I’m going to preface this by pointing out, yes Dallas has a lot of food, a lottttttttttt of restaurants. Maybe not as many as Houston, but we are the birthplace of the frozen margarita and we eat out almost every night.
That being said, you can find a bunch of fine dining establishment, steakhouses, trendy ramen noodle spots, Thai places with white tablecloths, sushi experiences costing almost half your paycheck and the like, which seems to be the norm in most major cities.
I will not point these out to you. You can read all the “foodie” reviews on Yelp. Dallas has spawned its own foodie base and you can see what they recommend if fine dining is what you want. I have never been to those places and so I will recommend great tasting, cheap and and/or beloved Dallas food institutions.
You’re gonna be SO HUNGRY after this!
Like Part Two, we will move through this list from North to South.
First up is Fadi’s Mediterranean Grill. There are a few locations around the Dallas – Fort Metroplex. There are also a few Mediterranean Restaurants located in DFW, usually in a strip mall, close to a church or a Home Goods store, they are pretty common. Fadi’s however is not common. You can get all your favorite things like hummus, falafel, kebabs, pita bread and stuff ala carte like in a cafeteria but my favorite item is their schwarmas. They fill you up just like an Avenger (from the movie….did you see the part at the very end?) and you’ll be moaning because it’s just too delicious to put down.
Across the highway you’ll find The Porch. They do signature cocktails, and American style comfort food like brisket sliders, fries, smoked ham and cheese, gooey butter cake and more. With its dim lighting and cozy booths, this place good for a date or a group.
This place is a touch fancy but not too nice, you can show up in jeans, but the parking is valet. Which allows you to get a very tasty appetizer or meal, then walk across Henderson Street to The Old Monk.
The Old Monk
The Old Monk serves craft beers, cocktails, wine, snacks and good pub food too. I would recommend coming here after the Porch though and getting something to nosh on later in the night, because the parking here is tight, plus a full meal at the Porch including appetizers and dessert can be a little steep, like $20 to $45 per person.
The pub atmosphere inside is warm and inviting. The little patio section outside allows you to take in the scenery. I highly recommend this place, it’s laid back Dallas, not douche-y Dallas.
Upper Greenville Area
Café Brazil is an institution in these parts. Everyone remembers their first time, leaving a concert that ran into the late night, looking for someplace close to eat good food. Kind of like IHOP or Denny’s but better.
Again there are multiple locations but my favorite is located of off Highway 75 close to the SMU campus. Not that I went to SMU (oh hell, nah) but the SMU McFarlin auditorium hosts a lot musical acts, including Sufjan Stevens, of which I have attended from time to time.
Café Brazil does breakfast, lunch and dinner with a Brazilian twist. You will never have better crepes, stuffed with savory fillings like, chicken, cheese and chorizo.
You can also buy and take home the coffee they serve in about a dozen flavors. It’s pretty decent but if you are from Seattle or Portland you won’t be blown away. Still is makes a better souvenir than a postcard.
Arts District Area
El Fenix is a staple of Dallas. Home of the classic Tex-Mex where you can get the two cheese enchilada plate with rice and beans under $10. It’s not authentic Mexican cuisine and it’s not better than whatever Rick Bayless whips up but it’s our food, and has been this way for decades. For a town that’s always planning it’s next facelift, El Fenix is tried and true and remains standing. If you’re from anyplace in Texas you know what you’re getting here. A warm, deliciously cheesy, gooey enchilada served with a smile. The ole stand byes of complimentary chips and salsa, frozen margaritas, and fluffy sopapillas covered in cinnamon sugar.
The particular location off of 75 and McKinney Avenue is across the street from the Perot Museum and two blocks down from the Nasher Sculpture Garden and the Dallas Museum of Art. It’s easily the cheapest, fastest and tastiest meal within miles. You should go.
Fuel City Tacos
Fuel City Tacos is located inside a giant gas station where the corners of Downtown meets North Oak Cliff. It is located very close to the Reunion Tower and also the Lew Sterrett Justice Center aka Dallas’ Jail. Now I’m not trying to scare you. I have never had any troubles at Fuel City Tacos and there are always many cops dropping by here to buy tacos.
If you told me, “quick Marg! I’ll be in Dallas for one hour! Where should I go?” I will tell you Fuel City Tacos. If you asked me where to go if you had a whole week in Dallas and a million dollars to spend, I would still tell you to go to Fuel City Tacos first.
Fuel City does street style tacos with meat, corn tortillas, a little bit of onion, cilantro and lime. My favorite is the beef barbacoa and I always stop by the elote cart to get some boiled corn with sour cream, cheese, and hot sauce. It’s a Mexican thing so try it, even if sour cream with corn sounds gross.
This is the type of food that crosses racial and economic barriers. This is the place that shouldn't be in Dallas, if you believe Dallas is a soul-less, money obsessed, superficial town. I know better and I couldn't be prouder that this place exists. Dallas is it’s people and we love food, we love our home, and we try to get along with each other.
Deep Ellum Area
Twisted Root, like El Fenix, has many locations in the Dallas – Fort Worth area, but the best location is usually close to downtown Dallas. In this case I recommend the location located in Deep Ellum. Twisted Root does your basic burger, your basic cheeseburger, exotic burgers like bison meat, and creative burgers like the Frito Bandito topped with chili, guacamole, cheddar cheese and Fritos chips. The staff does try to give you attitude and bust your balls about ordering. To pick up your order, they give you a cutesy tag with name like Borat or Courtney Love, and then call your order saying, “Borat your order is ready! Verrrry nice”.
It’s not the best burger I've ever eaten in my life, because I’m weird and think that the Fuddrucker’s by my work has like the Will Hunting version of a grill cook, but only the Fuddrucker’s location by my work. However, Twisted Root does everything and I mean EVERYTHING with a creative twist. You will not be disappointed, plus you will get some good grub in your belly before witnessing an awesome music show in Deep Ellum.
Now I know right about now you are thinking, “but wait! Isn’t Texas renowned for barbeque?” Yes it is and I’ve eaten in various barbeque joints in the metroplex. Good barbeque but currently Dallas is experiencing a BBQ Snob phase. I blame Franklin’s in Austin, frankly. (I love my puns….don’t judge) Right now the trend is to wait hours in line for THE BEST bbq in the area. We have Pecan Lodge here, but it’s a trend that I don’t subscribe too. I don’t approve of tracking the best bbq in spreadsheets or scoring systems. I don’t approve of waiting hours in line for a cuisine that is every Southerner’s birthright. I don’t approve of the growing elitism in barbeque.
In short if you are craving BBQ? Check the suburbs. There are a million good places.
A trend that I do approve of is food trucks. Who doesn’t love food trucks? There are few that appear at all the good music festivals and outdoor events that I absolutely love. They usually appear in the above areas that I have described on a pretty frequent basis.
Yeah they do burgers, mini burgers, you may also know them as sliders but did you know they top them with stuff like goat cheese and raspberry preserves? Or peanut butter and bacon? Yes, Margaret if God owned a food truck this would be it, because no matter how drunk you are or how wild the night has been, Easy Slider is there to cradle you in a warm bed of delicious sliders. Plus the ladies inside the truck are ALWAYS hella nice.
Two words: Kimchee Fries. Okay, no wait….uhh….a few more words. Here we go. Fries topped with Korean barbeque beef, monterey jack & cheddar cheese, caramelized kimchee, spicy mayo, cilantro and onion. You…you’re hungry now, right?
Nammi serves Bahn Mi and huge rice bowls. At $8 a pop I was not thinking you would get so much yummy food with rice bowl option with the barbequed meat. Vietnamese is such a refreshing choice when you frequent the park or the outdoor music festivals in the height of the Texas summertime heat and cannot survive eating something fried. Nammi loads their food with tons of good veggies, so you get full with the good stuff. Sometimes I loves me a cheeseburger but sometimes you just need to go with a healthier option, amiright?
So….what are you waiting for? Come out to Dallas! There’s plenty of friendly, interesting people eager to show you the hidden stuff. The parts of Dallas that feel like home. Drop me a line if you are ever in the area. I would love to show you around! Texas people, what places would you add to this list?
Let me know!