By Anna Caplan
Dallas, Fort Worth, and their Texan suburbs are rife with memorable restaurants. From Deep Ellum to West Fort Worth, McKinney to Bishop Arts, the area offers epic experiences as well as memorable bites.
What does Dallas taste like today? Among the standouts: authentic Michoacan birria tacos, bowls of housemade pasta, cones of the best fries for miles, and swoonable soba noodles. All of which, proving for once and for all, our area restaurants are a treasure trove of essential bites – and the makings of the best kind of scavenger hunt.
Here are eight of the best and most memorable restaurants – and dishes – around.
The dish: O.D. Burger
If it seems unlikely that you’d find one of the quintessential burgers in Dallas-Fort Worth at Zoli’s, better known as the offshoot Italian-focused sibling of Cane Rosso, then you’re vastly underestimating owner Jay Jerrier’s concept.
The foundation of the O.D. is its skinny double patties (made with an 1855 chuck-brisket-short rib blend) but the star is the cascading American cheese and farmhouse cheddar, which enrobe the whole two-hands-please enterprise. A Thousand Island-esque sauce adds depth, while the horseradish pickles are so magnificent they should get their own award. They’re even better plucked off the burger, TBEL (to be enjoyed later).
Bishop Arts District
The dish: Literally any pasta
Making pasta at Lucia. // Courtesy of Lucia
The pasta at Lucia is the stuff of many a Dallasite diner’s dreams. And for good reason. Made in-house daily, the selection is ever-rotating, from baked rigatoni with ‘nduja, breadcrumbs, and stringy stracciatella di bufala cheese; to tagliatelle with ragu; and even seaweed trotolle with clams, scallions, basil, and green chile.
If the latter entrée, with its corkscrew-like shape clinging to bits of spice and veg don’t have you convinced, then it’s official: You don’t like pasta. There’s no bad pasta order here, only varying degrees of greatness, and as spring reaches its peak, no better time to take advantage of the bucatini with spring onion and guanciale and/or the fava bean agnolotti.
The dish: Frites
At this Knox-Henderson French bistro, the escargots come out piping hot, and the mussels are to-die. But alongside any entree, you must have the fries. Delivered in a cone-like bowl, these almost-shoestring-thin specimens are crunchy, salty, and elevated to even new heights once dipped into garlicky aioli. And the serving size is huge, as any great side of fries should be.
For further enjoyment, ask for a side of Dijon mustard, and your virtual trip to Les Halles will be complete.
TCU/University Park Village
The dish: Pecan veggie burger
One of the very best renditions in North Texas, this sandwich destroys both the notions that veggie burgers are boring, and that Texans can’t do without beef. Made with a sticky rice, oat and nut mixture, the thick patty features a sweet glaze and a melted slice of Swiss. Lettuce, tomato, and purple onion top the burger, which is enveloped by a brioche bun.
What strikes as remarkable here are the flavor combinations and juxtaposition of the lightly packed patty and crunchy vegetable garnishes. The burger just-almost falls apart if you pick it up, which makes it all the easier to savor, if you knife-and-fork it. We won’t judge.
The dish: Daily bread
At this new modern Brazilian restaurant from noted chef Junior Borges, people are talking about … the bread. The staple is more than just that here, however. Borges’ riff is offered as Our Daily Bread, served with marbled butter, whipped ‘nduja, and a ricotta and ramp relish.
However your slather your slice, the bite is otherworldly and offers an exciting glimpse into other items on the outstanding menu, from the “snack” of sesame garlic pancakes (with caviar!) to the blue-prawn moqueca, which has charred plantains and coconut broth alongside steamed rice.
The dish: Sriracha pork belly
It’s hard to go wrong with beef at chef and restaurateur John Tesar’s ode to dry aging. Tesar uses cuts of Angus from Cameron, Texas’s 44 Farms, and whether it’s a 240-day aged bone-in ribeye or the Ozersky burger (so simple, so perfect), you’ll be swooning.
And yet Tesar’s sriracha pork belly manages to elevate the unctuous factor, with a toasted steamed bun, hoisin sauce, sriracha, and pickles adding depth and flavor. This is one dish you’ll want all to yourself.
The dish: Tacos — any of them
Tacos redefined, at La Resistencia. // Courtesy of La Resistencia by Revolver Taco Lounge Revolver
Chef Regino Rojas’s Fort Worth import Revolver has upped Deep Ellum’s taco game. But at La Resistencia, his tangential tasting-meal operation, the sheer breadth of ingredients – tortillas use corn from indigenous family farms in Oaxaca, for instance – yield extraordinary flavors thanks to his expert preparations. The Michoacan-style birria tacos (served with the requisite consome) are a cut above the buzzy examples from other taquerias, which clutter foodie Insta feeds the world over. These really are the real deal.
The dish: Omakase
It’s hard to pinpoint a favorite item on Tei-An’s omakase menu; just know that everything is next-level, as the kids say. The Japanese restaurant, which opened in 2008, aims to offer a “modern Tokyo” experience in downtown Dallas, and this hushed temple of soba noodles delivers every time.
A crowning touch to the intricate tasting menus here are those noodles, served at the end of the meal. And as you meander to the end, seasonal sashimi, grilled octopus with lobster roe sauce, and golden miso-marinated Shimane beef will keep you very good company. Call 214-220-2828 for reservations.