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The steak & glazed carrot at Bob's is the food of legends.
The steak & glazed carrot at Bob's is the food of legends.
Bob's Steak & Chop House/Facebook

19 Iconic Dallas Dishes to Try Before You Die

Essential eating for every Dallas resident and curious travelers

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The steak & glazed carrot at Bob's is the food of legends.
| Bob's Steak & Chop House/Facebook

Burgers, barbecue, margaritas — there are plenty of dishes that are associated with Dallas' culinary identity. But with the constant arrival of up-and-coming restaurants and the forward progress toward new cuisines, new dishes, and new chefs, it's easy to forget about some of the city's best old standbys.

Whether in search of the perfect bowl of Texas red or a taste of that famous Pecan Lodge brisket, these 19 dishes are Dallas icons, required eating for every resident inside the city proper, in the 'burbs, and tourists alike. From chicken-fried steak and pies to Dallas’s most iconic margarita, this list would also serve as a handy go-to next time an out-of-town guest is in need of dinner recommendations.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
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Babe's Chicken Dinner House

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Awesome fried chicken and old-school sides like corn, mashed potatoes, and iceberg salad are served up family-style at this DFW staple. (Just beware the Hokey-Pokey.)

Tolbert's

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Tolbert's is now located in Grapevine rather than downtown Dallas as the original chili parlor was, but it's worth the trek to sample the classic "bowl of red" at least once. After all, chili is the official state dish of Texas.

Keller's Drive-In

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Keller's is one of the few remaining drive-ins in town, and it’s been serving up delicious, thin-pattied burgers on poppy seed-encrusted buns since 1965. Get a side of tots and a milkshake to go with it.

Mariano's Hacienda Dallas

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The inventor of the original frozen margarita, Mariano Martinez’s Dallas restaurant is an institution. Find his classic recipe frozen or on the rocks — either way, you can’t go wrong. The fajitas, enchiladas, and tacos make for a solid accompaniment.

Knife Dallas

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The dry-aged steaks aside, the real iconic dish at Knife is the Ozersky. Created in tribute to chef John Tesar's pal and late culinary writer Josh Ozersky, this burger is one of the finest in a city that is positively saturated with patties.

Knife Dallas/Facebook

Mia's Tex-Mex Restaurant

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Enchiladas might be considered the classic Tex-Mex dish, but Dallas has a deep and unyielding love for brisket tacos. Mia’s claims to have invented them, and whether or not that’s true, the combination of warm flour tortilla, tender meat, sweet onions and poblano peppers and that delicious gravy is essential Dallas eating.

Bob's Steak & Chop House

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Many a business deal has been forged over gigantic steaks at the original Bob's on Lemmon. Whether in search of the perfect filet mignon or a massive bone-in ribeye, they all come flanked by the signature glazed carrot.

Matt's Rancho Martinez

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Bob Armstrong dip may have been invented in Austin, but Dallasites have adopted it as their own. This off-menu creation at Matt's gilds the lily with taco meat, guac, and sour cream. Chips and queso is not the official food of Dallas, but maybe it should be?

Louie's

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Dark and divey Louie's has been serving Chicago-style thin-crust bar pizzas to a loyal crowd since 1987, which is why there's always a pack of regulars parked outside. (The Caesar salad is also a must.)

Jimmy's Food Store

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This gem of an Italian market in East Dallas is a required stop for, well, everyone. The deli counter at the back serves killer sandwiches (which are huge for the price). They're all great and everyone seems to have their own favorite, but it's hard to go wrong with the Italian Stallion, which is loaded with every Italian cold cut known to man.

S & D Oyster Company

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Since 1974, the pro waitstaff clad in their bow ties and red aprons have been mixing up cocktail sauce tableside. Put a little (or big) dab on a freshly shucked oyster, put that on a cracker, and devour.

Fearing's Restaurant

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Created by chef Dean Fearing back in the 80’s, the tomato-based tortilla soup with avocado and crispy tortilla strips has followed the chef from his post at the Mansion Restaurant to his chic, Texas-inspired haven at the Ritz Carlton.

Chef Teiichi Sakurai’s sushi and soba destination in the Dallas Arts District has earned both national accolades and a dedicated crowd of locals. The sushi is ridiculously fresh, but don’t forget to order chef Teach’s incredible green tea soba.

Pecan Lodge

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Dallas has plenty of time-honored barbecue places, but none of them do gloriously smoky, succulent brisket like Pecan Lodge. Still capable of creating lengthy lines, the smoked meats at Pecan Lodge are an essential Dallas experience.

CBD Provisions

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Arguably one of the most visually striking dishes in Dallas, the pig head carnitas at this Downtown restaurant are equally delicious. Fork-tender pulled pork is tucked into freshly-made tortillas, then served with roasted tomatillo salsa. (Note: call ahead 48 hours in advance to ensure that a pig's head will be available.)

CBD Pig’s Head

Norma's Cafe

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Classic diner-style pie with fluffy "mile-high" meringue keeps folks coming back to Oak Cliff's 59-year-old Norma's. Get a slice of chocolate, lemon, or chocolate peanut butter paired with a cup of coffee for the perfect afternoon pick-me-up.

Named and known for the gloriously paprika-spiked pork on a spit, Trompo has earned recognition from Dallasites and national publications alike. Enjoy a few of the classic trompo tacos, and don’t be surprised when a second round (perhaps a quesadilla, or a vegetarian taco with poblano?) feels totally essential.

Taco by Trompo
Photo credit @bata.eats on Instagram

Royal China Restaurant

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There’s something mesmerizing and satisfying about watching the noodles that will likely make their way to each table being crafted, rolled, stretched, and pulled gracefully by hand in the middle of Royal China in North Dallas. Order them stir fried with vegetables or served cold in a spicy, sweet and sour Sichuan peppercorn sauce.

Hand pulled La Mian noodles at Royal China
Photo via royalchinadallas.com

Hypnotic Donuts & Biscuits

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Though the name says “donuts,” the must-order item at Hypnotic Donuts is actually a chicken biscuit, easily large enough for two meals, and topped with spicy honey, jalapeños, cream cheese, bacon, pickles or gravy, depending on the specific tastes of the orderer.

A kolache from Hypnotic Donuts
Via Hypnotic Donuts’ Facebook page

Babe's Chicken Dinner House

Awesome fried chicken and old-school sides like corn, mashed potatoes, and iceberg salad are served up family-style at this DFW staple. (Just beware the Hokey-Pokey.)

Tolbert's

Tolbert's is now located in Grapevine rather than downtown Dallas as the original chili parlor was, but it's worth the trek to sample the classic "bowl of red" at least once. After all, chili is the official state dish of Texas.

Keller's Drive-In

Keller's is one of the few remaining drive-ins in town, and it’s been serving up delicious, thin-pattied burgers on poppy seed-encrusted buns since 1965. Get a side of tots and a milkshake to go with it.

Mariano's Hacienda Dallas

The inventor of the original frozen margarita, Mariano Martinez’s Dallas restaurant is an institution. Find his classic recipe frozen or on the rocks — either way, you can’t go wrong. The fajitas, enchiladas, and tacos make for a solid accompaniment.

Knife Dallas

Knife Dallas/Facebook

The dry-aged steaks aside, the real iconic dish at Knife is the Ozersky. Created in tribute to chef John Tesar's pal and late culinary writer Josh Ozersky, this burger is one of the finest in a city that is positively saturated with patties.

Knife Dallas/Facebook

Mia's Tex-Mex Restaurant

Enchiladas might be considered the classic Tex-Mex dish, but Dallas has a deep and unyielding love for brisket tacos. Mia’s claims to have invented them, and whether or not that’s true, the combination of warm flour tortilla, tender meat, sweet onions and poblano peppers and that delicious gravy is essential Dallas eating.

Bob's Steak & Chop House

Many a business deal has been forged over gigantic steaks at the original Bob's on Lemmon. Whether in search of the perfect filet mignon or a massive bone-in ribeye, they all come flanked by the signature glazed carrot.

Matt's Rancho Martinez

Bob Armstrong dip may have been invented in Austin, but Dallasites have adopted it as their own. This off-menu creation at Matt's gilds the lily with taco meat, guac, and sour cream. Chips and queso is not the official food of Dallas, but maybe it should be?

Louie's

Dark and divey Louie's has been serving Chicago-style thin-crust bar pizzas to a loyal crowd since 1987, which is why there's always a pack of regulars parked outside. (The Caesar salad is also a must.)

Jimmy's Food Store

This gem of an Italian market in East Dallas is a required stop for, well, everyone. The deli counter at the back serves killer sandwiches (which are huge for the price). They're all great and everyone seems to have their own favorite, but it's hard to go wrong with the Italian Stallion, which is loaded with every Italian cold cut known to man.

S & D Oyster Company

Since 1974, the pro waitstaff clad in their bow ties and red aprons have been mixing up cocktail sauce tableside. Put a little (or big) dab on a freshly shucked oyster, put that on a cracker, and devour.

Fearing's Restaurant