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The 38 Essential Dallas Restaurants, April 2014

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It's that time once again: The Eater 38 has returned with a quarterly update. For the uninitiated, this is a map intended to help answer that age-old question, "Can you recommend a restaurant...?"

The spring update of the 38 brings the additions of a Lakewood favorite from a dynamic chef duo, one of the city's finest Italian destinations and a sushi standby.

Ready to throw down the gauntlet because we omitted your favorite place? We're always up for lively discussion, so hit us up via the tipline or let us know in the comments. Remember: Restaurants must have been open for six months to qualify.


38 History

April 2014:
Added: Mot Hai Ba, Nonna, Yutaka
Removed: Bangkok City, Good 2 Go Taco, Highland Park Pharmacy

January 2014:
Added: Afghan Grill, Deli News, Our Place
Removed: Bolsa, Cafe Modern, Chicken Scratch

October 2013:
Added: Highland Park Pharmacy, Neighborhood Services, Tolbert's
Removed: Meddlesome Moth, Oak, Tacos La Banqueta

July 2013:
Added: Babe's Chicken Dinner House, S&D Oyster Company, Stampede 66
Removed: Company Cafe, Pho Bang, Sissy's Southern Kitchen & Bar

April 2013:
Added: Jimmy's Food Store, Lanny's Alta Cocina, Tacos La Banqueta
Removed: All Good Cafe, Saint Emilion, Taqueria El Si Hay

January 2013:
Added: Hattie's, Meddlesome Moth, Royal China, Woodshed Smokehouse
Removed: First Chinese BBQ, Oddfellows, Maxim's, Rise No. 1

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
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Afghan Grill

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This North Dallas Afghani go-to has outstanding kebabs and hummus, but this is also a good place to stray from the usual suspects because everything is great -- try the mantoo (meat-stuffed dumplings) or kadu (pumpkin smothered in yogurt and meat sauce). (Pro tip: Most of the same food can be found at newer sister restaurant Nora on Lower Greenville.)

Avila's

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Tiny, family-owned Avila's is the best place to take any out-of-towner who wonders what all the fuss is about when it comes to Tex-Mex. (We recommend the chile relleno. And the brisket tacos. And, well, everything else.)

Babe's Chicken Dinner House

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Babe's has several locations, but this is the one that started it all. Some of the city's finest fried chicken is served up family-style (meaning, you can eat as much as your stomach will hold) alongside down-home sides like mashed potatoes, corn and salad. [Photo: Emily C./Yelp]

Cane Rosso

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The finest of Dallas' Verace Pizza Napoletana joints, Deep Ellum's Cane Rosso also boasts one of the city's best dog-friendly patios. Besides amazing pizzas like the Delia with housemade bacon marmalade, there's also excellent sandwiches and pasta dishes.

Deli News

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If you're craving matzoh ball soup, a legit Reuben, latkes, a bagel with cream cheese and lox or any other New York deli fare, this is where you want to be -- just ask its many loyal regulars. Cheese blintzes or a slice of cinnamon crumb cake satisfy a sweet tooth.

Fearing's

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Dean Fearing's eponymous bastion of fancified Southern cuisine is an iconic example of modern Texas cuisine. No dress code lends a relaxed air to the gorgeous dining rooms, and Dean himself is constantly roaming the dining room clad in his signature cowboy boots.

Garden Cafe

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The Woottons don't call their place the Garden Cafe for nothing: They've been growing the ingredients for their home-style cooking right out in the backyard for years and years, making Garden Cafe a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Goodfriend Beer Garden and Burger House

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This list of burgers demands to be conquered, line by line. The beer pairings are perfection and the hipster- and neighbor-laden patio is a welcoming place come happy hour or dinnertime.

The Grape

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This Lower Greenville gem from Brian and Courtney Luscher is a perfect date-night destination: Cozy tables, warm service and classic dishes like steak frites and creamy mushroom soup along with housemade charcuterie and a rotating selection of seasonal dishes from recently appointed chef Jed Demler.

Hattie's

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A Bishop Arts mainstay long before the neighborhood was the hippest dining destination in town, Hattie's has been serving Southern classics like fried chicken and shrimp 'n grits in an upscale white-tablecloth setting for 20 years.

Jimmy's Food Store

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Besides being an amazing Italian market and deli, Jimmy's is home to some of the best damn sandwiches this city has to offer. Order up an Italian Stallion or a Cuban and an espresso shot (or a glass of red wine) and kick back at one of the tiny tables.

Kalachandji's

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Located inside a Hare Krishna palace, Kalachandji's is from-the-soul vegetarian Indian food cooked fresh daily, buffet-style. Eat in a sanctuary-like dining room or their lush outdoor garden.

Lanny's Alta Cocina Mexicana

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Lanny P. Lancarte has been serving up his unique Mexican with a Mediterranean flair at this high-end Fort Worth spot since 2005. The grandson of Joe T. Garcia, the food here couldn't be more different from the typical Tex-Mex at that other Fort Worth institution.
Tracy Miller's hidden gem of a Deep Ellum restaurant has long been a favorite for its simple yet delicious dishes and sexy retro-modern decor.

Lockhart Smokehouse

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Lockhart Smokehouse does nothing halfway with their finely tuned, Texas-style smoked meats which require no help from such niceties as forks, making it one of the best spots in town to grab a cold beer and watch a Rangers game.
A table at Lucia is one of the toughest reservations in Dallas, but it's worth being persistent to snag a table at David and Jennifer Uygur's tiny Bishop Arts gem. All meals should begin with foie-gras stuffed prunes and end with one of the amazing desserts; inbetween, it's a constantly changing selection of handmade pastas and unusual meat dishes (think rabbit or wild boar).

Maple & Motor

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Jack Perkins' burger joint serves a diverse and hungry crowd in their Medical District digs, where workers of all-colored collars come for juicy burgers, well-seasoned fries, and cold beer.
Refined coastal Mexican cuisine including amazing seafood dishes served in a warm, rustic-chic setting from the Reyes family. The complex mole is a standout. Mesa has become a beacon for visiting celebrities, playing host to Jay-Z and Beyonce and more recently, Conan O'Brien (twice!).

Mot Hai Ba

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Jeana Johnson and Colleen O'Hare put their twist on authentic Vietnamese food while still giving it the respect it deserves at this pint-sized Lakewood spot. The chargrilled pork belly with rice noodles and broth is a must at lunch; shaking beef is a favorite of the dinner menu, and don't skip the freshly fried doughnut holes with Vietnamese coffee and ice cream.

Neighborhood Services

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Nick Badovinus' O.G. NHS on Lovers Lane is without a doubt a neighborhood staple: Just try and get a table on a Thursday night during prime dinner time without a reservation, we dare you. No matter -- it's worth the wait for creative, always well-executed fare like green chile crab dip, what might be the best wedge salad in town, or a killer flat iron with impeccable French fries, all in a cozy, dimly lit setting where the service is always top-notch. [Photo: Donald P./Foursquare]
Chef Julian Barsotti's elegant ode to fine Italian cuisine shines brightly amongst a sea of red-sauce joints. The white clam pie is a must, as are just about any of the seasonal handmade pastas -- where else in town can you find spaghettini with ramps, those delicious little harbingers of spring?

Nonna Tata

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The Northern Italian food that comes out of this kitchen tastes like its cooked by someone's grandmother, because it is. The tiny space doesn't take reservations, but it is BYOB.

Off-Site Kitchen

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People in the know go to Off-Site Kitchen for dirt-cheap, delicious lunches. The burgers have been the subject of much praise since it opened, and the 48-hour cracked pepper brisket sandwich is the stuff dreams are made of. (Plus, they have Kool-Aid and candy bars in the fridge.)

Our Place

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Good Indian food is very hard to come by in Dallas proper, so it's more than worth the drive to Irving to eat at this unassuming strip mall joint where the play-it-safe dishes (including incredible chicken makhani, fluffy naan and massive samosas) are just as good as the more adventurous ones like vada (fried lentil donuts) and baigan bartha (an eggplant dish that defies description but trust us, it's delicious).

Pecan Lodge

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Inside the Dallas Farmers Market is arguably Dallas' finest barbecue joint. Don't miss the juicy pulled pork, crusty, smoky brisket and that fabulous mac and cheese.

Pepe's & Mito's Mexican Cafe

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This long-standing Deep Ellum Tex-Mex institution continues to pack in crowds nightly for home-style dishes like albondigas, combo plates and enchiladas.

Royal China

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A Dallas mainstay for over 20 years, Royal China continues to wow loyal diners with xiao long bao (soup dumplings) and hand-pulled noodles.

S & D Oyster Company

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Open since 1976, this quaint Uptown seafood joint is a bastion of professional service and great oysters, not to mention the New Orleans-style barbecue shrimp, hush puppies, and po'boys.
The historic Belmont Hotel's Smoke restaurant is the barbecue baby of Tim Byres, who traveled the U.S. learning from meat masters, bringing his knowledge back to Dallas at one of the city's best-received and best-executed restaurants.

Spiral Diner & Bakery

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Fresh salads, hangover-curing migas and pancakes, juicy burgers, and fantastic milkshakes and baked goods; oh, and did we mention it's 100 percent vegan?

Stampede 66

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If you've got family visiting from out of state or just want an undeniably Texan dining experience, head to Stephan Pyles' newest restaurant for honey fried chicken, a bone-in cowboy ribeye, or tacos with housemade tortillas.
A minimalist shrine to fresh, impeccable Japanese food, Tei-An is perfect for a fancy dinner or a casual lunch of ramen.
A Lower Greenville mainstay, Teppo offers incredibly fresh sushi and rotating offerings of tasty bivalves like razor clams and oysters in a sleek but cozy atmosphere; the highlight of the menu is the yakitori, grilled skewers of various chicken parts or more exotic choices like beef hearts. (Don't miss the fancy Japanese toilets.)

Tolbert's

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Lest you forget, chili is the official state dish of Texas. Dallas journalist Frank X. Tolbert was what you might call chili-obsessed, even writing a book called A Bowl of Red before opening Tolbert's in 1976. The restaurant has since moved to downtown Grapevine, but the legendary chili lives on.

Urbano Cafe

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The epitome of a neighborhood restaurant, Urbano offers inspired and fresh nightly chalkboard specials with locally sourced ingredients in a tiny, cozy setting. The BYOB policy makes it an affordable weeknight choice.

Wingfield's

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Don't try to go back to work after a Wingfield's burger. Just don't--they're absolutely massive and greasy in the best possible way. Word to the wise: call in your order first, because there's not much standing room available.

Woodshed Smokehouse

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Tim Love's shrine to smoked foods on the banks of the Trinity River is a must-visit for out-of-towners; don't miss the camp bread with "pit master fat" or the brisket-stuffed piquillo peppers.

Yutaka Sushi Bistro

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The city's sushi aficionados know that Yutaka is the place to go for super-fresh, impeccably executed sushi and sashimi. Waits can be long, so settle in next door at Sharaku with a cocktail and some yakitori and the time will fly by. Feel like splurging? Call ahead for the omakase option.

Afghan Grill

This North Dallas Afghani go-to has outstanding kebabs and hummus, but this is also a good place to stray from the usual suspects because everything is great -- try the mantoo (meat-stuffed dumplings) or kadu (pumpkin smothered in yogurt and meat sauce). (Pro tip: Most of the same food can be found at newer sister restaurant Nora on Lower Greenville.)

Avila's

Tiny, family-owned Avila's is the best place to take any out-of-towner who wonders what all the fuss is about when it comes to Tex-Mex. (We recommend the chile relleno. And the brisket tacos. And, well, everything else.)

Babe's Chicken Dinner House

Babe's has several locations, but this is the one that started it all. Some of the city's finest fried chicken is served up family-style (meaning, you can eat as much as your stomach will hold) alongside down-home sides like mashed potatoes, corn and salad. [Photo: Emily C./Yelp]

Cane Rosso

The finest of Dallas' Verace Pizza Napoletana joints, Deep Ellum's Cane Rosso also boasts one of the city's best dog-friendly patios. Besides amazing pizzas like the Delia with housemade bacon marmalade, there's also excellent sandwiches and pasta dishes.