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The 38 Essential Dallas Restaurants, January 2015

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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 first 38 update of 2015 brings the additions of an East Dallas taqueria that's made a big impression in the short time it's been open, a stylish Tex-Mex destination, and an old-school burger standby.

Added: El Come Taco, Keller's, Mr. Mesero

Removed: Deli News, Spiral Diner, Wingfield's

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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.

The Boiling Crab

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Sure, you could attempt a seafood boil at home -- or you could leave it to the experts at The Boiling Crab. Get the crawfish if it's in season, obviously, and don't miss the king crab legs; add sausage, potatoes and corn and pick your choice of seasoning and spice level (we recommend "The Whole Shabang," medium -- XXX is seriously spicy). Just be prepared to wait... and wait, and wait some more. [Photo: Shih-Yu L./Foursquare]


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Classy Boulevardier has proven itself a reliable dinner (or brunch) destination time and time again, whether you're meeting the in-laws or trying to impress a date. Start off with oysters and charcuterie (hello, duck prosciutto) then onto the poached egg salad with crispy chicken livers before delving into steak frites or one of the best damn burgers around. A great wine list and stellar cocktails don't hurt, either.

Cane Rosso

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The finest of Dallas' Neapolitan joints, Cane Rosso's OG location also boasts one of the city's best dog-friendly patios. Besides amazing pizzas like the Delia with housemade bacon marmalade, there's also a damn fine Caesar salad (with anchovies, if you're into that), fantastically fresh burrata, and some killer meatball lasagna.


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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, making Garden Cafe a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Goodfriend Beer Garden and Burger House

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Matt Tobin and Josh Yingling's East Dallas spot is everything you want your neighborhood bar to be -- awesome burgers (made with Wagyu beef, yet still reasonably priced), an enviable beer selection, a friendly staff and a patio that's always crowded with locals.

The Grape

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This Lower Greenville gem from husband and wife 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 fantastic housemade charcuterie and a rotating selection of seasonal dishes from recently appointed chef Sarah Snow.


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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.

Lá Me

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This ever-popular Vietnamese spot offers significantly more ambiance than most, and the pho is certainly respectable if that's what you're in the market for; but the thing to get here is the banh mi (can't go wrong with grilled pork), served on properly crusty baguettes with all the traditional accoutrements. The egg rolls and bun cha are worth ordering, too.
Tracy Miller's hidden gem of a Deep Ellum restaurant has long been a favorite amongst those in the know for its simple yet delicious dishes and sexy retro-modern decor. Whatever you do, don't skip dessert -- the mini chocolate souffle served with a tiny chocolate malt is one to remember.
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 also become somewhat of a beacon for visiting celebrities, playing host to Jay-Z and Beyonce and Conan O'Brien.

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 lunchtime, 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

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 -- just don't forget the wine glasses.

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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Since moving on up to their bigger Deep Ellum digs, this former Dallas Farmers Market tenant is serving more barbecue lovers than ever. Expect to wait in line, but it's worth it. In addition to the mind-blowingly good brisket, splurge on a beef rib at least once -- it's worth every penny. And don't sleep on the fried ribs if you see 'em on the specials board.

Royal China

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A Dallas mainstay for 40 years, Royal China continues to wow loyal diners with xiao long bao (soup dumplings) and hand-pulled noodles, plus top-notch renditions of all the usual Chinese-American favorites. Get a table facing the dumpling bar for maximum entertainment value.

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.
Tim Byres presents his unique take on Texas cuisine at the historic Belmont Hotel, with a focus on grilling and smoking. While you can't go wrong with pulled pork and brisket, get a little more adventurous and you'll find the real gems, like pork jowl bacon and a sort of goat pot pie made with masa. Always a good choice for out-of-towners.

Tacos la Banqueta

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Some of the finest tacos in all of Dallas, and they're always served with a smile. Get the suadero and the pastor for sure, and don't skimp on the green sauce (but be sure to grab a Topo Chico to cool things down).
A minimalist shrine to the art of fine Japanese food, Tei-An is well-suited for both fancy dinners and casual, affordable lunches. Soba noodles are a house specialty, but the $10 bowl of ramen is also a standout.
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.)

Woodshed Smokehouse

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Tim Love's shrine to smoked foods on the banks of the Trinity River is a must-visit, if only to see which animal is getting the smoking treatment today. Don't miss the smoked crispy potatoes; the ramen, while certainly not traditional, is also worth trying, as is the smoked cauliflower smothered in cheese and mornay sauce.

Yutaka Sushi Bistro

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The city's sushi aficionados know that Yutaka is the place to go for super-fresh, perfectly executed sushi and sashimi. Feel like splurging? Call ahead for the omakase option.

Crushcraft Thai Street Eats

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This fast-casual Quadrangle spot is changing the way Dallas eats Thai food, one fresh, vibrant dish at a time. Suar rong hai (grilled flank steak with intensely flavored eggplant compote) and khao man gai (gingery rice pilaf with cucumber relish and tender shreds of chicken) are a far cry from the gloppy, overly-sweet curries you might be used to. The chili bar is awesome, but be sure to grab a cold Singha beer to quell the fire.


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Under chef Graham Dodds, Henderson Avenue staple Hibiscus has transformed from a temple of mac and cheese and steak into one of the most exciting restaurants in the city. The menu fluctuates with the seasons, but expect bold flavors, creative preparations and some of the best damn charcuterie in Dallas -- not to mention fantastically warm service and a sexy atmosphere.

Monkey King Noodle Co.

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Monkey King was an instant smash hitwhen it opened last year in an old Deep Ellum taco stand. Hand-pulled noodles and hand-folded soup dumplings draw long lines daily, whether it's blazing hot, freezing cold or somewhere inbetween. When the weather's nice, the rooftop patio and BYOB policy make it the perfect spot for a lazy lunch.

The Slow Bone

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Jack Perkins' Design District barbecue place is just straight-up delicious -- and under the guidance of recent hire chef Jeffery Hobbs, it's better than ever. Brisket is perfectly smoky, fatty and delicious, and don't miss the brisket chili if it's on the menu -- or the fancy version of the McRib sandwich.

Joyce & Gigi's Kitchen

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Plopped in a somewhat unexpected location at the corner of Ross and Hall in East Dallas, Joyce & Gigi's is a delight: Good cocktails, personable service, and a well-edited menu of Latin American fare including awesomely savory beef heart pate, great empanadas, and the churrasco, a mini meat-fest for two. Happy hour is one of the best in town.

El Come Taco

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This sleek and stylish counter-service taqueria in East Dallas will satisfy every taco lover, whether your tastes lean traditional (pastor, suadero), exotic (think brains or tripe), or gringo (simple beef or chicken with avocado, cheese, and jalapenos). Round out the meal with freshly fried chips with excellent guac, and end with a churro if you've got room.

Keller's Drive-In

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Open since 1965, Keller's hasn't changed its menu (or its prices) in ages, meaning a thin-patty burger served up on poppy seed bun along with an order of tots and a thick milkshake will clock in well under the $10 mark — a welcome respite from a land of fancy chef-designed burgers. You can even drink beer in your car or grab a 12-pack to go; just don't forget to bring cash money (though there's an ATM on site in case you forget).

Mr. Mesero

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Mi Cocina founder Mico Rodriguez puts a fresh, modern spin on Tex-Mex at his McKinney Avenue flagship. The chips and salsa presentation is arguably the most impressive in town, and fresh takes on classic fare like enchiladas are a cut above the gloppy, cheese-covered and over-sauced versions you'll find at more traditional Tex-Mex spots.