food and drink — whether you’re looking for fried chicken, cocktails, burgers, or brunch. If you’re starving but overwhelmed by all of these options, here are some top picks that are a solid bet every single time.

Hottest Restaurant: Everyone in Dallas seems to covet a reservation at Carbone Dallas in the Design District. The New York Italian food import has made a big splash in the dining scene, and if you can’t seem to get in, its sister bar and restaurant next door, Vino, serves a limited version of the menu and saves spots for walk-in diners nightly.

Essential Restaurant: Have you even eaten in Dallas if you haven’t been to Dean Fearing’s steakhouse? Fearing’s Restaurant in the Ritz-Carlton in Uptown is everything fancy and upscale about Dallas — and it can be nice to step into lifestyles of the rich and famous now and again.

Burgers: When it’s time to come back down to Earth, Dallas does (and loves) burgers like no other city. Have a friendly neighborhood experience with an amazing smashburger at Goodfriend Beer Garden and Burger House in East Dallas. Or head to Dairy-ette for an old-fashioned carhop and countertop experience at an eatery that’s been rolling since 1956.

Hands use plastic forks and knives to scoop of potato salad and brisket from a platter at Goldee’s.
The meat platter from Goldee’s Bar-B-Q.
Kathy Tran

Barbecue: In 2021, Texas Monthly named Goldee’s Bar-B-Q in Fort Worth the best spot to eat in the state. The mention was life-changing for the owners of this spot, taking it from an off-the-rugged-trail stop to a place with lines daily that sells out before afternoon. Who could argue, with its delectable brisket, burnt ends, and free drinks while you wait in line? For another off-the-beaten-path favorite, stop at Intrinsic Smokehouse & Brewery in Garland and ask for help creating a custom pairing of their juicy meats with in-house brews.

Brunch: Dallas is a city of power brunchers. Knox Bistro offers a great French bistro experience of classic brunch dishes with a maple pecan sticky bun no one should miss.

Tex-Mex: It’s well worth taking the time to eat at the original El Fenix, which has been serving up the cheesy enchiladas that Dallasites love since 1918.

Italian: Most people don’t think of Italian food when they think of Dallas, but all that is changing. As a slew of new Italian spots open in town, consider a quiet evening at a long-running spot Lucia in Bishop Arts. The menu changes daily, based on what’s fresh and available, and a meal there is guaranteed to surprise with its inventive flavor profiles and unique combinations.

Steak: A city this meat-obsessed doesn’t settle for run-of-the-mill steakhouses. Some of Dallas’ steakhouses are helmed by the greatest chefs in Texas and beyond, like Australian Curtis Stone’s Georgie or John Tesar’s Knife.

Dallas Food Neighborhoods to Know

Dallas-Fort Worth is seriously massive, sprawling across more than 350-square miles of North Texas. As such, it’s easy to find a decent meal pretty much anywhere in the metroplex, but certain neighborhoods have developed unique culinary identities. Wherever you are, let this breakdown of the city’s most notable dining districts be your guide.

A pair of hands set a bread board of focaccia with a serving of olive oil onto a full set table with wine glasses.
A plate of house-made focaccia served with olive oil and wine at Written by Seasons in Bishop Arts.
Kathy Tran

Bishop Arts

See and be seen roaming the streets of this arty South Dallas neighborhood. The food scene is booming with a gorgeous wine and apps menu at Written by Seasons, the Asian-influenced Cajun food at Krio, and a thin crust pie at Eno’s Pizza Tavern.

Deep Ellum

There are now many new places to eat and drink in this cool neighborhood that it’s hard to keep up. You can get Serious Pizza (and seriously stuff yourself), eat some of the city’s best barbecue at Pecan Lodge, and have the crispy yardbird that dreams are made of at Brick & Bone. Plus, there are endless great spots to have a cocktail or three in this party-friendly neighborhood.

Greenville Avenue

When you eat here, you’ll feel like you’re part of the neighborhood. Hit up Sister for a cozy Mediterranean meal or Standard Service for a hip take on American fare. And sitting outside at Son of a Butcher for a trio of sliders and some people watching never misses.


There are multiple vibes to catch in Uptown, from over-the-top parties to some of the city’s toniest eateries to shockingly good fast-casual spots. Stop in at Crushcraft Thai Eats for kra pao with a side of insanely beautiful interior, or hang out at the Katy Trail Ice House with a bucket of brews.

A man in a cowboy hat stands in front of a neon sign reading “God Save Rodeo Bar.”
Rodeo Bar.
Adolphus Hotel


Thanks to hoteliers opening fine dining restaurants, Downtown Dallas is a hot spot to eat. It’s almost impossible to curate them, but Catbird in the Thompson Hotel remains an obsession as does CBD Provisions in the Joule. The Adolphus is the prime place to stop for a cocktail, either rough and rowdy in its Rodeo Bar or upstairs in the French Room.

Dallas Glossary of Terms

Fletcher’s Corny Dogs: The only corn dogs that matter. Fletcher’s not only invented the corny dog, but perfected it. Anyone attending the State Fair is required by law to consume at least one. And you eat it with yellow mustard, not ketchup.

Frito Pie: It remains in dispute if Texas, or Dallas, is where Frito Pie was invented, but what is not in dispute is that eating it out of a Frito bag at a football game is what we consider living your best life. Hot chili on top of Fritos and sprinkled with shredded cheese, plus a few jalapenos, is a taste of heaven.

Drive-In: Far superior to a drive-thru as a location to eat your burgers (and hot dogs) — sorry Whataburger fans. Keller’s Drive-In and Dairy-ette are among a handful of old-school establishments keeping the drive-in tradition alive in Dallas.

Dr. Pepper: When ordering a soda in Dallas, one asks for a Coke. You’ll then be asked if you’d prefer Coke or Dr. Pepper. If you’re not asked, leave.

How to Spend a Day Eating in DFW

A piece pecan pie is served on a dish with a vase of pink flowers in the background.
A piece of the “Drunken Nut” pecan pie at Emporium Pies.
Kathy Tran

To those spending a day dining in the city, start with one of its most elegant coffee shops, Magnolias Sous Le Pont in the Harwood District. Then head over to Ascension Coffee in the Design District for brunch-y breakfast — double caffeinated with a horchata latte paired with a fried chicken sandwich with spicy ranch and pickles served on a brioche bun. For lunch, enjoy a plate of barbecue at Lockhart Smokehouse and ramble around one of the city’s new favorite neighborhoods for shopping and eating, Bishop Arts. Save room for pie because stopping at Emporium Pies for a slice is mandatory while you’re there. Greenville Avenue is the place to go for happy hour. Stop in at HG Sply Co. for a cocktail on their rooftop patio. For dinner, point yourself to Meridian, Dallas’s 2021 Eater Awards winner for Restaurant of the Year, where chef Junior Borges prepares stunning plates inspired by his Brazilian heritage.

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